Is the Arcane Economically Sane (for Game Companies)?

Over in the Facebook page for Lock 'N Load, Mark Walker asks an interesting question:

"Obscure wars...really? Some in the industry seem to feel that the key to increasing sales is to design games on rarely-covered topics. I feel that rarely-covereved topics are rarely covered because it is rare to find someone with an interest in them. What do all y'all think?"

There's been no shortage of games on the arcane. GMT recently published another in the Musket and Pike series, this one on the Scanian Wars (say what?), NOTHING GAINED BUT GLORY, as well as PENSACOLA in the Battles of the American Revolutionary War. MMP just released KING PHILIP'S WAR. Red Sash Games, a company that seems only interested in the extremely obscure, redid their CHARLIE'S YEAR game on the Jacobite Rebellions. Of course, none of this is much news to anyone these days. We've seen games on a great many little known topics in the past decade or so--and not just from the DTP crowd, either! GDW was known to do games on esoteric subjects back in the day, but now it's practically "mainstream."

It must be working--the bigger and more popular wargame companies like MMP and GMT are cranking these games out! Anybody ready for a go at A MOST DANGEROUS TIME?

We find a fair amount of opinions on that topic on the Lock 'N Load Facebook page. What do the Social Website grognards think?

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Comment by brian s. b. on October 31, 2010 at 10:22pm
a bit of " the grass is always greener" or in this case more interesting than closer to home-of course here in kentucky it's "the grass is always bluer"!
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on October 31, 2010 at 1:02pm
I found Civil War buffs in the Netherlands too. They're not all wargamers, but American history does have certain appeal, it seems.
Comment by brian s. b. on October 31, 2010 at 10:33am
ive also found a lot of civil war buffs in the u.k.! i'm still suprised by that for sum reason.
Comment by brian s. b. on October 31, 2010 at 10:27am
WELL, yea it is interesting they say now the younger generation in germany is more comfortable talking about ww2 and the nazi's(not tooocomfortable lol. i think also the japanese are fascinated by the tech of the nazi's-the fact that they thought "outside the box" i mean the t-35 was such a superior tank for so much of the war-i think they used are lend lease Sherman's to deliver vodka! lol- though some were at Kursk. it's a testament to america that the civil war can be comfortable explored in a "game" gettysburgh AH was 1958! lol
Comment by Eric Walters on October 31, 2010 at 10:17am
Brian, that's a very interesting observation regarding what people are comfortable designing. I wonder what the Japanese designers might say. I suspect the topics that are "closer to home" don't make it to the U.S as much as the Eastern Front stuff does. If I remember right, one of the first IGS games that MMP did, FIRE IN THE SKY, was translated from Tetsuya Nakamura's design. When I lived in Japan, I got copies of PACIFIC FLEET, BURMA/MALAYA, and YAMATO, all published by Hobby Japan. But certainly I didn't find too many games on China, on Guadalcanal, or other land battles done by Japanese designers. I am hopeful that will change over time. Certainly we see examples where international designers are mining game ideas in their own backyard. There's a cadre of French ASL players/designers who have been doing a great job at publishing scenarios on 1940 and Free French tactical actions, giving us insights we never would have otherwise gotten, published in the pages of La Franc Tireur. Academy Games is going to publish STRIKE OF THE EAGLE on the Russo-Polish War, designed by a Pole. As for the Civil War, I confess to being a Yank, but I want a regimental treatment of the Battle of Bentonville in either the GMT GBACW system or Dean Essig's new Line Of Battle (son of Regimental Sub-Series/RSS) system. And I miss all those really arcane Civil War battles that SPI did back in the day using the TSS system--remember those? Somebody ought to bring them back!
Comment by brian s. b. on October 31, 2010 at 9:30am
facilitates -need coffee lol
Comment by brian s. b. on October 31, 2010 at 9:30am
one more thing- the intractive nature of the hobby vacilitates new "chances" propose an idea,print up sample counters and maps and if 500 ppl are interested you rgood to go.
Comment by brian s. b. on October 31, 2010 at 9:25am
it is the nature of the times-a more global mobile international culture will produce the "lesser" known-to our western eyes battles-i welcome it! there is some very interesting cross polination and various obsessions of different cultures (not necessarily in their own back yard). for instance the japanese players/designers have a fetish for the eastern front of the nazi campaign. it may be more "comfortable" for them to address say Kursk then battles closer to home. one thing that i have always found fascinating ,going back to the golden years,was how southerners love civil war games whilst many northerners no little or care little for gettysburg, etc. i also think there is much we do not know in the years prior to ww1 and between ww1 and ww2- the 19th century in europe was peacefull whilst the western empires expanded farther afield- how that collapsed then lead to ww1-the russian revolution,the dominance of sea power the intro of air and after all the unresolved issues of a radically changed europe that lead to inter-war spaininsh civil war is i believe are rich areas to mine.
Comment by Eric Walters on October 31, 2010 at 8:15am
To me, it's pretty clear that marketing is targeting the old guard/grognard who has played all those "safe zone" games that Jim talks about below. So what is the draw? It can't be the subject matter because so few us know anything about it. Sure, that can draw in the "adventurous" people as Brian outlines, but I am thinking that there's something interesting about the situation or the game itself that attracts--and, as Brian says, once folks start playing and like it, they read books about the obscure topic, which leads to new subjects, that leads to more games.... That happened to me when GMT first published SAMURAI in their Great Battles of History series, so I was already interested when RAN and A MOST DANGEROUS TIME got published, to say nothing of Hexasim's game KAWANAKAJIMA: 1561 came out!
Comment by brian s. b. on October 30, 2010 at 11:34pm
it's a niche product in a niche hobby-so actually it's a good idea-thing's that are different draw adventurous people (wargames)-more adventurous ppl are..well more adventurous! lol i know nothing about the chinese civil war
but i'm interested in a game about this,which may lead to books,which may lead to new subjects that hopefully have games that cover such subjects

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