What Do I Know About Opinions? Edition Wars Answers

Picture1Last Sunday I posted my most recent “What Do I Know About Opinions” poll, this time asking about new editions of role playing games. Specifically, I asked “Under what conditions do you consider it worth your time to pick up a new edition of a game?”

I limited the responses to one answer per participant, and added the following options:

  • I would rather buy a new game than buy a new edition of a game I already own
  • If I like the game and can afford a new version
  • If the game has minor tweaks and/or reorganization to make it clearer, but still remains largely backwards compatible
  • When a game introduces a new paradigm to the traditional structure of the game

I also allowed for respondents to provide some comments or additional context to their answer in the poll. The poll was posted in the following locations:

For this question, I didn’t want to post it in any forum that was overly dedicated to one flavor of Dungeons and Dragons or another. Edition discussion within the community for a single game is way different than discussing the topic with a wider audience of RPG fans. 

While I was going to break down some of the other responses after the main question, it is probably worth noting that it was not only common to mention the desire to mark more than one response in the replies on the poll, but in multiple locations where I posted this poll, I received the same commentary. I didn’t provide the option up front because I didn’t want a single person that has multiple answers to have more “weight” than someone that only answered once.

Going forward with that knowledge, if I do a similar poll in the future, I will probably go with a ranked rating for each option, so that every person can rank the most to least favored option, without weighting this towards someone with multiple answers.

Number of Responses

Like I said last week, for the number of responses I received, I wouldn’t portray this as being particularly representative, but at the same time, I liked that I received over 100 responses this time around. By the time I closed this on Thursday night, I had 103 responses between all of the locations.

I’m not surprised that, with respondents limited to a single response, the majority of responses were for “If I like the game and can afford a new version.” It is interesting that two answers that are framed in opposition to one another are very close to one another. Almost the same number of respondents seem to prefer a new edition be more iterative than reconstructed, or to put it another way, around 20% of respondents either want a new edition to be similar to the old edition, or they want a new edition to have significant changes to the paradigm of the previous edition to justify its existence.

Almost 9% of respondents would rather buy a new game than buy a new edition of a game they already own. I’m not shocked to get that response, but I’m not sure I expected it to be within spitting distance of 10% of respondents.

Locations

First off, I wanted to shout out to the respondent that mentioned that they didn’t know where they encountered this poll. It’s 2020, I get it.

About 20% of the people that responded didn’t mention where they encountered the poll. I received single responses from Twitter, Gaming and BS Forums, and Reddit. For context, many of the people that I know  from the Gaming and BS Forums may have encountered this poll in multiple locations, such as the Misdirected Mark community, which accounted for almost 4% of my responses.

Given that Misdirected Mark is a smaller podcast community, I was surprised that ENWorld was only about 7% of my total responses, meaning that I had more than half as many responses from the MMP community. By far the most responses I received were from the RPGNet community, at 66% of all entries.

I’m not knowledgeable enough to make any commentary based on locations, other than to say that the locations definitely flavor responses. For example, the MMP community has both D&D aficionados as well as indie gamers. 

Commentary Trends

Eight responses specifically mentioned Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, but the responses were interesting. Years ago, 4th edition seemed to be a very stratifying topic, but most of the responses that mentioned 4th edition were more neutral. One response cited it as being more engaging than 5th edition because of its difference from previous editions. Another response said that 4th edition was too different for them to pick up, but it wasn’t singled out, but named with other games that changed dramatically between editions. In most responses it was just cited as an example of an edition that changed dramatically rather than moderately between editions.

Three responses specifically mentioned Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition. Two out of three of these responses mentioned that they wished CoC 7E had deviated more from previous editions of the game, while the other comment simply cited it as a game that is more iterative than revolutionary.

Three responses specifically called out 7th Sea 2nd edition. One of those responses only cited it as an example of a game that was more of a dramatic shift in game design between editions, while the other two comments cited 7th Sea 2nd edition as a game that deviated too far from the previous edition.

Three responses cited Savage Worlds as a game system that provided good value for a cleaned up iterative new edition that didn’t change dramatically from previous editions. In one case, it was used as an example WITH D&D as a game that didn’t change much over time (with the exception of D&D 4e as an outlier), while another example cast it in contrast to D&D (all editions) as a game that doesn’t change dramatically). In one instance, Savage Worlds was mentioned as providing better value without providing many changes, versus Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition which the respondent didn’t feel provided enough of a clarification to the rules presentation.

Two responses mentioned that the amount of time between editions is an important factor, with one specifically mentioning that at least five years between editions is their minimum to consider purchasing.

Personal Observations

Not that it’s particularly cogent, but I would have to say that I do favor iterative editions over full redesigns, because in many cases, I feel like full redesigns end up introducing a brand new set of potential issues. Iterative advancements allow for targeted fixes for specific instances of rules that may not have provided the experience the designers intended.

That said, even iterative changes can feel more dramatic than just minor tweaks. When new subsystems are introduced, or when a whole subsystem is changed, while the core game experience stays the same, any given session can feel very different between editions.

I’ve bought several more “indie games” where new editions come closer together than five years, but the further you get away from major releases, the more these feel like phases of development rather than full games. In some ways, that’s the paradigm that Magpie addresses with the “ashcan” releases they have for several games. 

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