ICv2 caught up with Paizo Publisher Erik Mona just after the GAMA Trade Show to get his views on the RPG market and hear about Paizo’s upcoming releases. In Part 2, we talk about secular change in the RPG market, the new video game, and planned releases shown at GTS. In Part 1, we talked about the growth of the RPG industry and how Pathfinder is positioned on the brink of the looming D&D release.
The hobby game business seems to be seeing a secular change in people moving away from video games and turning to tabletop games. Do you see a rotation back to tabletop?
I don’t know if it’s a rotation; I think it’s more of a generational shift. I joined the industry in 1999 (and lingering around for about five years before then), right on the cusp of 3rd Edition. Back then there was really a lot of concern, particularly in the RPG realm, about the graying of the audience and are we bringing new people into the game. Twenty years from now, is this only going to be a hobby for 40-, 50-, 60-year olds? "Oh, my gosh, the sky is falling! What are we going to do?" There was evidence of that all around us, but in the last 10 years the demographics seem to be really changing. You go to Gen Con and there are more young people and women than there have ever been before.
The ultimate cure for the graying doldrums was going to PAX Prime here in Seattle. That is primarily a video game show, and we do demos of Pathfinder there and just packed a room filled with largely 13- to 19-year-olds, many of whom don’t have nostalgia for ‘80s D&D because they weren’t even born.
I think this new generation of gamers is just gamers first and medium second. They don’t really care so much what game console a game is on, or if it’s a card game, or a board game, or a roleplaying game, they just like games in general. They’ve grown up with gaming as a part of their life and as a part of the social fabric in a way that even I, growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, really didn’t. For example, we were testing the Pathfinder Beginner Box with 15-year-old kids. The goal was to have people who had never played a tabletop roleplaying game before actually, legitimately playing Pathfinder within 15 minutes of opening the box. We sat on the other side of a one-way mirror and watched these kids grapple with the rules (and of course made changes to the stuff they were confused by), but one of the things that was really exciting to me was how much they understood just coming in. They didn’t have any problem with classes, hit points, levels and combat rounds, probably because they’d encountered a lot of it in video games and it was just second nature to them. They didn’t really need to read the rules much when it came to that type of material.
I think that generationally we’re seeing a shift where gaming is a more important part of culture in general and people are more open to gaming in almost any kind of format. I think that’s had a huge impact on the growth of games.
One of the major changes for Pathfinder over the past five years, we wrote the Pathfinder Rulebook primarily for people who were already hobby gamers and who already were playing 3.5, but what happened subsequently is there’s a ton of Pathfinder players who don’t have any relationship with any previous roleplaying game. They just came to the hobby and Pathfinder was the most popular game in their area, so that’s the game they started with.
It’s kind of weird since so many of the writers in the industry, and my peers, have 10 to 20 years of experience with a whole variety of games. A lot of these people are coming to Pathfinder first and that’s one of the reasons we decided it’s imperative to create a Beginner Box that really spoke to those people without the assumption that they had played a lifetime of tabletop roleplaying games. What we found is that in fact they had been playing a lifetime’s worth of lots of different games. Many of them are not tabletop roleplaying games, but a lot of language and the DNA is shared between the games which makes it easier for these newer players to jump onboard.
What’s going on with the computer game?
They’re a couple months away from going into closed alpha testing here in the office. And then they are on schedule for early enrollment to begin in about third quarter 2014. The Kickstarter people are going to be able to start playing the games in Q3 and then the real open enrollment is scheduled for 2015.
It’s really fun. I’m over there almost every week checking out art and animations. Seeing the Pathfinder goblins and ogres running around and fighting in computer game form is pretty amazing. Definitely came a long way from Pathfinder No. 1 in 2007 when I was nervous that we wouldn’t even be able to publish the sixth installment of the Adventure Paths and now we’re looking at animated computer games. It’s come a long way.
You were showing off the new Inner Sea Gods at GTS. What’s new with this book?
In about 2007 we put out a book called Gods and Magic, a 64-page guide to the religions and gods of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting. That book sold out. It’s a very popular topic with fantasy gamers. We wanted to bring the material back but in a much expanded fashion.
We have a 330-page hardcover book coming out and it compiles a lot of longer articles that Sean K. Reynolds wrote for the Pathfinder Adventure Paths. Every Adventure Path, we do about two articles about different gods, so we used those as a basis and greatly expanded them and made sure they were all in the same format. The book starts with an overview of the 20 core deities of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting. It also has information on lesser gods, angels, devils and demons--pretty much if you can worship it within the game of Pathfinder it’s got a significant amount of information about it in this book.
In the main sections there’s stuff about how the clerics dress, what their beliefs are, what kind of weapons they use. It’s not just geared toward clerics or paladins or specifically religious characters because when the gods are demonstrably real, religion plays a real role in the lives of everybody in the world. There’s a lot of information in Inner Sea Gods about what does your faith mean to you, even if you’re a fighter or a ranger or someone who’s not traditionally a religious class.
It’s a guide for all Pathfinder players to be used in a campaign setting, and because the 20 core gods are in the Core Rulebook itself, there’s also quite a bit of information for people who use those gods even if they don’t use the Pathfinder Campaign Setting as a whole.
It’s currently scheduled for late May. We had the whole set at GTS, and we’re on the precipice. I think this is the best set we’ve done. They continue to perfect their techniques with the paint steps, and I am very satisfied with the quality we’ve seen from Reign of Winter so far.
We’re aiming to get the card sleeves out in June or July and the big, big playmat for August, but they’re still doing the final steps for costing. Right now they’re targeting $25, but I don’t know if that will be the final price. [UltraPro confirmed that the playmat MRSP is $25.99, and the 50-Ct Card Sleeves will MSRP at $4.99--ed.]
The card game has brought a new audience in terms of consumers, so the retailers are interested in the Adventure Card Game. I was pleased to see how positively people responded even just to the accessories to the game--the sleeves and the playmat. People really got excited about that.
We hear you will be starting organized play beginning in August.
Yes, we will be doing organized play for the Adventure Card Game. It’s going to be a persistent character campaign somewhat similar to the Pathfinder Society Campaign where you have a character represented by a deck of cards. That character will continue to gain in experience and increase in power the more events you play. You’ll be able to play events with different companions in different stores or conventions or home play; it’s all compatible and your character will get bigger and better.
The first season is slated to work with the Skull and Shackles Base Deck and Adventure Decks that will start coming out in August. There’s going to be at least six unique character decks that will be unique products where you need a character deck in order to play.
You get, for example, a ‘fighter’ deck with a number of different fighter builds and types of characters in there, and you’ll be able to customize the equipment and different cards to make the fighter that you want. As you advance, and you get a second level treasure, or something like that, instead of cannibalizing that card from the host’s base set, you would go back into the 110-card character deck and pick an appropriate level two treasure for your character. You don’t cannibalize someone else’s cards and you continue to develop your character as you want.
Are there any retailer exclusives related to the OP?
There’s going to be promo cards. At this point things are still in the planning stage so I don’t necessarily want to say that they will be retailer exclusives because there may be other ways to get the cards, but there will be cards specifically geared toward OP and the main point of them is to get people playing the game in retail stores.
Click here to go back to Part 1.
Video Game and New Products
Posted by ICv2 on April 4, 2014 @ 12:15 am CT
All Marvel Titles in a Single 500+ Page Volume
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Marvel is collecting the entire first season in a hefty 500+ page volume.
New Booster Set
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Konami Digital Entertainment will release Duelist Nexus , a new booster set for Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG , into retail.
At Adepticon 2023; Galleries Included
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Games Workshop revealed the winners of Golden Demon USA 2023, their annual painting contest.
New Miniatures Booster Set
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WizKids revealed D&D Icons of Realms: Seas & Shores , a new miniatures booster set, for release into retail.