Sunday, November 7, 2010

How Does Your Favorite RPG Company Do With On-Time Releases?

One of the commonalities of many gaming companies large and small is their total inability to keep a deadline.  Now, this isn't a new complaint, but it is one that's a perpetual irritant.

To me, it seems that companies such as Paizo and Mongoose do the best on keeping their release schedules. Of course, neither of those companies are 1 or 2-man operations.

On the other side of things, we have Eden Studios and Palladium Books, who sadly are leading vendors of vaporware and severely delayed titles.  They aren't alone, but they quickly jump to mind as prime offenders.

As someone who grew up with Palladium Fantasy, I have been waiting for a new release for that line for years now. We were told repeatedly Mysteries of Magic was "coming soon", and to be fair, after a long, long, looooong wait, and seeing it on every press release for about five years, it came out. Agonizing as it is, and not to pick on Palladium, but after the 57th straight product was not released on time, why not start managing expectations?

Honestly, I understand. This is a hobby, and things get in the way. Lord knows they do for me. People are excited to share what they've written, I know.  But perhaps, just perhaps, it's a good idea not to promise something until you can actually deliver on it.

The smart ones, I think, won't announce things until they're actually at the printer, or closer to it. Even then, you can have delays, but at least the product has been written and sent off to be printed.

How does your favorite RPG company do with keeping release dates?

 Above: Was Vaporware For Better Part Of A Decade


Loquacious said...

Now that Steve Long's involved, Hero System is pretty on time all the time.

GW's RPGs (which are published & distributed through Fantasy Flight) are usually right on delivery date. Which is odd, because Fantasy Flight on their own can't keep a deadline to save their lives!

Shadowrun over at Catalyst has BEEN good, but with financial problems ahead, I don't know how long they will last on that track record.

I hear Fight On! is on time.

Zachary Houghton said...

Fight On! isn't on a set schedule, I don't believe, so it's always on time. Sort of like Gandalf.

Dyson Logos said...

I'm a dead game lover. I hop on once the release cycle is over. For some games this means it takes me a lot longer to hop on than for others - but I'm a big fan of games with a rules set that is immutable except by DM intervention - where I know there will be no new product coming down the pipe any time soon.

Of course, this makes a lot of the OSR stuff out there a pain in the ass for me. Sure, I don't mind some new modules and accessories, but don't touch the rules set or campaign setting(s).

Anonymous said...

Paizo doesn't do that hot of a job - every year they get behind because of GenCon and they keep adding stuff to their product line so that their "monthly" subscriptions miss at least twice a year.

James V said...

Still waiting for Mechanoid Space. I'm thinking when it does come out, I can give it to my yet unborn grandchildren*.

*My children are also yet unborn.

Ryan said...

My particular vaporware bone to pick is Beyond Human. I was very excited for BH back in 2004... I've since moved on to other systems. for Mechanoid Space... well, I think the Mechanoid Invasion Trilogy is the closest anyone is every going to get. I'm personally waiting on the monster and magic books for Beyond the Supernatural. Then again, Palladium is cross-compatible enough that I could probably just throw some stuff from Nightbane in and call it good.

mxyzplk said...

Paizo does a great job - they sometimes slip something, but they must have the best ratio ever - they put out like 30+ products a year and slip maybe 1-2. And when they do slip it's by a month not years like some companies. I think the only thing they've ever slipped more than a month is the new world hardcover which they deliberately rescheduled for a later month instead of playing the "it's coming soon, who knows when" game.

The Red DM said...

I try not to pay much attention to release dates precisely because they are fluid. And I would rather have a late product that's great than a mediocre one on time.

clash bowley said...

I do not do such a good job. Glorianna has been in the works since 2004. In Harm's Way: Pigboats since 2006. In Harm's Way: Scum of the Earth since 2005, and will now never be released. Games come out of nowhere and seize my brain and I must do them of suffer, thus everything else gets sidetracked.

Blue Max Studios said...

...Honestly, it's been a while since I bought anything that wasn't WoTC...when you're backed by Hasbro, meeting deadlines is not the biggest problem, I guess.
As for my company, I have currently set a publication schedule for my PDF supplements and have stuck to it. I publish a new set of Deckplans on the 16th of every month, unless the 16th is on a weekend (the Internet is a ghost town on the weekends) in which case I publish the Thursday or Friday before. I didn't realize I was such a special case. My thing is, if I didn't stick to the production schedule come hell or high water, I would probably start to get laxer and laxer until I reached the point of not publishing at all. Besides, as a one-man-show-sooper-kool-indie-game-designer :) If I stop putting out material on a regular basis, I will lose what little audience I have managed to get so far.