Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Forums & G+: Different Worlds, Different Games?

I first want to say I'm very happy to hear that many of you liked Monday's review of BareBones Fantasy, and I even received an email from someone saying how much they were enjoying reading through the game. Thanks for the kind words, and I'm pretty sure you'll find it runs even better than it reads. There's a very good reason I have it rated so high.

Though this was one of the better receptions I've ever had for a RPG review, I noticed an interesting difference between two online realms in their reaction to the BareBones review.

From accounts over at Google+, there seemed to be already some familiarity with the game, and an overall positive reception. It looked as if multiple folks had already given their opinion on the game, and there's even a growing community dedicated to the game.

We're talking about a product that's currently hanging around in the Top 10 at RPGNow, and that's against competition such as The Keep on the Borderlands, Against The Giants, and the rest of the Wizards of the Coast/TSR pdf flood that is dominating just now. So it isn't as if this game doesn't have the attention of someone; it's just curious where or who that someone is.

RPGnet has almost no threads on the game; I can say the same for theRPGsite. Yet it seems to garner a fair amount of mentions on Google+. The game would seem to fit the wants and playstyles of at least a faction of gamers at each, yet the amount of discussion is wildly disparate. It's really a tale of two online community types, and the difference in reception a gaming product receives at each.

Oh, you don't have to tell me that every community has its darlings. Exalted has been vastly more popular at RPGnet than any other forum I can think to name, and even theRPGsite has a few games that are probably favored more than in other communities. And if we were discussing two groups of gamers with minimal crossover, I might not think twice about it. The strange thing is, the communities don't exist in a vacuum. Many of the same gamers I chat with on message boards are also in my circle on G+.

To be sure, BareBones isn't the only game I've noticed this with. And some games, such as Fate Core, seem to have a good push both on G+ and certain message boards.

So what, then, if many of the gamers are shared between the two communities, is the difference between RPGnet and G+? Is one more of the "echo chamber" that ossified forums are sometimes accused of being, or is it just happenstance? Is it harder for a new game to be shared on forums vs. G+?

To be sure, I am very happy for my experiences both on G+ and message boards; I believe they offer different things, and have different strengths. But I will note that how I see traffic and reception for my gaming reviews has changed in the last 6 years. Reviews no longer just sit somewhere, waiting for a thread on some forum to point to them. There's a 6 year buildup in fortified positions, oft-repeated concepts, garnered reputations, alternate sources such as YouTube reviews to contend with. A good or bad review seems more viral with the advent of G+ or Twitter. It's a faster, more connected audience that's reacting, and it's pretty neat to see develop.

Coming back though, I think it's interesting to see experiences and opinions diverge between G+ and message boards. I've often noticed behavior is different from certain gamers between message boards and G+, and apparently their threads of conversation are, too. I'd love to see a breakdown of just where sales and hits on BareBones Fantasy are coming from, because I think it would be quite interesting indeed.


Andy Hauge said...

I think you're absolutely on to something. Forums are really a dedicated place to interact, and it makes sense that they focus on a few key games. In a forum, if you don't generate enough conversation, your thread dies. Every post is expected to add something new to the conversation, and if it doesn't, the thread withers.

On G+, you don't actually have to add anything to a conversation to further a game. It's a hybrid between forums and content-sharing. You can keep a link/game/topic alive by simply resharing a post about it. You can also see multiple parallel conversations going on about it, rather easily.

Consider this: on a forum, the most visible threads are those which have multiple pages, which translates to 80+ comments/replies or so. Now consider how that matches up to the average number of comments on a G+ post.

G+ is broad where forums are narrow and deep, I think, and so any good game gets a far better chance at exposure.

w00t said...

With BBF I was very vocal on G+ about the game. Showing snippets, talking about design decisions and posting pictures. I made a lot of friends and when the game came out people were ready to see it.

I don't ever remember posting on a forum before the game came out.

Most sales from the Front Page of RPGNow believe it or not (I'll verify this will Bill). In the first 3 days we skyrocketed to the Top 10 and have never left! Wow and Thank You! We also hold true for Platinum Publishers. I wish I could bottle what we did, but have no clue all the ways it's been successful. :-)

I have noticed there are different people buying different products on RPGNow vs DriveThru - they are basically the same site but tend to push different types of products.

I agree that sites tend to gravitate towards certain products, I'm not an expert but it seems to jive. We've had people from come over to DwD to let us know they love the game and cross-posted some stuff. That's encouraging and it made me create an account. :-)

Zachary Houghton said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. It is really interesting to see where fandom originates and comes from.

It's also been wild to watch the Top 10 at sites like DTRPG and RPGNow since WotC decided to release the old edition pdfs! Business is booming, I imagine!