For anybody who doesn’t already know, there is currently a poll on VEKN regarding what the we as the current player base would like for the future of VTES. And while I’ve technically had my voice heard by casting my votes, I wanted to also make my case on this blog.
The real problem with a poll like this is that the future of our card game is going to lie in the hands of new players, and not those of current players. This may seem like a strange statement, but it’s true from a number of perspectives. It’s absolutely essential from a business perspective. While I have no idea how many people have participated in the currently poll, 440 participated in the previous VEKN poll regarding the use of proxy cards. Now it’s certainly true that not everybody who plays VTES voted on that referendum, but I would be surprised to learn that the people who filled out that poll represented a minority of VTES players. So lets be generous and assume that there are currently 1000 active VTES players world wide. That’s a pretty good number, but it simply isn’t enough to justify anything other than a small print-on-demand style production of VTES. A player base of 1000 certainly won’t convince distributors or gaming stores to carry a new product. New players will be the key to making VTES profitable again.
But it’s also true from our perspective as current players. Most of us have watched our play groups shrink; without new players it is an inevitability – people move away (sadly, like me), they have big life changes that take them away from old hobbies, or they simply grow tired of an old game. Player attrition is experienced by every game, and ours has proven to be no exception. My retrospective on 2015 is still in the works, but let me just say that the quantity of events and the number of attendees continues to fall. A unique problem faced by our game is the fact that we require 4-5 players to play. This means that once a play groups slips to only 3 active members, our community suddenly losses those 3 who would have remained active assuming they had been playing some other dead CCG. Attrition wipes whole play groups off the map. And this isn’t a hypothetical circumstance. Just ask around on the forums to see how many people are the only person left from their playgroup. If we active players want to have the ability to play our game, we have to embrace new players.
And thus we return to the poll. Based on my thinking that new players are the life blood of the game, I think a poll about the future of VTES should be aimed at what is most likely to draw in the most new players, rather than what we want for ourselves. While it would be hoped that currently players have the good of the game foremost in mind (because a healthy game means that we’ll be able to continue playing), this simply isn’t so. There is a basic conflict of interest. The majority of VTES players have indicated that they would most favor a straight up reprint of old cards and the pdf sets, an attitude that makes sense given that each of us has spent considerable capital gathering cards into our collections, and none of us relish the thought of these cards suddenly becoming unusable. The problem is that a reprint of the game is almost certainly the option least likely to entice a new player to join. How many perspective new players (other than insane people like me) would be willing to pick up a game with 27 prior expansions and promo cards?! Even if old cards were essentially given away for free, new players would be supremely overwhelmed by the vast number of card choices and effects. The poll options that I judge most likely to garner new players (new card games – including a non-compatible reboot of VTES, which isn’t even an option on the poll!) are those that have gained the very least support among current players.
I honestly think that while a print-on-demand reprint of the game like that proposed by OneBookShelf is better than the current situation, it will also escort VTES into final death. The only upside to such a program is that players who already know and love the game can buy more cards. It does nothing to promote the game or bring it to new audiences. In short, it does nothing to draw in new players. And if the future of VTES isn’t good for new players, it won’t be good for any of us.
Until next time, may you embrace a new player, and remember that their needs are our needs,