Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Exploding Kitten Situation

There is a huge Kickstarter going on right now for a game about Exploding Kittens. I read this blog post about it and it sparked enough interest I needed to jot my thoughts down too.

Exploding Kittens is making a lot of money and good for them. The Oatmeal is a funny website. The guy makes really funny, completely original content and that is one of the hardest things in this world to do. He is a master-class promoter, too, and when you combine those abilities you get crazy stuff like a Tesla Museum or a game about exploding cats.

What is this general malaise I feel, looking at the Kickstarter which is now topping $1,800,000?

One of Hung's issues was the huge number of people from outside the gaming community who were jumping on the wagon, merely because it was illustrated and promoted by The Oatmeal. This should be good, right? It's good to bring new people in. And it IS good to bring people in. We should all be happy.

There's an elephant in the room in the board gaming community. Every single gamer who has even casually strolled through the board game isle at Target or Walmart knows it to be true. In 90% of the board game market, the true board game market comprised of everyone who buys board games, game play has no value whatsoever. The actual rules of the game are entirely immaterial.

Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers figured it out a long, long time ago. The reasons people buy board games, unless you are the kind of board game aficionado most gamers assume all board game buyers are (when they obviously aren't) are completely separate to any judgement of quality whatsoever. They buy the game with the Disney characters on the front. Or even the John Kovalic illustrations.

And like so many other, more important things in society I have to sit back and reaffirm the simple truths:

This is the way of the world. I didn't choose for it to be this way. And so it goes.

But, say about 900,000 people start their gaming careers with Exploding Kittens. For 810,000 people, that is the only game they will ever play. Most of them will never even play it, but instead stick it in their closet where it will languish in shrink wrap hell for all eternity.

But 90,000 people will wonder if there is more out there. Imagine…90,000 people! Say a tenth of that start playing games I'm interested in. 9000.

The Kickstarter for Exploding Kittens is not for a game. It is a Kickstarter for a brand that everyone really enjoys, enjoys enough to plop down some serious coin.

But the unintended result, and this I am certain of, is that I will get at least 1 new Star Realms opponent somewhere down the road. That 1 single person is worth the anticipated $28 million dollars of other people's money. And its worth the inevitable newspaper articles around this Oatmeal guy.

I will bide my time, and shuffle my cards.

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