Well, hello again all you kool peeps!
Today I would like to touch on a subject that as a game collector is pretty near and dear to my core.
Versioning is when a company updates and rereleases it's IP (intellectual property) over and over again, sometimes to the detriment of the product. Most companies do this in one form or another, some do it religiously whether it is warranted or not.
So before I go off on a "rant" let me be perfectly clear. I understand the need for a company to be profitable. I understand the need to remain solvent and build revenue streams while producing a product that is appreciated by your customer base. I understand the need to improve product for safety reasons or if there are real issues with the original. Now that that is out of the way, let's continue.
We see versioning in everything from game companies, the auto industry, Hollywood, drug companies, and electronics. Almost everywhere you go there is a "new and improved" version of something you already own out there. What I have an issue with is using versioning as the revenue stream and throwing innovation and originality out the door.
How many movies have you seen in the last 10 years that are remakes? How many superhero movies, in particular, have retold origin stories over and over again (**choke** Batman and Spiderman). How many of us truly do not know the backstories of these icons?
Originality in gaming also suffers greatly. Everyone creates a dungeon crawl boardgame so they can try and cash in on the current Dungeons and Dragon craze. Everyone throws together their original campaign to try and make a buck.
Hell, I get it. As a neophyte designer I catch myself falling into the ruts that plague the industry, rehashing that poor horse which has been beat to death, raised by the necromancer and beat again and again. Part of the issue is that people who are newer to the hobby do not do any research as to what is in market already. They are excited because they have something, they feel is original and they rush to market it without knowing anything about the history. I've seen it and heard the sales pitches and about 80% of what is pitched is a rehashed concept that is unknowingly presented.
That is an innocent and honest mistake. Where the real versioning comes in is when a larger company releases an update to their IP every two years with new and improved rules and usually in validates previous editions officially. Wizards of the Coast and Games Workshop being prime examples of this.
Since WOTC acquired the Dungeons and Dragons property April 10, 1997 they have rehashed the system 4 times releasing then invalidating hundreds of books and supplements. That in and of itself I could live with, IF they came up with new worlds and concepts every time, leaving each version as it's own self-contained system. How many different versions of Ravenloft do we need? Personal opinion is that they could have followed a similar pattern to Magic the Gathering where each version had a unique world and campaign with the updated rules, again my opinion. It irks me that they just regurgitate old material under the new rules set because they aren't coming up with enough new material to sustain the line quick enough. Again, originality is dead.
Games Workshop's Warhammer has seen different iterations over the years since 1983. I will admit that lately they have been doing pretty stellar with new models (for the same old armies) and releasing new rules to use your models in different ways through their skirmish and board game systems. However, through the 90's and early 2000's they were absolutely terrible about taking figures out of circulation for a time then re-releasing the exact same miniature in new packaging and selling it as a new original. Age of Sigmar canon completely destroyed the Old World and even changed the way armies fight from rank and file to a looser system. Again, the last 10 years have been pretty good; however, every Codex and Battletome changes rules making it a bit difficult to keep up with.
All this being said, just because a game rereleases a new hot version doesn't mean you should trash the older version. Games can remain playable even if it's not on an official level. Obsolescence doesn't mean you can enjoy it. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go drool over my second edition of Zombicide.
Redneck Game Gawd