Saturday, January 15, 2011

Discontinued lines / Where do games go when they die?

I have been bereaved twice this year, as two game lines I own have been discontinued. It's a heavy loss, made harder by the fact that not one person has stopped to ask me how i'm getting on.
The world, it seems, does not care.

Yet, as I struggle to cope with life without the regular publication of supporting supplements and accessories,   I look up at my book shelf, and they're still there.
Maybe these books are the lifeless husks of the games. Maybe I should arrange a funeral.

So, in 2010, both Star Wars Saga Edition and The World of Darkness were discontinued. SWSE is no longer supported by Wizards of the Coast, as their product license has lapsed, and WoD is still marginally supported, with White Wolf producing the occasional PDF book as they clear out their possessions, and you can still get character sheets from their web page.

Back in, oh, 2003, White Wolf decided to discontinue the 'old' World of Darkness line, ending all support for it bar the occasional on-line bone, and to concentrate their efforts on the 'new' World of Darkness. One blog entry I read at the time pointed out that their Mage: The Ascension books were still on their shelf, and they could and would continue playing them for the foreseeable future.
In short, the game would not die.

Now, White Wolf / CCP have announced that their MMO game will focus on the 'old' World of Darkness. So the game has been revived.

There also seems to be a renaissance of 'old school' D&D, with games like Labyrinth Lord enjoying popularity and success. It looks like the original rule set for D&D never died, it just slept and has now resurfaced, riding the wave of 4th Edition backlash.

I'm trying to think of a game that has stayed dead. Maybe Chill. The old d6 West End Games Star Wars game, although many would argue that the game had such a massive effect on the expanded universe that it lives on. Or something.

Maybe that's the thing - as long as there's a fan base, the game will never truly die. Maybe that's horse shit. I've a load of books on my shelf now that are officially unsupported. That's pretty dead. Soon I'll struggle to get character sheets. The only sources of new material or discussion will be unmoderated, morally dubious fan sites.
There will be no news, no interesting or cool release around the corner. I will have nothing to covet or anticipate.
If I take these games to a new gaming group, they'll either look at me in blank incomprehension or make comments about retro gaming or old school systems.

I now possess the RPG equivalent of my dad's record collection.