So FFG (part of the Asmodee all assimulating collective) announced the other day Mansions of Madness 2.0 or second edition.
Why would I mention this fact here? It's not as if I've played the first edition or such a big fan I'm always playing the game and talking about it.
What bought it to my attention and guaranteed I will never buy the game, just as I will never buy Portal Games up coming game First Martians, no matter how good the game is, that the game has an integral app that means you can't play the game without the app.
I have in the past talked about this very subject. I'm a fan of companion apps that add to the experience, or replace some functionality of the game, but the game can still be played with out the app. It's not needed.
As soon as you can only play the game with the app, I'm out. The publisher will not be seeing me opening my wallet and parting with hard earned cash to purchase their game. I'll happily play the game (at least once) if some other sap has been fooled into parting with their cash for a “magic bean”.
Already one of my points has been made, Golem Arcana a miniatures game that relies on an integral app to play is no longer being supported. No new expansions, no app updates. That's it. Done, finished.
“The most recent code-update from the end of 2015 is the final state of the App, representing our best foot forward for supporting as many iOS and Android devices and operating systems as possible at that time. We recognize that there are still many minor bugs and sometimes unexpected behavior, and that future devices or OS updates may create additional bugs.“
So as the above quote from the Arcana Golem publisher admits, they are aware of and make similar if not the same points I've made in the past.
I'll give another example, Lords of Waterdeep the app. Still being sold on the App Store for £4.99, hasn't been updated for a year if I remember correctly. On my iPhone 6s unplayable, start a game with AI players, finish a round, before the game can start the second round it restarts the game at round one with a new secret id, as if you are just starting the game again. On my iPad it plays fine, no problem. The difference? My iPhone is on iOS 9.3.3 while the iPad is on 9.3.2!
This demonstrates one of my points. It can not be assumed that the publisher/developer will always provide updates, and that the app will always work. Maintaining a program is an overhead. A costly overhead. Have these companies factored this in? Are they prepared to keep this app updated at least on a yearly bases for a minimum of five years? Why five years? I plucked the number out of the air, and thought that would be a minimum a gamer should expect the publisher/developer to keep the app going. Arcana Golem didn't even make that (coming out in 2014).
But hey as you can probably guess I feel passionately about this. Oh well my words on this little niche blog with its small but exclusive readership won't change a thing, or cause the likes of Eric Lang and Ignacy Trzewiczek to rethink the issue. Heck why would they listen to me? The Dice Tower crew and their stable mates from the various podcasts and YouTube shows carry far more weight than here.
But I'll keep shouting about this and how it's like the Emperors new clothes. Luckily I like the sound of my own voice!