I got in a discussion yesterday on twitter with some gamer buddies. It all started when I remarked about my disappointment that, with all the munchkin re-themes and new versions, Steve Jackson Games never seems to make any effort to target the biggest problems that many gamers have with the game.
Now, Munchkin is very popular and obviously it sells, and continues to sell very well. I don’t have exact sales figures but it must be worth it to continue printing new copies and new “versions” that essentially break down as being the same exact game but with a new coat of paint each time.
Now there is a certain financial sense to releasing a product that will certainly sell, and not mucking with the formula. But to me, that is a mindset of cashing in – instead of “how can we make a new great game?” or even “how can we make our game even better?” it seems to be “how can we sell more copies easily?”
In my mind, offering a new version of Munchkin that has the same sense of humor and “take-that” attitude but with rule changes that shorten the game down to about 30 minutes (which is about when the humor and the fun of ‘take-that!’ turns runs out) would only serve to broaden the audience. It may be a risk to mess with the formula – but you don’t have to remove the original product from market.
And honestly, even with fans of the game, I’ve never seen anyone laud the game length. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that fans would still enjoy a 30-minute Munchkin. They’d probably just play it 4 times, which is totally fine. And it would open up the game to a whole new audience of people who want to like the game, but just find that it takes way too long.
Personally I’d like to see something more out of the company. I’d like to see them take a risk, make a new game instead of re-releasing the exact same one over and over again. I’d like to see them attempt to better their games, to listen to the complaints that are out there.
I understand the business need to make money and mitigate risk; but as someone who would like to love Munchkin, it’s disappointing to see edition after edition that makes absolutely no change to the formula. I will never pick up a new version of Munchkin and I will never recommend the game to anyone else until something is different. And as a leader in the board-game-publishing world, SJGames of all companies seems like it should be able to take some risks, and try something new.
So, what about you guys? Do you wish that publishers like SJGames should be more proactive in updating/fixing game rules, or do you think that SJG is totally right in its business strategy? Answer in the comments