@philryuh, in another thread, asked me if I see the need for another edition of #Pax Porfiriana. I basically replied that, personally, I don't see a need for a redesign or a refresh. But I also acknowledged that Pax Porf is a weird game, and one that will not appeal to very many players. I do believe that. I further believe that the ones to whom Pax Porf appeals will genuinely like or love the game. The ones for whom Pax Porf is not the right game will find it to be like #Munchkin.
This got me thinking about the appeal in games. It seems to my overly simplistic mind that there are several basic groups of games. And, BGA I hate to do this, but for the purposes of this illustration I will use data from BGG.
- There are those games which are incredibly solid and popular. They tend to have a the large majority of their ratings in the 7s or 8s.
- An example of such a game would be #Codenames. On BGG we find: 111 1s, 141 2s, 318 3s, 744 4s, 1800 5s, 7500 6s, 16000 7s, 25000 8s, 9500 9s, 4600 10s.
- Then there are those games that are just universally disliked. I don't think any of us have to think very hard about games that are almost universaly disliked in our hobby.
- Then, there are those games that which have a lot high ratings, and a lot of low ratings, and not a lot in between. These games fascinate me because it seems like it is for a particular group of people. There aren't just a lot of these games out there. The reason for this is because most of the time the publisher knows it's audience and focuses it's marketing effort on their specific audience. This is why you don't see #High Frontier 4 All in Target. Ion/SMG are focusing their marketing in other directions.
- Lastly, and this is related to the above sort, there are those games that are made for very small groups of people. The restrictions can be of various sources.
- Price: #Too Many Bones, #Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy, and #On Mars are all games that have been tremendously well recieved. But, they still have comparitivly few copies out there, the issue is that they are very expensive games.
- Complexity: For many people, looking at a complexity scale on BGG, and seeing that a game comes in over 4-4.2 it automatically scares a lot of people of.
- Theme: There are several themes that are extremely specific. #High Frontier 4 All and #Leaving Earth are very complex, scientificly accuarate stimulations of the exploration of near space. If one takes a look at HF4E and starts seeing terms like: rad-hardness, LEO, ISRU's, and etc.... they usually run off. The same could be said of 18xx style games. Alternatively if the theme is just too off the wall the sales of the games can suffer. I am thinking of games like #Cerebria: The Inside World, #Myrmes, or #Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr
So, for me, I do prefer games that are either marketed at a specific audience or who have lots of the a lot of high and low ratings. I find that the generally well regarded games are fun but they typically don't explore as interesting a design space, for me at least.
I want the hobby as a whole to be inviting. But, I welcome and embrace divisive games. I want games that some people love and some people won't touch with a 10 foot pole. For me, #Kingdom Death: Monster is one such game. I have a problem with the art assets, I hate the theme, I hate the price... I am glad that our hobby is big enough that we can have groups of people who love train games, or war games, or #Kingdom Death: Monster, or weird old euros. And, I really don't mind when I am in the group that is excluded.
So, what do you look for. Do you like "popular games?" Do you look for games that are crafted for you, but maybe not for very many others?