New Chaosium Licensee

A Steven sent me the following press release for the Call of Cthulhu game:

Super Genius Games (SGG), an imprint of OtherWorld Creations (OWC), and Chaosium, Inc. proudly announce the completion of a deal allowing SGG to begin publishing a new line of official Call of Cthulhu role-playing game supplements…

Although no release dates have yet been announced, the first product is slated to be on store shelves and available for paid PDF download before the end of Q3 2008, with a price point under $15 (US).

“We believe there are lots of people out there who want to play Call of Cthulhu more often,” said Stan!, Creative Director for Super Genius Games. “But there isn’t the depth of material available that there is for other games. In particular, there aren’t enough easily accessible adventures designed to be played in just a night or two…

Don’t get me wrong. I always like to see more Call of Cthulhu adventures, and I wish these guys the best. But… let me grab something from the shelf.

Before me now sits a copy of Chaosium’s book Secrets, the first in their Fright Nights series, published in 1997. As the introduction tells us:

We expect that each adventure can be played within a single session. With a bit more time, two might be completed in one night.

The book contained a total of four scenarios, retailing for $8.95. I should add that it looks much like any other RPG softcover, with black and white illustrations, maps, and gorgeous handouts.

I don’t know how Secrets performed, but it was the last in the Fright Nights series. Though I did particularly like the scenario “A Cult of One”, the book quickly sank into obscurity and is currently OOP. In the meantime, a product like Beyond the Mountains of Madness, which sold for over four times as much, has not only sold through every time it appeared, but attained something of a legendary status. It’s telling that none of the collectors has chimed in yet on this Yog-Sothoth thread with the comment, “Boy, that sounds an awful lot like Secrets!”

Now, I don’t know how well Chaosium did with Secrets or why they haven’t published a similar volume. (For example, Chaosium doesn’t really solicit books, so it could just be that no one’s proposed one.) Still, it might indicate that CoC doesn’t have a large market of people who are dying to play one-shot adventures who simply can’t find low-cost material.

To end on a positive note, I think the best way to make such a line succeed would be to aim for tournament-style scenarios set in an unusual place and time. Regular CoC players love those, so the line would sell well to them even if the new gamers weren’t buying. It seems to me that the third-party products that do the best are not the cheaper or the easier ones, but those that find a niche in terms of subject matter that Chaosium isn’t doing. I think that’s the way to make a project like this work.

UPDATE: Nick Middleton notes that both Before the Fall and the Compact Trail of Tsathoggua were also releases in the Fright Night series.  So at least three of these books were published from 1997-98, ranging in price from $8.95 to $11.95.  I’m still skeptical as to its long-term viability, but we don’t have the data to indicate one way or another.

At any rate, good luck to Stan! and Super Genius Games, who have already proven to be responsive to potential customer concerns, including this post.

Published in: on April 16, 2008 at 10:30 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] scarce two weeks.  First, there’s Super Genius Games, whose marketing strategy I discussed here.  Super Genius is doing a great job on answering questions, working up advertising, and doing what […]

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