RPG Awards

The ENnie Awards are currently undergoing a review.  This post serves as an open submission to those undertaking the review.  I've posted it online with the hope of providing some insight to those who are looking to self-publish their own RPG products.

Awards are important for all RPG publishers - particularly small, independent publishers. To illustrate why, it might be helpful to briefly describe my view of the wider industry.  

Games sell by reputation. A small portion of people are willing to try new games and experiment, but the bulk of the market buy based on word-of-mouth.  There are a couple of ways that you can generate 'buzz' to drive sales:
  • use an established retail network
  • leverage an established internet following
  • demo it at large RPG conventions (which are almost all in North America or Western Europe).
  • win, or be nominated for, a significant award
For self-publishers who aren't based in North America or Europe (like me) awards represent a significant opportunity to get much needed exposure. They also represent an important way to showcase diverse voices and encourage people to participate in the industry.

I've previously described the ENnie Awards as the beautiful agony.  A self-publisher may be able to gain a nomination through the review of the judges - which is huge.  But the chances of actually winning in any category but those of free game or supplement are remote, due to voting.

In some ways I like the idea of public voting for awards - after all what can be fairer than a democratic process?  But there are obvious considerations.  Awards can be divisive, particularly for those who feel their voices aren't being heard, such as in the case of the Hugo Awards.  

Then there's the scale of competition. For example, let's imagine there are awards for soda drinks in the same way as the ENnie Awards. In 2010 Coca Cola released Coke Zero, Pepsi released Cherry Vanilla Pepsi, and Hosmer Mountain Bottling Company released Hosmer Dangerous Ginger Beer. All three are nominated for an award.  Even if 90% of all the people who have purchased Hosmer Ginger Beer vote for it to win, they will be vastly outstripped if only 1% of those who have purchased Coke Zero vote for that.  And based on market share in 2010, Pepsi will always come second. 

Public voting will always favour bigger publishers, or those who have the ability to leverage large audiences.  It may not reflect quality, innovative or important works. The ENnies do award the Judges Spotlight awards, which are awarded to products not nominated for an award, selected by individual judges.  From the perspective of a small publisher these are actually better than a nomination where you have no chance of winning.

Public voting aside, there's also an obvious disparity in comparing a product which a single person has created, with something that has multiple writers, professional art and layout, and editing.

It's all well and good to critique something, but I always appreciate it when people provide suggestions at the same time, so here are my recommendations to address the above points:

  • Retain Public Voting for Judges, Fan’s Choice - Best Publisher and create a new award for Fan's Choice - Best Product
  • All other categories to be based on Judges deliberations (perhaps also include a judge who won an award in the previous year and has nothing in contention this year).
  • Make a summary of the Judges deliberations available after the awards
  • Create categories in some awards for small, mid and large publishers with guidelines based on revenue (i.e. small = less than $1,000 per year, large is $100,000 or more and mid is everything in between).  Publishers pick the category when they submit.
  • Create a new Award for Best New Talent, for anyone who hasn't submitted a product before, and ask those who wish to be nominated to submit a small bio.
  • Create a new award for Services to Gaming to be awarded to anyone who has made a significant contribution, in terms of supporting diversity, promoting charity or doing good works in gaming.

Full disclosure: I've had products nominated for 6 different ENnie Awards and won a Judges Spotlight Award.

Death of Legends on Once Upon A Game

Tune in to watch Moretm, Ell, Eric and GoldenH play Death of Legends on the premiere of season 5 of Once Upon a Game.  Will the Legends recover the Entropy hammer before the Enemy destroys the Free Territories? Will they be betrayed?  Will any survive?

Death of Legends in French

Now you can take the epic struggle against the Enemy into le fran├žais! 

A French version of our award-winning game Death of Legends is now available via Drive-ThruRPG.com and RPGNow.com with the translation has been completed by French publisher Gulix. 

IT's Sale Time

To celebrate the return of a horror classic, and Halloween being right around the corner, we're discounting digital titles on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow by 50%.  Check out the full range here.

And if you like creepy clowns be sure to check out EPOCH scenario 'Price Slash' in the core EPOCH rules!

Instruments - A First Look

As you may have seen from our Twitter feed, we have a new game is in development.  Instruments of the Chrysanthemum Throne will be our first game designed for multi-session (as well as one-off) play.  Like our other games, the focus will be on character driven stories with game mechanics that enhance this style of play.

Why Instruments of the Chrysanthemum Throne?
The game is set in a mythic past Japan, where the characters are tasked with using powerful Tsukumogami (objects that have achieved sentience after 99 years) in order to try and restore order on behalf of the Chrysanthemum Throne (The Emperor of Japan, his court and the Ministry of the Imperial Government).

What's the game about?
A main focus of the game will be how the characters balance drawing power from the Instruments with retaining their humanity, as they find innovative solutions to a legion of supernatural creatures and natural disasters that plague Japan.

How can I be involved?
If you'd like to be involved, we'll be looking for playtesters and peer-reviewers to provide comment on the early draft.  A formal announcement will be posted here in due course but you can drop us a line to register interest now if you like.

We're also on the lookout for artists, who might be interested in producing some pieces on commission on this subject matter - if you know someone, ask them to get in touch using the above address.

If you're going to be in Wellington (New Zealand) in late October, you can sign up to play in an open playtest at Confusion 2017.

Will there be a Kickstarter?
Nope.  This product will be released when it's done (hopefully before the end of the year), and you can choose whether to buy it then.

Christmas in July

The Christmas in July sale is now on, which means you can get 25% off the full range of our digital titles including our bestselling games like survival horror game EPOCH and whodunit mystery game Wicked Lies & Alibis for the next week.

Vote Machine in 2017

Hi there

You've probably always voted human up until now, which is entirely understandable. But I'd like to tell you about an exciting new machine option for the 2017 ENnie Roleplaying Awards.

Fragment is a game which explores the increasingly complex relationship between human and machine.  It's been nominated in the category of Best Electronic Book and here's why I think it deserves your vote:
  • Fragment is free, like many of the machines in your daily life, it exists only to make you happy.
  • Fragment is a story game that supports you to tell the stories of discarded machines, and their human creators, while exploring the Last City.
  • Fragment was written in a single week as part of the 2016 Game Chef competition, and from these humble origins, it's mounting a scrappy campaign to compete for your vote against best-selling titles.
Did you know voting is free and doesn't require registration?

To cast a vote, all you need to do is go:

Rank your choices in order from the list provided, and click vote.  Like so many things in life, machines are working tirelessly to make this process as easy as possible.

This ENnie Awards, please consider a vote for Fragment in the category of Best Electronic Game and give hope to machines everywhere.

- Votebot 2050