I spend what can be fairly called “too much time” reading the forums at RPG.net. It’s become habit over the last seven years, since I first found the place in 2002. As I first explored the roleplaying hobby, RPG.net was an amazing one-stop shop for reviews and interactive discussion. Every topic and opinion was new, shiny and required thorough investigation.
I feel differently now. Seven years later, the recurring questions and cyclical patterns of a discussion forum make themselves apparent. Someone always wants to know what is the best system for a particular game concept. Another person has an extensive alternate take on some published setting. And rancor is always, always fomented by asking questions that can’t be answered with any degree of satisfaction.
Take, for example, this thread about Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition. The game only had a preview display case at Gen Con and people are already concerned about whether its $100 price point will set a new standard for core roleplaying materials. And that’s not even getting into the needless debates over whether the play style could somehow bastardize the pastime of roleplaying by introducing board game-like components.
For questions like that, the only sensible answer is it’s much too early to tell. In fact, the only time it will be possible to tell will be a year or so after Fantasy Flight Games publishes their edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Only then, after consumers have or have not bought into the game in numbers making the model worthwhile, and other publishers have or have not followed suit in mimicking the game design, can a person come up with a useful analysis of how the game design and price point affected the market. Until then, it’s all hand-wringing and guesses of varying degrees of education.