So here was my little mystery story tonight: go by Cheapass’ news page, be surprised to find a press release from GameTable Online. In the press release, find this: “Instead of subscribers in thousands, we have yet to break the 200 subscriber mark.” Oh, wait, that’s pretty interesting but not what I’m talking about. Here it is: “The great news is that a recent sale of the license to use our game platform, now called Metagameâ„¢, and contract game work have provided us with the resources to […]” Well, wait a minute; this release was posted in June, and who might have been shopping for a board game engine around then? Ohhhh. A trip to the Metagame website confirms it: the same engine that powers GTO will be powering the online board games on Gleemax. So if you’d like a preview, I guess subscribe to GTO.
But man… 200 subscribers? It makes a kind of terrible sense, given how many of those crappy free play-by-web games are out there that people put incredible amounts of work into for no compensation at all – not even players. GTO’s offering is pretty far from terrible; it’s well-executed, attractive and solid. And I happen to know how bloody much work it takes to code that. Hell, making the crappy kind is more work than I want to do. And it still only gets you 200 subscribers. I guess enough people are willing to make this kind of thing for free that the value just gets driven down. Well, okay, and the case for subscribing to a mildly random selection of board games is quite different from, say, the case for D&D Insider’s playtable (which will run on a completely different engine, just to be clear). But it doesn’t bode well, although the analogy is still not perfect, for the financial success of efforts like WotC’s upcoming Uncivilized, or that one game I was going to start a company and do someday, or of, um, the Gleemax online board games. *sigh* Glad I could cheer us all up!