Hidden City hidden up Gen Con’s… website?

For those who didn’t spot my comment, I went back and played Dragon Hoard, the in-browser casual game hosted rather incongruously on a section (which it currently occupies all by its lonesome) of Gen Con’s site labeled “Gen Con Now.” I have no idea how long it’s been there, but seeing as how I found it when I went to look for the press release about the bankruptcy filing, well, I kinda reacted.

Dragon Hoard is fine. It’s a fairly original casual game – it’s all about dragging stuff, which might not be to your taste, but hey. The only problem with this game is where they put it; games like this currently live or die on a flood of people looking for something clicky and mindless to do (and there’s no shame in that whatsoever). Said people are not currently coming to Gen Con’s web site to find it, and won’t be in the near future, no matter how badly Gen Con wants another revenue stream. Now, maybe there are plans to hook Dragon Hoard up to the usual spigots (BigFish, Yahoo Games, whatever), but right this second, the partnership here between Gen Con and DH’s developers Hidden City Games – that is, Peter Adkison’s other company, publishers of Clout Fantasy and US licensors of Bella Sara – seems even more unfortunate in light of Gen Con’s admittedly unforeseeable new resource crunch.

So, okay. Maybe not what I would have done from a business standpoint, but fine. I go on about my business, and get this thing I read about on Penny Arcade, this Spectromancer. From the description and title alone, you know it’s gonna be a bounce off of Magic, but reading the website I’m surprised to learn that Richard Garfield and Magic R&D legend Skaff Elias actually did development work on the game design. I download, I run the installer, and what’s the publisher’s name on the newly created folder? Hidden City Games. Well, that’s… actually pretty cool. And yet, where does the link go if you click through to Spectromancer’s discussion boards? To community.gencon.com.

Maybe I’m the only one this is all news to, and again, nothing’s wrong with Spectromancer as a game – there are some translation issues right now, but the ways in which it simplifies M:tG are actually really elegant and appealing – but does anyone else think it’s a little weird how thoroughly Hidden City seems to be leaning on Gen Con right now? Especially given that Gen Con’s got trouble and Hidden City’s got pony crack?


  1. I’m having some difficulty following your train of thought on this one? Are you assuming some sort of conspiracy? Do you feel that they have done something wrong or dumb?

    I found Dragon Hoard about two weeks ago I think. I had about the same reaction as you did but my assumption was that they hadn’t yet decided what to do with it.

  2. I’m honestly not sure why this rubs me the wrong way. I am in no way alleging anything illegal. It just seems… I dunno… unsanitary somehow.

  3. Well, lets be fair here… it might just be something as simple as server consolidation to save some green. We don’t know and probably never will.

  4. That’s exactly what it is, yes. But… OK, looking at this from the perspective of a small game publisher, I’d be thinking: okay, what other deals is Peter Adkison giving his other company on Gen Con’s behalf? Does Hidden City get a booth discount at Gen Con Indy?

    On the other hand, it’s entirely possible, indeed likely, that all this website cross-hosting wackiness is in fact no kind of discount or deal at all, but contractually negotiated the same way any other exchange of services would be. Which is fine; it’s just unfortunate that it currently looks a little weird to eyes that don’t have all the info.

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