Marketing is vital to the growth of any industry, whether it’s done by professionals or amateurs. I’m not a professional marketing person by any stretch, but I do have a few thoughts to share on this particular aspect of our hybrid hobby/industry.
First, it should be noted that the various clones and simulacra are, for the most part, interchangeable not only with one another, but also with the 1970’s/80’s versions of (A)D&D they seek to emulate. This is an important point, but one which seems to be lost in the marketing and informational efforts not only of the new companies producing the material, but TARGA (the hobbyist organization founded to promote the OSR’s efforts in general, and of whose board of directors I am a member) as well.
Someone new coming in and seeing folks talking about OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, Castles & Crusades, Mazes & Minotaurs, Dragons at Dawn, Dark Dungeons, Myth & Magic, Microlite 74, Spellcraft & Swordplay, LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing, Adventures Dark and Deep, the LBB’s, Basic D&D, AD&D, etc. etc. etc. is bound to be overwhelmed and confused. Unless they understand that all of those games are basically compatible with one another, and just represent different emphases or expansions of the same basic framework, it will seem like a bewildering mess. But that vital datum seems to be completely lost in and amongst the noise. Those of us who follow (and participate in) the OSR daily are certainly aware of it, but it’s not necessarily obvious to an outsider.
How many more OSRIC modules would be sold if folks were reminded that they could play them with Labyrinth Lord? How many more Swords & Wizardry modules would be sold if more people realized that they could play them with their old AD&D books without batting an eye?
One of the problems with the OSR isn’t competition between a dozen or so rules sets. It’s the perception of competition, driven by the fact that compatibility isn’t emphasized.