Saying Exactly the Right Things

A quick follow-up to yesterday’s news regarding online gaming from WotC and Paizo. Here’s Lisa Stevens, Paizo CEO, on their strategy:

Just to make things 100% clear, we don’t care what VTT tool people end up using. If you like or d20Pro or Fantasy Grounds or Nferno or whatever, then that is fine and dandy with us. Keep using them and playing games. We just wanted to give folks another option here on Paizo Game Space. We aren’t in competition with the other VTTs. We aren’t going to be trying to outcompete and steal their customers away. People can play with whatever VTT strikes their fancy. We will make ours the way it makes the most sense for us, and if folks don’t like that and like some other VTT better, then awesome.

I know that sounds like crazy talk, to not want to crush your enemies and hear the lamentations of the women, but we are crazy like that here at Paizo. In the end, we just want people to be able to play more regularly. If that is here, then great. If it is somewhere else, that is cool too.

Man, but that’s a terrific attitude.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

3 thoughts on “Saying Exactly the Right Things

  1. Well, that does sound cool and clearly their actions do back up what she is saying.

    The Paizo store sells a lot of other games besides just Pathfinder and they regularly advertise 3rd Party or other games.

    Now, if Paizo will give the go ahead to release Official Products for Pathfinder on Fantasy Grounds. That would make things very helpful.

  2. I absolutely like that her response is positive, but that should be expected (both because of who she is and what her position dictates). At the same time, gamers should understand that it is ok for companies to make money and to do things to make money.

    Sure, when an RPG company is making a VTT they aren't trying to clobber the rest of the market. That is true of everything they do. Shadowrun or L5R don't write an edition to crush all others, they write an edition to make a great popular game. There is plenty of space in the industry. Even at the largest companies, Paizo and Wizards, it is very plain to see there is no plan for complete domination of the space. Even though they enjoy the lion's share of the industry, they clearly value other games and companies and want to see a rich and diverse industry.

    Along those lines, Paizo's VTT should be aiming to be great in some regards. Maybe it is convenience. Maybe it is integration. There must be _some_ way for this VTT to be a worthy project in the gamers'/consumers' eyes. Otherwise, it isn't worth doing.

    Put it this way: if you aren't making a VTT to be a better option to some people than another VTT, then you are making a very poor solution. However, you are also hopefully growing the number of people interested in a VTT and stimulating that aspect of the industry (in the same way that L5R and Shadowrun have often stimulated D&D or the other way around).

    Lisa's statement is positive, but it isn't really information. The question isn't "are you guys dicks" – gamers should know they aren't. The question should be what their vision is, what the product will look like, its pricing, and how it compares to the rest of the industry. If it is good, it will impact other companies – not because Paizo is evil, but because this is a competitive marketplace. So long as both the offering and the other companies are capable enough, this will make them stronger.

    Finally, Paizo should absolutely care what tool people end up using. A product or service should have goals, and those goals should be met. If you spend $500k to build a VTT and no one comes, that's a waste.

    The only reason it wouldn't matter is if this were such a tiny effort and offering that it isn't worth mentioning or tracking. Here's a silly widget, use it or don't, whatever, here's my actual product line. If that's the model, they should make that clear – the fan base is already placing huge expectations on what the VTT will support.

  3. Bear in mind if you read through the thread linked in the original post, you'll see a lot of statements from her and other Paizo staff about the specific project.

    I just highlighted that particular quote because I liked the attitude it displayed, not because it was particularly informative about the project.

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