Monday, June 20, 2011

QC in board gaming, what is going on?

I was really excited for the release of Gozilla Kaiju World Wars, really excited. However after having played the game several times I'm not so happy. I'll be posting a review this week along with a video but the game leaves a lot to be desired especially on the rules front.

So I was a little surprised to see this post on the board game geek forums by the designer Richard Berg. For those not so inclined to follow the link or to see why Richard is going to be re-writing the rules lets just say that Godzilla is suffering from poor reaction. There are some good components in this game and somewhere there is an enjoyable light game but the rules are possibly the worst I have seen.

Richard has made multiple posts indicating that rules were either removed or re-written. In fact the monster cards are missing a range attack defense rating. Richard indicated it was removed but not necessary for play. If that is the case why was it included in the first place and why was he posting about it on the forums?

It really raises an interesting question. How much say does the designer have on the final input of his game? I'm sure this varies by company. For instance I find it hard to believe a designer associated with GMT doesn't see the final rule book before it goes to print. However in the instance of Godzilla if you read a lot of different threads on the subject you get the idea that the system and rules delivered by the designer to the publisher were different then what shipped.

Publishers make calls all the time on making games easier or more accessible but do they do so without consulting the designer? Perhaps I am putting too much of the blame on Toy Vault the publisher. This was a licensed game and by Richard's own account in our interview with him they contacted him. Maybe the designer washed his hands of what happened after submitting the rules and now that the game is taking some well deserved critical hits he is making it right. I find that hard to believe though based on how Richard is responding in the forums.

Whatever the case may be we as gamers are suffering because of the lack of quality control. A company like Fantasy Flight is a much large organization then Toy Vault yet their games lately ship with numerous errors. If you bought the initial version of Civilization you have cards with printing errors. If you bought Mansions of Madness you have a game that has so many errors in some cases it is unplayable out of the box without the faq. In the latter case you have to buy the first expansion to get the fixed mistakes. In fact FFG is re-reprinting an Arkham Horror expansion because, and these are my words not FFG's, the original expansion was pretty much useless.

Wizards of the Coast one of the largest publishers of gaming products has shipped some of their latest games with really poor quality control. The new edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill had such terrible components that I couldn't even play the game because of the warping. Wrath of Ashardalon had cards that warped minutes after unpacking the game. To their credit WOTC replaced the components for free and in the instance of Betrayal actually had them redone on better material.

7 Wonders second edition printing has color errors on the age 3 cards that they are now going to replace. I could name many other games here. These aren't instances of one or two products being damaged in shipping because as gamers we know that can occur.  These are instance of poor quality control and lack of testing.

The average board game cost more then the average video game and the cost continues to rise as the quality goes down. Even though once in a while you get outstanding components for your value in games like Claustrophobia and Dust Tactics the norm lately is damaged products and cheaper material.

Board gaming has been on a recent resurgence in the last five plus years which has allowed companies like FFG to grow and prosper. However if costs continue to rise and quality continues to go down the hobby is going to take a step back.

As gamers we deserve better.


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