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Major Companies Boycott GenCon

The BIG news this week is the announcement that several role-playing game companies, some of which are industry heavyweights, will be boycotting this year's GenCon. Currently, eight games have declared they will not be attending, including Steve Jackson Games, Palladium Games, and R. Talsorian.

GenCon, the all-US convention held in Milwaukee every year, is the largest gaming convention in the world. The running of the convention has recently been placed into the hands of Andon Unlimited, and its parent company Wizards of the Coast. It seems the new management has caused some friction.

The main problem cited was the change in pricing policies, which resulted in some costs rising more than 50%. Andon has also changed the policy for the allocation of space at the convention, giving extreme bias towards a select few companies, and forcing the other companies to scramble for what remains. Other problems cited were poor management, an unsuitable site and the falling attendance rates of previous years. It is believed these problems will lead to fans having to pay more for a lower quality convention.

Some say that Andon's practices will also lead to the squeezing out of the newer, smaller who may be unable to afford the price hike. It is this elitist attitude to which some of the companies are taking offense. "We object to the industry clean-up which the Big Guys are trying to do by discouraging smaller companies from attending" said Pierre Oulette, of fellow boycotter Dream Pod 9 (makers of Heavy Gear). Andon has since threatened some of the major companies that their lack of attendance will be interpreted as a sign of financial problems. The companies wish to state quite clearly that this is not the case. "We're staying away because we choose to, not because we're dead" said Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games.

Not everyone has taken offence to Andon's practices, saying the company have a more professional attitude. There is also the fact that this year, GenCon clashes with the major US comic book convention (which many gaming companies also attend). Whatever the case, such large companies as Palladium and SJ Games would not make such a move lightly. This event is a very serious indicator of problems that could have a damaging effect on the gaming industry. It certainly begs an examination of Wizards' business practices.

For more on this story, and for the full list of companies boycotting, see the articles posted on WebRPG's Oracle, or the information on RPGnet. To read what each of the major companies have to say on the situation, check out the Steve Jackson Games, Palladium Games and R. Talsorian sites. For an interviews with Gary Smith from Andon, and Steve Jackson, see The Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine. We'll bring you more news as we get it.

Conquest in Melbourne

In closer to home news, the annual Melbourne gaming convention, "Conquest", is rapidly approaching. Held in Easter, this year they are offering over 50 tournaments, covering every concievable type of game, from freeforms to CCGS. They also plan to have plenty to keep you amused while you aren't gaming: competitions, artwork displays, trading and second-hand stalls, free barbecues and casual gaming for when you just feel like dropping in. For more on the convention, check out the website at http://www.conquest.asn.au/ or email the organisers at jabberwok@very.net

For info on our local Briscon, see the local news page.

More Silliness From Atlas

There's more silliness afoot from Altas Games, makers of three of the greatest card games around: Lunch Money (a non-collectible card game that simulates fast-paced ultra-violent school-yard bashings), Once Upon a Time (a non-collectible card game that requires the players to tell collaborative fairy tales) and On the Edge (a collectible card game about ultra-surreal conspiracies 'n stuff). They also publish some great RPGs like Over the Edge and Ars Magica. Anyway, their latest non-collectible card game continues their proud tradition. Called "Spammers", it is the card game of Unsolicited Commercial E-Mailing.

Players take the roles of the Spammers, and earn points by sending their hair-brained scams (such as "Make Crack in Your Bath-tub" or "Foreign Spouses Delivered to Your Door") to as many mailing groups as possible. The game aims to take the piss out of some of the darker, nastier parts of the information superhighway, and has some great looking cartoony artwork to back up its seemingly anarachic approach. The game's slogan is: "You Have Mail. Oh God, Do You Have Mail...".

It sounds great to us, and as soon as we get a copy (it won't be released till May), we'll tell you how it plays. Meanwhile, there's some card shots and more info here.

More on Usagi

If you're one for game hype, you'll have noticed that everyone is talking about the new Usagi Yojimbo game, based on the comic by Stan Sakai. Well, now the people at Gold Rush Games have made a website where you can get all the information on the game you'll ever need, including whether Jei will appear in the first sourcebook (I think he's a bad guy. Ed.). If you know more than our editor, you might enjoy checking out http://usagiyojimbo.com/uyrpg

Ack! Jeff's Back!

Those of you who know and love Jeff Freeman's somewhat controversial columns on RPGs will be pleased to know that RPGNet have just published another one. It's quite toned down from his earlier works, but is still just as fresh and funny as always. Check it out, along with all the rest of his work, here. For those of you who don't know Jeff, well, it's time you did.

To Blatantly Go Where Others Have Gone Before

The prize for the crappiest game of the moment goes to the new one from Task Force Games. It is very, very obviously a cheap Trek rip-off, but, lacking the Trek licence, they can only use the words and phrases that Trek have not trademarked. Hence it is called "Prime Directive", and is apparently set in "The Star Fleet Universe". Players looking for a decent Star Trek RPG should hunt around in the second-hand bins for FASA's official one, which they published in 1983.

 


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