I was down my FLGS last week and, as usual, there was quite a bit of chat and conversation as well as the rolling of dice. We all like to tell stories and discuss all things Nerd-life (last night: why was the latest Fantastic Four film soooo bad?), but one subject in particular caught my ear and has inspired the post.
The context then; as I was playing with my man Paul my phone pinged, and I could see on the screen that it was Andy (aka The Fluffy Barbarian), my podcasting partner in crime, and the first line of his message was “new spoiler”. “Ooooh, there’s a new Dice Masters spoiler” I declared to the table, and we promptly stopped playing to take a peek, because, well… who doesn’t love a spoiler?
It was this spoiler incidentally, put out over Facebook by the fine folk at The Reserve Pool:
Well, it turns out, not everyone loves a spoiler. We had quite a chat about it following this little interlude to the night’s gaming. Are Wizkids spoiling too much, too soon, and are the spoilers a bit of a kick in the teeth to Dice Masters players outside the US market?
“Forget about it – we won’t see it for months yet!”
So, here’s the thing. When a bit of Dice Masters product gets a spoiler-y preview in Game Trader magazine 6 month’s ahead of the US street date it’s likely 9 months ahead of the European street date and possibly even further for our friends in Australia.
That (potential) additional 3 month delay can feel like a life-time for us, especially when sets are being spoiled so far in advance. We interact so much as an international gaming community; whether rightly or wrong it starts to foster a feeling of frustration, particularly at the point our social media starts to fill up with excited photos & unboxing videos from our friends in the USA’s community. The cumulative effect of this on top of a looooong lead in time from spoilers is having quite the impact.
And, to top it all off, we’re getting stuff spoiled for upcoming sets while we’re two current releases behind the North American market. Right now, as I type this, Facebook is filling up with links to spoiler vids & blog posts for the ‘X-Men: First Class’ set. We’ve not even got the ‘Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage’ team pack over here yet, and are still eagerly awaiting the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ set. This, I’m sure you can imagine, compounds our annoyance even further.
The simple reality is that the pace of International shipping has not kept up with the pace of the Information Age and it can be maddening for Dice Masters customers outside of the North American market. It creates a sense of exclusion and a sense that we’re not considered “important enough” to work at effective solutions for. (which, I suppose from the point of view of Wizkid’s accountant, possibly could be the case, when they look are the margins)
It’s also worth noting at this point; during the conversation at my FLGS that inspired this post, that one player stated: “other games I play manage to have simultaneous releases worldwide.” But I don’t play many other collectible games, so can’t really comment or elaborate too much on that, other than to say Star Wars Destiny shipped at the same time in both markets to my memory, or certainly very close to one another. (Happy to be corrected on that)
Our frustration could be considered totally irrational, I get that, but it is what it is. It comes from a positive place – we get so frustrated because we love the game so much. But, I think we can all agree – it might feel a bit less painful if the excitement generated from SOOOOOO many spoilers SOOOOOO far in advance was tempered & managed with a bit of a more sensible marketing strategy that was less “spoiler spam” and somewhat more internationally inclusive.
The thrill of a release day
I have to wonder also, from the conversation with my mates down the FLGS, whether the instant gratification of a spoiler is killing some of the fun of a release day and cracking open the packs.
This may not be a spoiler issue as much as it is a reflection on the internet in general and how it’s changed our behaviour, but I do miss the days of opening up packs and reading game-texts and getting surprises.
Now, we just sort of open packs and look to see if we’ve got the desirable cards we’ve spied in a spoiler. We pretty much have seen an entire set by launch, so we just rifle through searching for our wants list. I remember the days where all we saw was a card list from an insert, and would open packs all huddled round with our mates and pour over all the game-texts, all the flavour texts, and enjoyed every delightful surprise. We’d then go through an intensive period of gaming & experimenting for the days & weeks following a release as we tested out new cards in our decks, or tried out new mechanics for the first time.
Now, with each recent set more or less completely spoiled months in advance of release, we’ve theory crafted the shit out of it already, proxied in cards to our teams already, and the spoilers have killed the buzz & energy of release dates and the days of gaming that follow. Especially over here, as loads of play-testing has already taken place and been written/spoken about online, at length, by our North America friends. What are we supposed to do? Stop listening to our favourite podcasts or cease all interaction with fellow players on Facebook until things catch up? I can handle it for a day to avoid A Game of Thrones spoilers, but three months or more?
That’s why, as I mentioned above, I think they’re spoiling the next set so intensively already. Putting aside the fact we’ve not seen the current releases yet over here – Wizkids are now in a cycle whereby they need to keep buzz & engagement alive and the only tool in their tool box is spoilers.
We’re losing the “thrill” of a release day, and I’ve a bit of nostalgic melancholy about that.
I love a good spoiler, but think the chat down my FLGS has made me think about them a little differently about them, and they clearly are part of an ever compounding problem of frustration outside of North America. Check out spoiler posts and release day announcements on Facebook and you’ll see that, in amongst all the ‘likes’ and ‘love’ reactions, there’s also some ‘grumpy face’ reactions and sarcastic comments from international Dice Masters players.
I don’t really know what the answer is; but will continue to debate it with my locals, think it over, and drop some notes into the “suggestions box” with Wizkids & Esdevium.
How do you feel about spoilers? Love them or avoid them? Do we get to many? Are they coming out too early? Let me know in the comments below…