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The Ongoing Appeal of PBM
I suppose this post is in lieu of writing a letter to the editor of Suspense and Decision. As a relative newcomer and admittedly, not a die-hard PBM player, I might be overstepping my bounds. But I think what I have to say needs to be said.

There has been much written throughout the years, and in several issues of S&D, about the need to revitalize the hobby. About how something new and innovative needs to be done. All the great minds of the PBM world seem to come up lacking. I think that is for good reason. If you want new and innovative, there are plenty of modern games on PC's, consoles and smart phones to play. That's being new and innovative. PBM and PBEM games are not any of that. They are, quite simply, completely retro. They are never going to be anything else.

Nor should they be.

Honestly, I think the best strategy for promoting PBM is to fully embrace the retro feel and play it up as much as possible. That's it's enduring power. That's it's strongest selling point. Be completely and totally unapologetic, and never for an instant try to portray PBM games themselves as anything other than what they are. If you're going to market PBM, market the hell out of that retro feel. Never pretend. PBM has survived decades for a reason. It offers something real and substantial. PBM just isn't going to change that much. It can't, without losing its identity. So I say, flaunt that identity and market it to new generations in all of its old-fashioned goodness.

S&D has been doing all that wonderfully, actually. But I get the feeling it's publishers yearn for the hobby to evolve, to change, to be what it's not....all the while never losing its charm. Do you see what an impossible situation this is? The charm of PBM is PBM, plain and simple.

That being said, there is a tremendous packaging problem when it comes to PBM--or at least PBEM games, which is what I am familiar with. And this is where it might get controversial.

Most PBM web sites are completely outdated, and the look and feel is simply of the "ancient days" of the internet. If you're going to market the classic PBEM feel, you can still do it with more streamlined and responsive web sites. I am firmly of the opinion, if you're going to go retro, it should be the artwork alone that has a retro feel. You can still update the web site and have a slightly more modern layout. It's the game that's supposed to be classic retro. A web site that hasn't been redone in fifteen years, on the other hand, looks cheap and neglected. Like it or not, that's the impression most PBM web sites give. This is unfortunate, because I think it's safe to assume that the games themselves are completely worthy of time and attention.

Maybe I'm contradicting myself. But I am fully of the opinion, that in order to attract a younger audience in greater numbers, web sites need to update a little. The heart and soul of PBM need not change, but boy, could it ever use a facelift! Let the games themselves be retro, and never apologize for that. But making it look good on the outside would go a long way toward improving the image of PBM as a whole.

Of course, you are perfectly welcome to disagree with me. Maybe you think the outdated websites are fine. Maybe you're of the opinion, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I'll even agree with that, as long as you mean the PBM games themselves. But I still insist giving web sites a fresh look for fresh eyes would go a long way toward revitalizing the hobby. Rather than inadvertently portraying PBM as a rusty old relic, it could use some new paint and polish to really bring out its glory. Like it or not, image matters.

There's plenty more to be said about marketing. But I am going to end my discussion here, as advanced marketing topics are far beyond my expertise.

One final thing: Frankly, I think S&D is excellent for the hobby, and I never would have gotten back into the hobby without it. It has led me to numerous games that I never would have found otherwise. I hope to see many future issues. S&D is a perfect example of the classic retro feel I'm talking about in this post. I just wish the editors would be a little more unapologetic about what PBM is and always will be.

Messages In This Thread
The Ongoing Appeal of PBM - by CantripMaestro - 09-07-2021, 04:22 AM
RE: The Ongoing Appeal of PBM - by Davin - 09-08-2021, 01:35 PM
RE: The Ongoing Appeal of PBM - by Davin - 09-08-2021, 01:53 PM
RE: The Ongoing Appeal of PBM - by Talisman - 09-08-2021, 09:46 PM
RE: The Ongoing Appeal of PBM - by PNMarkW2 - 10-05-2021, 07:05 PM

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