62: Feelies

"Everybody thought feelies were cool. Yet as the game market moved to emphasize graphics and Infocom's star fell, feelies declined in originality and production values. George Collins, who ported games for Infocom in its latter days, recalls: 'Return to Zork, Activision's first Zork title after they bought Infocom, included an envelope with a letter that you won a sweepstakes [prize trip] to the Valley of the Sparrows. I think it was the last time Activision tried to do that Infocom thing. Only the first few editions had the actual letter.'" Allen Varney goes in search of the lost, little extras.

Feelies

Thanks for the trip down nostalgia lane Allen.

As well as actual feelies, how many game companies aren't even putting effort into their manuals anymore? I want to expand feelies definition to the other things that help set the mood before you even begin playing. Command and Conquer's old installations with their SCI FI feel, the briefing coming over the "satelite" transmission fit in to my description. The manuals for Diablo or starcraft with descriptions that are done in-character for the skills, units and buildings also apply in my mind.

I'm going to be Game Mastering a D20 Modern game soon, (planning on every sunday, but have to get everybody's schedules set) While I've been creating the campaign and the world for them to interact with, I've tried my hand at graphic design so I could make a brochure for a place they're going to visit that I can hand out at the game session. I'm putting together a badge that is part of their character's uniforms that they'll be issued. These feelies are for me at least, a natural part of the creation of a world, I was going to do it anyway so that I could describe things better. (Maybe not a whole brochure, but I would have created the info given in it)

This all adds up to that I don't know that the creation of the extras has to have a cost other than manufacture. It certainly isnt that high for console games which I dont think have ever really got them. They're going to be shipped in a box no matter what. Even if it's only in the special, limited or collectors edition of a game, I'd like to see the extras placed out. They add a lot of atmosphere which can get me into a game just as well as a good intro movie.

As much as I miss feelies, an important issue to consider is that games are a bit cheaper now than they were in Deadline's heyday.

I pulled out a July 1983 issue of Compute and found Deadline for the C64 selling for $35, and that was from a mail-order discounter, mind you, not a department store. According to CPI data, that's almost exactly $70 today. And there aren't too many people eagerly lining up to plunk down $70 for a new PC title short of it being a truly Event kind of release. Although many more units are being sold of the successful games, there's less per-unit to spend on fun stuff in the box.

jcompton:
As much as I miss feelies, an important issue to consider is that games are a bit cheaper now than they were in Deadline's heyday.

I pulled out a July 1983 issue of Compute and found Deadline for the C64 selling for $35, and that was from a mail-order discounter, mind you, not a department store. According to CPI data, that's almost exactly $70 today. And there aren't too many people eagerly lining up to plunk down $70 for a new PC title short of it being a truly Event kind of release. Although many more units are being sold of the successful games, there's less per-unit to spend on fun stuff in the box.

How much of that is being counteracted by the fact that more copies of games are being bought though? 100,000 sales of a game at 10 dollars each is worth the same as 10,000 sales of one at 100 dollars each. The gaming market has expanded dramatically in that time, If anything I'd argue more money should be made available for fun stuff in the box.

- Tom

to TomBeraha

That comparison's not entirely accurate, simply because of production costs. If assuming that the packaging costs $5, you need 190,000 sales of $10 to equal 10,000 sales of $10,000 In addition, there's a marked increase in marketting (advertising) costs since then.

But back to the topic, there's good and bad news on the horizon..

Bad news: Online marketting and product delievery is growing. And online delievery naturally means physical "feelies" are out of the question, except...

Good news: Due to recent technological advancements, personalized feelies (which can't be done using conventional in-box methods anyway) may get more commonplace. You mentioned the 3D printer, but why didn't you mention Spore? If I remember correctly there was an option to send your self-made creations to be "printed" and sent to you, for a price. What I would foresee is a bundle pack: Spore + coupon for 1 printing (naturally cheaper than buying both seperately).

 

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