The 40K Editions are getting shorter and shorter lifespans, it that good thing?
I want you to take a look at this chart from Lexicanum:
|Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader||1st||1987||6 Yr|
|Warhammer 40,000 2nd Edition Rulebook||2nd||1993||5 Yr|
|Warhammer 40,000 3rd Edition Rulebook||3rd||1998||6 Yr|
|Warhammer 40,000 4th Edition Rulebook||4th||2004||4 Yr|
|Warhammer 40,000 5th Edition Rulebook||5th||2008||4 Yr|
|Warhammer 40,000 6th Edition Rulebook||6th||2012||4 Yr|
|Warhammer 40,000 7th Edition Rulebook||7th||2014||2 Yr|
That is a list of the Editions of Warhammer 40,000, the years they came out, and the total lifespan of the edition (I added that last one).
See anything interesting in there?
It’s 2017 and with 8th Edition coming soon, it will have a 3 year lifespan.
The pattern is clear, the game is getting shorter and shorter editions as a trend. There are two questions to ask here.
Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Well that’s the easy one, there are a number of new things putting out a new edition does for a game.
- It puts out a mandatory new product for all existing players, spiking sales.
- It spikes interest in the game.
- It resets the meta.
- It presents a new window to acquire new players.
- It gives the manufacturer an opportunity to discard unwanted designs and roll out new ones.
- It gives the manufacturer an opportunity to keep up with the competition.
Now some of this sounds nefarious, but really isn’t. No company is perfect and every ruleset has some design features that don’t turn out exactly like the designers wanted. You should also factor in changing fashion in the industry. Certain “waves” of game design roll through now and then and everyone wants their game to have the newest coolest game mechanics that the cool kids are all playing. Additionally many of popular games in the industry are quite complex and have a steep learning curve. After several years of use, the players get quite skilled and it can be a steep barrier to entry to new players. A new edition resets everything and levels the playing field.
Good or Bad?
We’ve talked about the why of changing editions, but are shorter editions inherently good or bad?
That’s a tougher one.
- If an edition drags on too long, the game gets stale and can be seen as “old fashioned”.
- It an edition gets updated too often, it can act as a force of disruption and offer players not only an opportunity to enter – but to depart.
Often you will see customers debating the “real motive” of the update. Was it really needed? Was it simply a money grab? Was it trying to fix something that was deeply wrong? Was it done to take X,Y & Z from that other hot game and integrate them into this one?
Such are the grand debates that rage at FLGS’ around the globe.
3rd Edition came out in 1998, the same year as The Big Lebowski
Really How Old is 7th Edition?
40K is of course never as simple as it seems. While the individual editions come and go, many players have limited memories of the very early editions where the game was quite different from the current rules.
Rogue Trader was the original and a quasi skirmish RPG-ish system that almost required a neutral party to keep things on track. It lasted 6 years.
2nd Edition was a big reimagining of the game into a larger scale affair and set it on the path of pure competitive play, with a set of still complex rules and detail. It lasted 5 years.
3rd Edition saw the game move to a structure that would be familiar to players today. The vehicles rules moved to AV values, the movement stat was removed and the model count went up again as the game became a company level affair. I would argue that every edition from 3rd till 7th have been gradual evolutions of the foundations laid down in 1998. By that model the game we play isn’t a 3 year old 7th Edition, but 19 years old.
It may indeed for time for the game to get a major overhaul. No matter what happens, don’t be afraid, 40K has been through major changes and reboots twice before – and it came out just fine.
The grimdark (& the dude) abides.
~How often do you think the game should get a new edition?