When is a free game not a free game.

Simple answer, when it's nominated for the ENnies.

It's been pointed out by Rob over on 1km1kt that there are no truly free products nominated for the ENnies this year. Everything nominated in the category is simply a stripped back version of a rule-set being used as an advertisement for a paid system.

As someone who produces free games, I naturally think this is disgusting. There are dozens of truly free games produced every year, and some of them have some great production values. An award ceremony shouldn't have to resort to advertisements by major publishers to fill out their "FREE" category.

I could rant for pages on this, but I'll leave it here.

Comments

Anonymous said…
As far as I understand it, the category is for 'free product' and this doesn't mean it has to be a full game. I'm not using this as an excuse for them not highlighting some stellar work done by games designers who put their stuff out for free all over the web, but more to say they really should think about rebranding the category.

If it was truly for free games, you would see a lot less of the big names getting the nominations - it is after all in their interest to hook you onto a game you have to buy by 'giving you the first one for free' - and more attention going towards people who design an entire system/setting from the ground up, with the sole intention of giving it away for nowt.
Vulpinoid said…
Valid point. I certainly can't deny this.

The category is titled "Free Product", not free game. So technically they could give the prize to a free promotional poster about a roleplaying game if they really wanted to. It would be just as beneficial to the free game design community.
Anonymous said…
I know what you mean. I think to get the kind of nominations that people expect when they talk about 'free product', they should seriously consider changing the name of the category to 'free game'. that way either a unique setting book, or a complete rules system would be required for any product to be nominated.

That way, people would get what they expected when they saw the list of nominations.
Marshall Smith said…
There was quite the kerfuffle about this during the nomination process. The primary reason is that the Ennies require a certain number of print copies (one for each judge, I believe) of the product to be considered. Naturally, people who are producing free PDF games can't just run off a couple dozen copies from Lulu and send them to the Ennies. So, they don't end up as part of the process.

Apparently, one of the justifications for this practice is that the Ennies then turn around and auction off those copies to defray some of the costs of the awards ceremony. Begin rant now.
Coreworlder said…
I read somewhere that there are two types of things that are considered for the awards. Physical books they can sell afterwards and electronic products that are accompanied by an entry fee (as if driving more traffic to the website and its adverts didn't make the awards worthwhile). I guess that most of the people willing to pay are doing so because there is a paid product being promoted by proxy.
Coreworlder said…
I read somewhere that there are two types of things that are considered for the awards. Physical books they can sell afterwards and electronic products that are accompanied by an entry fee (as if driving more traffic to the website and its adverts didn't make the awards worthwhile). I guess that most of the people willing to pay are doing so because there is a paid product being promoted by proxy.

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