Saturday, June 26, 2021

TSR's Not So Great Start

The new old TSR logo
If you have been online at all this week then you likely have heard about the new new TSR. Justin LaNasa secured the trademarks that were lapsed (again).  There was a TSR Games that produced the new Top Secret game and were involved with the short-lived Gygax magazine. 

The tale began before this, but let's take the June 15th date as a start of the new TSR in the public eye when they sent out their press release.

Lots of people have dissected this already and I have no desire to retread that ground.  There are a few things I want to talk about and for that, I need to start here.  So let's establish some facts. From the PR.

The team includes Justin LaNasa (CEO), Ernest G. Gygax Jr (EVP), Jeff R. Leason (COO, and Stephen E. Dinehart (CCO).

Ok. So far so good...almost. 

LaNasa has posted some questionable material online, on his own FB page, and on the Dungeon Hobby Shop page, now since deleted.  Now people are allowed to have opinions and they don't have to agree with mine. If someone deletes something they posted I am going to assume they had a moment, thought better of it, and deleted it.  That's fine. No need for me to bring it up. But there are others, and when a pattern begins to emerge well it is less like a momentary lapse of reason and more like behavior.

Here is one from a little more recently.

how not to do social media

As a card-carrying member of the "Woke Nation," I take exception to this.  You don't have to like my opinions to take my money, but don't hold your nose and laugh while doing it.  Sorry, but if "woke" means I actually care about the opinions and feelings of others, then fuck it, I am woke.  Not only that I am a pretty big Social Justice Warrior and I have the receipts (in many cases actual receipts) to back that up.  Guess what, I can spend my money elsewhere.

If that were all, I could almost ignore it. I certainly would post anything about it, I'd just not buy your stuff and move on with my life.  There are lots of things I don't like; I want to talk about the things I do like. 

But then there was this bit from Executive VP Ernie Gygax.  It's a long video. The salient bits have been transcribed over at ENWorld

Look. It's an interview, not a presentation, not a press junket, so there are some rough bits in the presentation. But the real rough bits are really rough.

There is an absolute misunderstanding of IPs and copyright. The complete dismissal of the players of 5e is also poor professionalism.  I get you don't like the game, you don't have to like it, but dismissing the players of 5e? Sorry, my kids are huge 5e fans and they are having every bit as much as we did; maybe more. Referring to them as lemmings, also not a fan.  Also dismissing the largest population of role-players with money right now? That's just really bad business practice. 

Again, irritating, but not 100% damnable. Anyone can say something stupid once.  

But completely insulting the LGBT players by dismissing "gender identities" is so not cool and extremely unprofessional. 

why a new TSR?

Online, Justin, in his capacity as CEO of TSR, has made the claim that this is just Ernie expressing his own opinions.  Well, that doesn't really fly. The interview was in his capacity as a spokesperson for the company he is Executive VP for.  Let's be honest. No one will pay the "nostalgia dollar" based on LaNasa's name alone.  They are banking that despite not having a real plan that I can see and a lot of hope that people will buy these products based on the "TSR" and "Gygax" name. 

They want to produce a new "Star Frontiers," they own the name, but that is all. None of the IP, none of the rules.  Nothing really.

I fear they are poking a very large bear (WotC/Hasbro) and I am not sure they get that.  

Shannon Appelcline has written an update on TSR 2.0 and TSR 3.0 for his Designers & Dragons and has posted it to his Facebook page.

There is more. Lots more. But I am not really interested anymore.  This feels like a cheap cash grab to go after the nostalgia dollar and doing it by appealing to the lowest common denominator of that fan base.

Sorry but the whole thing is leaving a rather bad taste in my mouth.   I hope to see some changes, but I am not holding my breath. But I don't need to give any more of my cash to people that utterly dismiss the experiences of people I know and care about. 

Get your act together TSR or you will follow the business trajectory of the last two TSRs. And doubling down on Social Media is not only unprofessional but it is also a bad look. 

BTW: Jeff Dee is not working for them. 


Martin R. Thomas said...

I'm glad to hear that about Jeff Dee - the recent video I just watched on CaptCorajus indicated that Dee was involved. Maybe he had a change of heart, or the video I watched was in error.

Cross Planes said...

I'm sad to say that I used to share a portion of these people's views but recent history has made me see the error of my ways. I try to give others the benefit of the doubt just as my friends gave it to me. But at this juncture, it doesn't seem like anyone is going to turn anything around and that is a damn shame. I was taught that ignorant people can learn, but I've seen such a massive display of willful ignorance in the last few years that even this has been proven wrong to me.

I wanted to support the Giantlands product because I like James Ward's work, but who knows if this version of TSR even has the right to print it?

Jeff said...

Luke isn't either. And, the new "brand" responded by attempting to trash him.

They are NOT looking good.

Brian N Young said...

I saw all of that later. At first, I was excited and told Ernie that it is likely the Troll Lords might be lingering around the new setup, but then...I back away...slowly...I will let the damage continue on its own. Nope, not for me.

Timmy Crabcakes said...

I can understand some of the irritation against the self-proclaimed 'woke' crowd, despite agreeing with it on a most things. I've seen some extremem behaviors from people that I want no part of and would rather NOT have waving the flag for issues I care about.

That said, these guys seem to have no clue about customer relations or running a business. At this point I can't see any good coming from it.

JB said...

Mmm. Mm.

Timothy C. Schenks said...

After reading this blog post, Tim, and reading Jeff Dee’s Facebook, I have decided that I will spend my money elsewhere and never buy any more of your products.

Jonathan Linneman said...

At least they're making it easy to decide not to send any of my gaming budget their way, even if they do happen to hit upon something shiny.