Play-by-mail ads

Dungeon Magazine General Discussion

Anyone else think those play-by-mail ads are getting more annoying by the issue? Yeesh. It's embarassing to see them in there... I sure hope that the contract doesn't go for much longer.

Or am I the only one who absolutely hates them?

I hate to offend the artist who must put a lot of work into the advertisements, but they do strike me as a little amateur. They do grab the reader's attention with bright colours and get the idea across, and they do manage to avoid user ad-blindness on repeat ads by having different content each time, but they just don't have the visuals to impress the reader nor the narrative to convince them.

This latest one in particular is a little confusing. Why does he get "burned" by his firewall? I don't know what this ad is saying. "If you try to play MMORPGs you'll probably fail painfully for technical reasons"? I'm in the same age range as the comic's protagonist and most MMORPG players our age are computer-literate enough (and MMORPG servers reliable enough) that this isn't going to be the case. If I were of the previous generation I might have difficulty with computers, but then I would not as easily identify with our technically-challenged protagonist.

I reckon they ought to make their "I'm not playing PBM" guy a thirteen year old munchkin, who even us twenty-somethings can feel superior to, and the "I'm playing PBM and I'm smart" guy perhaps in his late twenties to cover the early twenties to early forties range. He should geniuinely impress viewers with how clever he is, not mess up on the technical details (such as the silliness of curing cancer simply by mixing two chemicals). Readers should be able to say, "Ha, I'm so much more like that PBM player, and not that immature, MMORPG-playing, munchkin kid! Perhaps PBM will have like-minded people?"

Lantern Lodge

What I hate most about those adds is not the art work (which is kinda poor), Nor the concept (I send in what I would like to do and wait for a responce to wether I accually acomplished anything). What I hate most is the pompus attitude in alot of the adds, expecially recently. I really thought the "Video game vs. PBM especially stupid. I mean, first the thought that sending in turns in the mail will lead you to curing cancer is lame. Also, I don't know about you, but besides playing Tabletop RPGs I also enjoy playing videogames and I'm sure I'm not the only one, so the concept of insulting me dose not compel me to try PBM. The thought that it will get you chicks is also stupid, and the add with the woman seducing the guy into trying PBM is also stupid.

Basically just about all the adds are simply stupid.

I don't really care about the ads....I mean, if they help Paizo pay the bills and keep delivering two great magazines each month--more power to them, silly as they may be.

The Exchange

F2K hit it and confirmed. The ads suck. Paizo rocks. Dungeon mag rocks. Ad pays for Dungeons publishing. I will ignore ad and read yummy adventures!

But yeah, they need a new marketing team and a good artist, those comics look like something I saw in 8th or 9th grade.


AGREED! The PBM ads annoy me. I understand they pay Paizo's bills - but I hope that either they (PBM) start listening to what is said about their ads here or that Paizo can find a different advertiser. One that doesn't use unconcealed innuendo to demean the readers (You're a hormone-driven stereotypical male! You'll never succeed at life! You couldn't use a computer if there were only one button! ... unless you buy our stuff. ~ summary of the last few months of PBM ads).

Fake Healer wrote:

But yeah, they need a new marketing team and a good artist, those comics look like something I saw in 8th or 9th grade.


I can't really speak about the art, since I can't draw a straight line to save my life, let alone stick figures (you should see my in-game maps - horrid!). I'm more concerned about the messages they're sending.


*shrug* I don't even notice 'em, or the other ads, to be honest.

I've never tried a PBM game, and the ads really aren't encouraging me to try.

Free advice to PBM companies; put some info about the actual games into the ads.

I could really get excited about a game if they gave some info about the mechanics and maybe some setting flavour.

I (for one) am willing to bet the PBM games are making a comeback because us "old timers" have a bit of nostalgia for them.

And by the way, you have seen that art style before, if you're old enough to remember the Grimtooth's Traps line of acessories. (nostalgic humor!)

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Just a little history lesson...

The artist for the PBM ads is Steve Crompton. He did a lot of work for Flying Buffallo back in the day. He did all the art in the original Grimtooth's Traps series and a number of other books for FB. In fact, he did the art of our v3.5 version of The Wurst of Grimtooth's Traps (for Necromancer Games). He is by no means an amateur. That is simply his style. Whimsical. Simple in presentation. Mild sexual overtones. Always has been. I believe he also does some "adult themed" comics too. So why use Steve? While I cant speak for this PMB company, Flying Buffallo has a huge network of PBM gamers for a number of their games (now and for a long time), so Crompton--a classic FB illustrator--is the perfect choice for that market segment since they will all be familiar with his work.

In any event, he is a really great guy and a pleasure to work with. His art really fit our updated Grimtooth's Traps because of the whimsical style.


Orcus wrote:
In any event, he is a really great guy and a pleasure to work with. His art really fit our updated Grimtooth's Traps because of the whimsical style.

My beef isn't with the artwork but with the ads. They're terrible. The latest one especially was outright insulting... Guys are used to being treated like hormonal animals, so the first ad was just kinda annoying (and slightly insulting), but the latest one is an insult to our intelligence -- and, in my experience, if there's one thing that D&D players as a group tend to take pride in, it's their intelligence.

I'm pretty neutral on the artwork. But as far as the ads go? They actually make me want to avoid PBM, if the people involved are the kind of people who'd produce those ads...

These ads have been bugging me for a while now. Here's the deal; I normally applaud Dungeon for advertising things I might actually be interested in, so I enjoy the ads as much as any given content, usually. I think they definitely missed the mark with these PBM. Hopefully this advertisement space will be given over to a more worthy (and hopefully for paizo, more profitable) company.

And for irony's sake I hope that that space goes to some new video game. To many pen & paper players also play video games for THAT to have been a sucessful marketing ploy :P

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Sorry, Otter. My bad. I didnt understand your criticism. So I guess my defense of Crompton wasnt needed :)


Zherog wrote:
*shrug* I don't even notice 'em, or the other ads, to be honest.

Same for me. I understand why Dungeon (or other mags) have ads... I just skip by them unless its something I actually want to read... just like I skip past the myriad newspaper articles that doen't intrigue me, etc

Liberty's Edge

I hate to be the pratical one here, because I also think they are lame. The ads are working even if we all hate them. Everyone here is reading them and remembering them and thats what the PBM company wants.


BigBubba wrote:
Everyone here is reading them and remembering them and thats what the PBM company wants.

Everyone except me. ;) I really mean I don't notice 'em. I barely notice the artwork that's part of the articles. ;)

BigBubba wrote:
Everyone here is reading them and remembering them...

Yes, but what for? I certainly have not been thinking, "Hey, these PBM guys sound great! I should check them out..."

I'm intrigued because I used to play PBM in the early to mid 90s and I believe with this particular company.

Back in the day, it was just one guy running the whole show. I guess he's doing OK now to be able to afford full page add space in Dragon and Dungeon.

BigBubba wrote:
Everyone here is reading them and remembering them and thats what the PBM company wants.

Yeah, I remember them all right... Every time I hear "PBM" now I think, "Stupid annoying ads". Which means that I've developed a spontaneous, irrational dislike for the entire PBM idea. Not exactly a good way to drum up business. ;-)

Okay, credit where credit is due...

The ad in #134 is a lot better than the last ones have been. Comparisons between the mmorpg experience and the pbm experience with actual examples are good. The big "Free Setup and Rules!" text in the middle of the page drew my eye just like it should.

There are still a few things that probably should have been left out (After all-night lan party, girlfriend dumps you; add ball & chain to inventory) but overall this was a very nonoffensive ad. This may in fact be the first "clever ad for a play-by-mail game" I've yet seen from RSI. If this ad was made in response to this thread, then thank you!


Actually, I found this one more insulting than ever. They're just such ridiculously stupid ads... Ugh. The whole basis of it is "Oh, MMOs are so unreliable!" but in my experience, the Internet is WAY more reliable than the Post Office has ever been.

Not to mention that the whole point of the ad was to create an artificial rivalry between MMOs and PBM. The two aren't mutually exclusive, and there's absolutely no reason for there to be this artificial rivalry. And, of course, the people they're trying to recruit to PBM are quite likely to already be fans of computer games. Insulting potential recruits' passtimes doesn't seem like a great way to win people over...

They do bug me. The most recent one, ugh. If the only way you can advance your product is by bashing MMOs, you're in bad shape. Of the complaints they leveled, half were already fixed by modern MMOs such as Guild Wars, or they were guilty of themselves. I've been an RSI customer, and their games are fine, and plenty of fun, but if there's anyone these ads haven't managed to talk down to yet, I'm sure we'll see that corrected by the next issue.

Dark Archive

I don't buy into the idea that they're trying to create a rivalry between MMO and PBP gamers. You're right, otto, most people interested in PBM are also likely to be into the vicarious fastasy of MMOs.

Every MMO player has had many memorable, frustrating experiences, waiting to connect, or "LFG". Some might even be reading "Dungeon" while they are at the desk with their PC, experiencing one of these things! I read more of my 3rd edition D&D sourcebooks and issues of "Dragon" and "Dungeon" while waiting for a party in Final Fantasy XI than at any other time, probably.

I'll concede, though, that while nothing in the ads has encouraged me to try PBM gaming, they've made me aware that it exists. I've not got a business degree, but isn't raising awareness an integral part of marketing (in addition to "making the sale")?

Note to PBM marketers who may be reading: even a well-endowed redhead wearing Honky Tonk Badonkadonk jeans dangling a sign-up sheet in front of me is going to get me to try PBM, heheh.

I imagine they just reason that PBMs will appeal to the same demographic who play MMOs: Lone gamers who don't have a local playgroup, or gamers who can't get their fill from their local playgroup. People only have so much time and money to sink into these games, so in a sense a rivalry does exist.

That being said, unless RSIs games have advanced significantly from the time I was playing them, there's little other than their physicality and the anticipation of waiting weeks for your turn to run to distinguish them in a player's mind from legions of free web based games.

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