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The only possible future for Netrunner is the App Store

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Joined: 01 Jun 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:23 pm    Post subject: The only possible future for Netrunner is the App Store Reply with quote

Cross posted from BGG:


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about Richard Garfield's long dead magnum opus - Netrunner. If you've been on BGG for any length of time, you'll often hear the plaudits of its excellent balance and the occasional lament for it's demise. Zvi Mowshowitz liked the game so much he tried to purchase the license when it went OOP. Z-Man games once looked at purchasing it, but decided "its time has come and gone". Wizards of the Coast actually ended up literally burning millions of Netrunner cards, and is never in a million years going to republish it because of its niche appeal, and they're probably still smarting over the financial disaster it was. So is there anything at all that can be done for this game to prevent it from drifting off into oblivion?


It's my firm belief that the only possible continuation this game could ever enjoy will be on the Apple/Android app stores. I think that the Netrunner CCG would make a fantastic app that folks would buy and play for years to come. The following reasons are why:

1. The iPhone is a proven platform for CCG's. Thousands of folks are already playing CCG's like Orions: Legend of Wizards and Urban Rivals on their iPhone.

2. Distribution and production taken care of - no one will have to print or ship a single card. Easy access to millions of potential customers.

3. The medium solves all the CCG problems. A CCG that no one you know plays is as good as dead. With the wonders of internet play, want of opponents is no longer a problem. If they can make MMO's for iPhone, and dozens have been made, then they can certainly have a server for folks to go head to head in Netspace. Folks are doing that in Urban Rivals every minute of the day.

4. It can still be a cash cow. Make the initial app free (and both starter decks), but then give the option of in-app purchases of booster packs for $2-3 each.


Why? Because it's already a fantastic game. So much of what people pay for on the App store is a half-baked turd vomited onto unsuspecting users who delete it in frustration minutes after getting it. It might look fancy, but the gameplay is terrible for most games available be they 99c or $5.99. With Netrunner, you already have a tried, tested, balanced and FUN game ready to roll. The art is done. The playtesting is done. The rules are done. All it needs is a team of nerds to turn it into digitized glory.

Secondly, I know there are folks on BGG that have this kind of talent, passion and ability to work for free. They're the luminaries who gave us digital versions of Agricola and the wonderful RFTG AI.


I understand the following is actually a mammoth undertaking that would require a team of folks who knew what they were doing working for months, but lets just throw down the basics

- The rules and cards would need to be coded. This wouldn't be a simple task.
- An AI would need to be developed to give folks offline play ability.
- A new strategy game would need to be developed to set the gameplay within. For example, Orions is a strategy game where the conflict takes the form of a CCG card battle. Netrunner would likely need a similiar strategy setting for single player mode.
- A server allowing folks to go head to head and to trade would also need to be set up.
- Music and sound effects would be needed.
- Your dose of reality here...


Firstly, there is the elephant over there in the corner, and his name is Mr Copyright. The rights to Netrunner is owned partly by R Talsorian Games, and partly by WotC/Hasbro. Neither of them is going to of their own accord read this post and start making this puppy. It would have to be produced and then presented to them. If there is any cash to be made from this, these two companies are the ones who will be getting it. Someone or a group of someones would have to be willing to let these guys profit from your hard work. Even then it's possible that it will be shown to an exec on a bad day and he'll banish it with a single email. Anything could go wrong at this stage and frequently does when it comes to 3 way negotiations between big boys.

Secondly, ideas like this need someone with talent behind it. I have none. I've never programmed an app in my life. I'm sorta putting this down in the hope that it will inspire someone out there in internet land to take this idea and make it their own.


Netrunner is a great game, as anyone who has played it can tell you. It is a superb combination of bluffing, resource management and collectible goodness that gets it's hooks into you despite the somewhat unusual setting. It will never be reprinted in a CCG form, but would be a brilliant candidate for conversion to an iPhone or Android app game. You suggestions, comments and criticisms are welcome below.[url][/url]
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