Most of the games we play in real life are big for a while on release, and then that’s it. They die down sooner or later. There are a lot of reason a game fails to make it long term. Maybe the people who played the games turn to others. Perhaps the game never sold copies to make money. Sometimes the company goes out of business despite that product being good. Other games replace them in the mind’s eye. For whatever reason, we’ve seen lots of games come and go. Many of my favorite games, like HeroScape or Middle Earth: Collectible Card Game (ME:CCG) are done for – I’ve given up playing any more, which is real sad as they were quality games. But the company mismanaged it, or the game went out of style, and I’m now looking back and wondering what could have been.
Luckily BattleTech is still trucking along!
A few games have endured the test of time. But you never know which is going to hit lightning. Take Dungeons and Dragons as a good example. No one knew how big that was going to end being. The same is true of Magic: The Gathering or Warhammer. They are here for the future, and aren’t going anywhere. Recently we saw World Champions in Magic who are younger than the game they are playing!
One major secret to these games’ longevity is that they crossed generations. I was playing Magic back in 1994 when it was new on the scene. And I’m still playing today. Most of the people who played back then have left the game, but that’s fine. Many others have joined. And when I walk into a tournament, I’m often one of the oldest people in the room. Magic crossed into the younger generation, and it will last. On the other hand, I picked up Dungeons and Dragons in the late 1980s – 1988 to be precise. Almost 12 years after it had been introduced. I was one of the newer generations of players who was brought to it by older players. And now there are players 20 years older than me and 20 years younger than me and its spread across one generation to another. It crossed generations. Shoot, I know four students at my small 1250 strong college down here in Mobile Alabama who play Warhammer: 40000 on the weekend. Generation crossed.
So where is BattleTech?
Has it crossed generations enough to sustain itself in perpetuity? Or is it continuing with the people who came to it in its heydays back in the later 1980s and early to mid-1990s (like me, who came to it in late 1992) when it was at its peak?
I don’t know. I haven’t played a lot of real life BattleTech in a while – since I was in Philadelphia for a year back in 2012. Mostly it’s online for me with MegaMekNet and other variants of the MekWars client online. I know the folks there tend to my own levels of experience and age. But that could easily be a self-selecting subsection of the overall community.
I love BattleTech. And I don’t want it to end. I don’t want it to be my next ME:CCG, lost to the mists of time. Hopefully, the new video game will help to put it on the map of more people, much like the MMO MechWarrior: Online hopefully has. And I would love to see a BattleTech real life movie that could really push this thing. There’s a lot of appreciate with it. Could you imagine if this became as big as Marvel right now? Wow!
For now though, I wonder if we are in a good place moving forward. Any idea from what you see? Your games? The people who you interact with?