Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Free Hump Day - The Bits & Mortar Program

Today's Free Hump Day post is a bit of a cheat, but I've noticed some discussion about today's topic in regards toward the impending (and ludicrously exciting) release of Cubicle 7's take on the Lord of the Rings with The One Ring RPG. The Bits & Mortar (B&M) program is inherently not free, but it does give you access to free stuff. B&M is designed to do two things that I consider to be very good for the industry. The first is in supporting the pdf format for new releases (Bits) and the second is to support real-life (i.e. not Amazon or underseller mass-retail websites) book stores (Mortar).

Sounds like a great deal, right? Well how do they do it? For every B&M product you buy in a real store you are automatically signed up to receive a free copy of the pdf version of the game for no additional cost. I could take a lot of space here trying to reword what exactly their mission goal is, but instead I'll just post from the What is This? section of their website:

"Bits and Mortar is a pro-retailer, pro-brick-and-mortar, pro-PDF, pro-eBook initiative backed by several game publishers (find out who). We love real, physical brick and mortar game stores, and we want to see them survive — and thrive — even as the digital content options for gaming become more prevalent.
Plenty of customers out there want the best of both worlds. They want the easy portability of an e-book, and the lasting durability of one made out of paper, glue, and ink. They want to be able to support their favorite local game stores, and they want to be able to support their favorite publishers.  The Bits and Mortar initiative is all about making sure they don’t have to choose one or the other. We want them to choose both, every time."

There is pretty much nothing to disagree with here, and it all sounds just right. It's sad that something that makes so much common sense feels so novel and fresh. How did this not exist before? That last line "We want them to choose both, every time." is just epic and exciting in a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too kind of way. Just look at this list of companies that support the initiative and have thrown their weight behind this extremely pro-customer stance. You've got established heavy hitters like Cubicle 7 and Mongoose Publishing that have tons and tons and TONS of product out there, and now I just want more of it with the B&M program. At the same time, you've got big indie games like Evil Hat Productions, Rogue Games, and Bully Pulpit Games that have a lot of exciting new products like Dresden Files and Fiasco. 

I don't have a specific free product to hock today to you. Instead I just wanted to make sure as many people as possible know about the possibilities out there for potential free stuff. Pdfs are a great way to get games at a discount, but they still cost a chunk of change, and they're not entirely at the level of "give it a shot" I'd like to see and feature in Free Hump Day, but the B&M program needs as much on-going publicity and word-of-mouth to keep going. Go support your local store, get a free pdf, and go tell a friend.

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