Our murder mystery games require a separate host because we include items and money and abilities like pickpocketing and rules such as combat and arrests. We find a dedicated host helps the game run smoothly.
However, the games we developed during lockdown (Reunion with Death and Death in Venice) are more straightforward because we designed them for online play. So they don’t include combat or items that need swapping between characters.
And so, as we wrote before, with care, the host can play a character.
Initially, in 2020 when the pandemic was new and terrifying, and we were all in lockdown, sales of the two games were good.
However, since then, sales have not been so good.
We think there are two reasons for this.
First, as lockdown has eased, people meet in smaller groups. That means they can host our smaller games, such as A Will to Murder or Murder on the Istanbul Express. (And that theory is backed by the improving sales of those games.)
Second, as life moved online during lockdown, we became more familiar with using online video chat such as Zoom.
And our customers have used the technology to host our other parties (and they’ve shared their stories with us). That means they don’t need a dedicated online game—they can host our existing games online.
We think those two factors mean our ‘online-only’ games are less appealing and haven’t sold so well.
Hosting and playing
So we have re-branded the games and changing their focus.
The games work well, and they work well face-to-face. They play just like our other games—except there’s nothing that needs a neutral host (such as combat) and no items to swap.
So rather than focus on hosting them online, we’re emphasising that the host can both host and play a character in these games.
Therefore, we’ve updated the game files with the default assumption that the host will play a character, and the game will be played face-to-face. That meant some changes, as the games assume that players will be isolated from each other.
For example, in Reunion with Death, it is assumed that everyone is locked in their hotel rooms during the party. However, in a face-to-face game, the hotel is still in lockdown following the murder, but everyone is in the hotel ballroom and can mingle as they would at an ordinary party.
Of course, you can still play them online, just like our other games.
And if you want to host them without playing a character, you can do that too.
However, the only problem at the moment is we don’t have any photographs of people playing Reunion with Death or Death in Venice in person! So if you have played them in person, please share your photos and tell us your stories!