Would you buy Panty Explosion perfect if it had a different name

April 12, 2012

Matt and I have been selling Panty Explosion for 6 years now. It’s sold very well and has fans in all parts of the world. But… every time the game is mentioned anywhere there are always people who say they hate the name, don’t understand the name or just are too embarrassed to buy the game because of the name.

Another VERY common claim, one that comes up multiple time sin every conversation about Panty Explosion, is that more people would play the game if we changed the name. “I want to try your game, but I’d never buy a book called Panty Explosion”! This has been said so many times over the years that Matt and I have guessed that there must be thousands of people who really, really want to give us their money, but won’t because they just can’t stand the name.

So here’s the simple questions:

1. Has the name Panty Explosion kept you from trying or buying the game?

2. If we changed the name would you buy the game?

48 Responses to “Would you buy Panty Explosion perfect if it had a different name”

  1. Belirahc said

    You know, I first bought Panty Explosion back when it debuted on DriveThruRPG. I read the description of the game and thought that while the name was weird, it sounded like a cool concept. I picked up Classroom Deathmatch just as quick.

    Now, whenever I mention CD, it gets a lot of “Sure, I’ll play it.” But when I bring up PE, I get looks like I just said let’s play a hentai game. After describing the premise of the game, it get’s a moment of ‘OH!’, but the initial reaction is of ‘pervert’.

    I would buy the game no matter what it was called, but I can see where it has caused some problems with getting people to play it outside of those in the know. ^_^

  2. I think it is all in the eye of the beholder. I practically live on DriveThruRPG for days at a time reading countless titles and similar subject matter. The title was the primary reason the game caught my attention in the first place. I sparked my curiosity and the rest is history. I’m a huge fan of the game.

    On the other hand I am a big Anime fan. That is I am a fan of the genre and enjoy Anime very much. I probably wouldn’t attend a Con dedicated to Anime, nor do I purchase ridiculously overpriced merchandise. But Anime holds a very special place in my heart and teaches many values and lessons I feel people these days rarely are exposed to.

    When I read the title I assumed that this was either an adult rated title or it had something to do with anime, due to the humor the name implies. Given that your game is very anime themed and backed with manga style illustrations, not to mention a focus on Japanese school-life, I think the name is perfectly fitting.

    As to whether you should change it or not I think that really depends on how much money you think such a change might bring in and if you fear that changing the name could result in an unknown percentage of your existing fanbase somehow being offended or feel abandoned.

    Have you considered just repackaging the game with a different name and cover art and selling that as well? I mean if your only reason for changing the game is to target the audience that is offended or put off by the title, then you could easily change the title and make it available to those who don’t feel comfortable with “Panty Explosion” sitting on their shelf and/or digital reader of choice. The real question is the name alone the only thing they are disgruntled about? Do they dislike anime, the theme of the book illustrations, the focus on Japanese school life, etc…

    No matter what I will buy a game if I think it will be fun and I will use it. Normally I hear about games through word of mouth, various gaming Newsletters and websites, or because the title catches my eye when browsing RPG’s through an online retailer like DriveThruRPG. If you do decide to change the title I would love to see something just as playful. Just my two cents =)

    • Jake said

      Thanks for the response. We’ve made a nice bit of money on Panty Explosion over the years, so changing the name for more sales isn’t really a motivator. The book has and continues to sell well. The real question is whether changing the name will make the book approachable for a larger audience.

      How many stores never ordered PE because of the name? How many people never tried it when their friends offered it, or passed it up in stores, cons or places like DriveThru just because of the title?

      On the other hand… while it’s been popular for people to claim that they’d buy the game or play the game, or be able to find friends to play the game with, if only the title were different… is this really true? Will a simple title change turn people who previously were too embarrassed by the title, offended by the title or made uncomfortable by the title, into customers? I really find that hard to believe. A lot of people claim that the title is the only thing holding them back, but… isn’t that kind of lame? If you know what a game is about and you want to play it to the point that you’re ready to spend money on it… is a title really going to stop you?

  3. Chris U. said

    In general yes a title will stop me. Now I am the kind of person who would buy the game that the title makes it sounds like..but titles have stopped me from buying other games.

    On the other hand I still haven’t bought this because I want an PDF of it damnit.

  4. Stephen said

    Posted this on your Google+ but figured I’d drop it here too…

    To answer the questions:

    1- I bought the game, so no the name did not deter me in any way. However the name has made it difficult for me to try the game. I mention it to people, they hear the name, they either become highschoolers again or want nothing to do with it. I explain where the name came from by recounting your anecdote from Found in the Alley and it either falls on deaf ears or people actually listen and get past it.

    2- As I already bought the game a name change would not effect that decision.

    My thoughts on the whole thing:

    I can understand changing a name to get more acceptance, it’s part of marketing/public relations… and also a part of “selling out” as many people put it. However you want to look at it, the name you put forth is what people see. As the saying goes “first impressions are everything.”

    While I have nothing against the name, nor any connotation to the name other than separating the two into basically what they are… I’m not like other people. Many people have issues, they bring their own baggage, concepts, and learning to it all. XKCD went over the whole umwelt idea for April Fools. This is where the key issue with your title lies. Everyone sees the world differently due to all the variances in their life compared to the rest of the world. People growing up in the exact same environment will not see/experience the same world due to minute differences and alterations that occur.

    Now, I don’t believe you should change the name. The fact that the name causes problems or that you are even thinking of changing it tells me there are even larger social issues that need to be addressed. Now, I’ve had many conversations with friends on a similar topic. Due to the fact that everyone interprets sentences, words, and ideas differently I drop all ownership in any offense they may take. I’m doing the same here, if anyone reads this and has issue… that’s your take, either live with it or figure out why it offends you. The meaning I put behind words, is not the meaning my friends, strangers, or the people reading this derive. It has nothing to do with the inability to communicate correctly. I am quite capable of communication. It’s just that people interpret everything differently. Due to this any name you choose will have some negative connotation to it. Some people will hate it, some people will not.

    This all being said, however redundant it may have been, if you change the name the product is what counts. Shakespeare put it best: “What is in a name? A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” You might take a hit to your pride, or you might not, that’s for you to decide. I would like to point out that I have yet to meet anyone where in the title “Moby Dick” has ever stopped them from reading the book. Granted, that’s a classic of literature, but with modern connotation of words I could see offense being derived.

    My final thoughts: The easiest thing to do is to change the name, clear and simple. The sociological issues that surround the reason people would not buy it due to the name are too broad and deeply entrenched for you to combat. It’s somewhat a defeatist strategy, sure, but sometimes you need to make retreats to ultimately win the war.

    So… my two cents. Take them how you will.

  5. Darla said

    It sounds to me like one of your main goals here is to hear thoughts from people who don’t like the title. That is good, I’m really glad you are doing that.

    However, I don’t think this post is really very conducive to that. The problem is, you don’t make much room at all for people having legitimate, well-reasoned concerns about your work. People “hate,” “are embarrassed by” or “don’t understand” the title. The closest category for people with legitimate problems is “hate,” and I can assure you, those are not where any problems I have lie. It doesn’t seem like a particularly friendly place to talk about one’s objections.

    The other thing is, when you frame the question in terms of sales, it makes it seem as though you don’t actually care about people’s opinions, just marketing. Pretty much no one is going to say “Hi, I think there are problems with your thing, here is how you can get money from me without actually caring about my concerns.”

    Personally, I’m pretty hard to faze, so the title’s not that much of a problem for me. I’ll put up with a lot of fucked up offensive shit if I like something. However, I KNOW that a lot of people have very valid concerns, and I think you’d be wise to try to understand those concerns in a less hostile environment, regardless of whether it will get you more sales.

    In terms of Panty Explosion itself, my husband owns it, but I haven’t so much as looked at it once. (In fact, when I first read a share of your G+ post, I forgot that we have it, and re-shared with my sister, because I know she has it.) I don’t really think it’s my kind of game, but with a different title I probably would have given it a bit more of a chance. (I don’t know about “understanding” for sure, because how can you really know that, but I can assure you, “embarrassment” is not my problem, and neither is “hate.”)

  6. Darla said

    Ugh, sorry I was so repetitive in my last comment–long day.

  7. Jake said

    Darla, I didn’t mean to hound hostile. Rather, I was trying to convey the actual responses we get to the name, which is usually “I hate it and I’d never play/buy/look at a game with that name”, “I find the name really embarrassing and that’s keeping me from trying the game or “I just don’t understand what the name is about, and because of that haven’t given the game a second look”. There are, of course, other comments as well, but these are by far the most common.

    Anyway, I really wasn’t trying to sound hostile.

    As far as caring about marketing over opinions goes… I think you’re taking away the wrong impression here. I’m asking these questions because I very much do want to hear from people who are interested in playing Panty Explosion. Their opinions matter to me a lot and always have. I have zero interest in hearing from people who don’t want to play or learn more about the game. Why would I?

  8. Oarboar said

    Here’s my Machiavellian suggestion: Change the name. Then when it becomes popular, the early buyers will get to say “Yeah, I bought that game back when it was Panty Explosion Perfect.” Smartasses will get to point out the original name of the game. It’s a great way to set up an real-world metaphorical Easter egg that will get your game talked about.

    Or maybe I’m just tired and need to go to bed.

  9. Anonymoose said

    I just ordered the game (along with a couple more), and I’m split on that point. On the one hand, the title makes it really hard to pitch to people, especially those who aren’t necessarily RPG players (read: the ones I most want to get to play Panty Explosion). Having to open that conversation with, “No, it’s not some freaky hentai thing,” tends to color a conversation. Especially when the next sentence is, “So, we’re all playing Japanese schoolgirls…”

    On the other, if the game weren’t named Panty Explosion, I probably never would have looked into it in the first place (and thus never would have bought it). It gets attention, that’s for sure.

  10. steveph said

    I would love to buy the game and am not bothered by the title (like an earlier post, I love anime and get the connection in style). However, I can’t get a paper copy anywhere in the UK, so the title doesn’t seem to put people off too much here!

  11. Dan Poulin said

    I bought the game and enjoyed it. However, I could not convince my players to play in it. They saw the title and refused to have anything to do with the game. No amount of explaninch changed anything (some of my players have been playing games for over 30 years now). I cannot schedule it at Conventions to run it. Guardians of Order had a similar problem with one of its game (Cute & Fuzzy Cockfighting Seizure Monsters whici also sold as Cute & Fuzzy Seizure Monsters). Change the name.

  12. Nolrai said

    It is a great game, and great name..but I don’t think they really go together.

    I would totally buy a game that should be named Panty Explosion, you should make one.

  13. jewelfox said

    To me it screams “This game isn’t meant for actual girls to play unless they want to deal with Those Kinds of men.”

  14. Dave said

    I don’t have any issue with the name at all, and neither would any of the people i play with. The biggest thing holding us back is that none of us use hardcopies anymore, so the lack of a PDF/Digital option means its gets little traction. I’m sure we’re a minority, but there it is

    • Jake said

      I’ve been looking into ways to present the game digitally that I’m happy with. I’m hoping to have a digital version of the game available by the end of the year.

  15. Joseph LeMay said

    Here’s the deal: I bought the game, in spite of the name, because I liked the premise. I read it and think it’s pretty cool and looks fun. I probably will never play it with my group, because they will not play a game called Panty Explosion. That makes me sad.

  16. Yuutousei said

    I just got my copy and I’ve gotten mixed responses from my crew — some people want to play because of the name and others refuse for the same reason. I personally like the name but…. YMMV.

    • yuutousei said

      Anecdote: Tried to get some people committed to play it in the upcoming school year. One of the gals said she’s more than happy to play (and was then distraught by the lack of panties inside the actual book) while her boyfriend refuses to do so unless I change the name. I guess when you announce the new name for PEP, I can pass it by him and see if he prefers that.

  17. Ben said

    I bought the previous edition and I love the game but I hate having to explain that the “Panty” in the title doesn’t really have anything to do which the game itself. If there ever is a preorder for a “Pretty Explosion” branded version of the current version, I want to order several copies.

  18. Duchess of Nerdhaus said

    1. My boyfriend pointed out this title to me. I had actually glazed over it and was reading a copy of Maid when he put PEP in my hands.
    -This should tell you that the title is appealing to men over 30. While perhaps this is the demographic of your average game store, I’m not sure if it’s the core demographic of this particular game.
    -I actually kind of like the title, but I’m a mature woman with a good sense of humor. The absurdity is appealing, but the implied lecherousness is not.

    2. From the blurb on the back, I still wouldn’t have bought the book, because it continues to appeal to a slightly sleazy buyer (“loosing your soul”, huh?), but I used to work in a book store and I decided to read the first page before entirely passing judgement, and the first paragraph is what actually sold me.

    3. Nobody will play it with me because of the title, despite the awesome concept/mechanics. I have a friend who is a huge fan of Sailor Moon and would get a kick out of the game, but is completely disgusted by the title/cover and refuses to listen to me when I tell her it’s fun.

    4. I completely understand the title, it makes total sense to me. There are lots of panty-shots in the kind of manga/anime that this game is based off of. But I think “Pretty” “Lady” “Power” “Girly” “Sailor” “Super” are all good alternatives to “Panty”.
    -The source material is targeted toward girls, the panty-shots were gratuitous but were popularized during/because of the Age of Leotards (i.e. the 80s/90s).
    -The title “Panty Explosion Perfect” is not targeted towards girls. Can you imagine trying to convince your average mom to buy you something called “Panty Explosion Perfect”? Just sayin’.

    To sum up: this game is very female-positive on the inside, but kind of female-negative on the outside, which is baffling.

    P.S.- Why should you listen to me? I was a Soc/Anth Major at an all-female secular college.

    • Jake said

      I appreciate your input on this. Matt and I have already decided what we’re going to do, but well thought out comments are always appreciated and will always be seriously considered. What you’re saying here actually makes me feel really good about the decision we came to (which we’ll announce eventually).

  19. I’d never heard of the game before Origins. So:

    ORIGINS, LAST FRIDAY, at a vendor booth:
    ME (in my head): “Ooh, an anime game! Wait… I don’t want soft porn.” (does not pick up game to look inside)
    ORIGINS, LAST SATURDAY, in indie game room:
    HIM: “… I’ve been wanting to run a session of Panty Explosion Perfect.”
    ME: “Um, well, the name…?”
    HIM: “It’s not like that.”
    ME: “OK, I’m in.”
    (an hour later)
    ME: (head down on table, unable to speak from laughter)

    • Jake said

      I’m glad you were able to give it a try and enjoy it, and I’m sorry that the name of the game almost prevented that. As much as I’ve defended the name, this is the exact kind of situation which always makes me regret the choice we made. Hopefully the solution we’ve come up with will mitigate the situation.

      And I gotta make it back to Origins. I haven’t been for years!

  20. Lisa Padol said

    I bought it, so clearly, the title didn’t stop me. Mind, I had heard of it first, and knew what it was about. I’m not sure if I would have bought it otherwise or not.

    I think asking here, on your website, selects for those of us who don’t have a big problem with the title. I mean, I’m here because I buy your games and want to know when Desperate Teacher Romance is coming out, so it’s not as if you’re trying to expand your market to include me.

    My local gaming group might well agree to play it. But, I don’t think I’d feel comfortable trying to get someone to play it unless a) I already knew the person and knew this wouldn’t offend and felt comfortable with the person or b) I was at a gaming convention and felt reasonably sure that I was comfortable with the folks I was asking to play the game and that there was a reasonable chance they’d say yes.

  21. meowmix said

    I bought the game. After reading the rules, I thought it would be a game my daughters (under 10) would enjoy. Tried to play it without telling them the name of the game. Had to reference the book and they saw the cover and started laughing and shouting. My wife came in and said what the hell is this game. I buried it in the bottom of the junk drawer and never tried to play it again. Other than the title and a couple sentences mentioning skirts that fly up in the air, this would be a great game for young girls to kick ass. You don’t need to beat people over the head. I got it from the cartoon that I could run some sort of tentacle hentai game if I wanted to. I’d rather play psychic demon hunter game with my daughters though which is probably a bigger market.

  22. Otaku Mike said

    Change the name.
    Over the years, when I encountered the name, I never gave this game any serious thoughts. Not until right now, after reading the comments to this post, that somewhat clarify what the game is about (or rather, what it’s not about).
    From the name only, I thought it was a hentai RPG, which I concede would be a ridiculous proposal (how could it now go horribly off the rails and devolve into a chaotic mess within 5 minutes of the first game).
    Had it been named differently, with a name that gives a clearer idea of what the game is about, I probably would have looked harder into it.
    Now, I came on to this page by following a chain of links from the Tenra Bansho Zero RPG website. So that means I can be interested in a game with an obscure name (obviously, I had no idea what Tenra Bansho meant), as long as it doesn’t have a weirdo/negative feel. What TBZ’s name suggests, however, is definitively a Japanese/Anime feel, and Zero reminds me of classic Japanese RPG videogames like Final Fantasy. In a nutshell, the name worked. PEP’s name doesn’t, if you consider the primary goal of a name is to inform the potential buyer about what he’s about to purchase, or at least gives him a positive idea that incites him to learn more about the game.
    Taking a page from TBZ and translating the name into Japanese might not be very effective, however, as I think “panty” would read “panti” or “pantsu”. Maybe another name, like Seito Bakuhatsu Perfect (Schoolgirl Explosion, according to Google Translate…), or any other better researched Japanese name.

    Anyway, yes, definitively change the name. For the already printed books, it could be done with a simple dust jacket.

  23. Shreyas said

    You already named it Panty Explosion once. As far as I’m concerned, that makes you a creator I’m never buying from.

  24. Sseatris said

    Am I the only one buying it *because* the name is Panty Explosion Perfect? I mean, myself and most of my friends are interested because the name hooked us. I might note, we happen to be a pretty diverse group of 22-45 year old men and women, in the bible belt. No-one took offense at the name other than, “hey, that sounds hilarious/awesome, what’s it about?” Maybe we’re just a weird bunch? I mean, yes, we are, but most of us would be considered normal people by the world at large.

    That said, I can really see this taking off as a product if the name was changed and marketed towards girls of all ages, so it would be less awkward for a typical mother/father. And I do loves me the idea of getting a new generation into p&p RPGs, something which I think this title has great potential to do.

    Hrm.. the more I think about it, the more obvious it seems that changing the name would be a really good idea from a financial point.. while me and my friends would buy it as is, I can think of dozens and dozens of people who would be prospective buyers if it was titled something less risque. (again, Bible Belt.) In fact, many of those same friends who I play with would probably be willing to buy copies for their kids since this would be a great introductory RPG. … Sorry if I’m rambling a bit. I’m coming to terms with a 360 in opinion mid-rant. Geh.

    Oh well, love the game. About to buy a second copy for a friend’s birthday. … Will buy tons more as stocking stuffers if the title does change at some point, but will be very satisfied to have had the original panty explosion.

    P.S. – Weirdest post ever.. I completely changed my mind while typing.

  25. Mike Brodu said

    Did it ever happen that this game’s name hinder your attempts at selling another game? I mean, even another game with a very tame name, if it’s followed by the phrase “by the creators of Panty Explosion Perfect”, would be a hard sell for most people.

    I get that it’s a joke name, but it’s not a joke you can tell everyone. Just like jokes with a very sarcastic, or crude, or risqué tone might not be for all audiences. You’ve got to be careful.

  26. Ariel Gould said

    So, I am actually really amused over the reactions I get when explaining Panty Explosion to the masses. In fact, explaining the game, name first, to my friends was hilarious. I wasn’t put off from buying the game, but I could see why some people would be. I think it’s fine. You could always make copies with an alternate title, but that is the same thing on the inside or something. XD

  27. Harley said

    Sounds like you’ve already made a decision, but what if the next iteration were shortened to P*E*P? Or some version of that?

    • Jake said

      Matt and I have kind of come to a decision. Or at least we have an idea we like. The feedback here and on Facebook and Google+ went a long way. At the moment we’re not ready to talk about what we’re going to do, both because we might change our mind and because we’re both working on other stuff at the moment and any change is probably 6 months away at least. But we will be doing something.

      I did consider P*E*P. I actually like it quite a bit, and that’s usually how I refer to the game now anyway. We’re close to being sold out of PEP again right now anyway, so I may test out a small title change to PEP on a limited run, just to see what it looks like.

      • Mike Brodu said

        PEP is not a solution. At best, it just delays the moment where you say the full name. When you introduce the game, what are you gonna say?
        - Let’s play PEP!
        - Err, what’s that, and what does that even mean? Is it a game where you play cheerful shrinks giving pep talks to people?
        - No dummy, it’s short for Panty Explosion Perfect!
        - Ah… (*insert long silent stare and the usual reaction to the name*)

        And if no one is there to tell you, if you see a game on a shelves which title is PEP, in a vacuum, it does an even worse job at telling you what the game is about.

  28. Raziya88 said

    When I first heard of this game, it was the title that first caught my attention.

    It sounds like a game I would love to play BUT I just can’t imagine saying “Hey, do you want to try this new game i bought, it’s called Panty Explosion . . .”

    So I haven’t bought a copy.

    Please change the name!

  29. Glorander said

    Actually, I have to agree that the title was exactly the reason I decided to take a look at the game in the first place.

    Personally, I was hoping for more of a focus on the plural noun in the title.

    However, it’s become a game that I run for my wife and daughter on a regular basis – neither of which act like it’s weird when they ask, “Are we going to play Panty Explosion tonight?”

    Maturity and understanding, I guess.

    But hey, I see how it could make people think something else entirely. I wouldn’t worry about it, though – ’tis the way of things.

  30. Jeff said

    I know this is a pretty old post, but I was wondering if anything ever came of the whole name change discussion.

    Somewhere in my RPG collection is a copy of the original PE. I didn’t mind the name that much, myself, but I can completely understand how some people would be put off by it. (The book came in on a day while I was at work, and my roommate called to let me know I had a package come in. When I said it was an RPG, they got curious and wanted to open it. I said they could, and there followed an awkward silence as they pulled it out of the envelope and saw the title.)

    The real shame about the name is that it really limits what you can do with the game in a convention environment. The local anime convention has a game room, and there’s always a handful of people running demos in there throughout the con. I think PEP would be a great game for a con, but I’m not sure I could get the organizers to okay something with that name. The odd looks I’d get from having the book next to me wouldn’t be that fun either.

    • Jake said

      I’ll go ahead and say I’ve only had one convention organizer tell me I couldn’t run the game, and it’s been pretty rare for players in the rpg rooms to react poorly. But I know that’s going to be different in different places, and your comfort level isn’t mine anyway, so that’s all moot.

      Matt and I came to a decision after this whole discussion. The short story is that we’re keeping Panty Explosion perfect in print and will continued to sell and promote the game. We like and believe in the game. There’s a long story as well which involves a secret plan and an upcoming project, but we’re not ready to talk about that yet.

  31. I’ve played a few times. It’s such a fun system! I was not put off by the name. Just wanted to mention that I was trying to describe this game system to a friend and accidentally referred to it as “Panty Apocalypse Explosion”. Which also sounds like a fun game.

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