The real issue, wrt 6e1/6e2 as I see it, is that when people say they want hard copies of those two volumes they almost always mean they want the original full-color hardcover editions. It seems that the moment one points out that softcover POD copies (with B&W interior pages, like all the other core system books) can be made cheaply, they backpedal and turn their noses up at the idea. Those 6e hardcovers are impressive, to be sure, but it is possible to get that all-important game material in printed form for relatively little money if one is willing to forego the Super Deluxe Hardcover With Full Color Glossy Heavyweight Pages format.
That's a good point. The FLGS issue is puzzling to me as well. "I can't get Hero System at my FLGS." Well, no. But what current RPGs can you get there? One? Two? Both off in some dusty corner on a single small shelf, far from the action, no doubt.
Sometimes I wish Hero offered the 6e1 and 6e2 PDFs with cover and spine images in Lulu format so people could POD their own copies. Other times I think it would only matter to those of us who would POD them just to have them because we want all things Hero.
With some incredible exceptions like Exalted 3rd edition. I'm actually iffy on the whole "Simple is what everyone wants". For one thing simple is highly subjective. For me and some others I know M and M isn't any "simpler" than Hero just has its complexity in different places, place that might click better with some than others.
Hero has long had this stigma attached to that is the Calculus of RPGs while system that are arguably at least as dense have gotten a general pass or at least less static about it.
I'm not terribly familiar with Exalted 3rd and M&M. I've looked into them and neither seemed particularly compelling to me (I am careful about getting into new systems; I have a select group of systems I absolutely love, and I want any new RPG to fit into a significant niche left unclaimed by those favorite systems -- otherwise it's not worth spending the time and money on it). When I did looked into M&M, it seemed like a system that would be disappointing and frustrating to me as a Hero fanatic, sort of like unknowingly spending the evening with your spouse's twin.
However, I do think there are simpler, faster-playing systems out there that offer superhero roleplaying as a genre. Savage Worlds comes to mind. I'm not saying it is better for supers than Champions (I wouldn't say that about any system), but it does deliver on its promise of being quicker to pick up and play, and it does have a supers genre supplement and an enthusiastic community of devoted players. Add to that its clever campaign system (the Plot Point system) and I'd say it serves as a pretty good model of how to do "simpler" without sacrificing too much detail. Whereas I feel FATE is too simple and abstract, I think Savage Worlds pretty much hits the sweet spot overall.
Yeah, Savage Worlds is pretty darned popular. It's got a cheap entry point ($10, IIRC), you can read the core rules in a few hours, character generation is quick and easy, and it has some really fantastically fun subsystems. They do have the an issue with combat stun that they've worked on, and character differentiation can be an issue, but overall it's a decent, light-weight system with great support. (As for FATE...well...it's free and well supported, and it is narratively strong enough to satisfy those who want mechanical support for that...uh...aspect. But, yeah, it's not everyone's cup of tea (including me)).
In my Savage Worlds phase I tried out the superhero genre supplement, and I agree it's probably good enough for most. Many people seem to love the Necessary Evil campaign world as well. These days, I go for SUPERS! Revised when it comes to quick-n-dirty superhero gaming. It doesn't get as much respect as its competitors, unfortunately. But we've had wild fun using it for one-offs and short story-arcs.
But I do not think that Champions needs to become, or should become diluted in any way to become like Savage Worlds. I think the Hero System should remain crunchy and complex and detailed and not lose its identity. I just think it desperately needs high quality game worlds for new players to pick up and run in, with lots of pre-built stuff to get them started. In that regard, I think the Plot Point concept from Savage Worlds is worth emulating.
I agree. There's probably only room for one Savage Worlds. And the world needs something richer, like Hero System.
I sometimes wonder if the "Hero's hard" meme could be fought with a counter-meme. If a popular blogger picked it up and wrote compellingly about the game and how fun it was to create a character, how great the combat system is, how well the game handles any genre, how simple it is in non-combat play, and how flexible it is in emulating what we see and read in genre media of all sorts. How you could do Game of Thrones or Star Wars or Jessica Jones or any number of other popular stories with it. I wonder if that would have any significant impact.
Because to me, the fact is that you don't have to squeeze every point for maximum benefit in character generation if that's not your idea of fun. And if you're in a group of adults, it shouldn't be necessary at all. ("Damn, Bob got twice the kick-ass out of his 250 points. I'm doomed to lameness for the next six months. I hate this game" should have been left behind with the pimples and sexual frustration of the early teen years IMO.) Character generation should be a creative, fun activity that players look forward to, and combats should be either incredibly fun or incredibly rare, depending on your tastes.