That was an interesting answer @Brooski. I know you’re a fan of Butterfield, I am not as I actually think Dean Essig and The Gamers are the best, but entering into a “Pirates vs. Ninjas” type of discussion isn’t going to be very interesting.
You make a very good point re what makes a war game a game rather than a glorified spreadsheet application with a map on one of the “sheets”: you need to create an immersive environment. You don’t need to be a “software developer” to fail to achieve that: many of the “serious” war games you see out there (like those inspired by Phillip Sabin) aren’t very immersive, but are great historical sandboxes. Some very good “games”, on the other hand, are terrible historical sandboxes in the sense that, yes, there’s plenty of pretty desert sunsets to gaze at but you only get to see them from a train running along some very straight railroads and the occasional bifurcation.
That can be done with props like a well thought out user interface, a beautiful area based map and capsules of historical anecdotes packaged in snazzy, inspired graphical design. Shenandoah got right all of these things, AGEOD the latter two with their first and finest game. That can be done dumping the player into a fully realised 3D environment, with NPCs riding to you with dispatches, like Scourge of War and its predecessors. It can be achieved with painfully complex rulesets, like Advanced Squad Leader.
The last - as hardware and know-how has evolved - type of “immersive” war games is to be “sandboxes” that focus on the simulation and in allowing the player to provide “inputs” to it (like CMANO, Combat Mission or even ARMA if you play “tactical”).
As you say, all of the above call with particular strength to different audiences and personality types. But of course, they cannot be engaging to every personality type, somebody is going to fall off the wagon.
Certainly, the cost is higher. Yet it doesn’t help that they chose perhaps the worst platform/market to sell their games. In a niche where customer fidelity is a premium, the planned obsolescence of all things iOS is poison.
The reasons to invest in digital - flexibility, increased reach, exploiting immersion opportunities open up by computer hardware - need to be balanced out with the economics of digital products, which may be at odds with the sustainability of a business.
For that, there’s no digital competition :)
Field of Glory 2 - which is designed by Richard Bodley Scott - is perhaps one of the better designs to come out recently on a computer. Certainly it is way cheaper than getting into the miniatures. And I wouldn’t play FoG, or any ancients miniatures ruleset “solo” in my man cave. Which is too small for a board game, but just perfect for a computer :)
Whenever it changes, it will change.