another rpg industry doomsday article (merged: all 3 "Mishler Rant" threads) - Page 12
  1. #111
    While the Pathfinder PDF might contribute to unprofitable expectations among gamers who gauge prices on a per-page basis, I don't think the problem is either new or insurmountable.

    It seems to me likely that knowing and catering to an appropriate market can make a big difference. If you don't even have the capital to do a print run of 5000 copies, then it might not be very relevant whether potential short-term sales are in that league.

    If one is not depending on the business for one's daily bread, then are probably ways to make the hobby at least pay for itself. Don't try to compete in a field in which supply is plentiful, but go for one in which there is more clearly unmet demand. Target a demographic willing to pay more for quality in the creative department -- and maybe not so hung up on expensive production values.

    I personally am not a fan of glossy paper, and while spot color (or occasional full-color plates) can be something I appreciate, the added expense may not be worth it to me. I find black and white usually eminently appropriate, and the 3E books hard on my eyes. For a module of 8 to 64 pages, saddle-stapling is fine. The classic TSR format of nicely printed separate card-stock cover with maps inside is to me quite nifty, but it's no big deal if removal requires opening staples. I don't see the need for anything fancier unless it's going to get heavier use (and then the quality of a paperback or hardbound binding is significant).

    I don't know how eccentric I am in all that, but I suspect that there are at least 1500 others who could make it worthwhile for someone acting in the first place on a drive to create a work of great imagination even if only for the pleasure.

    The PDF and POD facilities, coupled with sites for people to shop on the Internet, seem to have opened opportunities even in a contracted market.
    Last edited by Ariosto; Thursday, 16th July, 2009 at 07:30 PM.

  2. #112
    Quote Originally Posted by TheArticle
    Are role-playing game consumers spoiled? Have role-playing game consumer incomes not kept up with the incomes of other consumers? Were role-playing game publishers unwilling to increase prices due to competitive fears from other game markets? Is there a natural downward pressure on role-playing game products due to the infinite re-usability of the core rulebooks? Probably a bit of all these things; but the end result is, gamer consumers expect to pay less today for their games, in relative costs, than most any other leisure market.
    Who is this guy talking to? I'm "spoiled" because I'd rather write my own adventures than shell out money for some junk that I could easily do myself? I have *way* more money than I did in 1979. What I don't have is a lot of patience for the recycling of ideas from 1979 with 4e statblocks. I don't care about artwork, or spelling, or any of that. None of that translates into actually *playing the game* which I often suspect is not something commonly done by most publishers or reviewers.

    My games would run just fine with black-and-white low budget printouts of *good ideas*. According to the article such products would be "laughed out" of the industry - an industry that ironically is anxious about failing? So who should be laughing?

    All of this editing and artwork stuff is unecessary anyway, I can get the same inspiration in a more palatable format by watching a movie or surfing the internet. Apologies to those folks who buy RPG materials just to read them and look at the art work. I guess you can't please all of the folks all of the time.

    The whole reason I play RPGs is the amount of autonomy, creativity, and involvement that I have. Anyone whose longing for a situation where I turn into a consumer-oriented drone that spends piles of cash to be entertained by someone else has picked the wrong business to be in. RIP I say and I look forward to the future when RPG designers will have day jobs and view themselves more as peers with the people who play the games.

  3. #113
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnRTroy View Post
    Wow, I thought people were overreacting here, the RPGPundit seems to be filled with venom.

    Interesting to see Ryan seeing the gaming market as grim too.

    Not sure I agree with him on author rates though.

    I totally disagree with his use of Games workshop "raise rates every year even through the complaints". As I pointed out, one look at their reports, they've been losing slaes and decreased revenue since 2001 with a slight bump up in 2004 till I last read them in 2007....

  4. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by seskis281 View Post
    In the end I just have to ask - why do you guys care so much to get so worked up over it?
    Discussion forums are for discussion. This is a discussion forum. God forbid people would discuss things here.

  5. #115
    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post

    I'm not sure if I buy entirely into his doom and gloom predictions (for example, he totally blows off younger generations as being only interested in Britany Spears, despite the fact that teen readers are actually buying books and reading in record numbers in the US currently) but, his basic point is very solid.

    Gaming is too cheap. He's not the first to say this. Everything he says about trying to make money on RPG's is, IMO, spot on.

    Thats a yes and no there. As seen with Ptolus from Monte, if you actually have a quality product-the MSRP was $119, gamers will buy it.

    But too many products, thats WOTC's included, are simply not worth the cover price now. So saying Gaming is too cheap isnt the only problem.

    I have no issues dropping $50 on Pathfinder, or $120 on Ptolus, but the vast majority of Wotc books, and many 3PP ones are not. The ultimate dungeon or what not that was $100 from AEG...didnt feel worth the $100 price tag(and no I didnt pay it).

  6. #116
    Quote Originally Posted by seskis281 View Post

    I am a bit saddened by how Erik Mona came into this so strongly. I've never met him but have always enjoyed his writings and his opinions. I understand an impetus to defend one's company, but all James did was say he didn't like the approach being taken by Paizo on the pdf pricing for the Pathfinder rulebook. Coming back with a bit of namecalling and denegrating James on a personal level strikes me as a bit off... James Mishler's blog and opinion is a threat to the Pathfinder release?

    In the end I just have to ask - why do you guys care so much to get so worked up over it?
    I object to three things, in the main, and they are responsible for me getting snarky and a bit defensive in my responses to James yesterday.

    1) I have tons of evidence in the form of sales data, trending, and current business relationships with current buyers and distributors in the industry, and I can say FOR SURE that the "industry" is not dying. The fact that his misguided rant came in on the same day when we received final orders for the Pathfinder RPG from all channels--orders higher than for any other product we have ever published. Faced with so much real evidence to the contrary, his original rant struck me as ill-timed and ill-informed.

    2) I REALLY don't appreciate an armchair quarterback with a bunch of outdated data points and myopic, 20th century ideas of business models and new technology trying to coin a term (i.e. "The Pathfinder Effect") to blame his own economic woes on a product that:
    1) Is associated with a one-off discount aimed at increasing the player base for the game, which is good for all channels because more players = more potential customers.
    2) Is an affordable electronic version of a very expensive book that is priced outside the affordability of many gamers.
    3) Is not even out yet.
    4) Is not distributed at RPG Now or DriveThru, and hence isn't even on the radar of the bulk of PDF customers and has no influence on the industry's major PDF marketplaces outside
    5) Is based on an open system anyway, and will be available FOR FREE from several different sites a la within days of it coming out.

    3) His calling the decision to price the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook PDF at $10.00 "the final nail in the coffin of the RPG industry" really raised my hackles. The only segment of the RPG industry that I know of that has publicly admitted abject failure (or at least abject frustration at an inability to make ends meet) is Mr. James Mishler. One one-man operation on the brink of failure does not a failing industry make.

    So that's my take. James is free to have his own opinions, and there are a lot of things about his essay that make sense and that I agree with. But his ridiculous claims about Paizo and its influence on the industry, though flattering in their misguided audacity, are flat out wrong, and deserve to be challenged head on lest they become part of some sort of conventional wisdom among pundits and customers in the industry.


  7. #117
    Quote Originally Posted by carmachu View Post
    True, but the other end of the spectrum is what the consumer is willing to pay for them(and of course the dead tree print version). If people are buying it at that price, great. If not....

    There are more than a few people that have said they just dont value PDF's at all.

    Personally I see exactly why the Pathfinder PDF is priced at $10. I've seen more than a few folks that have said they werent even going to look all of a sudden decide to take a look. I hope the strategy works out for them.
    Exactly. I know I'm making a logical leap here, but if Paizo and Green Ronin have stable PDF to print ratios over the past 2-3 years, I'm thinking they are probably happy with the PDF sales. Now "being happy with PDF sales" is of course really fuzzy. But in lieu of actual sales and production data, I'm thinking the simplest explanation is that they are doing fine with PDF sales and people are buying them at that price. Of course their print products are the real money makers, which brings up the additional point that predicting a trend in PDF prices based even just on PDFs of products in print may also be flawed. I haven't seen an argument to convince me that if a PDF copy of a print book goes down in value, that all PDF-only products would be dragged down as well.

    And as for people claiming that PDFs are worthless to them, that's irrelevant. 4e products are worthless to people who don't play the game. Pathfinder products are useless to my parents who have never played an RPG. If something has no value to a consumer, then they don't really have any relevant say in determining the price, in my opinion.

    Of course, I don't want to spend too much time defending PDFs since I think they are a dead end format and will be gone from the RPG industry in 5 years. (Ok, 5 may be pushing it since they are so easy to produce, but definitely within 10 years.) But that's just me.

    I just think even a single Loss Leader product won't cause this Race to Zero for the entire PDF market. In fact, if consumers were going to start demanding that more products be closer to the 20% PDF/Print ratio, we would have been hearing it sometime since the price was announced (since we're talking decreasing the perceived value of PDFs, knowing the PF RPG price should be enough to at least begin this collapse of PDF pricing). I don't see the devaluing happening yet. Maybe we're just slow and in August or September the Race to Zero will be demanded. However, I'm thinking people are very happy with the price on that one product, but aren't seeing it as entitlement to demand lower prices on all PDF products. It's simply not happening.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnRTroy View Post
    It's not wrong when there's tons of economic data outside of gaming. I mean, I learned this stuff in college 20 years ago.

    Loss leader - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Loss Leaders, which is what Paizo is doing, can be risky to a market.
    But that quote refers to stockpiling products. As I understand it, buying a ton now so I don't have to buy any later (and company doing the promotion is hurt in the long run). Yeah, that is definitely a bad outcome of loss leaders. But this isn't a consumable product, it's an information product. People would no more stockpile an individual RPG book than they would Stephen King's latest novel. Once you have one, that's all you need.

    I'm not sure what other indirect costs it might have. Sure, James' idea that it would devalue PDFs in consumers' minds is possible, but as I said, if we haven't seen it even start yet, I doubt it'll be that earth-shattering. I'm guessing the PDF pricing is pretty stable right now, and people see this promotion exactly for what it is - a unique, one time deal to get people interested in the new game. Part of this (and I'm jsut pulling out of my butt guessing) is that RPG PDF consumers tend to be those of us online reading these boards, reading blogs, etc. and are generally more informed. Yes, the average EN World user isn't necessarily the typical print RPG consumer, but I'm guessing that we're not far off from the typical PDF consumer.

  8. #118
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    This bit from Ryan is something I didn't realize
    Most pubilshers offer a discount of 60% >OFF< SRP to their wholesalers. That's right; the publshers get $0.40 for every $1 of retail price. This is a pricing structure that is insane. In most retail businesses, an extremely good margin is called a "keystone" margin, and it's 50% off of SRP. When Hasbro or Mattel sells to Wal*Mart, the discount is closer to 30% off of SRP. Why in the world do we have an industry where 60% of the value of the products is captured by the distributors and the retailers?
    That is an insane pricing margin. In consignment for poetry books, the standard split is 60/40, where the store buys the book for 40% of the cost, not 60%. The idea that a retailer takes more than half of the retail cost of the work is ridiculous. I think Ryan might have a point there.

  9. #119
    What Mishler is truly ranting about is that its a bad time to be an unsuccessful, unestablished producer of RPG materials. He is ranting about the loss of the OGL boom, and the free pass to anybody who wanted to produce games it granted.

  10. #120
    This whole discussion reminds me of Goodman's comment on OGL companies valuing themselves based on their numbers during the 2000-2001 OGL boom. If you are basing your perceptions of the industry and what you feel you should be able to do as a publisher on that period, you are going to have a skewed view of reality.

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