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Thursday, 16th July, 2009, 07:26 PM #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.
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Thursday, 16th July, 2009, 07:49 PM #112
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.Originally Posted by TheArticle
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.
Thursday, 16th July, 2009, 07:53 PM #113
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....
Thursday, 16th July, 2009, 07:59 PM #114
Defender (Lvl 8)
Thursday, 16th July, 2009, 08:07 PM #115
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).
Thursday, 16th July, 2009, 08:09 PM #116
Magsman (Lvl 14)
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 Paizo.com.
5) Is based on an open system anyway, and will be available FOR FREE from several different sites a la d20srd.org 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.
Thursday, 16th July, 2009, 08:31 PM #117
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
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.
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.
Thursday, 16th July, 2009, 08:53 PM #118
Defender (Lvl 8)
This bit from Ryan is something I didn't realizeThat 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.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?
Thursday, 16th July, 2009, 09:24 PM #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.
Thursday, 16th July, 2009, 09:41 PM #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.