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Pathfinder 2E Is It Time for PF2 "Essentials"?

teitan

Hero
I do think people kinda forget that paizo is small company, so they don't really need to do well in same numbers as D&D to do "well" <_<
They also don’t have Hasbro breathing down their neck to perform to a certain level or be shut down and mothballed for a period to spark new sales a few years down the road. Paizo has been successful longer and maintained and grown throughout its life and remains the only major competitor to D&D for a longer period of time than White Wolf was able to maintain a similar standing. D&D and PF ran neck and neck but in that case it was 3.5 players rejecting 4e and 4e was still the king of the hill but it was a much smaller hill. RPGs are an industry measured in millions, not billions and D&D makes up, and always has, the huge majority of that money. I’m sure Paizo was aware that P2 would split their players base and was prepared for it looking at past performance or TSR and WOTC considering it was formed by insiders, and also aware that they wouldn’t have the same impact with P2 considering that PF had slow downs in sales after 5e released. They were coasting on 3.5 fans. Now they’re trying to use that to build their own.

I personally think that while the D&D market has grown exponentially, much like Marvel films, it’s had a smaller impact on the industry as a whole.
 

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MaskedGuy

Explorer
Two quick follow ups.

First, thanks to all the posters who engaged my questions re picking up monster gears and taming creatures in the wild. Very interesting and much appreciated.

Secondly, an additional reason why I think PF2 hasn’t caught on that much: very poor page to price ratio once you move beyond the CRB (classic loss leader). I own 3 volumes in the PF2 lost omens series and think they are really good. However, two things stand out:
1. Art direction has gone downhill. There’s lots of great art in PF2 (some of it better than any PF1 era stuff) but they also feature artists with no skill and understanding of: proportions, perspective, and even placement of heads. This isn’t rocket science, these are the 101 drawing sins that beginners books warn against.
2. Couple that to an outrageously high price point—I got Inner Sea Gods 1E in the mail today and boy oh boy does that deliver where 2E would roll that content out in four thin hardbacks instead—and you get lots of people scratching their head why they should pay that much when the text is basically free/PRD.

Historically, Paizo has been strong in the art department but it looks like they let some important people go. I’m sure that doesn’t help move books off shelves.
Okay I realized I had to comment on it. It was already bought up that 2 isn't just true even if it just feels bad to pay 20 dollars for pdf when you are used to 10 dollars, but 1 is the one I have issue with:

I have books from 1e from all way ten years ago to modern day and saying that art direction has gone down way is ridiculous because art in paizo products has ALWAYS varied. What it sounds like is that someone saw the kobold art in latest book and makes blanket statements that "all art direction is bad looking" when 1e art has such thing as
be4b129197fadf3a5fd18aedeed6b397.jpg


Trying to say that 2e art direction is overall worse than1e makes me baffled o_O Like don't get me wrong, it isn't terrible picture, much better than I could draw currently, but latter makes it look like poor Charon look really short andif you try to figure out the anatomy you realize how weird it is.

Like I dunno, I think monster art looks pretty great :p like look at these
 
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They also don’t have Hasbro breathing down their neck to perform to a certain level or be shut down and mothballed for a period to spark new sales a few years down the road.

Anecdote: The company that hired me got bought by an international conglomerate a few years ago. It had a shockingly low rate of profit. It was enough to keep the sole proprietor and CEO's yacht afloat and his mansion heated. Now that we're part of a publicly traded company, we had to cut a lot of expenses to get our rate of profit in line with the mother ship's.

Publicly traded companies have to do this, and they're not allowed to keep much cash on hand, or they become vulnerable to shareholder suits and PE takeovers.
 

vivsavage

Explorer
I would like to see a Pathfinder Essentials as an alternative to PF2 that could work with it the same way 4e Essentials worked with core 4e. When the 1e Beginner Box came out, I wanted to see a version that went to level 20. It was a cleaner version of PF core. PF2 is a great game but messy. I actually started designing a PF 1 Essentials based on the Beginner Box about 10 years ago, but petered out quickly. I have no idea if there would be any market for such a beast for 2e.
 

dave2008

Legend
I would like to see a Pathfinder Essentials as an alternative to PF2 that could work with it the same way 4e Essentials worked with core 4e. When the 1e Beginner Box came out, I wanted to see a version that went to level 20. It was a cleaner version of PF core. PF2 is a great game but messy. I actually started designing a PF 1 Essentials based on the Beginner Box about 10 years ago, but petered out quickly. I have no idea if there would be any market for such a beast for 2e.
From what I have heard, the PF2 beginner box is also a streamline version of CRB. That might be a place to start.
 

I think I'm just going to join in suggesting that the OP's premise is kind of faulty from the get-go, and given that any answer to the question he poses is to one degree or another, a counter-factual.
 

Retreater

Legend
I think I'm just going to join in suggesting that the OP's premise is kind of faulty from the get-go, and given that any answer to the question he poses is to one degree or another, a counter-factual.
If you're referring to my original post, I'll copy my general premise here, and I'll explain why I don't think the premise is faulty.

"The APs are considered not up to the previous standards. It's largely failed to catch on, with dwindling physical book sales, falling market share on VTTs, and little 3PP support. Two years of flailing around was enough for WotC to do a soft reboot - is it soon enough for Paizo to do the same?
Do you think a revised, streamlined PF2 would help? What would you like in it?"

Point 1: The APs are not up to the previous standards.
If you consider Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne, and other PF1 APs, you will find them regularly coming up in the fan favorite categories. With the possible exception of the "just released" Abomination Vaults, general opinion is that the APs have not won over fans. Age of Ashes is a difficult, rocky start to the product line. Extinction Curse does a bait and switch on its circus theme almost immediately. And Agents of Edgewatch was a controversial release that even Paizo has backed away from. The need to get "back to basics" is clear that their current AP is a mini-AP of a dungeon crawl written by James Jacobs. This is basically their admission that they needed to do something foundational to relaunch the AP line. Kudos to them.

Point 2: Dwindling Physical Book Sales
Yeah, look at the Amazon sales data. It's a fact.

Point 3: Falling Market Share on VTT
Yeah, look at the reports. It's a fact.

Point 4: Little 3PP Support
Check out DriveThru RPG. Look at how ENWorld has stopped publishing Trailseeker (?). Look at the major 3PP who were big supporters of PF1 and now 5E that aren't touching PF2. Look at Kickstarter and see how many projects are for 5E or even OSR systems. Try searching for PF2, and you're looking at a ghost town.

I like things about PF2. Heck, about a week ago I posted an invite on these boards for folks to play in an Abomination Vaults game on Roll20 that I've put together. (Still no interest, disappointingly.) I don't want to see Paizo or PF2 fail. PF2 isn't lighting the world on fire, and if it hasn't caught on by now, I don't see it growing without some kind of change. That's what this thread is about: what can Paizo do to grow PF2.

If you think it wouldn't benefit from more players, third party support, increased presence in the hobby community, etc., I think you have a faulty premise.
 

teitan

Hero
Amazon sales data means very little. That’s a fact. I work there. With the algorithms sales bounce and Amazon is primarily a soft lines distributor now. With Paizo having a very, very strong direct RO consumer subscription service that includes PDFs and Foundry VTT data it’s a steal. That’s part of why Roll20 is a bad measure for how PF2 is doing. You are basing your assumption on a single source whereas Paizo has never been forthcoming with numbers. It’s the number 2 game on the market well over a year after release, it’s not going anywhere. Most other games, when they release a new edition, get a temporary spike for about six months and then fade out of the limelight. Vampire, Shadowrun, etc. the only games that stick? D&D, Pathfinder, Starfinder and Cthulhu.
 

If you're referring to my original post, I'll copy my general premise here, and I'll explain why I don't think the premise is faulty.

"The APs are considered not up to the previous standards. It's largely failed to catch on, with dwindling physical book sales, falling market share on VTTs, and little 3PP support. Two years of flailing around was enough for WotC to do a soft reboot - is it soon enough for Paizo to do the same?
Do you think a revised, streamlined PF2 would help? What would you like in it?"

Point 1: The APs are not up to the previous standards.
If you consider Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne, and other PF1 APs, you will find them regularly coming up in the fan favorite categories. With the possible exception of the "just released" Abomination Vaults, general opinion is that the APs have not won over fans. Age of Ashes is a difficult, rocky start to the product line. Extinction Curse does a bait and switch on its circus theme almost immediately. And Agents of Edgewatch was a controversial release that even Paizo has backed away from. The need to get "back to basics" is clear that their current AP is a mini-AP of a dungeon crawl written by James Jacobs. This is basically their admission that they needed to do something foundational to relaunch the AP line. Kudos to them.

Point 2: Dwindling Physical Book Sales
Yeah, look at the Amazon sales data. It's a fact.

Point 3: Falling Market Share on VTT
Yeah, look at the reports. It's a fact.

Point 4: Little 3PP Support
Check out DriveThru RPG. Look at how ENWorld has stopped publishing Trailseeker (?). Look at the major 3PP who were big supporters of PF1 and now 5E that aren't touching PF2. Look at Kickstarter and see how many projects are for 5E or even OSR systems. Try searching for PF2, and you're looking at a ghost town.

I like things about PF2. Heck, about a week ago I posted an invite on these boards for folks to play in an Abomination Vaults game on Roll20 that I've put together. (Still no interest, disappointingly.) I don't want to see Paizo or PF2 fail. PF2 isn't lighting the world on fire, and if it hasn't caught on by now, I don't see it growing without some kind of change. That's what this thread is about: what can Paizo do to grow PF2.

If you think it wouldn't benefit from more players, third party support, increased presence in the hobby community, etc., I think you have a faulty premise.

My argument is nothing was going to make all that be true. The only time new editions sell as well or better than the prior edition of a game are usually when the prior edition was notably problematic to a large part of the market (i.e. the D&D 4 to D&D 5 transition). Otherwise you almost always lose some of your market in such transitions.

The question ends up being, does what you suggest seem likely to improve this loss? And I don't have any evidence that's particularly likely. To the degree there's a market that wants some of that, they're either diehards staying with PF1e and unlikely to change anyway, or are 5e fans who already have what they want.

Its basically a categorical error to assume that anything, absolutely anything, was going to get much better result than they have now, and the comparison to 1e is problematic because 1e was a success to at least some degree because it was carrying through theD&D 3e fandom when D&D 4e came out and went in a different direction.
I also consider the VTT question to be so muddied it doesn't really demonstrate anything.

The APs not being as well received is an indicator of the fact the D&D sphere has been notoriously bad about not fighting the last war when new editions of games come out; take a look at the history of early D&D3 modules (where people were, effectively writing for AD&D2 rather than the game at hand) or the attitude toward the first couple D&D 4 adventures (where they didn't apparently understand their own math). Paizo had the advantage in their early PF1e adventures that they were transitioning to a game very similar to D&D 3.5, which they'd been doing adventures for for quite some time; any problems were likely to be things that were largely system independent. The first two Adventure Paths for 2e, on the other hand, were the same old "writing adventures for the new game system like it was the old game system, with accompanying problems". Any issues people have mentioned with any of the successors have, again, been things that would be problems whatever the game system was.

So your argument only makes sense if you assume there's any practical way they weren't going to have some contraction of market given the current RPG environment, and I have little sign that's true; nothing they did was going to prevent that. To a large extent quite how big a chunk they had was a historical accident and them taking advantage of same, and I suspect they knew good and well when going to 2e it was going to happen, but it was better than the alternative.
 

I mean, let's get serious here: generally speaking D&D has been the big dog in the RPG market for its entire lifespan (there's some question as to whether Vampire the Masquerade and White Wolf in general were surging ahead of them during the peak of the latter, but there's no really solid information on it). 4e was very much an aberration because it was simply not the game the D&D fans apparently wanted as a group (note this says nothing about the quality of the game; I think it did what it was trying to do generally pretty well, but that's a different question).

So is PF doing less well when its new edition is up against a strong (market-wise) version of D&D and forging generally new ground, then it did when it was up against a weak version and riding the coat tails of the prior D&D version? Shocker.
 

dave2008

Legend
Amazon sales data means very little. That’s a fact. I work there. With the algorithms sales bounce and Amazon is primarily a soft lines distributor now. With Paizo having a very, very strong direct RO consumer subscription service that includes PDFs and Foundry VTT data it’s a steal. That’s part of why Roll20 is a bad measure for how PF2 is doing. You are basing your assumption on a single source whereas Paizo has never been forthcoming with numbers. It’s the number 2 game on the market well over a year after release, it’s not going anywhere. Most other games, when they release a new edition, get a temporary spike for about six months and then fade out of the limelight. Vampire, Shadowrun, etc. the only games that stick? D&D, Pathfinder, Starfinder and Cthulhu.
While that is true, it was also true when PF2 launched. The amazon numbers have go down consistently and significantly over the 2 years of its release. I think that is what @Retreater is referencing. And it is clearly not the only data he/she as the basis for argument, many examples where given.

Now, that doesn't mean Retreater is correct, it just means most of the data we can collect suggest that he/she might be right.
 

dave2008

Legend
My argument is nothing was going to make all that be true. The only time new editions sell as well or better than the prior edition of a game are usually when the prior edition was notably problematic to a large part of the market (i.e. the D&D 4 to D&D 5 transition). Otherwise you almost always lose some of your market in such transitions.

The question ends up being, does what you suggest seem likely to improve this loss? And I don't have any evidence that's particularly likely. To the degree there's a market that wants some of that, they're either diehards staying with PF1e and unlikely to change anyway, or are 5e fans who already have what they want.

Its basically a categorical error to assume that anything, absolutely anything, was going to get much better result than they have now, and the comparison to 1e is problematic because 1e was a success to at least some degree because it was carrying through theD&D 3e fandom when D&D 4e came out and went in a different direction.
I also consider the VTT question to be so muddied it doesn't really demonstrate anything.

The APs not being as well received is an indicator of the fact the D&D sphere has been notoriously bad about not fighting the last war when new editions of games come out; take a look at the history of early D&D3 modules (where people were, effectively writing for AD&D2 rather than the game at hand) or the attitude toward the first couple D&D 4 adventures (where they didn't apparently understand their own math). Paizo had the advantage in their early PF1e adventures that they were transitioning to a game very similar to D&D 3.5, which they'd been doing adventures for for quite some time; any problems were likely to be things that were largely system independent. The first two Adventure Paths for 2e, on the other hand, were the same old "writing adventures for the new game system like it was the old game system, with accompanying problems". Any issues people have mentioned with any of the successors have, again, been things that would be problems whatever the game system was.

So your argument only makes sense if you assume there's any practical way they weren't going to have some contraction of market given the current RPG environment, and I have little sign that's true; nothing they did was going to prevent that. To a large extent quite how big a chunk they had was a historical accident and them taking advantage of same, and I suspect they knew good and well when going to 2e it was going to happen, but it was better than the alternative.
Is @Retreater's argument not about preventing the contraction of the market, but what can be done now to expand it? I feel like your looking at it from a different perspective than the OP.
 

dave2008

Legend
I mean, let's get serious here: generally speaking D&D has been the big dog in the RPG market for its entire lifespan (there's some question as to whether Vampire the Masquerade and White Wolf in general were surging ahead of them during the peak of the latter, but there's no really solid information on it). 4e was very much an aberration because it was simply not the game the D&D fans apparently wanted as a group (note this says nothing about the quality of the game; I think it did what it was trying to do generally pretty well, but that's a different question).

So is PF doing less well when its new edition is up against a strong (market-wise) version of D&D and forging generally new ground, then it did when it was up against a weak version and riding the coat tails of the prior D&D version? Shocker.
I don't think that is the point. The point is less about what happened and more about whether or not something can be done to expand the reach of PF2. At least that is what I'm getting from this.
 

Yes, but notice his suggestion is "a revised, streamlined PF2". If that's the suggestion, it requires support that "streamlining" would actually help, when the detail and involvement is already a big part of setting PF2e apart from D&D 5e; expanding your market by trying to fish in the pond already dominated by a bigger player is almost always a fool's game. Its like the people who suggest the Hero System would do better if it was simplified, when the truth is, games serving a similar purpose but simpler already have that part of the market (Savage Worlds for example), so why would someone assume this is somehow going to help?

Essentially, you have to ask yourself what underserved part of the market that is supposed to pick up.
 

Retreater

Legend
Yeah. I don't have Paizo's budget reports, and I'm not an industry expert. All I can comment upon is my experience and observations with the new edition. I see more activity on the Paizo forums about PF1 than PF2. I see difficulty in getting anyone to play in my game. I see lack of support on the dominant VTT, which has caused me some frustration. I have scoured the publishers trying to find good 3PP adventure content when I didn't like my choices of official APs or anything to hook my players (who I think are pretty easy to please, generally speaking).
I have seen players get frustrated with the complexity of character creation and a poorly organized rulebook, and I've thought a streamlined version would be helpful.
So yes, these are my opinions. I think there is evidence to support my stance, which I've shared above. I'm not discounting the experience of anyone who loves this game. However, I think the experience can be improved, and if Paizo has the ability to improve the status of PF2 and the experience of would-be players, I think they should do that.
 

Retreater

Legend
Essentially, you have to ask yourself what underserved part of the market that is supposed to pick up.
The people who want to play Pathfinder 2 but find the organization of the core rules in need of improvement, the writing bloated, the conditions easily streamlined, etc. The players who tried PF2 but abandoned it after a few sessions.
 

transmission89

Adventurer
Yeah. I don't have Paizo's budget reports, and I'm not an industry expert. All I can comment upon is my experience and observations with the new edition. I see more activity on the Paizo forums about PF1 than PF2. I see difficulty in getting anyone to play in my game. I see lack of support on the dominant VTT, which has caused me some frustration. I have scoured the publishers trying to find good 3PP adventure content when I didn't like my choices of official APs or anything to hook my players (who I think are pretty easy to please, generally speaking).
I have seen players get frustrated with the complexity of character creation and a poorly organized rulebook, and I've thought a streamlined version would be helpful.
So yes, these are my opinions. I think there is evidence to support my stance, which I've shared above. I'm not discounting the experience of anyone who loves this game. However, I think the experience can be improved, and if Paizo has the ability to improve the status of PF2 and the experience of would-be players, I think they should do that.
I think whatever the stance, a pathfinder essentials would not help. I shudder in memory of these very boards when 4e essentials was a thing.
Numerous posts asking what the difference was, is it compatible etc (reflecting consumer confusion) and posts decrying the “dumbing” down of 4e vs those that liked the product. Basically it got ugly (uglier as there was already bad blood and harsh words between pf/3.x vs 4e at the time)
 

The people who want to play Pathfinder 2 but find the organization of the core rules in need of improvement, the writing bloated, the conditions easily streamlined, etc. The players who tried PF2 but abandoned it after a few sessions.

And the people they lose because some of that would probably involve reducing engagement? How many of each are there? How many of the latter group are people who really are more wanting the D&D 5 experience anyway?
 

I think whatever the stance, a pathfinder essentials would not help. I shudder in memory of these very boards when 4e essentials was a thing.
Numerous posts asking what the difference was, is it compatible etc (reflecting consumer confusion) and posts decrying the “dumbing” down of 4e vs those that liked the product. Basically it got ugly (uglier as there was already bad blood and harsh words between pf/3.x vs 4e at the time)

One of the things I thought but didn't say was "Yeah, 4e Essentials ended up saving the 4e line really well, didn't it?"

I mean, sure, as Dave2008 says, every company would like more market. But the usual problem is "How do you get new players and buyers without losing the ones you have?" Or alternatively, "Will the new people coming in exceed the old ones going out?" Until you have evidence this is the case, you have to show how you can make the two pieces of string meet in the middle, and usually people coming in with these questions are, effectively saying "I think people should make the game more like what I want" without asking whether that can be done without making it less like what people already playing it and buying the products want. Often without realizing some of what they view as flaws other people view as virtues.

I mean, almost everyone likes more clarity in their rules. And as a rule set gets more detailed, this can become more and more of an issue, as it becomes progressively harder to do. But that does not mean everyone wants simplification, and among those that do, you have to ask the question whether there's other games on the market that would just end up competing for their attention anyway.

That was really my point; there's not really signs that Retreater and the people he's talking about would be happy with any PF2e version that also made many of its current fans happy. So how does his suggestion make any sense for Paizo?
 

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