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Sean K. Reynolds talks RPG salaries, puts his on record.

S'mon

Legend
Based on the concept that rent should equal 25% of your salary

What a beautiful concept. :)

My rent here in London (£1,750/month for a 2.5 bedroom terrace house in the suburbs) is well over half my take home pay... though my calculator does tell me it's only 36% of my gross pay pre-tax, I find that hard to believe! :)
 

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Myrdin Potter

Adventurer
Yes, but you're not typical. :) Most career fields are very 'mediocre' by your x10 standard.
To be fair, I said x10. Which I personally blew away but it helps to have worked in an industry that requires work experience for the certification (Chartered Accountant in my case) so they can exploit the young workers.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
I am still struggling with the 10x wage over carreer assertion. Is there some statistical backing of that, maybe average wages by age? If it were typical, shouldn't the income inequality between age bracket be extreme, with 50+ still in employment earning much more than people entering the labor market? Even in the US I don't think there is such an inequality, outside maybe a few areas of employment, not enough to be considered a typical situation.
 

Myrdin Potter

Adventurer
Hasbro pays well at the executive level and qualified finance staff is about the same in most companies in limited geographies because we know salaries and have a well established recruiting industry that grabs underpaid people and moves them to better opportunities.

So I am expecting that the market is narrow and if there really are professionals there, there are not enough and enough demand to have a recruiting industry go headhunt them.
 

What a beautiful concept. :)

My rent here in London (£1,750/month for a 2.5 bedroom terrace house in the suburbs) is well over half my take home pay... though my calculator does tell me it's only 36% of my gross pay pre-tax, I find that hard to believe! :)
Clearly not applicable to the UK, although you guys seem to have a rather higher cost of living than most. I did a couple IACP tours there (UK, not London) and was shocked at the prices. Ireland wasn't a lot better.
 

Myrdin Potter

Adventurer
I am still struggling with the 10x wage over carreer assertion. Is there some statistical backing of that, maybe average wages by age? If it were typical, shouldn't the income inequality between age bracket be extreme, with 50+ still in employment earning much more than people entering the labor market? Even in the US I don't think there is such an inequality, outside maybe a few areas of employment, not enough to be considered a typical situation.
It ties to professionals, not wages in total for all jobs. Often there are claims of RPG design being a profession which is why I brought that in.

Lawyers, Doctors, Accountants, Engineers, Bankers. Most have an apprentice system for when school is done at quite low pay and then it gets much more lucrative over time.

I did go back and double check and in the last 5 years there seems to have been some entry level pay corrections in accounting, law and banking, but 5x 20 years out still looks quite achievable.
 

I am still struggling with the 10x wage over carreer assertion. Is there some statistical backing of that, maybe average wages by age? If it were typical, shouldn't the income inequality between age bracket be extreme, with 50+ still in employment earning much more than people entering the labor market? Even in the US I don't think there is such an inequality, outside maybe a few areas of employment, not enough to be considered a typical situation.

I don't think that was meant to be typical. I just noted that it wasn't unique. I know my baby brother and sister have left the 10x mark in the dust a long time ago.

In a country the size of the USA, it is tough to categorize anything. But it is pretty clear to me that career planning is critical. The university system seems to be blindly churning out endless numbers of degree-holders into career fields without the slightest concern as to whether jobs actually exist.
 

Myrdin Potter

Adventurer
Clearly not applicable to the UK, although you guys seem to have a rather higher cost of living than most. I did a couple IACP tours there (UK, not London) and was shocked at the prices. Ireland wasn't a lot better.
Outside the USA there typically is medical and other coverage as well. And the 25% to 1/3 of your take home pay is strained in places like London and NYC and SF and Los Angeles (and Singapore and Tokyo and I assume other major metropolitan centers).
 
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ardoughter

Hero
Supporter
Well, if ever we enact a Universal Basic Income, I imagine it'll be a lot easier to convince yourself that it's worth your while to write RPG books as a solitary source of income.
This would also be an example of politics and policy decisions changing the nature of a market. A lot of those extra people writing RPG books, would, in the absence of UBI, be doing something else they felt was putting bread on the table.
Fundamentally, this topic on this forum can only inform us of the current situation. Discussion of alternative arrangements will rapidly head in to the realm of politics.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Well, if ever we enact a Universal Basic Income, I imagine it'll be a lot easier to convince yourself that it's worth your while to write RPG books as a solitary source of income.

On the contrary, it might increase the competition with hobbyist among those who'll choose to live off exclusively of universal income and provide their work for free, or allow for people who can't devote their time to producing "acceptable-quality" level of polish to do so (because they will no longer have to be locked full-time into 9-to-5 sustenance XXXXX jobs). Edit: apparently, the term isn't allowed on this board, so I am referring for clarity as the concept defined by David Graeber in the eponymous work in which he describes meaningless wage labour in which the worker is pretending to have a purpose.
 
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Myself, I wouldn't pay $90 for an RPG book. Or $50. Not that I couldn't afford it, but I simply wouldn't.

You know, a positive step in this entire process would be a serious attempt to poll RPG buyers to ascertain both financial resources and ROG hobby budgets. If you had an idea of the depths of the 'cash lake', it would shed a lot of light on the viability of options.

You couldn't just do it via polls, though. It would take a much more in-depth study that captures actual behavior. A lot of people will claim to be willing to pay more for goods and services (in polls, surveys, and discussions) to support higher wages or social causes, but their actual purchasing behavior may not match their claims. Even if they really are willing and able to pay more for something, doing so may mean that they limit their purchases in other areas, adversely affecting other companies and workers. It may also just result in spreading things around a little differently with no real change to anyone's bottom line, when all is said and done.

A willingness to pay $90 for an rpg book may mean that the consumer chooses to not buy another book, though they might have been happy to pay $45 each for two different books. Or they might see that price tag and decide to just go with a free SRD of something instead and not spend the money on rpg books at all.
 

From my perspective there are serious issues with current models. We do a relatively poor job of group match making within the hobby which has all sorts of downstream effects on product markets. There are also huge visibility issues with the product markets where the vast majority of consumers have very limited visibility of most product offerings. Kickstarter, itchi.io, drivethru, and even most game stores are not visible to the vast majority of potential customers. From a match making economics perspective there are some pretty big barriers to successfully running a small business that really should not be there. I don't know how to fix the market design issues, but they can and should be addressed.

When it comes to tabletop rpgs, at least, I'm not sure that the potential customer base is really that much larger than we are already seeing. No matter how many different types of rpgs you are able to put in front of potential customers, and how closely you can match that with some of their existing interests, in the end the very nature of playing tttrpgs will most likely keep it a niche hobby.
 

pemerton

Legend
When it comes to tabletop rpgs, at least, I'm not sure that the potential customer base is really that much larger than we are already seeing. No matter how many different types of rpgs you are able to put in front of potential customers, and how closely you can match that with some of their existing interests, in the end the very nature of playing tttrpgs will most likely keep it a niche hobby.
I think that @Campbell's point is that there are (numerically, even if not proportionately) many people who might be interested in playing some off-beat or boutique game to be found on itch.io, or even something a bit less visible than D&D or PF, but they aren't in a position to know that those products are out there.

I think Campbell has thought harder about this than I have, but here's a semi-rambling thought that I hope is on the right track: back when records and CDs were still a thing, indie/alternative-type artists depended on certain less-than-fully-mainstream radio stations to make their work known and hence generate sales. And people who might like their stuff had to know to tune into those stations. That was a challenge when there were (say) ten or twenty radio stations and a similar number of record stores in a market; it becomes hugely challenging when the communication media become as distributed and particularised as they are in the contemporary digital era. There's no longer even a canonical source of reviews or product listing ("We received these for review but aren't going to say anything about them except that they exist") - no magazines of that sort, and if rpg.net was ever a clearing house of that sort I don't think it is any more.

Hopefully @Campbell will correct me if I've taken a wrong turn in the above!
 

I think that @Campbell's point is that there are (numerically, even if not proportionately) many people who might be interested in playing some off-beat or boutique game to be found on itch.io, or even something a bit less visible than D&D or PF, but they aren't in a position to know that those products are out there.

That was how I read the post, as well. My point is that I don't think the potential market for that sort of thing is really that much larger, even if it was a lot more visible to the general public. There might be for other types of games, or even for "solo rpgs" (which I'm not really including as ttrpgs), but I suspect that the nature of ttrpgs in general is in itself a limiting factor. You would probably draw in more people with better matching, but I suspect there wouldn't be enough to make a real noticeable difference in the marketplace. I have no numbers to back that up, of course, but there really aren't any good numbers to back up most of the things under discussion here.
 

pemerton

Legend
That was how I read the post, as well. My point is that I don't think the potential market for that sort of thing is really that much larger, even if it was a lot more visible to the general public. There might be for other types of games, or even for "solo rpgs" (which I'm not really including as ttrpgs), but I suspect that the nature of ttrpgs in general is in itself a limiting factor. You would probably draw in more people with better matching, but I suspect there wouldn't be enough to make a real noticeable difference in the marketplace. I have no numbers to back that up, of course, but there really aren't any good numbers to back up most of the things under discussion here.
I agree there are no numbers. But let's suppose that in the US there are 100,000 people who might be interested in something RPG-ish who currently aren't connected to the market. And suppose they are willing to spend $10 a year each. That's $1m per year that RPG creators aren't getting access to - enough to support 10 or more creators full time, perhaps, depending on living standards?

I agree with your post upthread about the effects of that expenditure on other markets. From an egalitarian point of view the ideal would be to somehow extract that $1m from Hasbro, Disney and allied revenues. But I don't think that market-matching can directly do that - though perhaps it might generate some indirect downward pressure on the price of Disney and Hasbro products. (Though whether that would cut their profits or just lead to liquidation and reallocation of the capital to some other venture is a further question - it's very hard to disentangle these local questions of economic justice from the big questions of who controls most of the assets in our societies.)
 

I think Campbell has thought harder about this than I have, but here's a semi-rambling thought that I hope is on the right track: back when records and CDs were still a thing, indie/alternative-type artists depended on certain less-than-fully-mainstream radio stations to make their work known and hence generate sales. And people who might like their stuff had to know to tune into those stations. That was a challenge when there were (say) ten or twenty radio stations and a similar number of record stores in a market; it becomes hugely challenging when the communication media become as distributed and particularised as they are in the contemporary digital era. There's no longer even a canonical source of reviews or product listing ("We received these for review but aren't going to say anything about them except that they exist") - no magazines of that sort, and if rpg.net was ever a clearing house of that sort I don't think it is any more.!

These days, though, YouTube and other online venues have increased the reach of independent musicians and provided far more opportunities for potential customers to discover their work. Various YouTube channels do that for ttrpgs, as well, as do other online forums and marketplaces (like DriveThruRPG). It is easier than ever for potential customers to run across new products, get recommendations for products based on their existing interests, and more. There is no shortage of places to find out about new ttrpgs and read reviews of them, and there is the added matching forces that go along with recommendation algorithms.
 

I agree there are no numbers. But let's suppose that in the US there are 100,000 people who might be interested in something RPG-ish who currently aren't connected to the market. And suppose they are willing to spend $10 a year each. That's $1m per year that RPG creators aren't getting access to - enough to support 10 or more creators full time, perhaps, depending on living standards?

I agree with your post upthread about the effects of that expenditure on other markets. From an egalitarian point of view the ideal would be to somehow extract that $1m from Hasbro, Disney and allied revenues. But I don't think that market-matching can directly do that - though perhaps it might generate some indirect downward pressure on the price of Disney and Hasbro products. (Though whether that would cut their profits or just lead to liquidation and reallocation of the capital to some other venture is a further question - it's very hard to disentangle these local questions of economic justice from the big questions of who controls most of the assets in our societies.)

Using your example, I think it is optimistic to think that there are 100,000 potential new customers out there who are going to start buying ttrpg products, particularly on an ongoing basis, if you could put better targeted advertisements in front of them, or match them more closely with vendors and creators in some other way. I'm not disagreeing with the idea of market matching in general. I just don't think the nature of the hobby itself will allow for a significant enough level of growth (that translates to actual sales) to make that much of a difference, even with more carefully targeted approaches.

Even pretty good increases in the number of new players only affects total sales to a certain degree. If you want to play a new sport, you usually have to buy some equipment. If you want to learn a new craft, you usually have to buy supplies and tools. If you want to play a new video game, you usually have to purchase a copy of it (or some other form of access). Not all players have to buy ttrpg books to get into the hobby, though. In fact, an awful lot of them don't, or only make one or two purchases (ex. a player's handbook). Most ttrpg books sell to GMs, who only make up a certain percentage of the total hobbyists.
 

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