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Starfinder Starfinder's Sutter Leaves Paizo; Butler Joins (In A Different Role)

I don't normally report on staff changes at RPG companies unless it's something major. I feel like a couple of Paizo staff updates are worth mentioning though. First, James Sutter, co-creator of Pathfinder, and creative director of Starfinder, is leaving Paizo to write full-time (although he says he will still freelance for Paizo). Don't worry - it's all amicable, as he reports in a blog post at Paizo's website. Secondly, I'm informed by Paizo staff that Paizo has hired TSR's Jim Butler, who helped spearhead Alternity, and ran Bastion Press in the early 2000s, as Vice President of Marketing and Licensing.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

rknop

Adventurer
I think it has also sold out at several distributors, but it has not sold out on their website.

However, the difference between the #1 selling spot in RPGs and the #2 has ALWAYS been an order of magnitude. Paizo, however has always been strong at keeping sales direct with their customers.

I do not believe the "always". This was true until the 4e/Pathfinder years, but it hasn't always been true since then.

For a couple of years in there, Pathfinder was the top-selling RPG. There will have been transition periods, at the end when 4e was on its way down and Pathfinder was on its way up, when the two were not an order of magnitude apart from each other.

Also, I am not convinced we know enough right now to absolutely know that D&D is selling an order of magnitude better than Pathfinder. Does anybody have data or a source that would shed light on this?
 

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Shasarak

First Post
With Paizo's rumored money problems..this does not shock me at all....

I remember that rumour; 10 years ago a Paizo staffer said that they were not going to have Pdf subscriptions.

I figure that they only have another one or two DnD editions left in them.
 

Derulbaskul

Explorer
Namecalling is completeky unacceptable here. Please express your disagreement without calling people names.

Understood.

A certain person has, again, insinuated that Paizo is having financial difficulties on one of the most widely-read RPG forums on the internet. There is no evidence for this insinuation other than his inability to properly parse a statement made ten years ago in a completely different context.

How long before that becomes, "ENWorld is saying..."?

Yes, I was wrong for breaking a board rule (and I have been here since the very first board so I know better) but who was harmed? By contrast, that other poster has, again, made his libellous insinuation and that has been allow to stand. Again. I may have called him names but he has tried to ruin Paizo's reputation. Again.
 

Philippe Marcil

First Post
Usually the first things that happen when a company have financial problems is to implement a plan to improve the financial situation of the business.

I don`t see any evidence of such a plan; no major new project have been cancelled, there is no massive layoff, no old product have been discontinued, there is no change to the paizo stores and etc.

While I do believe Paizo can streamlines themselves to improve their profitability they is no sign that they need to do it.

In fact, I think that with Starfinder release they have a shot at going back at the top of the RPG sales figure. Two factors here: i) D&D 5E have been around for a while and those interested played it and could be looking something else; ii) Starfinder sales at Gencon and the empty shelves at many FLGS shows that the demand is there. Indeed, I saw no empty shelves for the latest 5E adventure, Tomb of Annihilation, anywhere (in fact my FLGS have ton of surplus 5E stuff that is not moving but the Pathfinder supplements still roll off the shelves on a regular basis).

Anyway, well see with next couple of IVCS numbers.
 
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darjr

I crit!
The PHB is back up to 47 out of 100 in all books at Amazon.
Starfinder is at 600+, still really good.
Tomb of Annihilation is at 308 as a prerelease.
 


Stereofm

Adventurer
Supporter
Yeah,
But even though I do not run 5e nor do I intend to, I will probably get them for nostalgia sake. That's why they will have extra sales from non players.
I have yet to meet anyone playing 5e around here, even though I know they exist. None of this has value beyond anecdotical evidence.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I have yet to meet anyone playing 5e around here, even though I know they exist. None of this has value beyond anecdotical evidence.

Interestingly, I have yet to meet any Americans around here. Anecdotally, I've heard they exist.
 

fantasmamore

Explorer
[...] nostalgia [...] That's why they will have extra sales from non players.
Well, these non-players tend to back the majority of kickstarter projects which are 5e compatible. Some of them buy the content from FG (all 5e products are "best-sellers") or roll20 (look at the "most-popular" modules). Sometimes they pre-order massively from amazon and some of them buy the books from the FLGS from all over the world (I buy the books from my local store in Athens, Greece). All of these "stores" (kickstarter, virtual tabletops,amazon, FLGS) have one thing in common; 5e is in the first place. It's a very successful system and that's good for the entire industry.
 

Sunsword

Adventurer
I do not believe the "always". This was true until the 4e/Pathfinder years, but it hasn't always been true since then.

For a couple of years in there, Pathfinder was the top-selling RPG. There will have been transition periods, at the end when 4e was on its way down and Pathfinder was on its way up, when the two were not an order of magnitude apart from each other.

Also, I am not convinced we know enough right now to absolutely know that D&D is selling an order of magnitude better than Pathfinder. Does anybody have data or a source that would shed light on this?

You can believe what you want. I base my information from working 20 years running 2 game stores. Pathfinder became the top RPG when 4E was shelved and WotC was developing 5E. While 4E was actively published it was the top RPG. And even 4E sold lights out better than Pathfinder. Again though, Paizo does a remarkable job of selling direct to it's customers, something WotC doesn't do.

5E is selling an order of magnitude more than Pathfinder, I say this a retailer, with close friends at Distributors and WotC and Paizo.

Understand, I'd rather both games sell well, those are good days for me.
 



jameslsutter

First Post
Honestly, folks, I was just ready for a change. Thirteen years is a long time for anyone to work in the same place these days. For me, I felt like, between Starfinder and Pathfinder, I'd done most of what I wanted to do in the RPG industry, and I wanted to put more of those 40+ hours a week toward writing novels and comics. I know I shocked a lot of my coworkers with the timing (Starfinder's one of the biggest hits the company's ever had, and I'm leaving right as the proverbial money truck is backing up to the loading dock), but when I decide to do something, I hate dallying, and I wouldn't want to stay Creative Director if my heart wasn't 100% in it. Starfinder is still my baby, and I want what's best for it. So it seemed best to go out on a high note, and this Gen Con was nothing if not a high note! I'm confident that Rob McCreary and the rest of the team will do great things with the game, and I hope to still get to write for it in the future!

—James Sutter
 



doogx

Explorer
There often comes a point where you feel that you've given most (if not all) of what you can give to a project, no matter how much you love it. That's a good time to move on, and I agree that it's better to do so too early than too late.

Congrats on a great run, and all the best to you going forward.
 

doogx

Explorer
Keep in mind that "shelf space at a couple local FLGS" isn't exactly solid data. Even if 5e is doing great, that could go either way for Paizo. On the one hand, they are competitors, so one can easily pull customers from the other. On the other hand, being the flagship brand in a niche industry, as D&D's sales boom, it lifts the entire industry up in bringing in more customers, not all of whom will stay with 5e. So 5e doing great could easily go either way, and the shelf space at a couple stores isn't going to inform us either way.

Besides the anecdata of the shelf space at my local stores runs counter to that with Paizo products still well stocked and selling.

Same here, my local FLGS devotes just as much shelf space to Pathfinder as it does to D&D. It means what it means, no more.

I started playing D&D and following the game industry in the late '70's, and it seems to me that we are living in rather unusual times, with two very strong fantasy RPG lines running so close to each other. D&D isn't the 500-pound gorilla anymore. Whether or not this will continue into the future remains to be seen, of course.

I think it's a healthy situation for the hobby and the game industry. Having two strong rules systems competing with each other (and in some cases, with people playing both) creates more discussion, more buzz among players and creates more ways to get new people interested in the hobby.
 

jimtillman

First Post
i know at dragoncon 5th and pathfinder had the same amount of space both large rooms
starfinder was also being run every 1.5 hours to demo it to players
and there was at least a couple of scheduled starfinder games also
 

Steve W

First Post
You can believe what you want. I base my information from working 20 years running 2 game stores.

With respect to your tremendous store experience, I think both you and rknop have made some over-generalized statements. To say it's "ALWAYS" been that way or that it didn't happen before 4e vs Pathfinder are not really accurate statements.

I was CEO of White Wolf through most of the 1990's and we were typically 2nd to TSR in rpg marketshare. The difference between White Wolf and TSR marketshare was more typically 2x or 3x, certainly not an order of magnitude (10x). White Wolf even surpassed TSR sales in retailer marketshare surveys (only briefly and when TSR was in such financial straits its new releases were constrained).

Edit: I accidentally said Wizards instead of TSR
 

jimtillman

First Post
Honestly, folks, I was just ready for a change. Thirteen years is a long time for anyone to work in the same place these days. For me, I felt like, between Starfinder and Pathfinder, I'd done most of what I wanted to do in the RPG industry, and I wanted to put more of those 40+ hours a week toward writing novels and comics. I know I shocked a lot of my coworkers with the timing (Starfinder's one of the biggest hits the company's ever had, and I'm leaving right as the proverbial money truck is backing up to the loading dock), but when I decide to do something, I hate dallying, and I wouldn't want to stay Creative Director if my heart wasn't 100% in it. Starfinder is still my baby, and I want what's best for it. So it seemed best to go out on a high note, and this Gen Con was nothing if not a high note! I'm confident that Rob McCreary and the rest of the team will do great things with the game, and I hope to still get to write for it in the future!

—James Sutter

i look forward to seeing your next endeavors.
 

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