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Publishing Easily Marketable Games

The guys at Harmonix, who created Rock Band, just summed up the biggest problem I see in indie RPGs.

Oh, a quick clarification: When I say indie RPGs I mean creator-owned publishing. I don’t necessarily mean “small press” although nearly all creator owners I know of are small press. Confused? Yeah, I know.

We naively believed that if we … created a game that was fun, it would be successful. What we failed to recognize was that you have to make games that are easily marketable.

This is strongly counter to approaches and philosophies that several of my pals and peers have, and counter to my own stated philosophies in recent years. I’m not saying people can’t or shouldn’t have different ideas about this.

Neither am I saying that creator-owned publishers aren’t profitable or successful on their creator’s terms. I know many that are both. My own games were remarkably profitable all considered, and I still own them which itself has value.

What I am saying is that creator-owned publishing has a big flaw. One of the defining characteristics of indie publishing is that the creator defines his own success. I’m still ok with that. I like that about creator-owned publishing.

However, suppose I define my success as “I will sell 2,000 units over the next 2 years” where a unit is a RPG “main” book/publication of some kind. Under the current definitions of creator-owned publishing, this is Herculean. I won’t say it’s impossible. I will say that almost no one has done it. Luke Crane, who’s a friend, leads the pack. Even he admitted it’s extremely difficult. I don’t think he sold 2,000 of any of Burning Wheel or Burning Empires in 2 years, but I’m not certain about that. He did it and more; it just took longer.

So, the problem is this: Creator-owned publishing doesn’t literally mean it’s impossible to achieve reasonable business goals. (I find it reasonable to have a part-time business that sells 1,000 things per year.) But, it does mean that it’s basically impossible in practical terms.

Why is this the problem? Well, just like those Harmonix guys said. Marketing. We don’t make games that the vast majority of gamers demand.

But wait!

Now, there are a couple arguments about this — which I argued in support of myself previously.

First, one argument is that the indie scene creates games for non-gamers (i.e. people who don’t play role-playing games much or at all). In other words, people are saying that indie publishers need to create a new market. Anecdotally, sure, people converted “regular folks” into players of indie games. In practical terms, these numbers are part of the reason it’s nigh-impossible to sell 1,000 units a year.

Indie publishers are terrible at creating new markets. They have no idea how. They have basically no resources (certainly no budgets). They rely on information tainted by confirmation bias and absurdly small samples of info from fellow enthusiasts. (When I say “they” here, I include myself. I preached this idea about new markets. I now view it as a bad idea, especially because it makes people who are already doing EVERYTHING in their operation to work harder than new product developers at big marketing departments. It’s crazy.)

Second, another argument is that the indie scene creates games for disaffected gamers, so “gamers” aren’t their market anyway. For hobbyists who don’t find what they want in the mainstream products. I find no flaw in this argument! I suspect it’s quite correct, as far as it goes. Which isn’t too far, and that’s the problem. Even if there are somewhere, out there, a bunch of these kinds of gamers that would be well suited to a bunch of indie games, I believe they are wholly ignorant about indie games! They don’t even know they exist, let alone what they’re like!

In all fairness, I’ve got no data to confirm this. I wish I had data to think better about this stuff. I have a bunch of anecdotes that lead me to conclude that the indie scene is so tiny and contained that well over 2,000 potential buyers over the next 2 years are certainly out there … buying mainstream games. The indie scene is <i>hardcore</i>. Ultra hardcore. When I look at, say, a guy I used to game with in college and keep in contact with, I see a guy who would love, I dunno, Agon or Lacuna. He has never heard of Agon. Hell, he’s never even cracked open Dust Devils as far as I know, and he’s a good friend of mine. I doubt he even knows what Savage Worlds is about. But, Pathfinder? He just told me he’s all interested. We haven’t played together in years. He just knew about it and is interested.

So what?

Now, there’s a giant, deserved “So what?” brewing here. It’s fair. So what, indeed. I’m not saying creator-owned publishing in general is doing it wrong. Given its resources in particular, it’s doing pretty damn well! Why change? I see no need for any individual to change. This is a goals issue — a matter of how one defines one’s success as a publisher.

But, I do see opportunities for someone inclined to changed his or her philosophies about all this publishing stuff. That may include me. I don’t know. I have so little free time and resources these days it’s hard to commit to anything.

But, I think there’s a lot a person could do along a spectrum of publishing set-ups.

Before I spell out some ideas about that, let me say that each involves something I don’t think happens very much. It requires a publisher to make tough choices about what will get him the most sales and actual play. I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that all games are not created equal. I think it’s slightly controversial to say that some games should have been left on the cutting room floor.

It’s controversial to say that because who the fuck am I to say what an individual “should” do with his game? To answer that, I’m no one. Seriously, I don’t want to tell some publisher that. But, I just did, sorta. Damn. My point is that I think too few creator owners abandon a game for reasons of success metrics, rather than, say, artistic vision or something similar.

I digress. Now, on to my thoughts on publishing frameworks.

Individual creator-owners could create a kind of publishing co-operative, pool resources, and reach more gamers with those resources. I believe they’d have to make very, very hard decisions about what games to market. In fact, I suspet that’d be a deal-breaker for some.

Another example: Someone could create a marketing entity where creator-owners pay to have their games better marketed. This may or may not dismantle creator-ownership because I see the marketing agent making decisions about positioning and possibly even price to make it succeed.

There is of course the more drastic answer, which is to say relinquish true creator-ownership and go in another direction. It needn’t be the traditional model of hiring freelancers for content and so on. It could be co-op or partnership ideas where the group creates whole new products/properties. That is, some kind of shared ownership, rather than owner-freelancer. Again, hard decisions about creative vision would have to happen.

Good ideas

Assuming any of the above works, just putting any ol’ game out there because it has creative vision and passion behind it won’t work. What’d those guys say? “What we failed to recognize was that you have to make games that are easily marketable.”

I know this first hand. My game Nine Worlds fails this test. Hell, it failed that test within the indie scene alone! It’s a strange beast to the vast swath of potential games out there. I love it; it’s just not easily marketable.

So, just from a personal perspective, I’d love to see indie games and mainstream games cross-pollinate. Indie publishers have crazy, awesome ideas. Some are revolutionary, so much so they’d turn off many “mainstream” gamers. Still, a lot of those ideas have a place at the table of mainstream gamers. I can see a lot of play techniques developed for indie games working in D&D and Shadowrun and you name it. By and large, that’s not happening much.

And, looking from the other direction, there are lots of ways mainstream games can get indie publishers a wider audience for things they create. This is particularly true with open licenses for games like Savage Worlds or Pathfinder and others. Assuming he even wanted to (which I’m sure he doesn’t, by the way), could John Harper create a remarkable Savage Worlds product that would sell 2,000 units in 2 years? Probably. It’d certainly be easier to do than him selling 2,000 units of Agon in 2 years.

Wrap it up

If you bothered to read this far, then chances are you’re aware I stopped publishing my games in fall of 2008. The thinking above was a major reason why. I had other reasons, too. This article is not meant as a poke in the eye toward any of my friends and colleagues. You all are doing a hell of a lot more than me lately! I think you create incredibly cool things. I just changed my mind about some (not all) of the underpinnings of why I’d want to do likewise.

I have no idea what I do as a creator now. I have two thoughts about it. I do relatively little, maybe publish some free games and material on my site. The other is that I start something new, but I’m almost certain doing so requires me to collaborate with others. I can’t accomplish what I want on my own anymore, but I don’t have some devious plan cooked up.

I welcome a conversation about all this from any publisher’s perspective.

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16 thoughts on “Publishing Easily Marketable Games

  1. John Stavropolous (wow, did I spell that right?!?) started a thread on Story-Games.com a day after I posted this blog entry. His post is basically this same topic. Nice coincidence!
    http://www.story-games.com/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=10345&page=1#Item_21

    In that thread, some pals of mine from the UK posted a link to their sales:
    http://www.collective-endeavour.com/taxonomy/term/129

    It appears that Gregor Hutton’s 3:16 may achieve that Herculean effort I mentioned. It appears several months ago he was at 1,000 copies (including PDFs). I imagine right this second, he’s well over 1,000, and it’d be about 13 or 14 months of publication. The 2,000 copies in 2 years is well within reach. And more power to him. I love 3:16. Cool game. So, I’d love to see him achieve that. But, time will tell.

  2. John Stavropoulos on said:

    Close 😛

  3. Matt,

    I read your post and see a lot of struggle and frustration — both as a creator and as a publisher. I understand what you’re getting at, that to sell a boat-load of product requires choices beyond artistic merit alone, but I can’t help but think that in the realm of roleplaying games, there are tidal forces working against anyone who tries to break into the existing market.

    Let’s face it, the roleplaying market, taken as a whole, is tiny. I’d even go so far to guess that the roleplaying market is shrinking as a whole (but of course I have no proof of that). What’s there is utterly dominated by D&D (and yes, I include Pathfinder, etc., under the D&D umbrella). The next tier is your White Wolf, Shadowrun, and other 90s era names. When you put those two segments together there really isn’t much room left. I think the small sales figures of existing indie games are in part a testament to this reality.

    The other problem is gamer culture. The entrenched games not only hold market share, but mind share. And it’s largely a mind share dominated by a culture that enjoys playing one or two games only, both in the same style. To many players, the games one plays are intertwined with a certain gamer “identity.” And to break from that identity is asking a lot.

    I don’t think I’m saying anything new here. But I think it’s important to realize that selling 2000+ copies is a herculean task because the market itself is essentially small and stubborn. A publisher either has to steal away customers from D&D, or create a new market entirely.

    The fact that a solo publisher can sell 2000 copies at all is to me an amazing success. It also shows the slow buildup of momentum as entrenched gamers realize that indie games are in fact enjoyable. But I also think that marketing to the D&D camp is not a good business model. It’s probably tougher than actually creating a new market from scratch. Obviously, I don’t advocate ignoring existing gamers. We should certainly market to them. But the indie publishers need to keep building momentum in new markets if they want to achieve larger sales. Anything else is cannibalism that will eventually lead to extinction.

    How does this relate to your thesis about marketing choices? Well, I think that any marketing that an indie publisher pursues needs to be geared away from the entrenched gamer culture and towards something else. What that is I can’t say for sure. My hope is that the upsurge of indie publishers will allow for experimentation that leads to greater success — despite slow sales for the time being.

    The flip side is this question: should we be measuring success via sales figures or artistic merit? It’s a question I see you (and a lot of people) struggling with. I’m simply saying that the bar (in terms of sales) should be lower right now if only because the market is so small. Moreover, without a solid artistic underpinning, I very much doubt that any indie game will be able to overcome the forces working to keep the roleplaying market in its current contracted state.

  4. Second, another argument is that the indie scene creates games for disaffected gamers, so “gamers” aren’t their market anyway.

    QFT.

    The gaming co-op thing that you outline — how close are things like One Bad Egg, Collective Endeavor, Evil Hat? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these guys are also the new pack-leaders in terms of recent sales. Hell, “Burning Wheel HQ” could be said to be following this model, as well…

  5. Hi Tim,

    First off, thanks for helping sum up what I take far too long to write:

    I understand what you’re getting at, that to sell a boat-load of product requires choices beyond artistic merit alone

    Yes. That’s one of the top points I’m making. The only thing I quible with VERY slightly is that I’d include “artistic merit and passion alone”. No biggie.

    Anyway, like I said at the end of my post ,conversation is great! So, as you already know since we’re pals, this ain’t me trying to fight with you. HOW COULD I!?! YOU’RE A LAWYER!!

    That said, I agree with you on most points.

    But, let me cut it slightly finer than you’re doing. I’m going to used totally made up numbers, which sucks. We don’t have anything real to go on. Oh well. Still, I think there’s something here worth considering, whatever the real numbers.

    OK! You explained that gamer market shares are entrenched. For the most part, I agree. That is, there are bunches of, say, D&D players or Vampire players out there doing their thing without a want or care for other games. Let’s pretend it’s 200,000 people.

    Second, you also mentioned that because of this entrenchment, the “leftovers” are awfully tiny. Here again, I mostly agree. Let’s assume for now that’s the indie market. Let’s pretend it’s 2,000 people.

    Now, here’s where we start to cut things finer. I said I agree with you that there are entrenched gamers. I do agree. I just don’t agree that it’s all 200,000 of them (you probably don’t either, I realize). Let’s pretend again that the number of entrenched gamers really is, hell, even 195,000 of them. That’s probably exaggerated.

    But it rocks! Because let’s pretend that’s true. It would mean there are 5,000 people to market to! We get those folks and selling 2,000 in 2 years is much, much easier. And, they’re relatively open to us.

    My argument, which I fully admit is squishy as I think “out loud” here on my blog, is that broadly speaking we don’t make games those 5,000 people want to play for the most part. We just don’t appeal to them. We make games that are too “weird,” at least in their perceptions. Where the heck are all the indie games with kick ass lasers and art and swords and shit, right?

    Hell, we’ve made it a point not to do that for a couple reasons. One, to thumb our nose at tradition and demonstrate how many cool things one can do with RPGs. And, two, to reach people who AREN’T gamers.

    Well, anyone foolish enough to think anymore that you can’t make a game about, oh, Polish Jews getting slaughtered in the Warsaw uprising of 1944 or games about going on blind dates is missing the boat. I consider that point long since proved. (I have an easy rule of thumb: Can you make a movie, comic book or novel about a thing? Then you can make an RPG, too, obviously.)

    So, again, I’m not telling Emily to stop making games about dating. I am saying that I’m not satisfied with “us” making enough games for those imaginary 5,000 people, dig?

  6. Hi Josh!

    I think those very same groups are among the most interesting business issues going on right now, so … yeah, probably pretty close to what I’m imagining.

    I have too little knowledge of what they actually do — say with money they use to buy stuff. But, I imagine that it happens. I make a WILD guess that only the One Bad Egg guys are making tough decisions about what to publish and (more importantly for this point) what NOT to publish.

    By the way, for an example of sharing costs, I’d consider sharing a GenCon booth a cooperative in marketing. I do not view GenCon as a money making enterprise. It’s too damn expensive. It’s fun. It’s money spent on marketing. But, going there for sales alone is weird to me.

  7. Elliot Wilen on said:

    >Where the heck are all the indie games with kick ass lasers and art and swords and shit, right?

    Isn’t that what Chad U. is doing? Mostly it’s folks who are on the far periphery of “Forge” culture. It’s also people who love that stuff. If you don’t, then don’t patronize your audience, is my heartfelt advice.

    >Well, anyone foolish enough to think anymore that you can’t make a game about, oh, Polish Jews getting slaughtered in the Warsaw uprising of 1944

    Ahem, Grey Ranks isn’t about that.

  8. Sure. Others are too. I think it’s pretty clear that Fred Hicks, who not coincidentally works with Chad, succeeded precisely because he created games for these kinds of folks. I’m not trying to be patronizing. I like that stuff. Right now, I’m still drooling over my Pathfinder book, and I’m reading it cover to cover.

    Also, Grey Ranks is that to people who have a cursory knowledge of it. Perception is the reality of sales. It’s an award winning game. It sold 300 or so copies so far. (shrug)

  9. Matt,

    You can fight with me any day. But this isn’t a fight. Like you, I’m thinking out loud and trying to come to some better conclusions by bouncing ideas around with you.

    Even if there are 5000 customers out there that are very open to new types of games, it’s still a relatively small market segment. And aren’t those the very people that will seek out the indie games in the first place? Do we need better communication with this segment? Yes. Do the indie publishers need to stop marketing to themselves and start thinking about the 5000 people who are just a Dust Devils game away from becoming indie fans? Of course.

    What I’m also saying is that the ranks of roleplayers are shrinking, especially (in my opinion) because there has been such a concentration on lasers and swords and the other standard stuff. Even in the indie world, there are plenty of standard roleplaying tropes. I ask, should we keep selling people new games with the same material, or new games with new material? And I don’t think it’s about proving that we can make a game about a particular subject, or being weird for weird’s sake. If the designer is honest and passionate about his project, then he’s making a game about whatever because he thinks it’s the most interesting subject matter around. If he’s just trying to be weird, well then, let’s just say I won’t be surprised when he can’t find a sales foothold.

    All that said, if you look at my games, I try to use a certain comfort level as a springboard to new ideas. Hero’s Banner is firmly planted in fantasy, and Mars Colony in sci-fi. I didn’t choose standard genres as a marketing ploy, but I do use the familiar aspects of those genres to market the game. I still want to push people out of their comfort zone because I believe, as a designer, that it leads to better roleplaying experiences — and better games. In my heart of hearts, I want to argue that we can all make great games and then figure out how to market them effectively later. I know that’s somewhat naive though. On the other hand, part of the joy (and frustration) of being an indie publisher is that I can make an “unmarketable” game and still try to find an audience for it anyway. If I fall on my face (sales-wise), then I hope that I could still smile and start work on the next project.

    As a movement, though, we haven’t figured out the best way to bring new people into the hobby. That to me is still the marketing frontier that holds the most promise for sales and for the health of the hobby.

  10. Matt, Grey Ranks is about the Polish uprising of 1944. Non-Jewish Poles.

    I think it’s true though. The RPG market is small enough that passion and artistic merit still carry you farther away than say, in the fiction market, where in the end a lot of it is luck (whether you float or sink in the first month of your books hitting the chain-stores).

    Also, some Indie people do make that choice, and then they let others publish their games. But these games have been designed as indie, and were published by others only when the authors realized that their goal is to get their games out.
    The Secret of Zir’An published by White-Wolf was such a game, though they got dropped and then tried to make it on their own. I still think they could’ve made it if not for the printing error they went through.

    Another is people who printed through Mongoose’s Flaming Cobra imprint. Look at CthulhuTech. A couple of people made it, then published through Mongoose IIRC, and then went and printed with someone else, perhaps on their own, and they already have like 5 supplements out. And it’s all a couple of people.

    Even if they didn’t end up publishing indie, everything up to that final moment was a couple of people doing their own.
    So in a way, they are indie designers, who design to that crowd, and then realized that if their goal is to get played by many people, it’s best to tap the companies that already market to their crowd.

    Writing games about lasers and talking gorrillas is all fine and dandy, but to pick up Tim’s “Mind-share”, it pays off to work with the companies occupying the laser-wielding gorrilla mindshare.

    “Indie Ghetto”. More indie publishers need to return to posting on RPG.net, for one, if they want to break it. “RPG.net” darling means a lot.

  11. Hey Matt,

    I’ll cop to unfair knowledge of what you’ve been studying lately.

    The executive structure of the publishing company I work for has been infested with MBAs for over a decade. In a relatively healthy market, they’re really good at growing sales volume by taking market share from the competition, and they’re really good at squeaking out higher profitibility by controlling costs and achieving efficiencies.

    But what they’re not at all good at is creating new markets. They don’t have the instincts for it. And they’re not good at taking risks. They’re not good at creating new users.

    Let me ask you this. If you could go back in time and double or triple the sales of your games, and provoke 5x the online conversations about them, for double or triple the amount of time and money you put into promoting them, with the result of maybe 1.5x the amount of play, would you do it? Because I think that’s about what you’ll achieve from this thinking: an increase in profit and play not at all on the same scale as the increase in your time, effort and money spent. Or rather, what directly correllates to time, effort, and money spent is fandom and unit sales, not profit and play.

    Paul

  12. A bit off-topic in this thread, but the link to Nine World in the right shoulder is broken (well, also having broken links is bad marketing, so it’s at least partially related ^_^).

  13. Very thought-provoking post, Matt. As someone who has a very, very good game for non-gamers (Serial Homicide Unit) that has sold very poorly, I’m a living example of creating a product that I have NO IDEA how to market. I have no contact in the book trade. I have no contacts with the murder mystery subculture. If I want to get this game into bookstores, where the non-gamers that would enjoy it can see it, I need to make personal contact with independent bookstore owners (themselves a vanishing breed) and educate them one at a time about what this game is. It is a daunting task and I haven’t done it.

    I’ve lost my point, but I guess I’m saying that if this marketing cooperative gets started, count me in.

  14. Paul, I never got back to you. Here goes:

    First, on MBAs. Yeah, grabbing market share and lowering costs sound like MBAs in action to me.

    Creating new markets not so good, I suppose. I mean, I just don’t know overall.

    As for your question, here’s how I’m parsing it:

    I think what you’re saying is: Even if someone could do what I’m proposing (that is, incrase sales considerably and market much more effectively), then the returns in terms of actual play would be diminishing. That, instead, the person would get fans of a product line (basically) and not especially more people actually playing the game.

    Possibly so. I understand the argument. I may even agree with the argument.

    However, I think there are two concerns:

    First, the argument is based on our understanding of the RPG hobby generally. That is, we know that, say, the infamous 1990s games produced lots of books with pretty terrible game play results (both in quality and quantity). I don’t think there’s a lot of good precedence for marketing based on game quality, rather than on games-as-fandom. There’s some, but there’s a lot more of marketing that sells T-shirts and game books with the same spine, rather than game play.

    But, we don’t really know very well what would happen if higher quality games focused on actual play reached larger audiences. Might they flop on that basis? Sure. I don’t think this is a sure thing at all.

    Second, I’m terrified of the (possibly correct?) argument that goes: Look, don’t put in all these resources into expanding the games’ customers. Because if you do, you’ll put in a LOT of work and get only a LITTLE actual play.

    I’m terrified because it’s an argument that says “This is as good as it gets.” That selling a few hundred copies to the hard core indie scene is about the right return on a publisher’s time and resources.

    And, hell, it might be correct! That’s a terrible thing. I’d much rather believe more healthy growth is possible.

  15. wordwill on said:

    Only a certain percentage of the gaming audience ever “activates” the material they read into actual play. I, for one, own too many RPGs and have not enough time (or willing players) to try them all. Actual play is further out of your reach than sales, anyway, insofar as it is out of your control — there’s such a thing as a hard sell, but you can’t make someone go home and play.

    Whether we can skip the debate about D&D 4E as an RPG or not, we do see there a game focused on actual play over readability, insofar as the books are meant to be played with and are not, by and large, faux fiction. That game needs to do things to be a game *line*, though, and not just a *game*. Should we be taking that into account?

    If what you’re interested in is getting people to actually play your games — which I crassly fear is shorthand for getting people to actually *be affected by* your games — then why are we talking about sales numbers? One does not lead to the other. I take lots of games home, and then do not get to play them.

    This is just a fact of life for games that exist as books, though. RPGs can be appreciated without play, or, perhaps worse, we sometimes think they can. They are multi-stage entertainments, unlike books or movies or even video games, which are appreciated as they are consumed. But somewhat like the author can’t *make* someone like her book and the filmmaker can’t *make* someone write their Congressperson after watching her movie, the RPG designer is separate from other game designers in that she cannot *make* her reader become a player. They can inspire only to a point, but the logistics at the player’s end may be insurmountable, at least by the designer.

    This is an unfortunate truth of the RPG designer’s weird position, I think. Sales and play are just different, if related, creatures.

    I’m sure I’ve been no help at all.

  16. Wolf Nibori on said:

    I stumbled across this post by pure accident, but I am so glad I did! I have been wondering about marketing of RPGs and why it is that the sales levels are in the (what I consider to be) lower numbers. With the impressive levels of creativity that go into these games, it’s aggravating to me that they aren’t sold in much higher quantities because I really do feel more people would enjoy them than merely 1-5,000 worldwide, you know?

    I’ve been thinking that a lot of the issue is in how the games are marketed. Labors of love often face a difficulty because general marketing philosophy holds that people are far more prone to ‘avoid pain’ rather than ‘seek pleasure’. A labor of love is generally marketed as a ‘wow check this out!’ rather than ‘here is the perfect solution to this burning need that you have’. The concept being to lure people TO the game as opposed to creating a game they are already out trying to find. It is far, far easier to sell something the customer not only REALLY wants, but is already out there looking for. Businesses, especially of the large budget corporate variety, are going to have their marketing people researching the hell out of the question “What do consumers in our industry want?” before they’ll spend a dime developing anything. They want the numbers, at least, to ‘prove’ success is inevitable.

    Now, having rambled on with that it needs to be noted that I’m far from an expert – on anything. I know what I have read and tried for my own first hand experience, in terms of marketing, but I’m no expert on game marketing of any kind. I still, however, firmly believe that RPGs have got to be one of the most inadequately marketed entertainment products in the world today. Especially considering what an unparalleled capacity they have to entertain not just individuals, but groups of people!

    I think the primary reason why RPGs do not sell to the volume that they so richly deserve to is a matter of the consumer having no idea that they exist, then upon seeing them in a store or online, having no real concept of how the books are used or what a gaming session might be like. I apologize if I am hammering points that have already been covered in other discussions, this is simply me explaining what bothers me personally about the RPG market.

    The indie RPG market, as I see it, could conceivably expand past what the big companies are willing to try. There are so many ways that people are selling utter garbage “entertainment” products that I can’t fathom why RPGs should not be able to move mass quantities of books. I believe it is the approach that is coming up short when it comes to results (sales). I also know that since indie RPGs are sold by their creator, it can be incredibly tough to bust your ass to sell your game after you spent years designing it because there’s a naturally present inclination to feel that the game obviously deserves to sell and that the world is screwed up and unfair for not buying it. To me, that is the emotional reality even if the creator does not believe this at an intellectual level. This is why filmmakers have production companies, musicians have record labels, etc. Granted, there are artists of all stripes who create and deliver their own package, as well.

    I’ve got all sorts of ideas on how to improve sales and expand the customer base for RPGs, but I won’t bore you guys with that. Mainly, I wanted to share my thoughts and thank each one of you who commented for really opening the topic up wider and sharing your own experience.

    I sincerely appreciate it!

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