Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The RPG Industry is Dying...


The Dresden Files RPG is up for pre-order, two books priced $50 and $40.

Tweets from Evil Hat's Fred Hicks indicate decent chances that they will hit 500 pre-orders each (on a book that's not shipping for another 2-3 months) today.

That's $45,000 grossed in two days.

He also said, "If those numbers hit 1000 each in direct-sales preorders, the print run (5000 copies each) and nearly all production costs will be covered."

$90,000 gross to cover print and production costs. That's one hell of an investment. Evil Hat's not even considered one of the "large" RPG companies, is it? I mean, before this month.

Yeah. A totally flatlining industry.


  1. Yea, I think that has MORE to do with the license THAN the actually creation of the RPG. Two books for $90 sounds CRAZY when you have to compete with Modern Warfare 2 selling for $40 to the same customer base. How are you going to compete like that?

  2. "Do not compete on price," is something I'm hearing from all corners, actually.

  3. Given the choice of Modern Warfare 2 or a Dresden Files RPG, I think the latter wins out for me.

  4. I think most people, when they talk about the RPG biz being "in trouble," don't mean that there aren't profitable/successful games and/or companies out there. Rather, what they mean is that we've defined down the definition of "profitable/successful" to the point where 5000 copies qualifies.

    Don't get me wrong: 5000 copies is something to be genuinely proud of. I'd love to see anything I write sell 5000 copies, but let's bear in mind that that's still small potatoes compared to the hobby's heyday in the 80s (or even the 90s, I'd wager). I suspect that it's memories of what the hobby once was that people are thinking of when they mutter darkly about its future.

    (And, honestly, how many RPG products sell 5K copies anymore? If this were a regular occurrence, do you think Evil Hat would be crowing about it?)

  5. I agree on all counts; however there is an unspoken question inherent in each of these posts…
    When was the last time you (and I) introduced someone new to the table-top RPG/Gaming hobby? Thankfully, I have introduced 4 people under the age of 20 in the last year and a half, and now they prefer a good dining room table gaming session to video games hands down. And they are actively excited and recruiting new younger gamers.
    If you want the hobby to thrive, then do something about it. Yes we need to buy from publishers, but even more important we need to brag about our hobby. There are people who do, but we need to be counted among them.

  6. Something else Evil Hat is doing is allowing Local Game Stores, like mine to give customers who preorder with us access to the PDFs immediately. They trust us. Yeah, its cool. I've already got 4 preorders from local customers. Their happy, I'm happy & Evil Hat is super cool. Super. Cool. We've even been given access to PDFs of existing books for future purchases. The industry is dead. Long live the industry.

  7. It really could not happen to a nicer company or folks.

  8. The industry will survive so long as GEN-Xers and Boomers who played the games survive. And their is plenty of room for other players besides WOTC, even if they do currently take 60% of the profit pool and leave everyone the rest to fight over.

    There are rumors the above ration may have shifted because of Pathfinder's success, and the fact there is already A F'IN PLAYER'S HANDBOOK MOTHER F'N THREE for that RIDICULOUS monstrosity edition that George Lucas in the 90's could've designed with soul-less focus groups and MMORPG-based mentalities. How many F'N SPLAT books can any company rationally push out???

  9. I pre-ordered. I just hope no idiot decides to share their copy, that could kill any trust Evil Hat would be willing to give. I only hope the print product does as well.

    However, we also need to remember that Gross is not Net, and THAT is important. Keep in mind that there are costs to print these full-color hardcovers with nice art.

    In addition, keep in mind this is a licensed product. We don't know how much Jim Butler and/or his publisher is getting for the license. Licensed products are always more of a pain to deal with that products you own outright. I don't know if its a fixed price or profit sharing but The Dresden Files IP is not theirs to keep. So, this might not be a success just yet.

  10. Somebody already shared a copy (I had to issue a takedown notice earlier today). Here's the thing, though. I have a pretty resilient notion of trust. I'd rather do it (trust someone) than not, full aware that it won't always be well-placed. But I get so much benefit out of continuing to trust even when there's the occasional (sudden and inevitable) betrayal that I don't really have an incentive NOT to. The good is noisier than the bad, though admittedly, that's in part because I put a lot of effort into making sure the good is noisy indeed.

    Obviously I can't talk about the deal made with Jim (Butcher, not Butler) in terms of specific percentages and whatnot, but I can tell you that he got an up-front payment for the license and is getting a percentage of the cover price royalty. We're going to cover that up front payment pretty easily I think, and the percentage of cover price scales to the sales, so we're actually in pretty good shape, I think, now that we're nearing the halfway mark on that break-even figure. (The break-even figure is a bit higher than 1000 if we start to look at other sales sources via distribution and the like, but we should still be profitable by roughly halfway through the print run even in smallest sales margin scenario.)

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  12. I remember hearing about this before I was even familiar with the novel series. (Just started reading the latest one tonight) I'm glad this is on deck to hit shelves. My hat is off to Evil Hat.

  13. >>(And, honestly, how many RPG products sell 5K copies anymore? If this were a regular occurrence, do you think Evil Hat would be crowing about it?)

    Hell, Death Frost Doom is quite possibly going to hit 400 copies sold this month, and I'll be crowing about that!

  14. I expanded on the particulars of the numbers that were mentioned in the original post over here today: http://www.deadlyfredly.com/2010/04/dresden-sausage/