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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 49 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: The Price was Right (Come on...er... Up?)  (Read 11063 times)
taepoong
Member

Posts: 120


« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2004, 09:05:43 AM »

Quote from: abzu
But this leads to the next question: Do I want to take this from hobby to business?


I don't think this is a question at all from your responses to Ethan. It sounds like you've made up your mind. Your ambition to reach thousands of gamers precludes you from the hobby category.

A hobbyist would be happy with whatever amount of people stumbled on his game and money wouldn't mean a thing. But you want to aggressively seek out and recruit more Burners. That sort of goal requires a business, perhaps even a full-time commitment.

So, you have no choice but to raise the cost of your game to whatever amount is necessary to keep producing more copies.

Like Ethan said, if you don't want to raise the amount of the books, you need to drop the distibutors and maintain the status quo at the current hobby level.

I totally think you should go the business route and raise prices and start competing with the big boys and show them what a really good RPG is supposed to be like!
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Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2004, 09:44:53 AM »

Hi Luke,

If your goal is to share the game as far and wide as possible, don't forget to take into account advertising and marketing.  If folks don't know about it, they can't even look into it to see if they'd want it or not.

Chris
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jdagna
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Posts: 563


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« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2004, 10:20:48 AM »

Well, first of all, Luke, congratulations on having this problem!

I think you're right in thinking that distributors will help you reach a much larger crowd than Internet and convention sales.  I would wager the opposite of Ethan - I think the vast majority of gamers do not know someone who frequents a major website or convention.  In any event, your ability to reach those people is somewhat limited anyway - you can't be at every convention.

Personally, I would just jack up the price.  I would have jacked it up from day one if I were in your shoes, but I'm a self-proclaimed capitalist bastard.  I would go $16.95 on  both of your books and sell them independently from each other.

However, I can understand not wanting to do that, so I'll offer a middle of the road suggestion.  Take this suggestion with a grain of salt though.  In another year, you may find that it hurts you even worse than your current predicament is.

The suggestion is this: mark up the MSRP, and don't sell at it.  You can sell the books to Alliance at 40% of MSRP ($7 per book), and sell to retailers at 50% off MSRP ($8.50 per book) and sell to consumers at 50% off MSRP (8.50 per book).  You just phrase the consumer price as your "Convention Special" or "June Madness Special" (followed by the "July Fever Special" and the "August Insanity Special").  Most jewelers and upscale retailers run almost continual sales on items with bloated MSRPs just to create the perception that you're saving money on high-priced items.

Where this will eventually bite you is that the distributors and retailers (at least some of them) will eventually figure out that you're undercutting them, and you'll probably get a lot of grief from them.  I know of a small miniatures manufacturer who has gotten just such grief because they offer lots of specials on their website and at conventions. (Some of that grief is from me - I carried their stuff at a convention and had a guy say outright "Well, I just wanted to see it in person.  I'll wait until their sale next month and buy it online."  So there I was paying them money to advertise their stuff, basically).
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Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com
LordSmerf
Member

Posts: 864


« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2004, 02:51:40 PM »

I tossed in my personal Gamer answer over at the Burning Wheel forums, but i figured i'd add a little bit of a different perspective here.  Our local group is notoriously cheap.  For almost any game we play we will have a single copy of the book(s).  I feel compelled to point out that we own three copies of the Burning Wheel, since we play it a lot, but also because that's about what it would have cost to get one other book.

I think a price increase is going to be nessecary for you.  I'd definately look into reducing costs for printing, but I think that overall this Distribution thing will be good for you.  It allows you a couple of new oppurtunities:

    1. I can be at the local bookstore with a couple of more casual gaming buddies, see a copy on the shelf and say: "Oh wow!  It's The Burning Wheel, that's one of the best RPGs i've ever played..."  It's a little more natural than saying: go to Luke's website and buy his game now!

    2. It gives you a huge oppurtunity for non-Convention demos...  I know you personally don't have the time, but with the Burning Wheel being available through Alliance, i can go down to my local Hobby Store (not even gaming specific) and say: "Do you mind if i demo a product some weekend?"  I think you have an enthusiastic community and this would allow some of us to get involved, especially if you had some tips and pointers for demos available.
    [/list:u]

    I think i should go ahead and note for anyone not familiar with the Burning Wheel: Two seperate books sold seperately would almost certainly not work.  Luke basically has a single book divided into two: Mechanics and Character Creation + Skills and Abilities.  I really like the two book format since neither book is all that big, and you almost never find yourself flipping back and forth between them.  You're either dealing with Mechanics or you're making a Character...

    Luke keep doing what you're doing...  As to whether you should Revise or simply reprint the original i would say that that is highly dependent upon a couple of things: (A) How much do you save on the reprint as opposed to a Revision (with possibly a new puplisher)  (B) How much of the stuff that would be different in a Revised Edition be in the planned Annual, and how much are you talking about selling the Annual for?

    If you have a $5-10 Annual which has most or all of the stuff that would go into a Revised Edition and you're saving $2-5/copy by reprinting then i'd just reprint...  You'll, of course, be required to make your own decision since it's your risk and your game...

    Thomas
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quozl
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Posts: 534


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« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2004, 08:08:54 PM »

Quote from: LordSmerf
Two seperate books sold seperately would almost certainly not work.  


Personally, I would let the consumers make that decision.
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--- Jonathan N.
Currently playtesting Frankenstein's Monsters
Luke
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Posts: 1359

Conventions Forum Moderator, First Thoughts Pest


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« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2004, 08:40:12 PM »

Quote from: quozl
Quote from: LordSmerf
Two seperate books sold seperately would almost certainly not work.  


Personally, I would let the consumers make that decision.


Interesting. Perhaps a focus group?

Actually, I'm being sarcastic. Thomas is right, the books would not work sold seperately. They were not designed to be sold seperately and neither is useful in anyway without the other.

This is a non-issue, let's move on.
-L
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John Burdick
Member

Posts: 105


« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2004, 12:48:36 AM »

I sent a quick PM to Luke saying essentially "I'd buy at that price". He suggested I elaborate here.

In response to the Actual Play discussions about BW, I looked into getting it back I think in March. It didn't seem to be mass distributed at the time, so I didn't pursue it any further. With availability through Alliance, I will order it probably this saturday.

On the subject of game books being expensive, I have a trade paperback The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian published by Random House under the Del Rey imprint. The price on this book is $14.95. It happens to have about 463 pages. Unless BW can sell as many copies as Conan, I think BW should reasonably cost more. That's what they taught me about "economy of scale" in Intro to Business.

Luke, I think you should follow the advice from the Key20 people. I don't know anything about Key20, but apparently their people are trying to help. That gives a range of $30 to $37.50. I buy game books in the $25 to $30 range all the time. I pay money for other luxury items like DVDs and beer. Most of the DVDs I buy are anime and I never buy mainstream beer. My biggest concern is availability of what I want, not minor differences in price. Not having examined the books in question, I can only estimate from descriptions I've read. I feel that a price of $32 to $35 is fair. You've said that this price range makes you unhappy. I can't judge your feelings, but it wouldn't make me unhappy as a game buyer.

On the subject of giving away a product below market value, the free software people give away their software. That doesn't stop them from also selling it to anyone who wants to pay. The principle of free software isn't about being cheap. I've paid for printed and well bound copies of files I already had for free on my computer. I don't have any idea what you might know about free software as an organized movement, but you might find it interesting.

John
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ryand
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2004, 12:13:25 PM »

Here's another perspective:

When you underprice your product vs. what the market would pay and is paying for similar works, you're hurting everyone who is making those other works at the higher price.

Every time you meet a fellow game designer who is doing it "for a living", that is, paying the rent, buying food, insuring a family, etc. on income from game design, think about the fact that you choosing to price a great product at a low price means that person will have a harder time earning that paycheck.

When customers are trying to determine "what something is worth", they tend to ignore all the stuff in the middle and focus on the extremes.  If you are "extremely low", you are setting a part of the price perception for what RPG products should cost a consumer.  If your low price means that someone doesn't buy a $30, $40 or $50 book because subconsciously you've shown them that those other books are "too expensive" you have just taken food off someone else's plate.

If you are implementing a low price strategy because you think that by selling at a low price you can jack up volumes and make a better income on a faster sell-through, then I think that is an absolutely legitmate reason to use price as a selling feature, and you owe nobody any apology.  Price differentiation is something this industry needs more of, not less of.

But if you're just selling stuff cheaply because you want to make a political statement, you should consider the impact of your actions on your peers.

Ryan
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Ryan S. Dancey
CEO, OrganizedPlay
(for information on Open Gaming, please link to www.opengamingfoundation.org)
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2004, 02:29:21 PM »

While Ryan is correct, and I'm all for doing "the right thing" -- I'm inclined to say "screw 'em, that's capitalism" and let it ride. If they can't compete with your prices, too bad. More for you. The cream rises to the top through competition. Those who can't compete lose out. That's how capitalism works; if you want a business model where people care about their competitors...well, it ain't capitalism. After all, how many of them are considering you in selling their products, who wouldn't cut your corporate throat if it meant theirs?

(I also think the above advice is a bit surprising coming from you, Ryan, as I recall part of the OGL/d20 mission statement was to remove competitors whose products weren't up to par -- in essence, to take food off of the plates of others.)

However, as I said, such a callous dismissal of the plights of others is against my moral beliefs. But so is capitalism. And as such, given our society, unfortunately, something has to give: neither you nor I can take care of everyone else, and still take care of ourselves. So, you've gotta do what you've gotta do, and worry about others once you're in a stable enough position to help them and worry about them.

Though this is really meaningless as a data point, let me say, regarding pricing:  $20 I'll do. $25 is...questionable. When I hear about $50 gamebooks, I laugh, and immediately put it off my radar forever, unless it happens to show up in a bargain bin somewhere. I feel I'm being stolen from at that point.

That said, BW is two books. $30 for two books isn't bad.
My advice: See what you can do to shave prices. Bigger print runs, different printer, etc. Then, increase your price a bit so you're making enough for future print runs. Don't worry about "what the industry regularly charges" (6-8x cost), just worry about what you need to profit, even if it ends up "only" 3-4x cost.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
quozl
Member

Posts: 534


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« Reply #24 on: May 19, 2004, 03:16:58 PM »

Quote from: abzu
Thomas is right, the books would not work sold seperately. They were not designed to be sold seperately and neither is useful in anyway without the other.

This is a non-issue, let's move on.
-L


I was going to just let this go because it's your game and your choice but I feel that as a member here, I'm duty-bound to give you my opinion since you asked about raising what prices would do the perception of potential customers.

Not selling the books separately is a HUGE mistake when you can just sell them for $15 each.  It's all about perception and customers buying things in little chunks like impulse purchases (which I'm guessing have been the majority of BW's sales so far).  

But they'll get an incomplete product if they only buy one book!

So what?  As long as it's obvious they're only buying half of a complete product, what does that matter?  Let them buy what they want to buy in the way they want to buy it (which is what I meant when I said to let the consumers decide).

That's my opinion.  I can point to lots of products that split things up and I can't think of any that require you to buy only the bundled set.  It's your game and your business but I hope you actually think about my advice and do a little research.  I'm only trying to help you.
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--- Jonathan N.
Currently playtesting Frankenstein's Monsters
Zak Arntson
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« Reply #25 on: May 19, 2004, 03:52:01 PM »

I'd also like to point out that by splitting up the books, you can potentially sell multiple Character Burners to a single gaming group. That way they can all create characters without swapping one book.
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Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #26 on: May 19, 2004, 04:37:47 PM »

I side with Raven about Ryan's comment on take food of someone's plate or whatever. I think the comic book store guy on the Simpsons said it best. "Emotion is out of place here."

That said, I think Ryan's comment on the public's perception based on price bears some thought. Consider Coke & Pepsi. IIRC Coke was sold in a 12 ox bottle for $.10. Pepsi was in a 16 oz bottle for $.05. I may have the facts wrong, but Coke became America's soft drink choice and was shipped to our boys in WWII. Pepsi was considered "Poor man's Coke" It took them decades to overcome that image.
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ryand
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #27 on: May 19, 2004, 05:21:23 PM »

The only additional point I'd like to make is that the issue I raised (low price vs. peer compensation) is directly related to the difference between publishing "for a living" and publishing "for a hobby".

It is a normally valid assumption that the market will tend to keep prices of RPGs high enough to justify the costs to make them and support the people who make them (or cause innovation on the cost side to make them cheaper which could allow a lower price in theory).  But one of the assumptions in that model is that all the publishers have the same cost basis - that is, they all have roughly the same kinds of expenses and needs.

A unique situation develops when a small-press, vanity-press or art-press product gets enough attention to come onto the radar of a larger segment of buyers (ala Alliance distribution).  Now a product produced under one model (profit not relevant or far less important) will be compared apples to apples with products where profit is critical.

In a worst case scenario, enough small-vanity-art press products get enough attention that the general SRP of products has to drop substantially, and a lot of RPG designers are fired and companies go bankrupt.  It is not likely, in my opinion, that the small-vanity-art press community can continue to push the quality and utility bars for RPG products through their own efforts, and the loss of a lot of full-time designers and for-profit publishers would have the net effect of removing a lot of cool and important work from the market that could not be otherwise replaced.

That's an extreme, and extremely unlikely scenario, but there is something to be said for the general price resistence factor in the market being affected by small-vanity-art products that do "break through", and the publishers of those products do, I think, bear some responsibility for the impact they have on the overall perception of "fair price".

I think the biggest misunderstanding in both the small press world and the consumer world is the idea that an individual RPG product can be priced based on its costs.  In reality, each publisher has to invest capital in new work, and some of that investment will be lost.  It is money at risk, and the risk is high.  RPG products have to pay the costs of that risk in the form of gross margins.  If a company did nothing but break even on the stuff it sold, it would be killed the first time something it invested in failed to sell.  A well run company is always working to build a reserve fund, a contingency that allows it to survive a bad knock in the market.  The capital to make continued investments can only come from either outside money or gross margins, and since most RPG companies have no outside money, de facto, it comes from gross margin.

That's the key difference between an small-vanity-art press release and a "commercial" release - the need for the commercial release to make more profit than absolutely necessary to break even.  And if companies didn't make that money, they'd be a great risk of failure, and would fail, and that would, in my opinion, be a bad thing for the art, science and hobby of roleplaying games.
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Ryan S. Dancey
CEO, OrganizedPlay
(for information on Open Gaming, please link to www.opengamingfoundation.org)
Luke
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« Reply #28 on: May 19, 2004, 09:25:55 PM »

Hi Ryan,

I just want to clear something up: At no point in this thread was I attempting to villify "the industry". And the nature of this thread was not to imply that distros and retailers are making a bundle off me and I'm coming away all the poorer.

Not at all. This thread was created as I realized that as I start to add in those "tiers" the price must rise, but yet no one is making a killing selling these products.

The profit margin is very small.

And you said it best, I have to examine the shift from a small-press/hobby model to a distributed game company model.

I understand what you are saying about industry comraderie and the outward perception of pricing (and how that affects prices as a whole), but I think it's worth noting that my endeavors are not in any way in competition with WW, WotC, SJG, Green Ronin or Mongoose. I have a difficult time believing that what I do affects them in anyway. And I have an equally hard time believing that if it did, they would not apply their own competitive edge to drive me from the market.

In this case, one of my competitive edges is to be able to deliver a quality product for a low price. I've got to leverage that as best I can, and I do so in the spirit of furthering quality of the hobby as a whole.

-Luke
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LordSmerf
Member

Posts: 864


« Reply #29 on: May 21, 2004, 10:23:59 AM »

Quote from: Zak Arntson
I'd also like to point out that by splitting up the books, you can potentially sell multiple Character Burners to a single gaming group. That way they can all create characters without swapping one book.


Luke, i'd like to highlight this comment.  Even if you don't sell the Burning Wheel seperately from the Character Burner, having extra Character Burners to sell seperately wouldn't be a bad idea in my book...

Thomas
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