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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 62 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: The Truth is Out There  (Read 1620 times)
Luke
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« on: May 28, 2006, 01:17:29 PM »

From Ken Hite's latest Out of the Box essay.
http://www.gamingreport.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=190

Quote
Now for a little silver lining. One advantage that we have in the RPG market is that our customers -- you wonderful people -- are much more willing to buy electronic books than mainstream book readers are. Something like five to ten percent of the RPG business last year was PDF business, and that number is growing by leaps and bounds. Companies like Eden, Green Ronin, and Hero have made electronic publishing core parts of their business model. So take what I said above, about the continuing crunch-pressure of store sales, and combine it with that factor. You'll see an industry that moves ever more rapidly online, even as brick-and-mortar game stores (mostly) disappear. (It's not just game stores -- Amazon and e-retailing in general are out-competing a lot of specialty retail. But game stores are already vulnerable.) "Second-tier" game companies and "indie" game companies will move closer and closer together, in public perception especially. If you downloaded the thing off the Net, it's transparent -- the only thing you care about is quality and fun for you, whether it was Rifts or The Mountain Witch. Game conventions will be where Internet fan communities get together to play face to face and to learn new stuff likewise.

This, then, implies that good local and regional conventions can only profit from the ongoing sclerosis of RPG distribution. They can also profit from micro-booms or fads in a way that game stores can't. Right now, for example, the ConQuest shows seem to be building on the back of the "German game" micro-boom; a convention, unlike a store, can switch from boomlet to boomlet fairly transparently. Better yet for us, a convention, unlike a store, actually gains by continuing to support legacy hobbies -- wargames now, RPGs soon. A game con that stays on the good side of the RPGA can also still ride RPGs very profitably -- that sub-hobby seems very solid, from the outside at least. Such game conventions are also excellent marketing, demo, and retailing opportunities for RPG companies that aren't Dungeons & Dragons. Much as I pick up a lot of small-press SF and so forth at SF cons, game cons will become everyone's local retailer. (The few surviving good local retailers will also sell at these cons, in the areas that are so fortunate as to have them, or possibly all across the region, much as Dreamhaven Books in Minneapolis sells at Chicago SF cons.) This will give RPG publishers -- who, again unlike most mainstream publishers, already have a solid network of conventions to use for marketing -- another edge as they adjust to the harsh new world of on-time ship dates and "three books and out" Blue Rose or Orpheus style line models.

You know who that describes? Me. Holy fuck.

I posted this here because it probably describes a lot of you. Lean, mean, versatile, small, adaptable publishing companies. But it's stunning to see a part of our core ethos writ large in "the media." Ken's a bit of crank at times, but my gut tells me that he's right this time. So keep publishing rigorously tested, high-quality games. Publish them on time with your deadlines and promote them at conventions. You just may change the world.

-Luke
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2006, 05:43:21 PM »

I was struck by the idea of conventions as replacing the niche that the retailer die-off is leaving. Conventions are closer to the activity of gaming itself and the internet and such are encouraging and enabling people to focus more closely on what they actually want to do. More of what people want. More precisely when they want it.
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Serial Homicide Unit Hunt down a killer!
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Valamir
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2006, 07:07:01 PM »

I've been listening to the Audio books for The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman.  Its all about computing and telecommunications technology leveling the playing field and connecting the world enabling the principles of global trade to apply to not just manufactured goods but knowledge and services as well.  (I highly recommend it for every body, especially if you're in a job where very soon (if not already) you'll have to compete with the entire world to keep it.

At any rate, I was struck by how much of what he describes as going on in the flattening of the world we at the Forge have been living through first hand for the last few years.

Chapters on long distance collaboration, forming new definitions of what a company is and how it should operate, connecting experts from around the world, creating new paradigms on where the value add in the products come from, enabling small companies to compete with big companies, and even appear to consumers virtually indistinguishable from big companies.

Its all good stuff, and everything we've been doing as indie small press game companies is a perfect example.  Even the idea of retail stores being replaced by conventions as a way of getting the producer closer to the consumer is all part of this global technology trend.  The description of the forces that came together circa 2000 ranging from critical mass in computer proliferation, to the overwireing of the world with fiber optics, to the opening up of eastern europe and India and China moving away from socialist economic models is fascinating.  The depictions of what certain companies are doing to take advantage of these forces even more so.

If you want some independent confirmation as to why the small press indie model is not only working but will likely be the trend of the future, grab this book.  Everything Ken Hite just observed is in there.

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2006, 09:05:32 PM »

(smiling)

I know.

Best, Ron
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btrc
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« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2006, 05:49:11 AM »

Quote
I was struck by the idea of conventions as replacing the niche that the retailer die-off is leaving. Conventions are closer to the activity of gaming itself and the internet and such are encouraging and enabling people to focus more closely on what they actually want to do. More of what people want. More precisely when they want it.

When you think about the last several small cons you've been at, how many of the dealers were simply a weekend franchise of a brick & mortar store? They just send out a guy in a van loaded with stock for the weekend. For instance, Walt's Cards (Baltimore MD) has been at every show I've attended in southwest Virginia and North Carolina for quite some time. If you can't get the customers to come to you, you go where the customers are. Con-goers come to expect your presence, and often have an intent to buy from "vendor X" when they get to the con.

Greg Porter
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