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Author Topic: Yes Virginia they are mostly for reading....  (Read 3247 times)
b_bankhead
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Posts: 259


« on: September 19, 2003, 11:20:44 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I was confronted with it in very committed, no-bones-about-it form recently, during a discussion at GAMA.



  Although I don't agree with it as a creative goal, as a practical one I half believe it.

  My own personal hobby horse is that the rpg "industry" is based on the willingness of people to keep on buying stuff that they cannont or will not use.  

  Based on WOTC's market research (who knows how accurate it is?...but its all I've got.) The average rpg-er spends a piddling $0.77 US per week on their hobby.  I have met personally gamers who spend 20x this figure per week, and some on rpg.net that claim to spend much more....(one claimed $2k US a year, an amazing 50+ times the average.)

   Even the most avid gamers could not possibly actually use all this material or need to ( I'm sure I could GM EXALTED for five years without a single supplement). I've done this myself, buy gaming material that I KNOW I'll never get anyone to actually play (KULT for instance) but it's fun to read. However I got sick of this and stopped doing it about five years ago......

  Given there are buyers like this out there, I think that the rpg market is deeply skewed towards people like this, in the same way speculators skewed the comic book market in the early 90's and late 80's by their willingness to buy multiple copies of a "hot" comic.  (some publishers actually began shipping some comics pre-bagged because they new that such a large percentage wouldn't be actually reading them.  Likewise the proliferation of enhanced cover gimmicks because that would be the only part of the comic they would look at...)
 
Of course the big-two comic publishers almost collapsed when this minority changed its habits. (they found out the prices in WIZARD and Overstreet really were just guidelines and virtually no comic dealer not on crack would actually pay them) . I really do believe the rpg "industry" is basically in the same position. If people only bought what they could use the field would collapse.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2003, 01:20:59 PM »

Split from Do you believe everything they tell you?, at the author's request (thanks for alerting me!).

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2003, 01:39:21 PM »

Quote
If people only bought what they could use the field would collapse.
_________________


Depends on how you define use.  I easy spend 2-3K a year on games (RPGs and Board varieties).  I'd say 10% of that I actually "used" in terms of regular play, and maybe another 25% of the "played once" variety.  That means the majority is spent on games I've never actually played.

But that does not mean I got no use out of them.  I don't fall into the "read for enjoyment" category.  For entertainment I'd rather read a nice thick tome on the organization and development of Roman Legions from the Republic to the late Imperial period than read a splat book.  But from the perspective of "what can I learn from this to make me a better game designer"...I'd say I've "used" 80% of my purchases by that standard.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2003, 01:54:54 PM »

Quote
I'd say I've "used" 80% of my purchases by that standard.
And what he hasn't used, he purchased on the notion that it might be useful. When you buy an encyclopedia, you might not use every volume. But you buy the whole thing just in case.

Anyhow, it's not contentious to claim that some people read games. Everybody knows that's true. The question is whether or not you can build a model on selling to people who are solely interested in play, or research for play. Which is what we're about here.

Mike
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b_bankhead
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Posts: 259


« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2003, 12:05:10 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote
Anyhow, it's not contentious to claim that some people read games. Everybody knows that's true. The question is whether or not you can build a model on selling to people who are solely interested in play, or research for play. Which is what we're about here.


    I'm not at all interested in meanings of the term 'used' that are so highly abstracted. Virtually anything I've ever read or seen on the tube (and certainly my video collection!) might be 'used' in an rpg, or be 'used' as research for an rpg.  And very few of the power buyers (someone who buys 10x the average) or the mega-buyers, (30x the average) have any conception of buying for a professional purpose.

$2k a year is over 65 copies of EXALTED. People who buy at this rate soon accumulate a volume of material than no one can constantly comb through for enlightenment.  The overwhelming majority of this material is frankly going to spend most of its time gathering dust. As far as I am concerned if the material is not directly and specifically supporting present gaming activity it's not being used.

  Whatever these people think they are doing with all this it is demonstrable that they buy a whale of lot of stuff.  And one megabuyer will easily buy as much as the rest of the entire complement of an FLGS's rpg community! How can we not consider such individuals as major drivers of the market? Who do you think is buying all those D20 supplements? I think it is a relatively few individuals like this.  If even 1% of the rpg purchasing population consists of mega-buyers, then they could account for 30% of all the material being sold , all by themselves. and if 3% of the population is power buyers they,could account for another 30%. Is it possible 60% of the rpg material purchases are being made by 4% of the buyers?

Could this be part of the problem of why this field is remaining such an insular, incestuous little clique?  Is it because most of the material is going to rot on the shelves of a few collectors,that most of what the rpg 'industry' is making has no chance to be exposed to anybody but a tiny group of super hard core buyers?

  Part and parcel of my own reasons for haunting the Forge with my grumblings and theories is my deeply rooted belief that the selection pressure in the present rpg community is so strong that no attempt to do anything in any way signifigantly different in is going to have any effect.   I believe the only effective way to broaden the rpg marketplace is to go outside the existing one.  Directly. (which is why while I hope the Forge gang enjoys the trips to the various game cons, I don't think its going to advance their project much.)  And looking at how much of what the field produces seems destined to just decorate shelves, I feel that way even more now.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2003, 03:17:15 PM »

I'm very confused. We keep agreeing with you, and you keep posting as though we're disagreeing with you.

I mean, there'll be some debate as to what the actual statistics are, but I'm failing to see the subject of conflict here. You seem to be expounding principles that we've said were important a long time ago.

BTW, are you saying we shouldn't go to conventions? It's an odd argument to me given that I'd be going to the same conventions whether I had anything to sell or not (didn't this year, technically). So why not sell at the conventions if you'd be there anyhow? Is there some downside to selling games at conventions that we ought to know about?

Just because we sell at conventions doesn't mean we're against other manners of marketing.

Mike
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Christopher Weeks
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Posts: 683


« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2003, 08:34:34 AM »

Quote from: b_bankhead
one megabuyer will easily buy as much as the rest of the entire complement of an FLGS's rpg community! How can we not consider such individuals as major drivers of the market? Who do you think is buying all those D20 supplements? I think it is a relatively few individuals like this.  If even 1% of the rpg purchasing population consists of mega-buyers, then they could account for 30% of all the material being sold , all by themselves. and if 3% of the population is power buyers they,could account for another 30%. Is it possible 60% of the rpg material purchases are being made by 4% of the buyers?

Could this be part of the problem of why this field is remaining such an insular, incestuous little clique?  Is it because most of the material is going to rot on the shelves of a few collectors,that most of what the rpg 'industry' is making has no chance to be exposed to anybody but a tiny group of super hard core buyers?


This doesn't seem right to me...or maybe I'm just missing the main point.  Let's assume that 60% of the sales go to 4% of the people.  If you sell 100 books in a year (I'm just pulling this number out of my ass), what do you care how many of them go to "mega-buyers" versus the average Joes?  I think we can assume that the mega- and power-buyers aren't stockpiling multiple copies of most things.  So 96 out of those 100 are still going to potential players.  How does this hurt you?

"Most of the material is going to rot on the shelves of a few collectors" suggests to me that no matter how much you sell, something bad is happening to you.  But I don't see it.  If anything, it seems that the role these collectors play is to skew the stats collected by the industry in a fairly trivial way.

I don't have a game.  I'm not writing a game.  I've never had to sell my work (Well, I've done a trivial amount of paid RPG work).  Is there something that I'm missing by having not been on the other side of the deal?

Chris
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