There’s been quite a bit of conversation lately about the pricing of PDFs games across the RPG community lately. This is an ongoing discussion much as it has been in the realms of music, ebooks and – increasingly – film and video. Lots of companies just don’t seem to ‘get it’, particularly those that are primarily print oriented, pricing their PDFs at barely under the price of their print material. There’s something to be said for this since print isn’t always available and it means you can sell your product in the long term without investing in new stock, but when it comes to actually selling PDFs it’s a boneheaded move.
Way back when we started we’d talk about the $10 barrier. Basically there seems to be a psychological ‘sweet spot’ where people aren’t so willing to part with money for a PDF that costs over $10 and unless you have something really hot or that you really have to charge that much for it can be pretty self defeating.
Adamant has lead much of the discussion on this though other examples such as Eclipse Phase being given away to promote sales of the print version and the supplements and 6d6 Fireball are seeing what they can manage with ‘pay what you want’.
I’m a believer in these experiments and the thought behind them as a concept. I have evidence for myself that piracy of my works has effectively been advertisement for me but a big factor in piracy is price. Cheaper items people are more willing to pay for and less likely to pirate. That’s why things like iTunes work and that’s why overpricing e-books isn’t going to work. The problem with RPG works is that the margins are already slim (e-selling helps this immensely) and because artwork is expected they cost more to produce than self published literary works (words only) with a slimmer potential audience.
I’m not sure if it’s going to work out for Adamant, I’m sure they’ll get an initial huge boost to sales but will they make money long term with it? I don’t know that they will once the novelty wears off. Is the Eclipse Phase model one that’ll work? Only if you have a high value, shiny physical product to push – which they do. They may have also lucked into a halfway phase between print and e-publishing worlds changing, a sweet spot. 6d6’s approach? I hope it works, but I’ve tried a donationware approach before and have gotten absolutely fuck all from anyone by following that model.
I can’t afford to take a big showy risk like Adamant and I’m not new, so can’t draw attention in the same way Eclipse Phase or 6d6 have. So I’m just going to try it modestly for now. Invaderz at $1.99 – the app price – and see how it goes. This is a ‘safe’ way to experiment since it’s a game I love and wish had more attention, I didn’t have to invest as much as I would in a new game and it’s the type of game that – in theory – should sell in this sort of price range as it’s a fun, disposable, ‘experiment’ for people to play.
We’ll see how it does and if it is a big success, I’ll probably try doing the same with my other products, but we’ll see.
There is also Kickstarter and ‘hostageware’, but that’s something to discuss and experiment with another time.