Chad Perrin: SOB

13 August 2009

P-Day

Filed under: Geek,RPG,Writing — Tags: , , , , , , — apotheon @ 09:03

This is part of my RPG series of entries here at SOB. See the inaugural entry in the series for more details.

I found the way Paizo named today “P-Day” on the front page of the site amusing. The people at Paizo are, of course, referring to the fact that today is the official release date for the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook.

Here’s a screenshot of the relevant announcements at the top of the main page of paizo.com:

In case of difficulty reading (it should be clear, but I know I sometimes get visitors using Lynx or something like that), the smaller text in the topmost paragraph says:

The PDF for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is now available for purchase and download. We are experiencing a lot of traffic today, and the messageboards are disabled to help keep the site running smoothly. Anyone who can wait until Friday or later to get their PDF is encouraged to do so.

Since we already have one hardcopy of the book, with another expected to arrive by mail any moment now, I’ll probably wait a couple days. Apparently, Paizo didn’t expect the kind of traffic hammering its servers as people download the PDF in record numbers, if the company had to actually shut down the forum temporarily to cope with it.

PRPG has been the number one bestseller in RPG books for a while at Amazon. I sent an email asking for details about how amazon calculates its bestsellers, but haven’t heard back. Color me curious.

I rather suspect that the $9.99 introductory price for the PRPG PDF will introduce a metric assload of players to the game that might otherwise have given it a pass. $50 might seem like a pretty hefty price to invest in one shot, even if it is a pretty good deal for the money, so those hesitant to fork over the full price for the hardback CRB might be a lot more willing to pay a fifth that for the PDF to evaluate it before paying for the tangible product. Of course, since the SigO and I have been using the playtest PDFs for a while and have quite a few other Paizo products (so we know the production quality first-hand), we knew we’d like what we got when we pre├Ârdered two copies of the CRB (plus the “complimentary” PDF that comes with the book we ordered directly from Paizo).

Toward the end of the P-Day: The Invasion of Gen Con! post in the Paizo Store Blog, more stuff is announced:

  • Pathfinder RPG Reference Document — the PRPG version of the D&D SRD, containing the OGL material from PRPG

  • Pathfinder RPG Conversion Guide — “that will show you the best ways to use your existing 3.5 library with the new Pathfinder RPG rules.”

  • Pathfinder RPG Bestiary Preview — the Bestiary will be PRPG’s version of the Monster Manual, of course

  • Updated Character Traits — a system of “mini-feats” used to help flavor a character and define its background

  • . . . and other stuff. That’s just most of the freebies; there’s a crapload of other announcements of recently, currently, and soon-to-be released books.

The release of the PRD on the same day as the release of the CRB itself is a nice symptom of one of the things I like so much about Paizo as a game company: it really seems to get the open content development model the OGL facilitates, whereas the executives and managers at WotC/Hasbro seemed to have their heads up their fourth points of contact on the whole matter even before they basically started trying to “undo” the release of D&D under the terms of the OGL.

9 Comments

  1. It has been madness at Gen Con for the Pathfinder releases. There’s already been thousands of them sold, and I’m almost certain they’re going to sell out this weekend (it sounds like they brought a few thousand with them–not sure on the number.

    The line for PF was insane. I’m glad it seems to have struck such a chord with so many.

    Comment by Zachary — 13 August 2009 @ 09:25

  2. I’d love to have hard figures on sales for Pathfinder RPG up through the end of release day and the same for other RPG edition releases, particularly those most similar in target market to PRPG (D&D 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0 come immediately to mind, followed by stuff like the most recent editions of WFRP, Palladium RPG, and so on).

    Comment by apotheon — 14 August 2009 @ 12:19

  3. The whole “shoo boy, our website can’t handle all this traffic” thing is a marketing ploy, and an obvious one.

    As for Amazon sales, they are meaningless, especially on a narrow list like RPG sales. The Amazon lists account for sales over the last hour, with statistical weight from aggregate sales over the last day or so (to help round off hour to hour fluctuation). Every major RPG release is #1 on the RPG list for the days of its release, what else would be people be buying in droves right then? The sales rank has a bit more meaning in broader lists, where many new releases hit at the same time, like Fiction and Non-Fiction, but even then, its value is limited.

    4e Adv. Vault 2, also being released now, is #2 and the 4e PHB2 is #3 and how many people you think are buying that right now, its been out for months? http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/16211/ref=pd_ts_b_nav

    Pathfinders got a niche, but its not going to come close to rivaling D&D in sales, 3e or 4e.

    Comment by Thas — 14 August 2009 @ 09:18

  4. The whole “shoo boy, our website can’t handle all this traffic” thing is a marketing ploy, and an obvious one.

    That must be why actual downloads are slowing down and they’re willing to actually give up on the discussion forum entirely. Oh, wait — that doesn’t make much sense.

    As for Amazon sales, they are meaningless, especially on a narrow list like RPG sales. The Amazon lists account for sales over the last hour, with statistical weight from aggregate sales over the last day or so (to help round off hour to hour fluctuation).

    Cite your source.

    . . . and that doesn’t seem to line up with the fact that PRPG has been at the top of the list for more than just a few days. If what you say is the case, it should have dropped off the top of the bestseller list a day or so after the “sold out” announcement. Being at the top of the list for weeks, including almost three weeks after Paizo’s first print run was spoken for, kinda seems to fly in the face of your theory that it’s all deception and hand-waving. Oh, and it’s currently #351 in books overall — pretty impressive for a roleplaying game, I think. (The current bestselling 4E book, by comparison, has about 2.5 times the ranking in books overall.)

    The possibility that it’s on a weekly basis seems a lot more plausible than a daily basis, all things considered. Are you sure you’re not just making this stuff up?

    Every major RPG release is #1 on the RPG list for the days of its release, what else would be people be buying in droves right then?

    This has been weeks at least — not days. The first time I saw it in the number one spot was about the 20th of July, and it was already well ahead of the number two spot. Since the guaranteed preorder date was more than a month before that, chances are good this thing has been top of the list for at least two months.

    Pathfinders got a niche, but its not going to come close to rivaling D&D in sales, 3e or 4e.

    Long-term? Maybe not. Reports from GenCon are pretty promising, though, where apparently an obscenely large stack of thousands of books is vanishing into the hands of gamers. Lines basically stretched all the way around the con yesterday. No other booth had lines to compare with Paizo’s.

    Anyway, it’s not like I said PRPG will sell more core book units in its first year than 4E did in its first year. I think you’re going to have a pretty difficult time making arguments that PRPG isn’t crazy successful in terms of the RPG market in general, regardless of how well 4E does, sound like anything other than an attempt to justify a belief that it “doesn’t matter” and doesn’t have any chance of becoming a major player in that market. It looks like a lot more than a “niche” game at this point.

    Comment by apotheon — 14 August 2009 @ 10:23

  5. “Cite your source.”

    Amazon.com This was discussed and dissected ad naseum when the 4e PHB peaked at 39 on the books list and was #1 on the RPG list for a long time. Both Pathfinder and ADV2 have been #1 and #2 for quite a while because of preorders. And Amazon is selling preorders for Pathfinder. I never said anything about it being deception. I just said the Amazon sales rank is not a very good stand in for sales, something that was pointed out a lot at the time when 4e players were bragging about the 4e PHB and Core Sets high Amazon ranks. At the end of the year, Amazon puts out some bestseller figures for the full year that are useful to put things in perspective (where a book peaks, how long it is on the list, etc.).

    And I stand by the niche comment. A game that is a spin off of a previous edition of D&D is definitely going to be shooting for a niche. It’s not going to grab a majority share of even 3e/3.5 players. Clearly Pathfinder is having a successful release, and that’s great for the hobby, but a snap of realism seems to be in order from some of the hype. I’m not some hater or anything, I plan to pick up the .pdf in the next few days (when things “calm down”) and I was explaining the same thing about Amazon sales ranks (they describe them as “snapshots” of sales) when people were going nuts about 4es numbers. Companies don’t tend to release figures, just hints and positive statements, and comparing results is pretty meaningless. You don’t need to know how well it sold compared to 3e and 4e. Good indicators are Con interest, game tables at Cons and gaming events, interest from the rpg blogosphere, etc. If people are playing it and the fans are happy with it, that’s enough.

    Comment by Thas — 14 August 2009 @ 12:27

  6. Amazon.com

    That’s not much of a citation. I’ve looked, and I’ve even asked Amazon, and haven’t gotten any official indication of how bestsellers are tracked.

    I just said the Amazon sales rank is not a very good stand in for sales, something that was pointed out a lot at the time when 4e players were bragging about the 4e PHB and Core Sets high Amazon ranks.

    It’s an indication that PRPG is selling well. That was my point. It’s not like I was trying to suggest it was the best selling RPG ever. What’s your problem with that?

    And I stand by the niche comment. A game that is a spin off of a previous edition of D&D is definitely going to be shooting for a niche.

    That doesn’t necessarily follow. Something that may seem targeted at a niche can easily break out of the niche and become a major player in the market; that’s how D&D became popular in the first place, spinning off from tactical miniatures games.

    It’s not going to grab a majority share of even 3e/3.5 players.

    I have yet to meet a 3E player that doesn’t find Pathfinder RPG more interesting than sitting on old books. The few (and noisy) examples that I’ve run across online come across as exceptions rather than the rule.

    It’s not exactly a scientific measure, but anecdotal evidence is probably all the evidence we have right now. Give it a year before you start making predictions about the impending doom of PRPG.

    You don’t need to know how well it sold compared to 3e and 4e. Good indicators are Con interest, game tables at Cons and gaming events, interest from the rpg blogosphere, etc.

    PRPG is getting all of that in spades, judging by what I’ve seen (to say nothing of the fact the first print run basically sold out three weeks before release date).

    It’s funny how this entire discussion seems to have come up because you took my enthusiasm about Pathfinder’s success as some kind of claim that it’s poised to take over the entire RPG industry. Of course, my statements were categorically nothing to that effect. The fact you treat it that way really makes it seem like you’ve got some kind of axe to grind.

    Comment by apotheon — 14 August 2009 @ 03:03

  7. […] night before last, I had a dream that was, I swear, just an excellent Pathfinder RPG session in which the PCs were being pursued by evil NPCs. The imagery of it was as though I was […]

    Pingback by Chad Perrin: SOB » Passive Skill Checks, Consistency, and Taking 10 — 27 September 2009 @ 09:51

  8. For the record: It’s now the 9th of December, nearly half a year after release, and Pathfinder is still no. 1 on amazon’s RPG bestseller list. Looks like it really did break out of that niche, no?

    Comment by Somebody Else — 9 December 2009 @ 12:55

  9. Well . . . a third of a year, really. You’re right, though; it doesn’t look like PRPG is doomed after all.

    I think Paizo’s Adventure Paths will be critical to PRPG’s success. Those things are most excellent — among the best modules I’ve seen in close to three decades of gaming.

    Comment by apotheon — 9 December 2009 @ 01:06

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License