Chad Perrin: SOB

4 August 2009

Paizo News: Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook Sold Out!

Filed under: Geek,RPG — Tags: , , , , — apotheon @ 02:06

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

I got an email from Paizo today. I'm including the main text of the email here, but you can skip to the end to get the executive summary if you're lazy or have a short attention span.

Subject: "Paizo News: Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook Sold Out!"

The Golem's Got It!

Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook Sold Out! All Preordered Copies Now in Distribution Channel, New Print Run to Arrive in Early November

Ten days before the launch of their much-anticipated Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, Paizo Publishing today announced that the first print run of the book has sold out, with all preordered copies on their way to stores for an August 13 release. With preorders more than five times greater than for any previous product in Paizo's seven-year history, orders for the Core Rulebook continue to mount even as the company speeds to produce another print run. Paizo.com has retained enough copies to handle all paizo.com subscriptions and pre-orders. Customers who have not already placed a pre-order with paizo.com or their game or book retailer are encouraged to seek out a copy immediately following the book's retail release, as supplies are expected to run out well before the arrival of a second print run in early November.

"We thought we had printed enough to last us at least until the end of this year, but skyrocketing demand from our customers and distributors has us reprinting already," Lisa Stevens, CEO of Paizo said. "We have a healthy amount heading to Gen Con, but we think even those will go fast, so don't delay in picking up your copy!"

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is the first release in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game line of hardcover tabletop RPG rulebooks. Clocking in at a whopping 576 pages and at a weight of more than four pounds, this $49.99 rulebook is the newest incarnation of the 3.5 version of the world's best-selling roleplaying game. Playtested by more than 50,000 players over the last year, the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook is the most hotly anticipated tabletop RPG release of 2009. A massive electronic download file ($9.99) will remain available at paizo.com.

"The phenomenal support of the constantly growing community of Pathfinder RPG players has been a staggering sight to behold," said Paizo Publisher Erik Mona. "To sell out a hugely ambitious print run before the release date just goes to show what an immense audience this game will enjoy in the years to come."

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook can be found wherever gaming products are sold or can be purchased directly from Paizo Publishing http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/v5748btpy88yj&source=mailing via paizo.com.

Executive Summary

The book hasn't even been released yet and, aside from extra copies friendly local gaming stores may have ordered to stock their shelves and the copies Paizo plans to take to GenCon this month, they're all sold out. There'll be more available in November, apparently, after the second print run — but for now, if you want to get a copy of the book for yourself, you basically need to show up at your FLGS on 13 August and buy any copies they have on the shelves, show up at GenCon and be one of the first people in line at the Paizo booth, or go back in time and order one (or ask your FLGS to order it for you, as I suggested in Pathfinder RPG Preorder: It's time to reserve a copy.)

This is Good News (for me)

I hoped it would be popular. The more popular the game, the more likely it is to have more books available for it in the future — and I definitely want more books for Pathfinder RPG. Still, this is surprising news. I didn't think the first print run would be spoken for before the first book even shipped.

Luckily for me and the SigO, we reserved a copy at our FLGS and signed up for the Pathfinder RPG subscription (get core game materials as often as they're published, cancellable at any time) in time to get two copies of the game. We should have both of them on 13 August, the very day the game's officially released, including the PDF of the core book we get with the subscription.

If you don't get a copy this month, you should probably pre├Ârder a copy from the second printing as soon as the option becomes available, if you want one. Otherwise — maybe that'll sell out right away, too, and you'll miss it again. In the meantime, you can at least order a PDF for about $10.

2 July 2009

Pathfinder RPG Preorder: It's time to reserve a copy.

Filed under: Geek,RPG — Tags: , , , , — apotheon @ 11:47

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

I got an email today from Paizo about the impending release of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game that talks about how one can make sure one gets a copy of the game when it comes out. I've already signed up for a Pathfinder RPG Ongoing Subscription, which ensures that I get all the core game products as they are published, so the SigO and I will get one core gamebook this August already. We want two of them, though, so we're planning to buy a book elsewhere as well.

We took the advice in Paizo's email; I called a local store called Gryphon's Games and Comics to ask whether the people who manage the store were ordering any Pathfinder RPG core books for this August. As the Paizo email says, telling a local retailer before 13 July that you want the book gives them time to order it so they'll have it right away when the new book is released. I get the distinct impression that Paizo's basically saying "Tell your local retailers what you want in time for them to order from us so we know how many to print."

When I called Gryphon, the answers I got gave me the impression the people who run the store weren't planning on ordering any copies for the store. I was told they'd order one to hold for me, and they would give me a call when it came in so I could go pick it up, though. I sent an email to the mailing list I maintain for my local gaming group telling them all about this, forwarding the content of the Paizo email as well, so they can call Gryphon to reserve copies as well if they want to. Maybe, if enough people call the store to request copies, they'll decide they should order a few copies to put on the shelves too. How many is enough in a case like this — three? Four? Maybe the smart thing for them to do would be to order 1.5 times as many as people request. That'd be my guess.

I hope they get enough interest to decide to just start stocking Paizo/PRPG stuff in general. Wizards of the Coast could use the competition, especially considering that many people regard D&D 4E with profound disappointment.

Anyway . . . the following is the content of the email I got from Paizo:

With the August 13 release date for the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook approaching, I'm reaching out to ask for your help. While there's a little over a month until the book is released, we're just a few short weeks away from shipping the books to our distributors. Why is this important to you?

With today's difficult economy, retailers and distributors have generally cut back on the amount of inventory that they are carrying. So if you plan to buy your copy of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook from any place other than from Paizo, we ask that you inform your preferred retailer of your intention to buy from them before Monday, July 13, and encourage them to place an order with their distributor by that date. This will help ensure that their distributor will place an order with us, and that you'll have a book waiting for you on August 13. Nobody wants to see the distribution channel understocked on the Core Rulebook on the release date; restocks can take as long as two weeks to make their way through the distribution channel–and even longer internationally–so a retailer who sells out might not get more copies until September!

So if you're planning on buying from your favorite local game store, please talk to the owner before July 13 and let him know you intend to buy your copy of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook from him. If you're ordering online from a place other than paizo.com, please place your preorder by July 13 so they know how many copies to order. If we all work together, we can get the right number of books out there so that you can get a copy of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook from the retailer of your choice.

Those of you who are planning to subscribe to the Pathfinder RPG line or preorder the book directly from paizo.com have a bit longer: you should place your order or start your subscription with us before August 3 to ensure that your book will arrive as close to the release date as possible. (We're also planning to bring plenty of copies to Gen Con in Indianapolis.)

So please take the time to let the retail venue of your choice know about your desire to purchase the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook from them as soon as you can.

We also wanted to let you know that the PDF of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook will be available at paizo.com on August 13. We've priced it at just $9.99, which we hope allows those who want the book in both print and electronic form to feel that you can still support your favorite retailer and purchase the PDF without breaking your budget. (Of course, those who subscribe to the Pathfinder RPG line will get the PDF for free with your Core Rulebook.)

Finally, we'd like to let you know that Paizo is celebrating our 7th anniversary today, and we appreciate all the help that more than 52,000 of you provided by playtesting the Pathfinder RPG, and that even more of you have provided by supporting Paizo as a company with your purchases and friendship on our messageboards over the last seven years. Thanks!

I really like this game, this company, and the relationship the company maintains with its customer base. The production quality of Paizo books is amazing — even the "cheap" stuff is slick and fancy and feels high-quality in my hands, a welcome change from smearing-ink problems of some WotC publications and other cheap production quality from many other game publishers (don't even get me started on the crappy bindings on Steve Jackson Games books). The prices aren't exactly bargain-basement, but so far, the books are worth every penny — and then some. I want to support the company and the product lines I like; hopefully you'll do the same.

If you want to see the kind of stuff you can expect from the upcoming Pathfinder RPG, you can still download the free Beta test PDF of PRPG from the Paizo Website.

7 April 2009

What if D&D was more restrictive?

Filed under: Geek,Liberty,RPG — Tags: , , — apotheon @ 09:12

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

In What if 4E was open?, I discussed the business possibilities available to Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro via opening up the licensing for Dungeons & Dragons, 4th Edition. It was an idea that basically picked up where 6D6 Fireball's own What if 4e was free? left off.

The core premise of What if 4e was free? was essentially that, if you were in charge of 4E business strategy:

The best possible thing that you can do is give away ALL the 4e books as free, black & white only, PDFs.

The point of this would be that the availability of core books as free PDFs would serve as part of a loss leader marketing strategy. Loss leaders are things that are given away for free, or at least sold for below cost, because the losses can be made up via some related revenue stream that gains extra customers thanks to the loss leader. In short, a loss leader is what you get when you turn something that is traditionally a product into a marketing tool.

It may seem like a counterintuitive move for a for-profit business to make, but it actually makes perfect sense when you break everything down to a comparison of costs vs. revenue. Television commercials, booths at conventions, and advertising brochures all typically end up costing any but the very largest company a noticeable chunk of its marketing budget, and giving away a product as a loss leader is no different in this respect. Television commercials, booths at conventions, and advertising brochures all help to build awareness of, and interest in, revenue generating products and services; loss leaders are no different in this respect, either.

Calculating the relative value of the costs for marketing efforts (including loss leaders), lost revenues for loss leaders that could otherwise have generated their own profits, and the long-term profit boosts for other revenue streams that are gained through those marketing efforts is what makes the difference between one marketing strategy and another. Any time a potential marketing strategy yields benefits that exceed its costs significantly, it's worth considering, and there's a decent chance that in the long run the loss leader strategy proposed by 6D6 Fireball would meet those criteria, especially when WotC/Hasbro has already done so much to damage its image in the RPG industry in the last year or so.

In What if 4E was open? I discussed the idea of making 4E open, rather than free; of opening up the licensing, as an alternative to giving the core game away for free. Overall, I think this would generate a greater quantity of goodwill and word of mouth marketing amongst players. Even if, in direct consequence of such a strategy, it only matched the goodwill and popularity that could be generated by free distribution without open licensing, it would generate far greater marketing benefits by way of ensuring that third-party publishers had a way to generate their own profits by effectively marketing D&D for WotC/Hasbro, free of charge.

WotC/Hasbro has decided to take a different approach, however. Instead of building further goodwill with both players and third-party publishers, it has continued its current trend of pissing off everyone it possibly can. As if the obviously punitive, anticompetitive intent of the 4E GSL were not off-putting enough, WotC has demanded that all third-party distributors of WotC PDFs cease selling them.

The first I heard of it was when my SigO told me this morning she had gotten an email from Paizo (publishers of the upcoming Pathfinder RPG, already available as a free beta test PDF) announcing the cessation of WotC PDF sales in the company's online store. Of course, I got the same email, so when I checked my email this morning I got the following message from Paizo myself:

Dear Chad,

Wizards of the Coast has notified us that we may no longer sell or distribute their PDF products. Accordingly, after April 6 at 11:59 PM Pacific time, Wizards of the Coast PDFs will no longer be available for purchase on paizo.com; after noon on April 7, you will no longer be able to download Wizards of the Coast PDFs that you have already purchased, so please make sure you have downloaded all purchased PDFs by that time.

We thank you for your patronage of paizo.com. Please check out our other downloads at paizo.com/store/downloads.

Sincerely yours,
The Paizo Customer Service Team

(Meanwhile, Paizo will continue offering free PDF downloads of the beta test version of Pathfinder RPG, at least until the final release version becomes available this August — and after that point, it'll still be licensed under the terms of the OGL, and they've stated they'll offer an SRD containing all OGL materials from the core game for free, too. It's paying off for Paizo, which has seen sales rate increases and huge increases in goodwill amongst gamers, building a loyal community of fans.)

This is a very puzzling move by the purveyors of the D&D brand, from the perspective of someone looking for the good business sense in it. WotC/Hasbro derived nontrivial profits from PDF sales through third party distributors, and because of the lower price to players for PDFs as opposed to hardcopy books, at least some minimal part of the sort of benefit proposed at 6D6 Fireball could be had.

James Mishler at Adventures in Gaming addressed this move by WotC in Wizards cuts OBS Loose?!?. In comments, someone named Scott reveals that "A WotC rep has posted on their forum that the change is a response to illegal file sharing." In another comment, Jeff Rients (yes, that Jeff Rients, of the much ballyhooed Threefold Model of gaming) succinctly summed up the stupidity of such a move in two sentences:

So in response to piracy they're going to make sure the only way I can get a PDF copy is by piracy? That's pure fucking genius, right there.

In fact, the comments are the best part of the Adventures in Gaming posting, and worth reading, because of the demonstration of the effect WotC/Hasbro's actions are having on its popularity amongst gamers and game developers among other reasons.

Jeff Rients has his own Weblog post about this move by WotC/Hasbro and its "piracy" reasoning, titled It's a visceral reaction. It's short and sweet — and I'm coincidentally wearing a t-shirt with that picture on it right now. It's a very appropriate picture, considering Johnny Cash (the angry gentleman in the photo) used it as a billboard ad campaign for his independent label, and the gesture was aimed at the major players in the record industry who (like WotC/Hasbro) set out to punish all customers for supposed transgressions by a few, to screw over symbiotic businesses, and to really hose its content producers.

I'll close this with a quote from Bandit Country's Who Owns?, yet another reaction to WotC/Hasbro's latest antisocial move:

A number of connected issues have come to the fore. At what point does the game you play become your own? Where is the transition from purchased (or pirated) product to private play? Who Owns?

You do.

Game on, friends. Don't let "the man" keep you down.

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