Last month’s state of the RPG industry address by publisher Joseph Goodman invoked a lot of discussion.
At Kobold Quarterly, there’s a new interview with Joseph Goodman. Regarding his post in June:
“In order to establish that my opinion on 4E sales was qualified, I listed my credentials. Some readers interpreted that as a sign of arrogance. If I were to rewrite the post I would have been a little less forceful about the credentials, and more clear that I was listing them simply to establish the basis for my opinion.”
Particularly interesting is his perspective on 4E:
“Yes, itâ€™s a fun game, but I personally prefer earlier editions of D&D. Iâ€™m not really the target market for 4E. I also recognize that my personal preferences are not the way to run a business. Goodman Games will always publish old-school products because thatâ€™s the most fun for me, but itâ€™s 4E that pays the bills. Take the market for 1E and add a couple zeroes to get to the people who still play 3E, then add several more zeroes and youâ€™re up to the 4E market.”
Publisher James Mishler makes an interesting post titled The Doom of RPGs: The Rambling. James is pessimistic about 4E sales figures, and of RPG industry sales figures in general:
Back in the day, Judges Guild sold upward of 10,000 units on even a bad product, and 50,000+ units on a good one; today, unless you are Wizards of the Coast, White Wolf, and maybe Green Ronin, Goodman Games, Mongoose Publishing, or Steve Jackson Games, you are lucky to sell 1,000 units on a good product… very lucky. At the beginning of the d20 OGL run, sales of 10,000 units were not impossible; by the end, 1,000 units were the norm.
Paizo’s Erik Mona chimes in with a comment:
Part of the problem, here, is that you’re assuming that anyone can make any kind of money at all selling 1000 units of just about anything. I’m not sure that’s ever been true at any time in the history of the tabletop gaming industry, and it’s certainly not true now.
You’ve got to find a way to develop and audience for your product that is larger than 1000 potential sales. Every product Paizo produces, for example, must endure a rigorous cost/profit analysis before it gets the green light. Everything we do has realistic break-evens in the sub-2000 units category, and only extremely rarely does a product in our lineup not sell significantly more copies than that.