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Paizo: Overworked?


Paizo General Discussion

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Why one might think so:

1) No updates to the PRD in over a year. Paizo is of course under no obligation to update the PRD. But they updated it very regularly for, what, seven years? But in the last year and a half it's just stopped.

2) Pathfinder Tales seems to be either dead or very dormant. The only news is that maybe there'll be some news in January.

3) The module line is not dead, but has had massive unexplained delays. Originally one module was supposed to be skipped because of Starfinder. Now it looks like at least four will be skipped. The next is not expected until (maybe) November 2018.

4) RPG Superstar, R.I.P. -- it's gone and it's not coming back. It was a huge time sink, fair enough. But it lasted nine years and then got the axe right around the time this other stuff started happening.

5) Playtesting in some recent products seems to have been a bit uneven. No disrespect. But new classes do not usually produce literally hundreds of unhappy posts in their first few weeks.

6) "Ask [Paizo staffer] all your questions!" threads: over the last year, they've dried up and disappeared.

7) Several high-profile departures in the last year and a bit. All friendly, which is great. But that's a lot of experience, both technical and managerial, that's walked out the door. There's been no word of staff increases or new hires to compensate.

8) Speaking of which, clicking on the "jobs" tab shows a number of job postings that don't seem to have been filled, going back all the way to May.

9) Meanwhile -- as Paizo staff freely acknowledge -- they have dramatically increased their workload with the Starfinder rollout. (Probably this one should be at the top of the list.)

Respect to Paizo: they've generally been a well run business in an industry that really, really needs well run businesses. But if you have a major new product launch at the same time as you've lost some senior people, and you don't expand staff, presumably something has to give. This isn't meant to be a criticism. Paizo is a key part of this industry. We all really want it to stay healthy and productive. Meanwhile, if you are in fact overworked, there's not a lot we customers can do except send best wishes and hope things improve.

Doug M.

Silver Crusade

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You use the "we" word a lot, I'm curious what you mean by that.


In this case, long-time / regular customers. Not clear from context? Let me try a quick edit for clarity.

[Edit] Two uses of "we", one of which is "we customers".

Doug M.

Silver Crusade

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Oh, I got that from the context. It's just that I'm not sure if I'm fine with you projecting your personal concerns on some group that I happen to be in.

*checks his project-o-meter*

Welp, turns out I'm not fine. I've have had my share of "we, the people" or "all of us, concerned citizens/customers" on regular basis, so I usually shoot it down the moment it appears. Professional habits die hard. Sorry.

Grand Lodge

I have been very happy with the amount of content coming out! I've fallen in love with Starfinder after years of Pathfinder. I was hoping Paizo would come out with some re-purposed hard bound books associated with past Adventure Paths like how Rise of the Runelords book was made. Giantslayer, etc. would be lovely hard bound books!


Gorbacz wrote:
Oh, I got that from the context. It's just that I'm not sure if I'm fine with you projecting your personal concerns on some group that I happen to be in.

Fair enough. I will note, though, that none of these are new issues. People have been discussing them for a while. There are multiple threads on the PRD, Pathfinder Tales, the modules, and so forth.

I'm honestly not trying to project here. I could say "I" instead of "we", but that would suggest that I'm the only person noticing or thinking about these things. That doesn't seem right either.

I'm open to suggestions here.

Doug M.

Silver Crusade

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Of course you should say "I". You're a long-standing, respected member of the boards. You don't need some appeal to numbers to have your voice heard. And by the way, the above is a rare moment of me not being sarcastic. Mark your calendars.

The problem with appealing to numbers outside of one-way communication OR situations where you have 2 million people (or signatures) behind you is that you get adversity-fuelled contrarianists such as me challenging your tribal rhetoric, usually leading to semantic bickering or "MY WE IS BIGGER THAN YOUR WE" contests. Meanwhile, the point of the thread dies quietly in the corner.

On the merits: I'm pretty sure Paizo are overworked. They're a bunch of dedicated people who for some arcane reason did not switch industries to video games yet AND who are trying, heroically, to compete against 5E. They're cutting costs, focusing on stuff that has good ROI and conserving resources, which is likely the reason behind numbers 1, 2, 3, 4.

5 and 6 are the results of the community going increasingly toxic, lessening the usefulness of playtests and increasing the fatigue of anyone who is brave (it took me some thinking to find the right adjective here) enough to stick their head into post-2016 anonymous online "fanbase".

7 and 8 should be pretty obvious once you do some research on how much does pen and paper RPG industry pay compared to other creative gaming industries.

9 is something unarguable, but likely necessary in order to stay afloat and expand.


Well, it's kind of you to say so. And I see your point. Unfortunately the edit function has expired, so we'll just have to live with the wes on the OP.

Doug M.

Shadow Lodge

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Gorbacz wrote:
Of course you should say "I". You're a long-standing, respected member of the boards. You don't need some appeal to numbers to have your voice heard. And by the way, the above is a rare moment of me not being sarcastic. Mark your calendars.

Great, now I gotta clean up my drink.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I like to use 'some of us' as a way to imply that I'm not alone, but not imply that a particular person is part of the group I'm talking about.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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We expanded our staff more than 10% in 2017, and that isn't even counting some hires that will be coming onboard in January. And as you pointed out, we have additional open positions that will expand it even further.

Yes, some of those listings have been up a while, but there is not necessarily a 1:1 correlation between job postings and jobs. For example, the software developer posting from May has resulted in multiple hires already, but it's still up because we have one more opening to fill. Same deal with the editor posting (but with bigger numbers). The other postings, well, we're just being very picky about filling them.

But regardless of the number of employees we have, we're always trying to make sure we're maximizing the value of their efforts. Take RPG Superstar—it takes a lot of work to run that. Early on, the return we were getting out of it—the expansion of our writing talent pool—was high enough that we had several of our top people working on it. But over the years, it provided less and less return for our time invested, and eventually, we decided it was on the wrong side of that equation, so we needed to stop doing it.

(The state of Pathfinder Tales, on the other hand, has nothing to do with employee workload; it's just about finding the right partner, who may not actually exist.)

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

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I'd be interested in seeing an industry in America in 2017 that doesn't overwork its employees. Without getting into potentially political discussions of macroeconomics, wage stagnation, and the benefits of more robust mandatory benefits, claiming that an American company or industry involves an overloaded workforce seems like a pretty easy conclusion to draw. It's been pretty well documented in many, many industries for almost two decades now.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
I'd be interested in seeing an industry in America in 2017 that doesn't overwork its employees. Without getting into potentially political discussions of macroeconomics, wage stagnation, and the benefits of more robust mandatory benefits, claiming that an American company or industry involves an overloaded workforce seems like a pretty easy conclusion to draw. It's been pretty well documented in many, many industries for almost two decades now.

But in two decades, you'll all be millionaires! Right? Right?!

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
I'd be interested in seeing an industry in America in 2017 that doesn't overwork its employees. Without getting into potentially political discussions of macroeconomics, wage stagnation, and the benefits of more robust mandatory benefits, claiming that an American company or industry involves an overloaded workforce seems like a pretty easy conclusion to draw. It's been pretty well documented in many, many industries for almost two decades now.
But in two decades, you'll all be millionaires! Right? Right?!

That's a pretty good estimate for my industry. ;)

-Skeld

Lantern Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Maybe except for scandinavia, that seems globaly true.

In 2 decades we might have bottlecap millionaires should things continue the way they are :P

Dark Archive

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Skeld wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
I'd be interested in seeing an industry in America in 2017 that doesn't overwork its employees. Without getting into potentially political discussions of macroeconomics, wage stagnation, and the benefits of more robust mandatory benefits, claiming that an American company or industry involves an overloaded workforce seems like a pretty easy conclusion to draw. It's been pretty well documented in many, many industries for almost two decades now.
But in two decades, you'll all be millionaires! Right? Right?!

That's a pretty good estimate for my industry. ;)

-Skeld

One word:

Organize

Grand Lodge

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Leg o' Lamb wrote:
Skeld wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
I'd be interested in seeing an industry in America in 2017 that doesn't overwork its employees. Without getting into potentially political discussions of macroeconomics, wage stagnation, and the benefits of more robust mandatory benefits, claiming that an American company or industry involves an overloaded workforce seems like a pretty easy conclusion to draw. It's been pretty well documented in many, many industries for almost two decades now.
But in two decades, you'll all be millionaires! Right? Right?!

That's a pretty good estimate for my industry. ;)

-Skeld

One word:

Organize

No thanks. I live in Korvosa.

-Skeld


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
TOZ wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Of course you should say "I". You're a long-standing, respected member of the boards. You don't need some appeal to numbers to have your voice heard. And by the way, the above is a rare moment of me not being sarcastic. Mark your calendars.
Great, now I gotta clean up my drink.

Did you debeverage, TOZ? I certainly did. :)


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OP here. Paizo is a small, closely held company and I have the impression that many employees stay there for a long time. There's no rumors swirling around the industry about Paizo being a horrible place to work, there are no disgruntled former employees writing nasty blog posts, and the only people complaining about them on Glassdoor are freelance artists. (Which is not to denigrate the complaints of freelancers! I've been one myself. But when only one category of people is complaining, that suggests a particular issue rather than a systemic problem.) So, I don't think they're exploiting their employees. I do worry that something or some combination of things -- the Starfinder rollout, departures, changes in the industry, whatever -- may have left them unable to do all the things, or do all the things well. This concerns me because I selfishly want a healthy Paizo that will continue to produce interesting, high-quality products for me to buy and play with.

(If I could still edit the OP, I'd remove RPG Superstar, since fair enough -- the "no longer worth the trouble" argument is totally reasonable. Other hand, I'd add the slowdown in Golarion content, which was pointed out to me after I posted.)

Doug M.

Lantern Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Skeld wrote:


No thanks. I live in Korvosa.

-Skeld

Hmm, I am trying to figure out who is the Queen ...

Grand Lodge

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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
...there are no disgruntled former employees writing nasty blog posts...

I think Twitter is the fashionable place to vent yout Paizo hate these days, considering most of the major uproars recently have come from there.

justaworm wrote:
Skeld wrote:


No thanks. I live in Korvosa.

-Skeld

Hmm, I am trying to figure out who is the Queen ...

I dunno, but my kids a definately mischeivious, little sewer goblins.

-Skeld


This thread will accomplish nothing except stir gossip.


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Stir gossip should be a witch (cauldron) hex.


Slaadish Chef wrote:
Stir gossip should be a witch (cauldron) hex.

For an intrigue-based witch.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Stir Gossip (Su): You can brew a specially prepared vial contained a whispered rumor or piece of gossip. At any time, you can unstopper the vial, releasing the gossip aloud and allowing you to track the rumor as the rumormonger spell. You can have one rumor prepared in this way at any given time.


Is there a magic wand that acts like a hex to do this? Maybe even a magic cauldron?

Scarab Sages

Mark Seifter wrote:
Stir Gossip (Su): You can brew a specially prepared vial contained a whispered rumor or piece of gossip. At any time, you can unstopper the vial, releasing the gossip aloud and allowing you to track the rumor as the rumormonger spell. You can have one rumor prepared in this way at any given time.

A Player Companion centered on hexes would be amazing. Some magic items to support them, maybe some archetypes that give limited hexes to other classes. Bunch of additional hexes, maybe in themes like this one is really intrigue based.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
justaworm wrote:
Skeld wrote:


No thanks. I live in Korvosa.

-Skeld

Hmm, I am trying to figure out who is the Queen ...

There's only one queen that matters.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Elvanna, Witch queen, Ski Bunny wrote:
justaworm wrote:
Skeld wrote:


No thanks. I live in Korvosa.

-Skeld

Hmm, I am trying to figure out who is the Queen ...
There's only one queen that matters.

Oh yeah! Bring it on b&+@#!!

Grand Lodge

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I'm glad to see, in typical Paizo forum community fashion, no one is taking this particularly seriously.

-Skeld


Sure I am, this is me being serious.


Abby Thrune, Despot wrote:
Elvanna, Witch queen, Ski Bunny wrote:
justaworm wrote:
Skeld wrote:


No thanks. I live in Korvosa.

-Skeld

Hmm, I am trying to figure out who is the Queen ...
There's only one queen that matters.
Oh yeah! Bring it on b+!@#!!

Dear me, is this a popularity brawl! without me!

Kermie, please hold my bag.

Hiiiiiiyaaaaaaa!!!


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
This concerns me because I selfishly want a healthy Paizo that will continue to produce interesting, high-quality products for me to buy and play with.

From what I see, Paizo was quite capable of adapting so far. I noticed the frequency of Player Companions and Campaign Settings going down lately, but despite a bit of disappointment: It shows they don't desperately cling to strategies they once made up, but adapt instead.

Of course, each change has the risk of alienating some customers, but without change in a changing market you lose way more. And changes like 'big campaign setting books now are part of the RPG line' might even keep customers interested and lead to new ones.

When it comes to the actual products, I don't see any positive or negative tendency when it comes to the content. There were always some gems (like the latest First World Campaign Setting book), a lot of average books and some letdowns. Art and layout are a different story, they improved significantly over time. For example Hell's Vengeance wasn't my cup of tea, but heck, already the Player's Guide was beautiful.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Was Pathfinder Tales a loss maker when it was in house?

If not, it seems like it would be better to keep the line healthy while looking for partners. No?


GeraintElberion wrote:

Was Pathfinder Tales a loss maker when it was in house?

If not, it seems like it would be better to keep the line healthy while looking for partners. No?

I feel like I should ask what happened - I was just getting *really* into the tales line when they changed format and prices which made me drop all interest 100% (I just don't like the 'larger to charge more' format) - are they going back to a normal paperback size?


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Ckorik wrote:
GeraintElberion wrote:

Was Pathfinder Tales a loss maker when it was in house?

If not, it seems like it would be better to keep the line healthy while looking for partners. No?

I feel like I should ask what happened

Their partnership with Tor ended, for reasons that I don't believe have been made public, and they are actively searching for another partner to publish the line. They say they have completed manuscripts ready to go as soon as they can reach an agreement with a publishing firm.


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GeraintElberion wrote:
Was Pathfinder Tales a loss maker when it was in house?

James Sutter on the reasoning for partnering with Tor in the first place:

James Sutter wrote:
flash_cxxi wrote:
What was wrong exactly with the original way of doing it that necessitated the need to partner with TOR?
The problem is that we're fundamentally a game company, not a fiction publisher, and that hurts us a lot when it comes to getting books in stores and marketing them to the public. A big publishing partner offers a lot of benefits: they can negotiate from a place of greater strength with printers/book buyers/etc., they've got a lot more people devoted to marketing, they've got a lot more money to throw around, etc. Even just having a partner helping pay for the production of the books takes a lot of the risk and strain off of us. But the real hope is that by partnering with a big company, we can get the books in front of folks who would otherwise never know about them, and expand the brand beyond just the folks who are already hardcore fans.

Also, this:

James Sutter wrote:

One of the big plusses of this deal is that we can finally, *finally* get the books on Kindle, which folks have been asking for on these threads forever.

....

When we started Pathfinder Tales, we chose mass market because it seemed like the default, and because it's what we all had such fond memories of—certainly when I was a kid, most of what I owned were mass-market paperbacks. But the market has changed since I was a kid. More and more publishers are moving to trade paperback because you simply can't make money on print unless you're publishing an increasingly small list of Big Names. If we were starting Pathfinder Tales now, there would be no question that we'd go trade paperback.

The changes—the price bumps, the new size, the partnership with Tor, being able to sell on Kindle—are necessary to help the line grow and thrive. We need the books to be a competitive price and sell more copies so that we can do right by our authors, our game, and our partners.


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I actually have wondered if Paizo should be hiring more people. It's a successful company, but instead of putting more investment in community management (a stronger moderation team is badly needed), they expect a small number of employees (1.5, at last count) to handle it all on their own. I wouldn't be surprised if that policy was applied to other aspects of Paizo's management, but I'd be interested in hearing from those who know better on the matter. Of course, it's hard to ask "Does this company treat its employees well?" and expect a really honest response. Employees can't answer, ex-employees have their careers to worry about, and the company itself is not an unbiased source.

I get that people are taking the s&~# out of the OP, but there might be a valid question here. I appreciate Mark's and Vic's answers on the subject.


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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
OP here. Paizo is a small, closely held company and I have the impression that many employees stay there for a long time. There's no rumors swirling around the industry about Paizo being a horrible place to work, there are no disgruntled former employees writing nasty blog posts

In the interests of ethical discourse: Jessica Price has vocally called out Paizo for its suppression of sexual harassment victims. We had a whole four-page locked thread about it. So this isn't entirely true.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
OP here. Paizo is a small, closely held company and I have the impression that many employees stay there for a long time. There's no rumors swirling around the industry about Paizo being a horrible place to work, there are no disgruntled former employees writing nasty blog posts
In the interests of ethical discourse: Jessica Price has vocally called out Paizo for its suppression of sexual harassment victims. We had a whole four-page locked thread about it. So this isn't entirely true.

Ever heard of disgruntled, freshly-fired employees taking it to the Internet to enact revenge for being fired?


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Gorbacz wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
OP here. Paizo is a small, closely held company and I have the impression that many employees stay there for a long time. There's no rumors swirling around the industry about Paizo being a horrible place to work, there are no disgruntled former employees writing nasty blog posts
In the interests of ethical discourse: Jessica Price has vocally called out Paizo for its suppression of sexual harassment victims. We had a whole four-page locked thread about it. So this isn't entirely true.

Ever heard of disgruntled, freshly-fired employees taking it to the Internet to enact revenge for being fired?

I expected better of you, Gorbacz.

Silver Crusade

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Better of what? Not presenting hypothetical scenarios? Well, if that wasn't clear enough, that's how I earn my living, so it kind of sticks around. If there's anything I can be sorry about, it's for not fitting into the template.

And maybe for the deficit of empathy. But hey, I get to help evil people get away with horrible things. For money! Guilt trips don't really faze me, that goes with the job.

Dark Archive

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Gorbacz wrote:


Ever heard of disgruntled, freshly-fired employees taking it to the Internet to enact revenge for being fired?

Weirdly enough, I heard the parting was amicable and reasonable and very much NOT a 'firing'. Perhaps there is something that was missed, then?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:


Ever heard of disgruntled, freshly-fired employees taking it to the Internet to enact revenge for being fired?
Weirdly enough, I heard the parting was amicable and reasonable and very much NOT a 'firing'. Perhaps there is something that was missed, then?

I did not, at any point, point to how Jessica and Paizo parted their ways.

But you seem to be more in the know than I do. Amicable and reasonable, any sources for that? I mean, I'm bloody curious myself.


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:


Ever heard of disgruntled, freshly-fired employees taking it to the Internet to enact revenge for being fired?
Weirdly enough, I heard the parting was amicable and reasonable and very much NOT a 'firing'. Perhaps there is something that was missed, then?

Jessica has indicated she left of her own free will, albeit possibly as a consequence (at least in part) of her frustration with Paizo*. Regardless, she was not "fired", and I honestly am forced to doubt that we'd be assuming this was just a hysterical and vengeful ex-employee if it was a male employee we were discussing.

And if she was out for revenge, she wouldn't be mentioning this sort of thing as an aside as part of broader discourse—she'd be writing angry essays about it. She has referenced problems in Paizo's management bluntly, yes, but strategically, as part of a larger conversation on sexual harassment and corporate sponsorship thereof.

*I say "possibly" and "in part" because it is speculation on my part—I don't remember if she confirmed that this was the reason.


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Here are some citations, though we're drifting off-topic. I just don't like misinformation floating around. Sometimes we get in the habit of seeing Paizo through rose-tinted glasses—I regret to say I have lost that ability. To loosely paraphrase Dumbing of Age, "The more I look back at my childhood home, the less I like it."

Complaints about harassment being discouraged.

Continuing to regard Paizo in ill favor (and Paizo shutting her down when she tried to make a difference).

Jessica Price wanting Paizo to "clean up its act" (and expounding on the culture that dismissed requests for improvement).

It should be remembered that in spite of ultimately being owned by a woman, and employing lots of women and queer people on the lower echelons, Paizo is largely dominated by a certain demographic. Most of the "beloved figures" (James Jacobs, Erik Mona, etc.) are old white male gamers.

Silver Crusade

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Sure, KC, it's down to you being an empathetical, side-with-the-weaker-ones person and giving Jessica a rather wide benefit of doubt and me, being a heartless shark, not giving it at all. The chances that we'll convince each other are pretty close to zero, so all I wanted is to make sure that my contrarian point of view keeps being floated.


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cool.

Anyways, another important angle to this is that Price has left the tabletop games industry. She is in the unique position of being able to afford to discuss what's been going on. There are very, very few ex-employees who get that special luxury.

To be frank, I see no reason to give Paizo the benefit of the doubt. The burden of proof that Paizo is actually the one good company run by old white dudes that isn't toxic towards its minority employees rests moreso on Paizo's shoulders, I think—cultural patterns would suggest Jessica is more likely to be telling the truth. She doesn't really gain anything from weaving a web of lies about Paizo, whereas Paizo gets to protect its branding by ignoring and dismissing her complaints.

What a lot of people missed about Lisa Stevens's very powerful apology at the end of that thread was that it wasn't really an apology at all. It actually took the form of a denial. A fairly standard corporate denial, in fact—"We understand your concerns and have always addressed these matters with the utmost sensitivity."


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Back on the original topic, I am very glad to see Paizo hiring developers, because if there is one area that desperately needs attention, it's the web site. As I see it, the key issues are:

1) Uptime problems. Paizo's site is down much too often. Every moment of downtime is a moment when that all-important "Place My Order" button is unavailable. Downtime is lost money and annoyed customers. Keeping the site live and functioning normally is priority number 1.

2) Usability. There are many areas in which the usability of the site could be improved. Of these, the checkout procedure is probably the most important. As it stands, checking out is awkward at best, and downright confusing at worst. I wrote up some usability feedback on the checkout process a year and a half ago now; I repost it here in the hopes that it may be useful. But the gist of it is, checking out needs to be as smooth and intuitive a process as humanly possible. Difficulty translates directly into lost sales, as every delay or point of confusion gives customers another opportunity to reconsider their purchase.

3) Design. Paizo's print publications range from merely attractive to gloriously beautiful. I would go so far as to argue that Paizo's dedication to high production values has raised the standards for the entire RPG industry. By comparison, the web site looks poor. The design has changed little in the last decade, rendering it dated and clunky. The complete lack of support for mobile devices on the main site is a serious mark against it these days. (Note: I give full credit for making the PRD mobile-friendly; that needed to happen, and I was very glad when it did!)

I have derived a great deal of enjoyment from Paizo's products over the years, and also from participating on these forums. Like any organization, Paizo has its share of problems and challenges. It is my sincere hope that they can work these out. I'm rooting for you, Paizo!

Short Addendum:
One, two, three, four ... crap, I wrote a five-paragraph essay. Suddenly it feels like I'm back in 8th grade. Nooooooooooooooooo!

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