Paizo Update on COVID-19 from Lisa, Part 3

Friday, April 3, 2020

I wasn’t planning to hit you with a weekly update when I started these, but things keep changing so quickly and new information is reaching us almost daily, that I felt that you needed an update, especially with our new April products scheduled to release in a few weeks.

As many of you are probably aware, various shutdowns of nonessential businesses across the world have left many brick and mortar hobby game stores and bookstores closed for an indefinite period of time. Some stores are still open, while others have pivoted to online sales, doing curbside pick-up, or even hand-delivering game products to customer’s homes! If your local stores are finding creative ways to get our products into your hands, please support them in these tough times!

However, the temporary shutdown of many of these stores, as well as local shutdowns of nonessential businesses, has forced most of our distribution partners to close their operations temporarily. This means that most won’t be ordering our new releases when they come out at the end of April unless things improve before then. For the last three weeks, Amazon has stopped all restocks of nonessential items to give their warehouses the opportunity to provide their customers with essential products to get through this pandemic. To complicate matters, even when Amazon starts restocking our products, the distributor which sells to them for us has been shut down for who knows how long.

The long and short of all of this is that it may be difficult for you to find our new products while traditional distribution is mostly shut down. We are hopeful about being able to open up our warehouse to start shipping products in a week or two if the local situation continues to improve as it has lately (all while practicing safe social distancing). So with a bit of luck, we will be shipping all orders of new product in the second half of April, both for orders you placed through paizo.com and for distributors and retailers that remain open. Hobby game stores can also buy directly from us by registering their store at Paizo.com/retailers.

If you are interested in any of our new April products, then please reach out to your local hobby game store to see if they will be stocking them. Paizo ships our e-commerce all over the world, so if we are open to ship, then that is also an option for you. And finally, for those that are interested in PDF versions of our April releases, those should be available at the end of the month as usual.

April New Releases

PZO2217 Pathfinder Chase Cards
PZO90154 Pathfinder Adventure Path #154: Siege of the Dinosaurs
PZO30106 Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Bigger Ancient Dungeon
PZO7416 Starfinder: Attack of the Swarm! Pawn Collection
PZO7227 Starfinder Adventure Path #27: Deceiver’s Moon

Hopefully this information helps you track down our new April products. Remember that the situation is fluid and some channels that are closed now might reopen, so keep in touch with your FLGS. Feel free to ask in our Customer Service Forums on paizo.com and we will do our best to help you figure things out.

Once again, thanks for your continued amazing support. I know our staff appreciates it! Stay safe.

Lisa Stevens
CEO, Paizo Inc.

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Grand Lodge

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Safety of everyone first for sure. I really hope we don't lose any hobby shops of this.

That said, if this does go on for a while could subscribers be billed for their pending releases, have their PDFs fulfilled, and then just know the physical copy will be shipped when it is possible to do so?

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

I had assumed that this wouldn't impact the timeline for Chapter 1 of the Starfinder Alexa adventure, but I'm still waiting for it to drop. Any idea whether the delay is virus-related, or if it's just a case of the last 10% of the development taking 90% of the time?

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Also, another reminder. Stay at Home in Washington has been extended to EoD of Star Wars Day (May 4th).

Paizo Employee CEO

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Cigaran wrote:

Safety of everyone first for sure. I really hope we don't lose any hobby shops of this.

That said, if this does go on for a while could subscribers be billed for their pending releases, have their PDFs fulfilled, and then just know the physical copy will be shipped when it is possible to do so?

We will evaluate all options if the closing of our warehouse extends too much longer, but right now, we "think" we should be able to open up physical shipping. But as I say in my post, things change daily so right now we just wait and watch.

-Lisa

Paizo Employee CEO

8 people marked this as a favorite.
Tamago wrote:
I had assumed that this wouldn't impact the timeline for Chapter 1 of the Starfinder Alexa adventure, but I'm still waiting for it to drop. Any idea whether the delay is virus-related, or if it's just a case of the last 10% of the development taking 90% of the time?

If you are talking about the Alexa Starfinder adventure from Amazon, my understanding is that the delays are about making the product better. They received a ton of feedback from the early testing and are fixing areas people were having trouble with to make the experience smoother. There may be some issues with having voice over actors getting into studios, but most of the work can be done remotely I believe.

-Lisa

Paizo Employee CEO

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Mystical Seeker wrote:
Also, another reminder. Stay at Home in Washington has been extended to EoD of Star Wars Day (May 4th).

Yep, I was aware of that when I was writing my post.

-Lisa

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Tamago wrote:
I had assumed that this wouldn't impact the timeline for Chapter 1 of the Starfinder Alexa adventure, but I'm still waiting for it to drop. Any idea whether the delay is virus-related, or if it's just a case of the last 10% of the development taking 90% of the time?

Oh, we have a Starfinder on Alexa update blog scheduled at the end of next week. A lot is going on! You can play the free pilot with two new characters—now. And the Audible Studios are in NYC, so that's a slow down. We all will need some patience, but it is getting fancier. More from Amanda next week. :)

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Aaron Shanks wrote:
Tamago wrote:
I had assumed that this wouldn't impact the timeline for Chapter 1 of the Starfinder Alexa adventure, but I'm still waiting for it to drop. Any idea whether the delay is virus-related, or if it's just a case of the last 10% of the development taking 90% of the time?
Oh, we have a Starfinder on Alexa update blog scheduled at the end of next week. A lot is going on! You can play the free pilot with two new characters—now. And the Audible Studios are in NYC, so that's a slow down. We all will need some patience, but it is getting fancier. More from Amanda next week. :)

Sweet, thanks for the update! :D

I hadn't realized that they were using Audible studios, but that does make a lot of sense. Hopefully they can work around it!

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Should the date of this post be Friday, April 3, 2020 instead of Friday, March 3, 2020?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Lisa Stevens wrote:
Cigaran wrote:

Safety of everyone first for sure. I really hope we don't lose any hobby shops of this.

That said, if this does go on for a while could subscribers be billed for their pending releases, have their PDFs fulfilled, and then just know the physical copy will be shipped when it is possible to do so?

We will evaluate all options if the closing of our warehouse extends too much longer, but right now, we "think" we should be able to open up physical shipping. But as I say in my post, things change daily so right now we just wait and watch.

-Lisa

Understood and thanks for the reply. Stay safe and stay healthy!

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

Marc Radle wrote:

Should the date of this post be Friday, April 3, 2020 instead of Friday, March 3, 2020?

On it. Thanks.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Thank you for giving us this update. I really appreciate Paizo's willingness to put this information forward and keep lines of communication open. Y'all are a wonderful company. I'm sorry to hear that distribution channels are shut down at the moment. I hope that your employees are safe and that you are able to resume operations with a minimum of headaches for them and for Paizo when it's safe for them to return to work.


Unfortunately, it seems very likely we will have to settle for PDFs for several months to come, assuming Paizo can still produce the content (despite not getting any physical sales).

This is not going to go away in mere weeks.

Best Regards,
Zapp


...there's a THIRD one?


I wouldn't worry about Paizo too much. PDF sale might not be the biggest pillar their business is based on, but it's an already established pillar (server, website and offers exist) and it can scale relatively easy. I am pretty sure some people will increase PDF usage - question is just how many.

If they get into financial problems, there are still a few options. Patreon comes to my mind, also an old-fashioned investor. These options create their own problems, of course, but at least they exist. Finally, even if the company breaks down (which would be a real loss), it's totally possible that the hard core keeps going, albeit at a much smaller scale. Can't say much about the smaller companies out there.

Things might look grim now, but actually it could turn out well for Paizo and the hobby: New players and GMs as well as people more used to PDFs. I totally get if someone is not in the mood for such thoughts, though...


1 person marked this as a favorite.
SheepishEidolon wrote:

I wouldn't worry about Paizo too much. PDF sale might not be the biggest pillar their business is based on, but it's an already established pillar (server, website and offers exist) and it can scale relatively easy. I am pretty sure some people will increase PDF usage - question is just how many.

If they get into financial problems, there are still a few options. Patreon comes to my mind, also an old-fashioned investor. These options create their own problems, of course, but at least they exist. Finally, even if the company breaks down (which would be a real loss), it's totally possible that the hard core keeps going, albeit at a much smaller scale. Can't say much about the smaller companies out there.

Things might look grim now, but actually it could turn out well for Paizo and the hobby: New players and GMs as well as people more used to PDFs. I totally get if someone is not in the mood for such thoughts, though...

A lot of the smaller companies are far more focused on digital rather than hardcopy distribution.

Still, I think the larger problem for most will be the general economic downturn, not so much the specifics of selling hardcopies.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition Subscriber

I've seen the idea floated around here a few times and I like it, that there could be an opt-in system for subscribers to pay as normal, get the PDFs as normal, and have physical books ship when they are actually available. Obviously there could be a lot of facets and complications to the concept, but I personally would rather keep the money I've set aside for Paizo to go to Paizo in a timely manner. I would much prefer to help keep the company and its employees intact with my business right now than to just wait and hope they'll be able to catch up to all their expected products.

Obviously that's not as good for brick and mortar (but what is actually good for brick and mortar right now?), and it's further a bit whiffy considering there might be massive delays or worse with the physical copy production side of things. Just throwing my vote out there.

And there is always a place for physical media. I understand if the company needs to cut down on overhead and start releasing things digital only... but I would be heartbroken. Especially if I had weird things like a forever-unfinished Extinction Curse AP sitting on my shelf. Anyways. Spork's opinions galore here.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
The only not cool thing is that playerbase's stubborn refusal to go digital and "my books are better than your phones" elitism has led to a dead-tree-dependant (and China-dependant) business model which is about to go belly up with Diamond/Alliance halting distribution and Amazon not shipping non-essential merchandise. So, if Paizo and others don't survive the next three months, one of the reasons for that will be people's insistence on paper over zeroes and ones. It will be ironic if this nostalgia-ridden fanbase will end up killing what they love with their nostalgia-driven choice of medium.

Friend, are you familiar with the idea of a "straight man" in comedy? The famous Abbott and Costello sketch "who's on first" is an excellent example of this. Basically, one guy is ordinary, plain, and unfunny... so that the other guy can do his thing (tell the punchline and be funny).

I quote you...

"count on me to provoke random people into getting salty about something that doesn't even refer to them."

Then what happened? I got salty about something that didn't even refer to me. I gave you an opportunity for comedy gold by being your straight man.

I'm going to to give you a do-over so you can do it right this time. Ready? Okay. Here we go...

Everything you're saying here upsets me, and I use PDFs frequently.

Liberty's Edge

6 people marked this as a favorite.

Attempted humor aside, I would counter that many more people just prefer print. I for example have nothing against PDFs or people that prefer them, but I vastly prefer print and would be very disappointed to see print go away in the RPG hobby.

It’s ironic that some refer to some sort of print elitism while at the same time espousing similar digital elitism ...

Bottom line is both PDP and print have an equal place in the hobby and in publishing in general.


Marc Radle wrote:
Bottom line is both PDF and print have an equal place in the hobby and in publishing in general.

Sure, but for the foreseeable future, its either PDF or nothing.

Shadow Lodge

10 people marked this as a favorite.
Beth Meacham, Editor at Tor Books wrote:

I want to talk for a minute about why publishing is in so much trouble right now. It's way more complicated than most people seem to think.

First, you need to know that the vast majority of our business remains in hardcover and paperback books. Hard copies, physical objects. The second strongest sector has been audio books. Ebooks are a distant third.

Selling books is a very long and complicated supply chain. Ignore editorial -- writers and editors can work at a distance and electronically. It really starts with the paper. Storing paper for the big presses takes an enormous amount of warehouse space, which costs money. Printers don't store a lot -- they rely on a "just in time" supply chain so that when a book is scheduled to go to press, the paper is delivered to the printer. Most of that paper is manufactured in China. Guess what isn't coming from China? Anything, for the last three months. Some of it comes from Canada. Guess what the Trump administration put a big tariff on at the beginning of the year?

So, we don't have adequate paper supplies. Then consider, big printing plants are not "essential businesses". There are only a couple printers in the US that can handle the book manufacturing business. One of them shut down last week. Covid-19. We started rescheduling books like mad to deal with that.

But supposing we had paper, and a printer and bindery, the books have to be shipped to the warehouse. Again, non-essential movement. The freight drivers moving books? Staying home, as they should. Not all of them. I hope they remain healthy, because dying to get the latest bestseller to the warehouse doesn't seem quite right to me.

Now then, our warehouse. We have a gigantic facility in Virginia. Lots of people are working there, bless them, but it's putting them at risk. There they are, filling orders, packing boxes, running invoices. Giving those boxes to the freight drivers who take the books to the bookstores and distributors. Again, truck drivers risking their lives to bring books to the bookstores.

But think again. The bookstores are closed. The distributors are closed . No place open to deliver the books to. Some bookstores are doing mail order business, bless them, but they aren't ordering very many books from our warehouse. Amazon isn't ordering very many, either -- because they have (correctly) stopped shipping books and are using their reduced staff to ship medical supplies and food.

So the books that distributors and sellers ordered months ago are not being printed or shipped or sold. And because of that, they aren't making any money. And because of THAT, they are not ordering any books for months from now. Plus they aren't paying for the books they got from us last month and the month before. Cash flow has ground to a halt.

Now, audio books....turns out that people mostly, almost 100%, listen to audio books while they commute to work. Sales of audio books collapsed about three weeks ago. Fortunately, there isn't a physical supply chain there, so theoretically that business can restart immediately upon resumption of commuting.

So given all the above, it's not a good time in the publishing industry. The damage is going to last for a long time, the effects will be felt for at least a year to come, even if we do go back to business as usual in May. Or June. Or July.....

Oh let's be real. We won't go back to business as usual until there is a real vaccine for this coronavirus.

Source.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Zapp wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
Bottom line is both PDF and print have an equal place in the hobby and in publishing in general.
Sure, but for the foreseeable future, its either PDF or nothing.

Weird how Lisa's blog says no such thing at all.


TOZ wrote:
Beth Meacham, Editor at Tor Books wrote:
So given all the above, it's not a good time in the publishing industry.

With respect, the publishing industry is not the only one. It's a Great Depression, and we can only hope there will still *be* ttrpg publishers a year from now.

Buying e-books (and PDFs) doesn't hurt, though.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for the update and best wishes to everyone at Paizo (and to all the gamers reading this, wherever you may be)!

It's weird to see what windmills people will choose to tilt at in times like this, isn't it? Probably a displacement activity.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Also, Beth Meacham's experiences are not universal. I publish my own audiobooks through Audible, and my sales are currently stronger than they were at this time last year.

Shadow Lodge

How are your print sales?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'd add the question of how many people are you employing.


TOZ wrote:
How are your print sales?

Crap, but my print sales have always been crap. If I sell 10 print copies across 15+ titles in a month, that's surprisingly good for the month. I'm an indie, pure and simple, and produce everything myself except for the audio. That I hire an audiobook narrator for.

But that's beside the point. I was replying that her experiences are not universal, specifically regarding audiobooks. Saying 'sales of audiobooks collapsed 3 weeks ago' is exaggerating. It's certainly possible that's what happened to TOR's audio sales, but not mine, and I haven't seen commentary that this is the case among independent authors I associate with. We're far more concerned about the fact that Audible just cut the number of promotional codes we get for a title in half with zero warning, after tripling the amount of time it takes audiobook titles to go live.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Benjamin Medrano wrote:
TOZ wrote:
How are your print sales?
Crap, but my print sales have always been crap.

Hence why I am unsurprised your perspective and experience are different from Beth's.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Hence why I am unsurprised your perspective and experience are different from Beth's.

And which is why I wasn't even addressing the print side of things. I feel really bad for all of the big publishing companies right now. Their situation is terrible. But I'm not going to sit here and let them claim that a market that appears to be doing fine just collapsed.

Ebooks are a little bit down for me, but not enormously, and audiobooks haven't really changed. For me, my income from different sources is the inverse of TOR's. Ebooks, Audiobooks, Paperbacks. If anything, I make the paperbacks because a handful of people want them. Most people buy my books in ebook or audio format, and when I say most, I mean 95+%, if not more.

The situation sucks. I'm fine, but I know plenty of people who aren't.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

If my PDF of “Schadenfreude for Beginners” fails to load because the woodchip heater that powers my MyPad has run out of wood, are the trees still dead?


12 people marked this as a favorite.
Benjamin Medrano wrote:
The situation sucks. I'm fine, but I know plenty of people who aren't.

100% this. Patients are dying because there aren't enough ventilators; healthcare workers are dying because there's not enough personal protective equipment. People who aren't sick are suddenly unemployed and wondering how the hell they're going to pay their mortgage, their rent, their food bills.

Our resident troll (or perhaps I should say one of our resident trolls, for we are blessed with several) deciding that the real "not cool" problem here is people not buying pdf's is a stunningly bad hot take. Social distancing does NOT mean "alienate everyone around you by displaying a breathtaking lack of empathy."


7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Ultimately, I think people will adapt as they need to, I don't know many people who would specifically not buy the book because it doesn't have a print copy, I think the bigger risk is people not being able to spend the money while out of work.

I'm hopeful subs can continue business as usual, but with print copies delayed, and getting the pdfs as on time as possible-- that sounds like a selfish request in some ways, but I'd love to stick with Paizo through this if it's possible.

Pathfinder 2e is my favorite game system ever, and I want to see it do survive this and do well, as well as the publisher that creates it and the people who work there.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

9 people marked this as a favorite.

Removed some posts and their replies.

Woah folks, there is no need to target any perceived demographic of our gamer population, and the tone of sarcasm and mockery is not appropriate. I think we can all agree that the whole situation is going to have consequences for the industry in many ways. You can present any speculation or point of view you have on this without attacking any person or group.

I am lucky in that so far my greatest struggle with all this is a terrible sleep pattern. "Why are you reading this at 4am?" Shuddup.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Upon reflection and a little coffee I have removed more content related to the moderation post above. Let's please move past it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sam Phelan wrote:
I am lucky in that so far my greatest struggle with all this is a terrible sleep pattern. "Why are you reading this at 4am?" Shuddup.

Getting up at 4 am has been my normal for several years now. Friends (and the wife) think I'm weird and ask things like "What do you do at that time?" Pretty much the same kinds of things that they do when they stay up until 2 am. Somehow that never occurred to them.

It's nice to be awake and alone during the quiet hours, and sunrises are a wonderful thing. Went I went to the office (forever ago it seems) there was very little traffic at 5:30 am. Besides, it's easiest to score TP these days when you're first in line at the grocery store at 6 am.

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