It’s been a little over a year since I took over the helm at Paizo as president, and I wanted to give everyone a look behind the scenes at what’s been happening during that time as well as provide a look ahead.
United Paizo Workers
Before I became president, I was leading negotiations with the UPW to create the tabletop industry’s first-ever collective bargaining agreement. This wasn’t an easy task, and we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on all the issues, but we worked together for more than a year and found compromises to create an agreement that I believe works for both the company and its employees. That’s not the end of the process, of course, as the leadership team continues to work with the union on many day-to-day matters that running a company requires.
We’ve had customers and companies reach out to us in concern about the unionization process. Yes, becoming unionized is serious business and brings significant changes, but it’s also brought an opportunity for the union and the management team to form stronger bonds that will serve us well in the future. To other business leaders in the industry who are concerned about unionization, I offer the immortal words of Douglas Adams: Don’t Panic!
Rise of the ORC
As some of you noticed earlier this year, there was a thing that happened with the Open Gaming License (OGL). Paizo and other publishers made the decision to leave the OGL and begin publishing under the Open RPG Creative (ORC) license. This wasn’t a decision we took lightly, but Paizo can no longer operate under a license that a corporate giant believed they could change, shake up, or cancel whenever it wanted to.
That decision had other impacts, however. Abomination Vaults 5E, Starfinder’s Scoured Stars and Mechageddon! Adventure Paths, the Lost Omens Tian Xia Character Guide, and Pathfinder’s Howl of the Wild rulebook all had to move to 2024 to make room for the Player Core and GM Core ORC Remastered rulebooks coming out in November.
The shift to the ORC license will also necessitate a change to our Compatibility License and Community Use Policy. We’ll have those available for public comment soon, and final versions will be released before the new Remaster books come out in November. We’re also taking the opportunity to introduce a new fan policy I think many artisans are going to love.
I’ve been working with other members of Paizo’s leadership team to streamline operations throughout the company. The biggest changes have been merging the customer service team into the sales team, organized play into the marketing team, and the entirety of marketing under the sales and operations teams. These independent silos weren’t working the way they should, and now that they’re all under the same umbrella, they better share and work toward common goals to support our customers, distributors, and local game stores.
The creative team also saw some changes, primarily merging teams that specialize along narrative (organized play scenarios, standalone adventure modules, and Adventure Paths), rules & lore (Lost Omens and general Pathfinder rulebooks), and Starfinder lines. We’ve also added the ability for us to create games outside of our traditional RPG fold, and you’ll see the first of those efforts, Elemental Stones, launch this fall. Pre-order it today!
With virtually all of Paizo working remotely since the start of the pandemic, we decided that Paizo would remain a remote workforce even after most lockdown protocols ended. We’re in the process of closing down our Redmond offices and warehouse, and we’ll be moving our warehouse operations a few miles up the road to Woodinville over the coming months. Outside the warehouse team, Paizo employees have additional states eligible for remote work (currently Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington).
As we vacate the Redmond offices, we’ll likely have some downtime for Paizo.com and the forums as we move those servers to a new data center. We’ll let you know about that when we get a bit closer to the move.
We’ve been operating Paizo’s finances on basic software for decades, but the time has come to invest in a new platform that can give us the business intelligence and integrations we need. Too many people at Paizo spend hours every week manually building reports from Excel files, so this change should result in a win for everyone. We’re in the final stages of moving over to a shiny new financial and analytics platform, which we’ll then use to integrate with a…
Yup. We’ll be replacing the current Paizo Store with a shiny new one. We’re still working out timelines for that, so stay tuned for future updates. The new finance platform needed to happen first, since the store needs to plug into something that can handle all the data. Some of the goals of the new store are to:
- Provide a responsive design across mobile, web, and tablet.
- Allow for an easy checkout process with more payment methods available.
- Offer a more robust reward program than the current Paizo Advantage.
- Allow for more robust subscription options, like the ability to skip a shipment or start with a specific book.
- Allow sidecarts for subscribers.
- Better organization and a Paizo-branded experience.
The community is important to us, and we are investigating new platforms to provide a better forum experience (along with preserving the content of the current forums). As we finalize our decision, we’ll provide more updates to the community.
Paizo’s goal with licensing is to serve the Pathfinder and Starfinder communities with amazing products from partners that resonate with gamers. We want to make your game experiences better, whether you play around the table at home, across a virtual table, or at your favorite local game store or convention. We’re looking for partners with a passion for the Pathfinder and Starfinder brands that can bring experiences to you in new ways and attract a wider audience.
That’s why we partnered with Owlcat on the Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous games, and also why we’ve partnered with BKOM on Gallowspire Survivors and the Pathfinder: Abomination Vaults ARPG. Not only are these games fun for a large number of current Pathfinder and Starfinder players, but they’ll also bring in nufriends to experience tabletop for the first time.
Bringing those new players into our games means making character creation easy, which we’ve done by partnering with Demiplane and Hero Lab Online. We have more work to do for new players, but we’re leveling up with new tools and an awesome community to guide them to amazing gaming experiences.
The Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite programs have allowed community creators across the world a generous license to produce their own Pathfinder and Starfinder material using Paizo’s intellectual property, and make money for their efforts. Both communities continue to grow, and we're seeing more new, innovative material from Infinite creators every month.
The fiction industry has been struggling for years outside a handful of very successful authors, and our previous Pathfinder Tales novels had the same challenges. We’re going to be trying out some new strategies to ensure making novels is profitable, but that means we need to create one!
Novels let us tell stories in ways that our game products can’t and can reach a wider audience of fantasy readers, so I’m pleased to announce that we’ve greenlit a standalone Pathfinder novel for release in 2024. What that novel is about, and who its amazing author is, will be revealed in due time—but prepare to be entertained (and for some major, longstanding canon questions to be answered)!
I’m really excited about the future, and I look forward to working with the Paizo team and our community to bring Pathfinder and Starfinder to wider audiences. What can you do to help? Take the opportunity to invite someone new to your gaming group, never miss another release by signing up for a subscription, make a leap into the Pathfinder Society and Starfinder Society, and support your favorite local game store as you continue to explore the worlds of Pathfinder and Starfinder.
Thanks again for supporting Paizo! Here’s to continuing to create lifelong friendships through gaming.
Update from Paizo President Jim Butler
Wednesday, July 19, 2023