I can't help myself, but I really, really, really, doubt that the Pen & Paper gaming industry is smaller than the "heyday" of D&D, at least in inflation adjusted dollar values. I'm trying to find it, but I saw at least one plot of shipments of rulebooks by edition, and the straight number of units sold by Pathfinder was the most of any edition, ever (yes, yes, distributor numbers, market segmentation...)
The gaming market is stronger (again in dollar terms) than ever. Dwarven Forge is almost certainly going to break $2 million on their Kickstarter today, breaking last year's record ~$1.9 million. For 3D painted terrain, the blingiest of Pen and Paper bling. How much of that would have sold in 1970? 1980? 1990? 2000?
We know for a fact that Pathfinder outsold 4E D&D (Lisa Stevens remarked on it personally). And you know who has a really good idea of just how strong the market is? Paizo. So if you work for them or have access to their data LazarX, inquiring minds want to know.
Certainly the market is more fragmented, and certainly Paizo doesn't have the product depth of Hasbro, and sure, they're not a Fortune 500 company. So therefor they can't afford more complicated shipping options? And given all that, shouldn't I, as a Paizo fan, want to help by providing free market research?
Let me back up to the early exchanges. Why do I feel that I represent a significant portion of Paizo's custom?
Because I know what all my friends/acquaintances spend their gaming money on (something like 30-40 gamers if I'm being conservative about it). And the fact is this: most gaming groups have a big spender who spends most of the money. This has been my consistent experience for 20 years of gaming in three states of the union. And I a big spender. My per annum expenditure overall is in the thousands and has been consistently for years. I would suspect that people like me make up a double-digits portion of Paizo's sales, if not a majority. More importantly for Paizo I've consistently spent a lot of that money on Pen and Paper D&D style gaming. I'd say that's a reasonable argument.
@BigDTBone Thanks, you get what I'm trying to do.
I'm a competent consumer and I know I can get the Paizo products I want cheaper elsewhere (that has been true from day one). By choosing to spend my money at Paizo I am making a choice that values the approach Paizo takes in business. I prefer that Paizo captures more of the market value of their product because I want to support them making more of those products.
I'm happy to offer a little free market research and I do think it adds value for them when read in the context of their own privately held sales information and reports.
My post here is in the context of the change in Pathfinder Battles subscriptions which generated a LOT of discussion. Paizo's subscription strategies are not static, and the issue of shipping costs have come up more than once including in discussions where Paizo's staff take an active part.
@LazarX Maybe you know something about Paizo's cash flows that is not public knowledge. You seem to think my suggestion would do Paizo definite harm. I can't comment on that. But unless you have something concrete to back that up, I don't see what you are adding to the discussion. Paizo is somewhat unique for having this subscription model and uses it to generate consumer lock-in as well as cash-flow benefits. Few if any of the other gaming companies I buy from have the luxury that this affords Paizo.
I take strong issue with your (implied) assertion that the subscription model is just a cash flow thing. The prices on Paizo.com are set such that they compare best with other sellers WITH an AP discount (or other discount source). And so what if everyone wants to save on shipping for random subscriptions? Paizo can offer shipping services that are compatible with their costs and practices, and if none of my suggestions work, than... oh well.
There have been quite a number of discussion threads started or attended by Paizo staff soliciting information and insight into business questions. Paizo staff spend significant time on the forums to gather just such information. It is one thing to track sales and another to understand the reasoning behind the numbers.
The answer for me is clear. Without an alternative such as the ones listed above I'm going to buy a lot less from Paizo. If there is a small chance I can swing things towards a better deal for myself and Paizo by talking about it here, why shouldn't I try?
It is very easy to not get what you want by not asking and this has led plenty of businesses to fold. Paizo has done so well both with their initial magazine business and later with their Pathfinder product line by careful study of the market and product design. I hope that this thread contributes to the pool "held close to their chest."
Of course I'd like it even more if a staffer weighed in... but =)
You guys make some good points. I would be curious to know if Paizo has a sense how much of their market looks like me. People who spend a reasonable amount and have been long-time subscribers but are getting a little tired of how much they are spending (particularly in shipping). My bookshelf is filling up with APs and I feel less and less interested in new volumes.
I'm feeling product-line fatigue and trying to discuss a business solution that keeps Paizo's subscriber base as strong as possible taking customers like me into consideration. With the current age of the Pathfinder product-lines I suspect I'm not alone in feeling this way.
Pathfinder products have had a quality and consistency above that of other companies and I'd like to see them stay strong. But they are not a charity and they sell luxury/entertainment goods. I'm a customer and I need to be convinced to part with my money. Take my money Paizo!
They clearly hold sufficient stock of printed APs to continue selling them for years after their release. I recognize that if a large number of subscribers opted for this option it may increase their storage space needs and complicate... etc. But how much? It might not be very much (though if lots of people switch, they would have a huge work-load bulge at Modules 3 or 6).
I love Paizo. I give them lots of money. I enjoy doing business with them. I'm thinking of doing less business because of how much it costs... so I'm making a suggestion that may help them both with keeping me on board and perhaps others. I buy a lot of products from Paizo thanks to the AP subscriber discount model, so it is in their interest to keep me and other subscribing. That's a huge part of the Paizo business model.
For a long time I thought of my AP subscription as a subscription to Dungeon magazine. But a magazine that costs me $22.92 a month with shipping is a very expensive magazine. That's money I'm not spending on hardcovers like the new Bestiary, on Pathfinder Battles, on pawns and cards and other such things. My alternative is to skip entire APs, and during that period, without the subscriber discount, I will not be buying other products from Paizo.com at all.
I would like to suggest alternative subscription shipping schemes to help save on shipping. With shipping an AP module by itself adding 30% to the cost of a module, I'm considering cancelling my subscription for APs until there is one I'm sure I will run. If there was a way to combine shipping I'd keep subscribing. I wanted to know what other people thought.
An AP subscription that ships once Modules 1-3 are available for an AP;
An AP subscription that ships once Modules 1-6 are available for an AP;
An AP subscription that ships once something is added to the sidecart;
An AP subscription that ships once the total of the subscription and sidecart reach a certain dollar value ($100/200/300?).
An AP subscription that ships once a user tells it to.
I don't know if this is even possible for Paizo but I'd like to put it out there (and of course it could apply to other subscription products). Shipping is a huge percentage of my cost and is pushing me to think harder about subscribing.
I think Erik makes a good point that what people say and what they do are fundamentally different (or that many doers aren't speakers and vice versa). In my gaming circle (about 12 people in rotation) two people make up 90+% of the dollars spent on gaming goods (myself being one of them). My compatriot subscribes to everything Paizo puts out and pretty much Kickstarts everything that touches his fancy (and buys half the charity auction at Gencon). So he's an easy customer.
For my part, I choose to buy cases on the basis of "are there enough cool pieces that a case is cheaper than singles." I'm on the fence with Reign of Winter since I have no intention of running it but I love a lot of the pieces. I would have ordered more cases if they were smaller and cheaper (and pre-ordered Reign of Winter). I am happy with the distribution of common/uncommon/rare as is. For me the $300 range marks the transition from large to major purchase.
What has been significant to my case vs. singles purchasing decisions is often rare NPCs/PCs, despite being primarily a DM myself. There is a wow factor to these pieces that monsters often lack (as noted previously).
Also, while a lot of people say they prefer monsters, I would posit that there are many more individuals buying singles than cases. The push that gets them from wanter to purchaser are the unique figures like NPCs and PCs (players won't covet monster figures much, and DMs often have extensive collections of close-enoughs). So we are probably talking very different markets.
How does everyone else REALLY spend their dollars?
As someone with the cash and the addiction to buy these by the case (and I have bought most of the Paizo minis that came out), I can say that I stopped pre-ordering cases for several reasons. These are just my feelings, maybe they will help illuminate a segment of the market.
Firstly - The figures vary wildly in quality of sculpt, paint, and utility . I have a sweet-tooth for good sculpts, and will buy figures that have good utility, but I've received too many pieces that fail two out of three of these conditions. In particular the last few sets had many pieces where either the paint selections were muddy and dark, or the paint jobs were poor (my Arueshalae is painted so poorly it is embarrassing).
Secondly - A lot of the large and rare pieces leave me flat. Paizo's dragons in particular lack zest and personality (which is why I skipped both the White and Red evolution sets-- this is true in the 2D art as well!) Todd Lockwood knocked it out of the park, and spoiled me on generic looking dragons. A lot of the large pieces are ugly or have little utility. I have a whole box of large sculpts that will never be used for this reason (I'm thinking of you Hill Giants). Large pieces need to loom over medium pieces and look threatening. Too many of the large pieces fail at this. I dislike receiving fewer medium and small pieces in exchange for these large ones. Stumpy lizard looking dragons and drunken looking giants are not worth the huge sum a case costs. More pieces should be like the Stone Giants -- dynamic, unique, and threatening.
Thirdly - When the product line was announced it was my impression that more fixed content packs would be released, instead of a predominance of random pieces. I understand this is how you fund high quality rares, but I end up buying those as singles in the aftermarket anyhow. Instead we've gotten a lot of medium and small pieces as random singles. That is a neat store gimmick but leaves me flat as far as buying in quantity.
Finally, there are too many releases! I would order a case a year without hesitation, but with two-major releases every year I feel like I cannot keep up and so I don't. I recognize that this doesn't sync with the AP products, and that these miniatures are luxury items but gosh.
I can't believe no-one has mentioned Eclipse yet. Imagine a boardgame that plays like Masters of Orion II, but actually works (i.e. not Twilight Imperium which is fun but...)
I second Small World (quick, fun, easy to get casual players into),
Skull and Shackles suffers significantly from not having more ship maps integrated into the AP itself. It struck me as a little too deliberate that ship maps were released along with the AP itself.
Taking care not to seem too mercenary in what is included as a map within an AP and as a separate map-pack is critical to maintaining the integrity of Paizo products.
Otherwise, keep up the good work!
Nobody is getting to level 20 in vanilla S&S. But good comment higher up: ninjas could be built with good sea-legs. Just say you flunked out of Red Mantis school... that's not too far from Port Peril.
As for Merfolk, the Strongtail alternate racial trait + boots of striding and springing keep them playable. Having one PC who is underwater capable is great early on when you have limited ways of overcoming underwater problems.
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Same question as above, but for Races please. ;-)
I'm DM'ing S&S right now, and have read all the modules. Take that as you will.
The adventure path rewards virtually all of the classes, with the following caveats:
Paladins - Are not pirates. Do not get along with pirates. Smite pirates. You will be pirates.
Cavaliers - Not much room for mounts on a ship. Makes early levels tough.
Alchemists - Blow things up. You live on a ship that can be blown up. Ask your DM before picking one of these.
Casters - Make sure you pick spells that are ship-friendly. The player's guide has some advice in that area.
Important classes: rogue, cleric,
Skull and Shackles is probably the only adventure path that consistently rewards aquatic races, but don't pick something that can't spend extended periods out of water.
My players have done very will with a Strix and a Merfolk in the party (flying and swimming respectively).
That better be some dagger!
If this makes you more comfortable: if the creature's maximum crit damage is insufficient to kill the target, deal maximum damage instead... with a quarter of the effect in bleed. Horribly nasty and so perfectly table-worthy.
Honestly, aside from the previous discussion, this sounds an awful lot like a group that has too much history.
Sometimes a group goes bad, and needs to take a long break, or re-form around a core of players that DO get along (or... disband... dum-dum-dum!)
If the clashing personalities do rejoin, they should do so under a new context that works hard to keep people from falling back into their old problematic ruts.