The logic behind the Humble Bundle and biting the hand that feeds you


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I have never in my life walked into a retail store and dropped $550 on gaming stuff.

Shadow Lodge

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>_>


Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
RJGrady wrote:
I have never in my life walked into a retail store and dropped $550 on gaming stuff.

Which obviously means nobody else has either. I know I certainly haven't for like a whole 7 days (preordered a case of Aether Revolt last week), so that probably proves your point or something. Even if I limit myself to just tabletop RPG sourcebooks, I've dropped close to if not over $500 on all of the 5e stuff and a handful of hardcover Pathfinder books I've already owned PDFs for at the local store. It wasn't all at once, but I don't see why someone would be required to buy everything in one go?

For the Pathfinder stuff in particular, getting the PDFs for $10 apiece is what convinced me to pick up the dead tree version, because it's far easier for me to peruse and bookmark points in a book during game day, given my screen real estate is being taken up by roll20 (no need to alt-tab to check a book, and it's less laggy to open a book to random pages than it is to wait for the pdf reader to render every time I jump more than 4 pages at a time).

In any case, what you and I just said are anecdotal and not necessarily representative of general consumer trends with respect to these bundles. Given that people with access to the information like Erik, or people who have friends with access like James were saying it seemed to have no noticeable negative impact, I'm far more inclined to believe them.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
RJGrady wrote:
I have never in my life walked into a retail store and dropped $550 on gaming stuff.

I've tried once, but they told me they don't accept the currency.


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Gorbacz wrote:
RJGrady wrote:
I have never in my life walked into a retail store and dropped $550 on gaming stuff.
I've tried once, but they told me they don't accept the currency.

We tried to warn you that people in this world don't have $550-dollar bills, but oh no, you wouldn't listen....


Double checks the $550 bill Gorbacz used to pay for his earlier overly extravagant Candygram.

damn you bag!!!


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captain yesterday wrote:
Sundakan wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
For what it's worth, I'm still super excited we now carry the Beginner's Box at Toys R Us. :-)

You've also got Otrio now.

You should buy that, 15% off Otrio ain't bad.

I'll keep my eye out for it, thanks!

And sorry for the disagreement the other day, it was wrong of me to be an a#$@#+%. :-)

I just realized I misread Toys R Us as Target. TWICE.


aceman67 wrote:

Its not a full list, prices aren't accurate, but you'll get it.

Core $50
U.Magic $50
U.Combat $50
U.Equipment $50
Unchained $50
PFS Season 6 $100
Hells Rebels 1-6 $150
Beginners Box $50
Total $550

Not without an accurate list & prices I wont....


You would make a nice living as a dentist for gift horses! ;-)


AnimatedPaper wrote:
rknop wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Something Wizards of the Coast has done recently (apart from not releasing PDFs of current edition books)

This -- not releasing PDFs of current edition books -- is why I haven't seriously checked out 5e. I would probably have purchased at least the player's handbook at a FLGS... except that I know I can't get a legal PDF of the core rulebooks. If I'm ever going to play the game, I don't want to haul large numbers of heavy rulebooks any more. I want PDFs. Without PDFs, a new game is dead to me.

So Wizards' refusal to release PDFs has cost them and FLGSes sales from at least me. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

Nope, you're not. I'm genuinely starting to hate physical books, I can't remember the last time I purchased a dead tree copy of anything besides my monthly adventure path. And I only purchase that because I can't subscribe to the pdfs all on their own.

I got rid of 2/3s of my library several years ago, and I'm eyeing the remainder before I move again in a couple months. I figure at least a quarter of it can be donated, not least my 3.5 collection.

I have three overloaded bookshelves full of history and geography tomes and, in general, way more possesions than my room can cleanly or comfortably hold. Last thing I need is to be buying physical RPG books, especially when a game can literally take rules from two dozen different rulebooks (I may have a fondness for much 3PP). I take my RPG books in the form of PDFs on my tablet now, so the lack of 5E PDFs is an absolute dealbreaker.


Gorbacz wrote:
Sundakan wrote:


TRPGs were always a niche hobby, but it has grown exponentially since the internet became widespread. Which says to me that the players (new players especially) drawn in by these stores is only a fraction of players nation and world-wide.

They didn't. The halcyon glory days, the almost-mainstream days of RPG were the 80s.

These days, the pen and paper RPG market in the US and Canada (which amount to 80% of the global market in this case) is 35m USD, while board games and miniature wargames are at 160-175m each while the big kahuna, the CCGs, are at 625m USD.

To give you the idea of how the p'n'p RPGs are going over the years, the market in 2003 was 35m USD, which adjusted for inflation is 45m of today's USD. In 1982 TSR alone was pushing around 50m of today's USD worth of RPGs. That's just TSR, not counting Steve Jackson, West End Games and all the other major companies which, welp, don't exist any more (except for Chaosium who signed a pact with Outer Gods and continues to live on forever). In 1985 it was 30m USD for TSR which is equivalent to 67m USD today.

Now the RPGs got a major bump last year thanks to D&D 5E, but they still are a fraction of other hobby gaming types and much less than they were back a decade ago.

Oh, all my numbers are from ICv2 and various "History of TSR" articles as well as Lisa's old posts on her stint of assessing just why did TSR go bottoms up.

That's just how much money the industry makes, however. I'd think cheap PDFs and online OGLs obscure just how much the raw money is connected to the actual popularity. That I can have a PDF of the shiny new rulebook at 1/5 to 1/4 the price of the physical item has to have a lot of effect on these numbers.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's been 16 years of the PDF revolution and WotC can afford to NOT make PDFs of D&D AND they still sell volumes which the OGL/PDF friendly Paizo can dream of. That tells us a lot about the disparity between the "PDF" and "dead tree" segments of the market.


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RJGrady wrote:
I have never in my life walked into a retail store and dropped $550 on gaming stuff.

That's for the best. It works much better if you take the gaming stuff to the counter and give the money to the person at the register.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32

Gorbacz wrote:
It's been 16 years of the PDF revolution and WotC can afford to NOT make PDFs of D&D AND they still sell volumes which the OGL/PDF friendly Paizo can dream of. That tells us a lot about the disparity between the "PDF" and "dead tree" segments of the market.

While I don't disagree with your point, there's a lot of factors between Paizo and Wizards of the Coast that also contribute to D&D's increased numbers. Name recognition alone is huge.


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I spend money on the physical copies, the PDFs, Hero Lab, and I use the free resources. Being able to get a discount on at least one of the three that costs me money will allow me to spend that money on the other products. I have only so much in my recreational spending part of my budget.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Martin wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
It's been 16 years of the PDF revolution and WotC can afford to NOT make PDFs of D&D AND they still sell volumes which the OGL/PDF friendly Paizo can dream of. That tells us a lot about the disparity between the "PDF" and "dead tree" segments of the market.
While I don't disagree with your point, there's a lot of factors between Paizo and Wizards of the Coast that also contribute to D&D's increased numbers. Name recognition alone is huge.

Sure, that's a Kleenex level luxury nobody else can afford, doubly so because the target is both nostalgic and technologically backw...conservative. If your customers are of the "I check my e-mail once per month because all those zeroes and ones killed the radio" type, you can sit back and not mind the tech progress that much.


Gorbacz wrote:
James Martin wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
It's been 16 years of the PDF revolution and WotC can afford to NOT make PDFs of D&D AND they still sell volumes which the OGL/PDF friendly Paizo can dream of. That tells us a lot about the disparity between the "PDF" and "dead tree" segments of the market.
While I don't disagree with your point, there's a lot of factors between Paizo and Wizards of the Coast that also contribute to D&D's increased numbers. Name recognition alone is huge.
Sure, that's a Kleenex level luxury nobody else can afford, doubly so because the target is both nostalgic and technologically backw...conservative. If your customers are of the "I check my e-mail once per month because all those zeroes and ones killed the radio" type, you can sit back and not mind the tech progress that much.

Is that true though?

Is their target audience actually technologically backwards? Or just happy enough with the product to deal with the lack of PDFs?

I don't know. I know I bought the core books, if not much else, and I'm hardly that technologically backwards. Though I do like physical books for reading - but I also like digital formats for searching and easy reference.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
James Martin wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
It's been 16 years of the PDF revolution and WotC can afford to NOT make PDFs of D&D AND they still sell volumes which the OGL/PDF friendly Paizo can dream of. That tells us a lot about the disparity between the "PDF" and "dead tree" segments of the market.
While I don't disagree with your point, there's a lot of factors between Paizo and Wizards of the Coast that also contribute to D&D's increased numbers. Name recognition alone is huge.
Sure, that's a Kleenex level luxury nobody else can afford, doubly so because the target is both nostalgic and technologically backw...conservative. If your customers are of the "I check my e-mail once per month because all those zeroes and ones killed the radio" type, you can sit back and not mind the tech progress that much.

Is that true though?

Is their target audience actually technologically backwards? Or just happy enough with the product to deal with the lack of PDFs?

I don't know. I know I bought the core books, if not much else, and I'm hardly that technologically backwards. Though I do like physical books for reading - but I also like digital formats for searching and easy reference.

Sales of dead trees are falling in almost every business where they used to be the main medium - popular books, newspapers, magazines. P'n'p RPGs are one of the few where it is not the case (comics being the other major one).

RPG boards are pretty much the only place where I see the following conversation on regular basis:

A: Excuse me, could you reprint book X? It's only on eBay for 200 USD...
B: Sorry, not likely. But you can have the PDF for 5 bucks!
A: No, no, I don't do PDFs, I want the real thing.

Note the "real thing" part.


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Gorbacz wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
James Martin wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
It's been 16 years of the PDF revolution and WotC can afford to NOT make PDFs of D&D AND they still sell volumes which the OGL/PDF friendly Paizo can dream of. That tells us a lot about the disparity between the "PDF" and "dead tree" segments of the market.
While I don't disagree with your point, there's a lot of factors between Paizo and Wizards of the Coast that also contribute to D&D's increased numbers. Name recognition alone is huge.
Sure, that's a Kleenex level luxury nobody else can afford, doubly so because the target is both nostalgic and technologically backw...conservative. If your customers are of the "I check my e-mail once per month because all those zeroes and ones killed the radio" type, you can sit back and not mind the tech progress that much.

Is that true though?

Is their target audience actually technologically backwards? Or just happy enough with the product to deal with the lack of PDFs?

I don't know. I know I bought the core books, if not much else, and I'm hardly that technologically backwards. Though I do like physical books for reading - but I also like digital formats for searching and easy reference.

Sales of dead trees are falling in almost every business where they used to be the main medium - popular books, newspapers, magazines. P'n'p RPGs are one of the few where it is not the case (comics being the other major one).

RPG boards are pretty much the only place where I see the following conversation on regular basis:

A: Excuse me, could you reprint book X? It's only on eBay for 200 USD...
B: Sorry, not likely. But you can have the PDF for 5 bucks!
A: No, no, I don't do PDFs, I want the real thing.

Note the "real thing" part.

Right, but you have asserted "nostalgic and technologically conservative," but all you have demonstrated is "prefers."

Edit: Also, while "dead trees" is perhaps technically true, it is highly provacative of a moral superiority surrounding a willingness to abandon print. As though you are somehow doing your part to stop deforestation. I assure you, the print/paper industries are among the biggest proponents for sustainable forestry and virtually all paper that isn't from recycled pulp product is harvested as a crop from timber farms where trees are planted for the express purpose of making paper.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The big thing that Paizo has done to help the FLGS is the PFS retai incentive program. You get a bonus on your society character by how much you have spent at the store today.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Garrett Guillotte wrote:
DM_DM wrote:
You said you were getting your numbers from ICv2. I don't know what that is. Could you provide a link?
ICv2 is a trade news publication focusing on pop culture industries, including the games business. It's like what Variety is for the movie business. The article in question is "Hobby Games Market Nearly $1.2 Billion". Milton Griepp, ICv2. August 1, 2016.

I have to point out that ICv2's market figures are "based on interviews with retailers, distributors, and manufacturers," who provide "estimates of market size and the reasoning behind them." While I do believe that their numbers are most likely the most accurate numbers available, they should be taken into consideration only with the awareness that the data available to them is incomplete at best. (As a concrete example, I can tell you they have no data on Paizo's direct sales of our own products. I have no idea whether they attempt to estimate those sales, or just don't include them at all.)


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
Garrett Guillotte wrote:
DM_DM wrote:
You said you were getting your numbers from ICv2. I don't know what that is. Could you provide a link?
ICv2 is a trade news publication focusing on pop culture industries, including the games business. It's like what Variety is for the movie business. The article in question is "Hobby Games Market Nearly $1.2 Billion". Milton Griepp, ICv2. August 1, 2016.
I have to point out that ICv2's market figures are "based on interviews with retailers, distributors, and manufacturers." While I do believe that their numbers are most likely the most accurate numbers available, they should be taken into consideration only with the awareness that the data available to them is incomplete at best. (As a concrete example, I can tell you they have no data on Paizo's direct sales of our own products. I have no idea whether they attempt to estimate those sales, or just don't include them at all.)

My understanding from a few of the actual reports, rather than the summaries, is that they attempt to include them.

The figure they give for market size is an attempt to estimate the total volume of the market across all (significant) channels (ie including crowdfunding sites now but not secondhand sales).

I also think it's the best publicly available estimate out there, but there's obviously a pretty big error bar (my instinct would be they're unlikely to overestimate hugely, but could easily be underestimating substantially).

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Dubgall wrote:
The big thing that Paizo has done to help the FLGS is the PFS retai incentive program. You get a bonus on your society character by how much you have spent at the store today.

Highly agree. I haven't sat at a PFS table since the incentive program began where we didn't have the highest reward tier.

Now, I can't tell you for sure that represents an increase, but I suspect that it does.


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aceman67 wrote:

This post isn't saying that you guys shouldn't have done this second Bundle, donating to charity is a good thing, but I seriously have to ask, why?

You are hurting the brick and mortar stores by doing this, you're literally biting the hand that feeds you. The stores sell your product, sometimes at a loss to them, and then you sell hundreds if dollars of product for a mere fraction of the physical cost. That drives down demand and the stores can't sell what they have in stock.

Now, I admit, I bought the last Humble Bundle, it got me into Pathfinder, and I love it, the two FLGS I go to lost a lot of potential sales from the reduced demand. When I realized that, I immediately bought a physical core rule book and a beginners box despite getting both in the bundle. One owner was even told directly by a Paizo rep that you guys didn't anticipate that it would hurt retailers so much and would not do another Bundle again.
[...]

Bolded the relevant part


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don´t see the Humble Bundle hurting anyone.
In fact, in different markets than the US, rents in worthwhile places are one of the greatest problems for game stores. Binding their customers by providing gaming space and opportunity goes hand in hand with that.
Humble Bundle was a great thing, 2 times. I know many people who just bought it as a future possible give away and i did so as well.
That is generating new gamers and introducing people to the scene who would never go into a game store probably.
As for that sales data, i would never trust estimated data. YOu don´t really know who those persons estimating were and what their views really are. I deal with such stuff and just witnessed making some important people make really bad decisions, because they trust their estimations. In most cases, estimation can be translated with imagination. Even economic science people aren´t protected there, in fact i think they are most vulnerable, because they are so detached from real people and their needs as well as garnered around by marketing and pushed by stake-holders with unrealistic expectations and megalomania.

There´s something more to this whole discussion though. This hobby always was and became really expensive. There are so many books you "need", it´s a fortune. Even if you only buy PDF. Then add in stuff like Herolab, or the licences for things like roll20, D20Pro, etc. And there you need more licences for content you already bought elsewhere.
But in modern times you somehow need that, because so many people now play online or half-digital and you also need the programms often because things became too complex.
For a fresh into the hobby person who is not growing up with that, that´s pretty scary and i saw many people shy away because of that. Instead turning to smaller games if at all, which have less stuff.
A Humble Bundle is a very big plus there.


Hayato Ken wrote:

There´s something more to this whole discussion though. This hobby always was and became really expensive. There are so many books you "need", it´s a fortune. Even if you only buy PDF. Then add in stuff like Herolab, or the licences for things like roll20, D20Pro, etc. And there you need more licences for content you already bought elsewhere.

But in modern times you somehow need that, because so many people now play online or half-digital and you also need the programms often because things became too complex.
For a fresh into the hobby person who is not growing up with that, that´s pretty scary and i saw many people shy away because of that. Instead turning to smaller games if at all, which have less stuff.
A Humble Bundle is a very big plus there.

I still say the hobby is not at all expensive. You've always been able to buy the Core Rules and a bestiary/monster manual and play for years with no other investment. Now, with PDFs and the SRD, you can do that even more cheaply or even for free.

Now, if you want to keep up with all the new rules and options and world adventures and building stuff, then it gets expensive. I do think that perception scares some people off, but the perception really isn't true.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
Hayato Ken wrote:

There´s something more to this whole discussion though. This hobby always was and became really expensive. There are so many books you "need", it´s a fortune. Even if you only buy PDF. Then add in stuff like Herolab, or the licences for things like roll20, D20Pro, etc. And there you need more licences for content you already bought elsewhere.

But in modern times you somehow need that, because so many people now play online or half-digital and you also need the programms often because things became too complex.
For a fresh into the hobby person who is not growing up with that, that´s pretty scary and i saw many people shy away because of that. Instead turning to smaller games if at all, which have less stuff.
A Humble Bundle is a very big plus there.

I still say the hobby is not at all expensive. You've always been able to buy the Core Rules and a bestiary/monster manual and play for years with no other investment. Now, with PDFs and the SRD, you can do that even more cheaply or even for free.

Now, if you want to keep up with all the new rules and options and world adventures and building stuff, then it gets expensive. I do think that perception scares some people off, but the perception really isn't true.

That´s essentially true and i won´t deny it.

Yet, a rather large aspect of this hobby is also gathering things, collecting, and has always been. From the proudly presented bookshelfs over maps and memorabilia to the miniature collections.

Dark Archive

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I do not have a mini problem. Or a flip-mat problem. Or a dice problem. Nope, not me!

Seriously, while my husband and I get most of our books in PDF form nowadays (we have most of the older ones in physical form, too), last year I think we spent something like $200+ in store on maps and minis, and there are many others I still want (stupid budget!). I also have a subscription to the Pathfinder comics through our FLGS instead of Paizo, simply because I want to support them. I did get both Humble Bundles, and this last one has turned me on to new comics I may otherwise have never picked up. In the long run, this will increase their revenue from us, not hurt it.

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