*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 10, 2020, 07:52:35 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 170 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Author Topic: On RPG's and Pricing  (Read 8200 times)
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« on: June 19, 2002, 06:59:47 AM »

There've been some discussions here about the current pricing range of RPGs during which I've offered my opinion that in general RPG books are priced to low (which IMO is a big reason why so many companies are struggling).    I offer the following two reasons for why RPGs should be priced higher.


1) My realization that even at nothing other than a mediocre $5 per hour rate, the number of hours of enjoyment I've had playing, reading, referring to, thinking about, etc. most of the games in my collection easily equates to a value to me in excess of the $20 to $35 dollars I paid for it.  If I value an hours worth of pleasure at the same rate as I value an hours worth of my labor this difference is even more vast.  

If you play a game, 4 hours per session for 6 sessions and enjoyed yourself even just 50% of the time; but you'd only be willing to spend $30 on the game book, than you are valueing 12 hours of personal enjoyment at only $2.50 per hour.  Thats less than most all day passes at a major amusement park gets you (a lot less if you only count the time you enjoyed riding rides and not standing in line).  I personally value my time a hell of a lot higher than $2.50 / hour.

If I were to go to my shelf and pull down 10 games I might wind up with a distribution of something like this in terms of hours of enjoyment.

1 game:  totally sucked...I couldn't even finish reading it...0 hours
2 games:  pretty bad...I read 'em but wouldn't ever play... 1 hour of enjoyment.
3 games:  pretty good, I refer to them frequently for ideas but may never have played or if I did only once... 5 hours of enjoyment
3 games:  good games, I refer to frequently and have played extened campaigns of them...12 hours of enjoyment.
1 game:  love it.  can't get enough.  30 hours of enjoyment.


Now lets see, thats 83 hours of total enjoyment spread out over the cost of 10 games.  Or 8.3 hours per game.  At $5 per hour I should be willing to spend $41.50 per game.

I suggest that everyone try this excercise and come up with your own distributions.  Factors to take into account include, how much enjoyment you get from just reading the books, how often you flip through them for ideas for other games or activities, and number of hours of actual play multiplied by some percentile assessment of how enjoyable those sessions actually were.  I for one would be fascinated by the resultant dispersion of percieved RPG value based on enjoyment recieved.


2) Something less subjective.  Inflation.
If memory serves correctly the hard cover AD&D 1st ed books that we all know and love so well cost about $15 when I bought them in the late 70s.  Plugging that in to my handy dandy inflation calculator (U.S. inflation, of course), I find that based on inflation alone those books should cost over $41 today.

Now remember, about the best thing that could be said about those books production quality wise was that the cover and binding could take a tremendous beating (unlike 2ed books).  The art ranged from a few "pretty cool" pieces to filler in quality, and the text layout resembled newsprint.  

Yet today, even for high gloss, wonderfully layed out, beautiful art, and more pages than the old PH, most gamers start balking if the price goes above $30or $35.

For something with double the production value of those 1ed books (i.e. would have cost $30 in 1978) inflation alone says the equivelent price in 2002 is over $80.  And note, that broad CPI inflation, not specific to entertainment and media, which if the cost of movies is any indication is probably higher than the economy at large.

ROS looks at least twice as good as my old Players Handbook (especially if the printing problems get fixed in the new release).  Yet I doubt Jake ever considered pricing it at $80 except for the special edition leather bound version at $100.

Now even allowing for modern enhancements to the printing process, and computerized layout bringing production costs down, the price should still easily fall around $40-$50...$35 at the lowest.  Yet most gamers still seem to expect to pay $25.  

I don't know how to break people of this mindset...but from my perspective its wrong wrong wrong.  

Even though I get the benefit of paying much less for games I'd be willing to pay much more for, the industry as a whole suffers for it I think.
Logged

hive
Member

Posts: 40


WWW
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2002, 07:16:51 AM »

What i find so funny about the whole thing is that alot of us gamers also play computer games and will drop $40-$60 on the initial game and even shell out $10 a month to play the crap online.

Let's not even talk about the freaks that buy Diablo II crap on eBay...

I think one of the biggest concerns comes from the fact that paper rpgs require several people to play therefore causing GMs to ask themselves, "If i shell out $35 for SCHTUM rpg core book...are my players going to play...or are they just going to talk to me about Everquest? Maybe i should just suck it up and go online..."

Hell, i would rather pay $35 on 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books than on a core book simply because i know that i can always play with myself.



Wait...that didn't come out right.

-
h
Logged
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2341


WWW
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2002, 07:21:44 AM »

Hey Ralph,

If memory serves correctly the hard cover AD&D 1st ed books that we all know and love so well cost about $15 when I bought them in the late 70s.

I recall paying either $8 or $10 for the Player's Handbook and Monster Manual, and either $12 or $15 for the Dungeon Master's Guide, when I bought them as they were each first printed in the late 70's.

Am I misremembering?

Paul
Logged

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2002, 07:24:21 AM »

Or I could be...either way.  If you substitute DMG for PH in the above (with the exception that the DMG actually had a hefty page count), you wind up in the same place.
Logged

Laurel
Member

Posts: 243


WWW
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2002, 07:46:53 AM »

I'm going to put in a dissenting view regarding RPGs being too low.  I think pushing prices up is going to hurt the indie creator-publisher the most, because what is happening/going to happen imo is the same number of consumers will be spending the same amount of $$$ annually on games- purchasing fewer books a year, and being more discriminating, sticking to what's "hot" or what they already know.  I think the solution, ultimately, is to maintain prices but expand the market, increasing the number of RPG consumers so that more product is being purchased and played.  Indie games are especially good for appealing to people who like things that are "cool & trendy in a supposedly non-trendy way" like anime, Farscape, alternative music, and Birkenstocks.

But what do I know?  I'm not in sales & marketing.
Logged
hive
Member

Posts: 40


WWW
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2002, 08:09:51 AM »

Pushing the margins of product costs either higher or lower than consumer expectations are always going to hurt the indie creators. Indie creators are their namesakes and will always take the underdog role in any market. They suffer and wonder the lower gross market desert for years. Its their lot in life.

If they lived comfortibly then they wouldn't be indie anymore. Would you call Ron an indie creator after he establishes Edwards Toys and pumps the world full of Sorcerer figures?

-
h
Logged
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2002, 08:13:02 AM »

I like Ralph's calculations, and I'll expand on them. Only take the average cost as he's doing, if you assume that the game you're pricing is average. If it's better than average, price higher.

In addition to the number of hours of pleasure that a game gives you personally, consider adding on all the hours that it pleases your friends. It is a shared activity, and presumably you are getting something back from them for your efforts. They could, for instance, pitch in to buy the game (my friends and I used to do that frequently back in college). Or perhaps they buy games and run them for you for free. In any case, their enjoyment is worth something too. Say you have four players, that may cut the hourly rate in half or less.

RPGs cost less to purchase than a decent ticket to an NBA game, lift tickets at the ski hill for one full day, or a ticket to a play. And that's just for one person. They are a fraction of the cost for the number of people for which an RPG can be fun. And you may get much more play from an RPG than the few hours of fun you get from any of these other activities (all of which I enjoy).

The queston of uncertainty is an unfair one - do you balk at the price of a play ticket because you are unsure if you'll like the show? No, you do your research in either case, reading reviews and talking to people that have experience, and you make your purchase. I'll bet that people check the reviews even harder on RPGs than they do on play's they see.

Also, consider that to play D&D you pretty much need more than one book. At $30 a throw, you need probably $60 just to start playing. Add a setting (like TROS has included), for example Forgotten Realms, and the price jumps to $100 to start playing. Do they have high production values? Sure. Is the content of D&D better than TROS? I doubt it. TROS could go for fifty dollars and be seen as a 50% cost savings on D&D. And that's before we consider the issue of editions. RPG players are willing to lay out the money for games. Ask any avid D&D player how much it's cost him over the years.

Hell, I have over $1000 dollas worth of Traveller stuff alone. Going tonight to get my $40 copy of Hero System 5th edition. I'm guessing it's a bargain.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2002, 08:46:36 AM »

Mike:  <smacking my fore head>  I can't believe I forgot that.  If you add in the hours of enjoyment friends recieved who didn't pay for the book (discounted by some factor based on how much you personally get enjoyment from witnessing your friends enjoy themselves) the percieved value would be even higher.

Thinking about this pricing model more, what it does do it confirm what many of us take for granted...that mass supplement glut is not a good thing.  

For instance if I play a game for 24 hours and estimate that 50% of it was truely enjoyable and I paid $30 for the rules, than I paid $2.50 per hour of enjoyment.

If I buy a pair of $20 supplements to the game and over the same campaign possession of those supplements increased my enjoyment to 70% of the time than I paid $70 for 16.8 hours of enjoyment...or $4.16 per hour.

If I buy 16 7th Sea supplements...most of which are mediocre at best....hmmm....sounds like a good argument for standalone core rules, and limiting supplements to only those that are so incredible they're likely to increase the overall playing time of the game.

Like, for example, Sorcerer and Sword, which seems to have greatly expanded peoples play of Sorcerer.
Logged

JSDiamond
Member

Posts: 276


WWW
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2002, 09:35:32 AM »

I remember when the AD&D became AD&D2 and the books went up $2 from $16 something to nearly twenty (with tax).  And I remember feeling ripped off by the game I loved.  Especially since the DM's book was cut nearly in half content-wise.  I also remember thinking that they should have combined the books for $10 more.  Hell, I had the entire library of AD&D manuals, supplements and so on.  I even bought a few of those career-class manuals (remember those atrocities of redundant rules?)

Now look at us.  Indies books are usually 'all-in-one' manuals and we still argue over whether or not we should charge $30+ (or pay that much) for one.  Additionally, I don't think that I'm unique in having this perfect indie vision of 'one book is all you need' sales pitch when the reality is that *typically* each player likes to have their *own* book.  When it comes to our great hobby I tend to think like a fan instead of a businessman, sue me.

Ron might jump in to moderate this thread: Is it 'How much do I charge?' or 'How much do I pay?' or 'What's the exchange rate of $ to fun?'

Who can say?
All I know for certain is that for many people your role-play game will be their first.  Treat 'em right. Don't rip off your fans.

Jeff
Logged

JSDiamond
Matt Gwinn
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 547


WWW
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2002, 09:47:58 AM »

I feel I should interject here for a moment and point out an important fact.

You attest hours of enjoyment to a roleplaying game the same way you do to a basketball game or a movie.  The reason is that there are other factors to consider.

1) Who you play with.
    A great deal of your enjoyment factor comes from who you are playing
    with, not necessarily the game you are playing.  
    In most circumstances a basketball game or movie will be equally
    enjoyable regardless of the company you are keeping.

2)  Effort
     A roleplaying game requires exceptional effort on your part to be
     enjoyable.  You can't set a copy of sorcerer on a table and be
     entertained by it, but you can put a tape in a VCR and enjoy a movie
     with no more effort than it takes to hit play.

,Matt Gwinn
Logged

Kayfabe: The Inside Wrestling Game
On sale now at
www.errantknightgames.com
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2002, 10:28:01 AM »

Quote from: MattGwinn

1) Who you play with.
    A great deal of your enjoyment factor comes from who you are playing
    with, not necessarily the game you are playing.  
    In most circumstances a basketball game or movie will be equally
    enjoyable regardless of the company you are keeping.
System doesn't matter?

Do you go to movies and/or basketball games alone? I see them all as social activities, and so, yes, the people are important. Still, the idea is that the activity won't happen unless you buy the game, hence it's worth. If you really felt that the activity portion was uninteresting, then why would you play? There has to be something fun about RPGs or we'd never play them (or maybe we're seriously deluded?). I often have fun playing RPGs despite some players playing.

If you want a better comparison, often people pay to play in leagues. There's a social aspect there, certainly. Why would they pay to play, however, unless the activity were fun of itself? You can go to the bar and socialize for free. It's just boring unless you pay to drink, too.

RPGs are a relatively cheap activity. OTOH, TV is cheaper still. So then you have to consider the quality of the fun in question. Would you rather play an RPG or watch TV? Maybe that effort is worthwhile after all?

Quote

2)  Effort
     A roleplaying game requires exceptional effort on your part to be
     enjoyable.  You can't set a copy of sorcerer on a table and be
     entertained by it, but you can put a tape in a VCR and enjoy a movie
     with no more effort than it takes to hit play.


That assumes that the effort part is unenjoyable. I don't find it unenjoyable. In fact, the hours that I put into preping stuff I count as part of the pleasurable hours in my calculation. Again, I hope that the effort you put into actually playing is actually enjoyable. If not I suggest a different hobby.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Matt Gwinn
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 547


WWW
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2002, 11:21:10 AM »

Quote
System doesn't matter?

Do you go to movies and/or basketball games alone? I see them all as social activities, and so, yes, the people are important.


Not usually, but who I have with me has nothing to do with whether or not the movie was enjoyable to watch.  Unless you're watch Rockey Horror, as an audience you don't have to do anything to get your money's worth.

Quote
If you really felt that the activity portion was uninteresting, then why would you play? There has to be something fun about RPGs or we'd never play them (or maybe we're seriously deluded?).


I didn't say that.  What I mean is that I can play Sorcerer with two different groups and get a different level of enjoyment out of each game, thus by the above arguments I can place a higher dollar value on the session I had more fun in despite the fact that the same system was used in both games.  

Quote
RPGs are a relatively cheap activity. OTOH, TV is cheaper still. So then you have to consider the quality of the fun in question. Would you rather play an RPG or watch TV? Maybe that effort is worthwhile after all?


It depends on how entertaining the TV show.  I won't game on a Tuesday if a new episode of Buffy is on.  Some stuff I'll record, but you can't really record a game session and insert yourself later.

Quote
That assumes that the effort part is unenjoyable. I don't find it unenjoyable. In fact, the hours that I put into preping stuff I count as part of the pleasurable hours in my calculation.


You are completely missing my point here.  My point is that the game itself, in order to provide you with enjoyment requires effort on your part.  A book sitting on a table that you do not take the time to read is not entertaining in itself and thus worth nothing.  It's the effort you put into the game that provides the entertainment, not the game itself.

And for those of you that think I'm saying system doesn't matter, well, that's not what I'm saying at all. not exactly anyway.  System does matter in the sense of whether a game fits a particular style.  I'm speaking in a more general sense about RPGs as a whole.

Quote
Again, I hope that the effort you put into actually playing is actually enjoyable. If not I suggest a different hobby.


I'm almost offended by that remark for some reason, but I'll chalk it up to me being at work.

,Matt G.
Logged

Kayfabe: The Inside Wrestling Game
On sale now at
www.errantknightgames.com
Jason L Blair
Member

Posts: 636

Nothing is sacred.


WWW
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2002, 11:57:50 PM »

(DISCLAIMER: This applies mostly to print-and-bound games, not PDFs or HTML; though some points apply to those as well.)

This comes up all the time. And the same old analogies always pop up. To me, however, all this comes down to one thing. Outside of fun-per-square-inch, power-per-hour, and all that, game companies (even/especially indie designers) should price to make money. Recoup that investment if nothing else.

Now, I'm not saying making money should be the goal of game design--far from it. But too many companies pop up and die away because they underprice their stock.

The role-playing game industry is a fucked up business. It is really is. The structure and philosophy of game companies is mind-boggling. I know Ron has seen this (I point to him because I know he's read through as many, if not more, posts and rants (by professionals) on these same things as I have). Hell, the whole "let's lose money on supplements in hopes of pushing mainbook sales" is flat-out stupid.

The RPG industry suffers from chronic influenza. Mid-level companies that have uber-popular lines (DP9, Pinnacle, White Wolf) could fall out at any time. Low-level companies (where we lowly indie publishers reside) die and then take a financial cold pill to squirt out another product before they die again. Being in the black in the games industry pretty much equates to "Hey, I could supersize my lunch with the profits I made of this book!"

The simple truth (as I see it) is: Game prices need to come up. A handy rationale is nice and all, but the only thing those that would bitch need to know is, "If I don't raise prices, those games you love that I make? Yeah, they won't be around anymore."

This is probably reaching out of the scope of this discussion. If so, I apologize for that.
Logged

Jason L Blair
Writer, Game Designer
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2002, 12:48:58 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

2)  Effort
     A roleplaying game requires exceptional effort on your part to be
     enjoyable.  You can't set a copy of sorcerer on a table and be
     entertained by it, but you can put a tape in a VCR and enjoy a movie
     with no more effort than it takes to hit play.

That assumes that the effort part is unenjoyable. I don't find it unenjoyable. In fact, the hours that I put into preping stuff I count as part of the pleasurable hours in my calculation. Again, I hope that the effort you put into actually playing is actually enjoyable. If not I suggest a different hobby.


But the fact that the effort was enjoyable does not alter anything - I consider my RPG gaming to have very little to do with the book I purchased, and almost everything to do with the effort I, and my players, invest in it.  It's not the case that this effort can simply be discounted - the fact of the matter is that we-the-players make the game, the game BOOK is just a book, a tool.

But this is a major distinction: RPG's do NOT come ready to run outta the box.  Doesn't happen.  Almost all assembly recquired.  Such a game should instead be seen as requiring immense effort by the end user before its actual presence has much relevance.

If I buy a trowel, I do not attribute the beauty of my garden to the trowel, but to the work I did with the trowel.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Jason L Blair
Member

Posts: 636

Nothing is sacred.


WWW
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2002, 12:56:01 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
If I buy a trowel, I do not attribute the beauty of my garden to the trowel, but to the work I did with the trowel.



To expand on an analogy: The game should be the seeds as well.
Logged

Jason L Blair
Writer, Game Designer
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!