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Author Topic: Split from Kazaa thread  (Read 2210 times)
Bruce Baugh
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Posts: 143


« on: March 23, 2003, 10:51:34 AM »

Eric Flint's experience with the Baen Free Library is fascinating but crucially limited in applicability:

Baen treats all its electronic activity as advertising for the print books, which are its real source of profits, and

Baen has a great many titles on the market at any given time.

Those who sell only electronic products and who sell only a few products can therefore not treat all of Baen's experience as directly relevant. If you budget for your PDF stuff as promotional expenses, then sure, the money you make on it is nice but unessential. It's very different if that is what you've got to sell. In these cases, the piracy of something that someone would otherwise buy hurts a lot more than it does in the case of someone like Baen.

Now, I do think that there's a visible core of e-book pirates who are irrelevant to those of us with an interest in selling stuff electronically. Back in college in the mid-1980s I had some friends really seriously into cracking Commodore 64, Apple II, and Amiga computer games. I vividly remember the weirdness I felt upon realizing that these guys had literally hundreds of discs of games they'd never play and in fact had no interest in or knew much about. The point was to have the big collection. The same aesthetic pretty clearly applies to collecting e-books now, with folks moving more volumes than they can possibly read. This is about the collection as an artifact in itself rather than about its contents.

The folks most likely to hurt electronic sales are the less visible ones, who actually are selecting on the basis of content.
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Christoffer Lernö
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Posts: 822


« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2003, 10:16:07 PM »

Can I say something before this thread is totally closed? Two words:

Added value

If you are selling your own stuff, you can keep track of who is buying - right? Give them free access to things, maybe gaming aids in PDF form, maybe even giving away some supplements. All they need to do is to buy it from you and you'll give them access to some "exclusive stuff". Sure that exclusive stuff will leak to Kazaa sooner or later, but people will always feel that they are being treated well because they paid for it. Instead of looking around for a pirated version on the net they get it immediately.

Further on, the people who get the pirated versions that consider maybe supporting you by buying the game is given an extra incentive.

People love being treated as important customers. I believe a lot of people would think it's worth PAYING for that feeling.

How do the Linux distributors earn money? By selling support.

Sure, there will always be people who don't care for these things but I'm sure they would never buy it anyway. I believe the thing about "collecting e-books" is spot on.
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Marco
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2003, 06:04:57 AM »

Ryan,

While I understand your position, man, when I read this:

Quote

They can give me as much of a hard time as they like. I am ignoring it. I am running my company like a businesss (and I know a great deal about marketing, competition, etc).


I thought: that *can't* be true.

If you're ever beating the pants off of me with your games because of PDF/Internet exposure (and you never will, we're not in competition) I'd release one of your games on Kaaza and shut you down.

Am I missing something? You're threatening pirates with a self inflicted wound. That doesn't make much sense.

-Marco
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2003, 07:14:57 AM »

I've split the above posts from Kazaa, piracy, and your PDF game. It's a little confusing because I think Marco was responding to older posts thinking that they were new ones (correct me if I'm wrong, Marco).

Bruce, I appreciate your point greatly, but please note that I had closed the thread during the discussion. I'm the Forge content moderator, and one of our rules here is that when I say, "This thread is closed," no one is to post to it further. You're welcome to start new threads, of course.

In this case, I think both Christoffer and Marco were under the impression that the whole thread had started up since they'd last visited. It's just this sort of confusion - plus the attempt to keep discussions delimited in time - that keeps me pretty stern about the policy.

Everyone, please feel free to post to this thread to follow up on Bruce's point. However, Ryan's points on the previous thread are, in my view, not of general interest (he states as much several times). Let's stick with the current topic.

Best,
Ron
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2003, 07:11:22 PM »

Quote from: Bruce Baugh
In these cases, the piracy of something that someone would otherwise buy hurts a lot more than it does in the case of someone like Baen.

I think this is still the core of the issue: proving that a pirate would have bought the book if it wasn't available for free.

In my opinion, and that's all this is here, someone too cheap to purchase the product wouldn't have bought it anyways -- because they are too cheap to purchase the product.

It is kin to arguing that having your book available in a library hurts your sales, because those twenty folks who check out that one copy from the library would have otherwise purchased a copy in order to read it.

But you have to ask yourself: would they have? Really?

So, does it hurt sales?
If the person would have otherwise purchased a copy of the book, yes. If the person would not have otherwise purchased a copy of the book, no.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2003, 09:34:48 AM »

I think the argument would go, Raven, that there's a spectrum of honesty, and one of interest in the product. At some point of cross, a person might be interested enough to buy a product that's available, but also dishonest enough to take it if it's presented to them for free.

Consider the driven collector. He'll do anything to ensure that his collection is complete. But it's expensive. So he feels he has to cut corners. So he buys what's only available that way, and steals what else he can.

Is that so farfetched?

OTOH, I'd argue that it's far from common. This is one of those cases where personal want creates a larger percieved threat than exists, I think.

More importantly there's little to be done about it. It's essentially a cost of doing business that you have to calculate in, just as retailers calculate "shrink". Which is an euphamism for goods dissapearing to shoplifting and employee theft. No retailer closes his doors because of this. They just add a negative line on the spreadsheet, and carry on. Sure there are some security meansures you can take, but they're only so effective. In the end there's some amount that's just less costly to allow to go on than to try and thwart.

Moving to an all internet venue turns out to prevent some shrinkage in terms of shoplifting, but has it's own costs. Good business is calculating these costs accurately and going with the plan that results in the largest bottom line. And I doubt that the cost of piracy in terms of lost opportunity makes PDF any less viable than any other method of distribution (I wonder how many copies of games dissapear in warehouses).

That all said, I think there are definitely other things you can argue about PDF viability than piracy. Like the fact that people with computers can't use 'em. It's all cost/benefit analysis.

Mike
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Bruce Baugh
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2003, 12:47:16 PM »

Sorry, Ron, I missed the thread-closure notice. Thanks for the spinoff.
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Kester Pelagius
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Posts: 508


« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2003, 03:56:13 PM »

Greetings greyorm,

Quote from: greyorm
In my opinion, and that's all this is here, someone too cheap to purchase the product wouldn't have bought it anyways -- because they are too cheap to purchase the product.


Let's examine that remark for  sec.

On the Baen site there are a number of novels, mostly the first in a series, which you can read online or DL to read at your leisure.

If I grab one does that mean I am too cheap to go out and buy it?

I don't think so.  In fact that's how I was introduced to one of David Weber's non-Harrington novel series.  Which I have since gone out and purchased them all.  Oh, yeah, and read them too.  In fact I've posted a link to their site a few times on the forums, since I found it so useful.

So, obviously, such 'freebies' do generate sales.  Unless I am the only one?


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius
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"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." -Dante Alighieri
Le Joueur
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« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2003, 05:53:44 PM »

Quote from: Kester Pelagius
Quote from: greyorm
In my opinion, and that's all this is here, someone too cheap to purchase the product wouldn't have bought it anyways -- because they are too cheap to purchase the product.

Let's examine that remark for  sec.

On the Baen site there are a number of novels, mostly the first in a series, which you can read online or DL to read at your leisure.

If I grab one does that mean I am too cheap to go out and buy it?

That's not what I think he meant.  The opinion I have is that if the person is too cheap to purchase the product, ever, then you aren't losing money giving him free product.  If, like you, a good product will inspire a sale of the hardcopy of the file, then you aren't "too cheap."  Baen appears to take this a step farther using the 'get them hooked' idea (quite the pusher they).

I'm fond of Remington's idea; you give away the shaver and sell the razors.  I still haven't figured out how that would work in this business.

Fang Langford
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Kester Pelagius
Member

Posts: 508


« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2003, 07:00:27 PM »

Felicitations Le Joueur,

Quote from: Le Joueur
I'm fond of Remington's idea; you give away the shaver and sell the razors.  I still haven't figured out how that would work in this business.


Well I had a thought, dealing with something I am working on.

My idea went like this:  Create a PDF of the basic 'setting' and provide a few starters, plot seeds, ideas, and etcetera that will allow the PDF (a 'rules lite' game in and of itself) to be playable.  But put it out just as that, a rules lite system for use with a setting.

THEN, sell the 'support'.  In modules, a 'fuller' system with a more richly detailed environment beyond the thumbnail provided and...

Well, it was just a thought.  Don't really know if anyone would go for it.

ALSO, though I don't know how well this would go over, I thought maybe you could also have 'rule packs'.  For instace put out a set of plug in (but detailed) 'magic rules' or 'steam punk' rules, something like that.

I think this could be a functional buisness model, for those able to properly implement it.  And since it is also an idea I guess that means I can't copyright it or anything.  ;)  But, seriously, what do you think?


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2003, 08:45:30 PM »

For the record, Fang has the right of it.
Thanks, Fang!
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Le Joueur
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« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2003, 09:07:56 PM »

Hey Kester,

Quote from: Kester Pelagius
Quote from: Le Joueur
I'm fond of Remington's idea; you give away the shaver and sell the razors.  I still haven't figured out how that would work in this business.

My idea went like this:  Create a PDF of the basic 'setting' and provide a few starters, plot seeds, ideas, and etcetera that will allow the PDF (a 'rules lite' game in and of itself) to be playable.  But put it out just as that, a rules lite system for use with a setting.

Then, sell the 'support'.  In modules, a 'fuller' system with a more richly detailed environment beyond the thumbnail provided and...

...Also, though I don't know how well this would go over, I thought maybe you could also have 'rule packs'.  For instace put out a set of plug in (but detailed) 'magic rules' or 'steam punk' rules, something like that.

...But, seriously, what do you think?

Spreading the rules across multiple supplements, in my experience, has always been lampooned as a bad idea.  To me, it always rang of bad design; saying, "Look! We published before we'd properly playtested."

No, to me the rules in toto would probably be the shaver.  Those free shavers always came with at least one blade.  Read that as a 'setting' (or a crystal sphere or a Genre Expectation), but the important point is that the ruleset isn't fragmented.

What about 'magic rules' or steam punk rules?'  Those are the 'fancy handled shavers.'  Sell a separate, but complete, ruleset with 'magic rules;' then another with 'steam punk rules.'

Now I remember why I keep coming back to the Remington Model.  That is exactly what's planned for Scattershot.  I go so far as to adopt the later practice of those old razors; they come with an 'applicator,' a thing to put them into the razor without touching the blade.  These are the degenerate, or subset, of Mechanix put into the narrow-defined Scattershot supplement.  That way we could put out effectively a Buffy, the Vampire Slayer supplement¹ that has what we call 'Basic rules' and a bunch of references to the Gothic with a K core product that has both Intermediate and Advanced rules with a more general treatment of the Genre Expectations.

Yep, just like the Remington model, except I've got the pricing backwards!  We planned on selling the core books (there are twelve on the drawing board) at 'full price' and the supplements 'at cost.'  We were thinking that a cheap, slim, 'high concept' supplement might be a way to 'cast a wide net' and pull potential customers towards the profitable material.

I wonder if we've got it so backwards it won't work?  (Some of the supplements could easily be the freebies that everyone is talking about and there'll be ways to cobble the whole ruleset together for free - if you wanna do the work.)  Hey folks, what do you think?

Fang Langford

¹ Not specifically this franchise, or possibly any franchise, it depends on whether our visions sell as unique properties or if we're better off riding on the coattails (or franchises) of others.
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Kester Pelagius
Member

Posts: 508


« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2003, 10:35:38 PM »

Howdy Le Joueur,

Great analogy, BTW.

Quote from: Le Joueur
Spreading the rules across multiple supplements, in my experience, has always been lampooned as a bad idea.  To me, it always rang of bad design; saying, "Look! We published before we'd properly playtested."


Which is why I said it 'could be' something that might work, if someone were able to implement it properly.


Quote from: Le Joueur
No, to me the rules in toto would probably be the shaver.  Those free shavers always came with at least one blade.  Read that as a 'setting' (or a crystal sphere or a Genre Expectation), but the important point is that the ruleset isn't fragmented.


That's not quite what I meant.  (To take a game and then break it up and sell it, bit by bit.)  Rather I meant provide expansions that are literally complete systems unto themselves that could be used in place of, or as a supplement to, the system already in place in whatever game you happen to have.  But, of course, tie the rule sets into a existing core product.

Sort of like... uhm... I guess what's being done with D20, only in reverse.   [edit: I've probably just shown my complete and total ignorance about how D20 really works, haven't I?]

Provide rules of play to plut into a system rather than settings for use with a established core system.

RE: greyorm, 'k.  Sorry for the confusion.


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius
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"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." -Dante Alighieri
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