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General Forge Forums => Independent Publishing => Topic started by: Sagittarius on July 17, 2010, 06:08:22 AM

Title: Continued Sales.
Post by: Sagittarius on July 17, 2010, 06:08:22 AM
This topic is mostly aimed at those members who've actually had experience of selling games of their own. I'm shortly going to have finished writing my own rpg and am just curious about what happens after it goes on sale, in terms of general trends in sales figures. At what point, if and when, does a game generally start to experience a dip in sales? If this is so, do you have to constantly be working on expansions for it to make it a viable business option? I'm thinking in terms of being able to give up my day job here.

I've also been researching about the size of the rpg market and i gather it's alot smaller than it was in the boom of the early to mid 80s. Is it still large enough for an independent game to make it's creator/s a reasonable living nowadays?

Title: Re: Continued Sales.
Post by: Malcolm Craig on July 17, 2010, 06:21:22 AM
It's a very worthwhile question. Here's the sales figures for two of my games, just broken down into a year by year figure that includes PDF sales. If you want a more detailed breakdown, please do let me know:

Cold City ( (released August 2006)

2006: 307
2007: 530
2008: 426
2009: 283
2010: 54 (to the end of Q1, no complete figures for Q2 yet)

Hot War ( (released August 2008)
2008: 495
2009: 415
2010: 61 (to the end of Q1, no complete figures for Q2 yet)

These figures include direct sales, convention sales, electronic sales, and sales via Indie Press Revolution. The first part of 2010 has seen a fairly big dip in sales for both of these titles.


Title: Re: Continued Sales.
Post by: guildofblades on July 17, 2010, 09:05:31 AM
Well, the answer, as per usual is, it depends.

If you are a new publisher and releasing your first product and haven't built up a constant marketing engine yet, then odds are your game will release with a whimper. A few sales here and there. Bigger releases tend to rely on someone with a bit of experience knowing how to prime the ol marketing pump prior to release and have some established distribution methods in place (be it having the game accepted and sold by the major game distributors, IPR or having your own website built up already and drawing steady traffic). Without those things, your initial sales numbers will be small. So if you game is any good, the more of your product you get out onto the market and if you continue to grow your distribution channels, your sales should continue to increase for a good long time.

I have several games that are nearing on 10 years old and they sell the same or more copies every year.

I've got one game (albeit a board game, not RPG) that released fairly large with abou 1600 units in its first year, but that was through game distribution channels. It did another 800 the following year, but sales dropped dramatically the year after that as that was a year that most of the distribution companies were busy either going bankrupt or being bought up just prior to bankruptcy. They hardly had money to buy Wizards products much less some small press publisher. Sales remained low a few years as we as a company floundered trying to utilize a broken distribution system. Later we switched sales focus and built up our own direct sales channel and released a new edition. That next year sales started to climb. Went from sub 100 units and climbed to where it is today, floating around the mid 700s the last couple of years.

Good games will grow in sales, or at least grow in sales to hit a certain level of annual saturation into the market place, somewhat dependant on the publisher continuing ongoing marketing support and stable channels of distribution and on how niche the target is.

Bad games will sell based on how hard and constantly the publisher pushes them and eventually dwindle in sales in spite of the most fervent ongoing support. They can sell decent numbers for a few years even, but eventually no amount of marketing by the publisher is going to sustain sales because the game will have earned a bad rep. Bad games with no sustained push by the publisher struggle to sell in the dozens and be fortunate to break 100 in sales.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group -
Guild of Blades Publishing Group -
1483 Online -

Title: Re: Continued Sales.
Post by: Sagittarius on July 17, 2010, 10:14:40 AM
Thanks for all the advice. I certainly won't complain if i can get sales figures like yours! :)

Title: Re: Continued Sales.
Post by: Malcolm Craig on July 17, 2010, 10:40:11 AM
Ryan makes a good point about having an established presence. Many of our Cold City sales came off the back of our first game, a|state, getting some presence in the marketplace.

Although it's from a UK perspective, this article I wrote ( about expected first year sales might contain a few nuggets of useful information. There are a fair number of caveats attached to it, but it does provide a source of actual, hard figures for first years sales of small-press RPGs. Although, it goes no further than the first year of sale.


Title: Re: Continued Sales.
Post by: Sagittarius on July 17, 2010, 12:56:39 PM
That was a really informative article. Thanks for that.