The Seven-Sided Die

Dollar woes and RPG spending

Posted Wednesday October 22, 2008 at 07:50 PM

I like that roleplaying has one of the best cost to value ratios of any media hobby. It's such a good return on investment that my hobby's value is more often bottlenecked by the lack of time I have to read all the material I do get. At the top of my to-buy list is a one-book game (InSpectres, entirely due to the InSpectres in Spaaaace! play reports at lame mage) and a five-copy set of a generic rules system (Solar System);  each are a mere US$20. That's an incredible price for how much play I hope to get out of them.

Alas, even such a low-cost hobby can give me pains in the wallet these days. That little "US" notation before the dollar sign is the latest part of the problem. It wasn't long ago that I could buy online from RPG retailers in the US nearly on-par, but the Canadian dollar is falling against the US dollar at a dismaying rate. (Aside, I don't really get that either. If the US economy is tanking, why do money traders still consider the US dollar "safe" and flock to it during economic crises?)

I've heard that the margins in RPG publishing can be pretty thin. Are we going to see games slip out of print because of gamers reining in their hobby spending in the face of the looming recession?

Comments (5)


Wednesday October 22, 2008 at 08:42 PM

I think the PDF market stands to gain the most from this downturn, if they don't get greedy. They are relatively cheap to produce, and there is an unlimited supply. If the price is right, why not go that route?


Wednesday October 22, 2008 at 09:26 PM

I hear ya. I just heard on the radio that we're under 80 cents US. It sucks.

Nice to see another Canadian on the Network, though. :)

Michael M

Thursday October 23, 2008 at 09:05 PM

I'm in accord with newbidm on this one. Iron Crown Enterprises (I'm a fanboy, sorry) has already jumped on the PDF market, and has nearly their entire line of products on PDF--even ones that have been out of print. PDF prices are 50% of the paperback prices, so a full rulebook costs about $15.

The only problem with electronic retail is that your product is already in a pirate-able form. There are ways to fight this, but they become cumbersome; but I'm rambling.

Our hobby likes books. And our hobby--I believe--will strive to continue to produce books, and sell them to game stores. Even IF PDFs are cheaper, isn't walking into the store and flipping through the pages, talking to the clerk, and walking out with that nice, heavy bag with receipt worth all the while?

The only reason we stopped using video rentals is because Netflix has a great rate. But there's something I'm going to miss about browsing through the video section (The Onion News Network online did a great take on this). Despite the move to PDF market, RPG companies will (they better!) continue to create books.


Thursday October 23, 2008 at 09:26 PM

I like books too. The trouble I have with a PDF is that it's nearly useless for evangelising about a new game. Sure, I can give someone a copy of the PDF, but that's counter-productive when I'm trying to get more people interested in a game and to support the publisher. Since I'm my group's sole point of contact with all things indie, and that the kind of stuff I want to play more of, PDFs just don't do the job.

A physical book, on the other hand, is a powerful tool for convincing someone to give a game a look. You can forget about a PDF on a keydrive someone stuck on there for you, but it's harder to ignore the physical book the GM stuffed into your bag after the last session of the group's usual game.

On a tangent, I can't wait for cheap, ubiquitous digital ink document viewers.


Wednesday November 11, 2009 at 02:26 PM

I'm a huge fan of printed material. It's the only way I can really focus on and absorb information in a lasting way. If economic necessities force RPG publishers to produce mainly electronic documents, I'd probably drop out of the "contemporary" end of the hobby altogether and fall back on older books from the era of print.