Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The case for PWYW products

Apparently there was some rumblings about how PWYW downgrades the RPG industry.  I currently don't have any sources on that, although it was on twitter.  After a brief search I was unable to find anything.  I have a few messages out there to people, so if I get some data I'll do an edit to this post.

Okay, here's the gist of why I totally love PWYW products, and why most of mine are PWYW.

Once a year I get a cheque for $100 USD, which works out to $132 CAD

I've been considering picking up Sage Of The Shadow Lord as it looks like a lot of fun.
The softcover print is $9.99 USD
Hold on a second though, gotta convert that to CAD, and we gotta add the shipping.  Here's what it costs me to get a reprint of a basic old school D&D module.

Cheapest shipping is $15.14 CAD (3-6 weeks)
The book is $13.28 CAD

So we are at $28.42 CAD for a reprint of a book. 

Alternatively if I was in the states the shipping would be half that and the book is $9.99

Alright my cheque went down to $100 CAD

And I might just grab in search of the unknown while I'm at it.  Unfortunately if I buy 2 things, the shipping doesn't get any cheaper (like amazon).

Now I'm probably going to go out to the local game store as well, because my nephew has been playing D&D with us and he needs a set of dice.  There's another $7.00 CAD that I'll spend.

Oooh a few new minis, a extra set of dice for shane cuz why not, and If I remember correctly they got a pile of old AD&D books that no one wants except me (score!)

So $14 for dice, $8 for a few minis, and a copy of some old tome for $23.00

I am now at $101.84 CAD

So I've got less than $30 leftover.  And I'm hungry, and there's a McDonalds near the game store.

Pay What You Want is NOT hurting the industry at all. 

When I first started publishing some stuff my thought process was the following:
Put out some free stuff
Gain a few followers
Put out some pwyw stuff
Gain a few extra followers
Get them excited about something
Put out an actual book to make money.

The last part hasn't happened.  I'm currently working on something, but the intention is to use the above cheque to not purchase any actual rpg products, but instead pay for some art.

In the end, it'll be the same thing, a 0 dollar income that I'm super happy about.

Because honestly that's not the point and never was for me.  Sure a few extra bucks to buy some RPG books is fucking wonderful (and I love all you guys for purchasing stuff!).  The real satisfaction comes from creating and putting stuff out there, and people get excited about it.  Which then pushes me to do more stuff.

Whenever that cheque arrives, I'll probably go on a spending spree and put all that money back into the industry.



  1. Oh and there's no friggin way I'm paying $143 for shipping.

  2. Loss leaders to gain market is a time proven strategy. Naturally the PWYW pile will have a decent percentage of garbage mixed in but folks can sort through the pile sacrificing their time instead of gambling their cash as they look for the good ones.

  3. I think the anti-PWYW argument, consistent with the anti-$1 mobile game argument back in the day, or the anti-steam sale argument, is that it becomes a race to the bottom, where it becomes increasingly difficult to run a sustainable business or make profit because the consumer expects more for less, and ironically de-democratizes the market such that only those who can afford to produce content at a marginal profit, or at cost, or at a loss can continue to produce.

    I'm not saying I entirely agree with that argument, but I do think that's the argument.

  4. Sounds like a sniffy whiner baby club sniffing and whining over literally nothing. Don’t let the turkeys get you down!

  5. I'm looking into PWYW, ironically not for the money, but for the free file hosting. I haven't seen the anti-PWYW arguments, but I'm pretty sure they run the same as the anti-indie RPG arguments that I've seen from freelancers who do jobs for companies like White Wolf: that hobbyists producing so much product and pricing it so low hurts their chances of making money in the freelance market.

    And the flaw is always the same: that pesky word "hobbyist". Freelancers and hobbyist/indie publishers aren't even working in the same market. There have always been hobbyist game publishers, since *before* the first RPG, and they have always produced cheap games that rarely made much money. Most aren't interested in running an actual business and making a living, even if it's a tempting dream. They just want a little bit of spare cash and a little bit of notoriety. Their production quality and distribution streams are nowhere near the same class as major RPG publishers, so the only way some nerd self-publishing a PWYW book can hurt major publishers and the professional writers who work for them is if the major publishers and their writers are producing garbage.

    Any conclusions that can be drawn from this line of reasoning is an exercise best left for the reader.