Thursday, August 23, 2012

Q&A: RPGs and Online Sales

Ken Moscardini asks:

Do you see the need to even sell rpg material whan the people who create said material also offer it online as a PDF? What does this do to your bottom line? Also, piazo offers both hard copy and PDF support when you buy from then, why not generate a certificate where the buyer can also have a back up PDF copy once he purchases a hard copy from the store?

I don't know what PDF sales do to my bottom line. I don't really know what online sales in general do to my bottom line, or any data on what percentage of sales happen online versus brick and mortar stores.

My feeling on this is that PDF sales are a separate product and not a replacement product. That said, we are at a distinct disadvantage when we're not allowed to offer PDF products for sale, as in the case of Paizo, but only for those who want both products. Retailers discussed access to PDF products with Paizo at a trade show a couple years ago, but the discussion was later disavowed.

To the heart of your question, do we need to sell RPG materials? Need is a word I tend not to use as I'm in the business of want. Diapers and cigarettes are the world of need, and I'm glad not to have to be selling those. Should I sell RPGs in my store? The answer is technical and hinges on performance metrics. We've dropped things in our store before, like Flames of War, because no matter how we tweaked our inventory or promoted the game, the metrics never worked in our favor. The turns were always too low, to the point that it eventually lost all cohesion and had to be dropped.

RPGs in our store have a healthy turn rate of around three. We have had a problem with a lot of RPGs over the last year or two that we didn't have before. There are RPGs that have essentially gone digital that we still carry, that are no longer viable, like Shadowrun. There's White Wolf that's now in the middle of a re-boot. There's D&D 4 that's going to be limping along with us until sometime in 2014.There's Evil Hat in their "development year" with nothing new for a while. For all the talk of Pathfinder and PDFs, Pathfinder is the only healthy RPG product line we carry.

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