Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Five Ancient Kingdoms: Costs and Inflation

[AKA Mandatory Disclaimer and Price Justification]

I’m charging $24.99 per copy for Five Ancient Kingdoms. It comes with dice and shrink-wrapped, but there’s no fancy box like the original LBBs, which I tried to ape in my design. The page count is a little thicker, and there is a (short) adventure scenario included in each packet.

The original D&D books (three slim volumes contained in a wooden box; no dice) was priced at $10 a pop. All on-line reports I can find state the initial print run was done in January of 1974, consisted of 1000 units, and took eleven months to sell out (the second print run was done in January of 1975).

Adjusted for inflation, a $10 box in sold in 1975 would be $43.40 in 2013. 1000 units sold at $10 a pop in 1975 would gross $43,402.33 in adjusted dollars. At $24.99 per copy, I’ll need to sell more than 1700 units to equal the feat. 

That’s just nutty.

Looking at numbers like this makes me feel better about what I’m charging. Yes, this is a hobby for me and not a job designed to support my family or a handful of employees and no, I’m not selling the books in a decorative box.

But it IS a quality product. I think it will provide a few hours of entertainment for the folks who purchase it and give it a go. And how much does it cost to go to the movies these days?

Yes, money is tight for most of us these days (it is for me, too!), and folks who’ve already invested in other fantasy RPGs may not be able to justify yet another hobby game expenditure…especially when there are so many other products floating around the internet demanding attention. And that’s cool…I totally appreciate that. The PDFs should be available this month (hopefully in the next week!) and will be substantially cheaper (especially without shipping)…though you won’t get the neat dice with the PDFs.

I just don’t want people to think I’m totally gouging folks. At least, I don’t think I am. The money I make is (mostly) being used to finance other books. I didn’t study business or anything, so I’m probably screwing this all up anyway. But that’s not the point…the POINT is to get my ideas out to other people (in hardcopy, if at all possible) for an affordable price.

And I mean “affordable” for me, too!
; )

Now, having written all that I did just come back from Dragonflight (still have some posts on that) which really drove home something that I'd kind of suspected: gamers are a broke-ass bunch of people. I mean, I know I am (the vast majority of my family's double income goes mainly to mortgage and day care costs). For a minute there, I was starting to think that maybe people are only playing these games because it is an inexpensive form of entertainment...but then I realized my game playing and buying has never (much) been influenced by how much I made (I have had "thick times" in the past to balance out the "thin"). Or as Kayce put it to me the other day: 

"Gamers with money just own more games."

Even so, I certainly don't want to price people out of my games: while a self-published fantasy heartbreaker is kind of the epitome of the "vanity publication" it's not really meant to be an ornament on the shelf of someone's game library. It's designed for play...especially by folks who want something a little different from the D20, or pseudo-D20, or neuvo-D20, or D20-lite offerings that are on the market. Or a little cheaper.

[if you want to roll a D20, I can't really help you (at the moment) because Five Ancient Kingdoms only uses six-sided dice]

Okay, that will be the last words I have to say on this particular subject for awhile.

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