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PDF Game Pricing

April 21, 2014

10 years ago, rpg PDF pricing was kind of a big issue.  A lot of folks wouldn’t pay more than $5-10 for anything, and there was many who argued because they weren’t getting a physical object that had printing costs, the price should be super low.

But now I’m thinking about the way in which a lot of folks use PDFs in play: one person buys it, and shares it with their group.  To be sure, publishers would prefer every member of a group to buy the PDF, but honestly, this is only a little different in function than “have a book, share it” (in the short term… I’ll talk about long term further on).

There’s some advantages PDFs have in this way – everyone can look at the rules, everyone can poke at making characters, long before the actual game session.  This lets you just get into play faster when it comes time to play.

I remember seeing a couple of people surprised that folks were willing to pay $20-30 for some PDFs.  Some of this, of course, is the fact we’re looking at E-book pricing where $10-20 is not unheard of as a norm for books that have no artwork, etc, but the other part is that price is basically divided out amongst the group.

“Yeah, I paid $20 but now we ALL have the rules and can use them”.

And I’m wondering how much it just makes sense for publishers to simply price along these lines at this point – assume it’s going to be a group price, and charge a little more (obviously, not 4-5 times the book price) and go with it.

Now, the long term issue is that the play group will probably split up or overlap into other groups, and you have folks who are taking those PDFs and sharing them again.  At that point you’re now back to “hope someone will support me and buy a PDF or a hardcopy” amongst the group.

I don’t think there’s an easy answer to any of that, other than, keeping up a presence, making good games and relying on your fanbase to buy in.

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