Something occurred to me after listening to my employer’s quarterly meeting. What triggered this thought was the way the CEO went on about the investors and what he believes they’re looking to get from companies.
The thought was this: The RPG market has two separate sets of investors. The first group are those who spend money to get get games printed. Let’s call this group the Publishers. In most cases, this group does the work of publishing in the hopes of getting some return for their money. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot, and smartly, this group will see potential in lots of games and will spread the risk of their investment throughout all of them and hope that a good return on any one of them will cover the losses on all the others.
The second group invest their time to take the RPG and make it fun for others. Let’s call them the Makers. We can’t use the common economic framework of risk and reward to understand this group. Their investment is to create adventures, to host events, and to promote it among their friends and family. This makes many of the Makers fickle and loyal. They can see any one aspect of an RPG as the thing which draws them to it. Remove this one thing and you will risk losing their investment in your system.
Without the Makers’ investment, your system sits on store shelves, languishing.
Without the Publishers’ investment, your system may never see print.
What are these investors goals?
Obviously, Publishers want to have a monetary return. Although they may have secondary goals that led them into that business, their primary is to make money. To do this, your RPG has to sell.
Which leads us to the Maker’s goals. To have fun. To make something interesting to play. To tell stories. To entertain and engage with friends or strangers through drama and dice. To do this, your RPG must have a certain level of accessibility.
Boiling it down we end up in a situation where access has to be balanced against profit. Is there a good way to maintain this in the digital landscape? Does one trump the other?