So Christmas game and this weekend I spent some time on the phone with my father who is recently retired and as we tend to do, we talked about my little side business this website and ERG as a publishing venture. His questions inspired me to write this post because all books on starting a business talk about looking at the market you want to get into and how big is it and what kind of a niche can you take on lots of other factors and some business analysis and I know that a lot of RPG creators are probably not doing a market analysis and seeing how big the business is and everything else before they make their first product and that’s probably fine but if you ever did want to do that here is at least a place to start.
Now my dad’s degree is in business he did a lot of other things during his career, and also used to run his own business.
He asked me how big the industry is;
ICv2 says the hobby game industry was $1.5 billion in 2018, way up from $880 million in 2015.
We share that pie with board games and card games. The ICv2 article has a chart that says retail sales of Roleplaying Games was $65 million in 2018.
DriveThruRPG which has a big share of the digital marketplace says $X based on their own sales. They’ve done a lot of different thinking about how price affects sales. I’ll link those posts here.
As of this writing the Starfinder Reddit has 20,4K members, the Facebook Starfinder group has 14.7k members and has consistently been in the top 5 best selling RPGs at retail as described by ICv2.
Owen KC Stephens takes a stab at it here;
So dad asked what is the biggest challenge facing my business, and I said that it was getting people to know that my product exists. I have for a long time complained that people go to DriveThru to buy something that they want like walking into a convenience store for a gallon of milk or loaf of bread or what have you and my product is the pack of chewing gum by the cash register that they see through DriveThru’s interface that someone else buying what they bought also bought my product and they say hey maybe I should look at that. So the biggest problem facing Evil Robot Games is getting people to go into the store specifically for an Evil Robot Games product and we’re not just an impulse purchase or an afterthought.
And so I told him about my lack of success with Facebook ads and social media and organic traffic. I told him that we were figuring out how to make a decent looking product and getting fairly decent reviews for the products we were putting out but people still just don’t know that we exist.
Facebook still doesn’t recognize Starfinder as something you can advertise to, you can try Pathfinder players that also like Science fiction, but it’s not perfect. Reddit will allow you to target members of the Starfinder group directly. There are 480 average monthly keyword searches for Starfinder on Google.
Dad asked me what are my competitors doing and I tell them that a lot of my competitors are also peers and we talk about it and a lot of people aren’t doing spectacularly better at getting their brand out there either. The top 5, next 6-25 and 26-103 publishers each make about as many sales as the next four thousand publishers.
So then I tell him something that Creighton Broadhurst brought up, the vast majority of creators in Paizo’s marketplace have a couple of products. There is a huge funneling effect that goes from people who have one or two products to people who have 10 or more products there are not a lot of creators who’ve made more than 10 products it’s even fewer creators who’ve made 50 products like Evil Robot has and the people who made hundreds of products or thousands of products that’s very rarified air.
So the people who have made it have been there a long time and there’s a survivorship bias going on that you may never know if someone’s social media presence, their industry credentials, if they were in the right place at the right time or what is the secret of their success and longevity. I am going to share the things that work for me and the best advice I can find. If we start to see a lot of commonality between different creators of things working for them, that seem to work for everybody and are repeatable by new creators as well as established creators then we may be able to find some things that will help the next generation of creators establish themselves at least I hope that’s the case.
i think it may also be worthwhile to see if there is anything those top tier publishers are doing that us little guys can emulate on a budget.
If you have any feedback about this post or our books please feel free to contact us.
Evilrobotgames at Gmail.com