Monday, January 2, 2017

A Year in Review

A Year in Review
Writing a year-in-review post is something that is traditionally outside of my area of comfort. As the industry people who have met me personally will attest, I am quite introverted and constantly deal with feelings with being an imposter. Still, since I know these two factors present struggles for me, I need to work on them. So, let us get reviewing the year shall we.

Purple Duck Games sells products through 5 main channels:

  • OBS (Rpgnow/DrivethruRpg/sister sites) [One Book Shelf]
  • OGS []
  • Distribution to Studio2Publishing
  • Direct sales to Goodman Games

From my sales totals this year, 58% of sales have come from the OBS sites, 18% from Paizo, 14% through distribution chains, 8% from the Open Gaming Store, and 2% from Patreon (which did not run all year and has been terminated).
Overall, our sales are up 46% over the last year. Costs are up 11% over last year. So we are ending the year in the black.
The distribution position just changed in the last month when Goodman Games opened his doors to DCC print products from third-party publishers. This action of Joseph’s part has doubled my distribution totals for this year.

Our sales at Paizo, month to month, have started to slow in the last couple of months. Some of that loss is being scooped up from OBS stores and some is being scooped up by the Open Gaming Store. In general, I used to sell $3 at Paizo for every $1 at the Open Gaming Store. In September-Dec that has been closer to $1 to $1.

By the Numbers
We have released 298 products this year through OBS:

-         Products using Pathfinder OGC - 40
-         Products using DCC OGC – 8
-         Products using Pathfinder and DCC OGC – 1
-         New systems created - 1
-         Stock Art – 230
-         Stock Art Subscriptions – 2
-         Bundles created for OBS – 15

I am just listing that were released to the OBS sites as neither Paizo or the Open Gaming Store seem to be successful venue for stock art sales.

When I look at sales totals by brand across all venues, Pathfinder-related products are accounting for 62% of my overall sales followed by DCC at 22%, art at 12%, and other sales at 5%.
These trends are not consistent at all the vendors though. At we essentially only sell Pathfinder-related (purple-branded) material. At the Open Gaming Store, we sell Pathfinder-related (purple-branded) and other materials. Meaningful sales of Dungeon Crawl Classics material is only done through the OBS stores and Goodman Games distribution itself.

Top 5 Products
Our five products of the year can mean different things to different people. Are we talking about # of sales (for non-free titles), sales total, or earnings (after costs). Three definitions clearly produce different results for the #1 spot.

If we are talking about # of sales (for non-free titles):
#1 - GM's Aid VII: Condition Cards
#2 - Kineticists of Porphyra
#3 - Kineticists of Porphyra II
#4 - Kineticists of Porphyra III   
#5 - Dispatches from the Raven Crowking V.2

If we are talking about sales totals:
#1 – Monsters of Porphyra 2
#2 - Kineticists of Porphyra       
#3 – Kineticists of Porphyra II   
#4 - Kineticists of Porphyra III   
#5 - FT 2 – Creeping Beauties of the Wood

If we are talking about earnings after costs:
#1 - Kineticists of Porphyra       
#2 – Kineticists of Porphyra II   
#3 - FT 2 – Creeping Beauties of the Wood
#4 – AL 1-5 The Stars are Falling
#5 – FT 3 – The Portsmouth Mermaid

Getting the Word Out
I am terrible at getting the word out about products. The most effective way to do it that I’ve seen for introverts like myself is by having other people doing it for you. The two most successful ways that I have “got the word out” by letting other people do it for me is:

#1 – Hire passionate people to write for you that like to talk about their own work.

As we look at most those books on my top 5 list they were either written by N. Jolly or Daniel J. Bishop.

·        N. Jolly actively promotes his work through playtests, development discussions, and feedback cycles. He essentially does design in public and is very responsive to his fans.
·        Daniel J. Bishop is central figure in the DCC community having worked with essentially all 3PP publishers in that area. Daniel regularly participates in DCC discussions and continues to provide information on how to run DCC as an ongoing campaign instead of a one-off-adventures.  

There books are top sellers because of the quality of their design and their engagement with their fans. This engagement is essential in building their fan base and for their products to succeed.

#2 – Share the work of others?

The industry is small, many freelancers work for multiple companies. Many companies freely share ideas, advice, and support. It takes a second to share your competitor’s product announcement or review. If you share the work of other companies, other companies will share your work.

Take-aways from the Year
Due to changes in my day job, I have less time to spend on Purple Duck Games. When I get a break, like the 14 days off at Christmas break, I’ve used almost all to get “caught” up on several products.

  • I do not think it is reasonable to host all products at all vendors. Loading products to a site that doesn’t support that market is a waste of time.
  • A large portion of my time in layout is spent reformatting things. Things that are inconsistently done that do not need to be. When I am reformatting in layout everything slows down.
  • After the completing of Monsters of Porphyra 2, I have completed very little personal writing.
  • Too many products have been written, paid for, and remain unreleased...  and therefore are not earning money. This also includes stock art that is unreleased

Resolutions from the Above Points

  • I will no longer load DCC products at any vendors outside of OBS. I will no longer load any “other” systems at Paizo.
  • A style guide is going to be created for all Purple Duck Games, Pathfinder-related products. Products submitted that do not follow the style guide will be returned to their author for corrections. All products currently in development or sitting on my hard drive are exempt from this rule.
  • All products in 2017 will contain microproduct written by me probably in the collector series of Monsters of Porphyra or Faces of Porphyra.
  • All new products will be completed on a FIFO model.

That is where I currently am as I look back on this year. Any questions?