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Subject: Experience with selling PDF versions of game? rss

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Thomas Rushing
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Anyone have any positive experience selling a low cost/low end downloadable PDF version of your game?
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John "Omega" Williams
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Drive-thru RPG/Armour has tons of these, as does whatever shop RPG Net works through.

Some do well. Most get lost in the sea of thousands of these.

To do even remotely well you need to promote the game. Get people aware its there. Otherwise it essentially doesn't exist.
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Kent Reuber
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Many miniatures rules and RPG supplements are going the PDF route. Places like RPGnow, Wargame Vault, and Saber's Edge are selling.
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James Mathe
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Well sell all our games as PDF PnP versions and they make some money but by no means pay for the production costs. So if you think of doing it as and addition to print then I it's a great idea. I don't think it steals any sales from the print edition.

James

FYI, I invented RPGNow.com in 2000 so I'm bias of course... Still extra money is extra money!
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Indigo Kelleigh
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Do you guys think it's reasonable to do a paid (inexpensive) P&P download as well as a more expensive published set of a game? Or should a p&p version of a published game always be free?
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James Mathe
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It's totally reasonable as they serve to different needs/people. Some like the hobby of PnP. Some can't afford expensive overseas shipping. Etc. So I get a good amount of non-USA sales out of the PnPs we sell.

Two different customers.

James
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Thomas Rushing
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Thanks for the feedback! Yeah we are a card game and are thinking of publishing the decks as pdf versions for $5 instead of $15, but the quality of the decks will be sub par (meaning artwork).
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Nate K
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Indy1725 wrote:
Do you guys think it's reasonable to do a paid (inexpensive) P&P download as well as a more expensive published set of a game? Or should a p&p version of a published game always be free?


Why would it need to be free? You're offering a product into which you put time, effort, and presumably money, if there is any real art or graphic design involved. I think it's astounding that so many people offer up their print and play games for free. I'm certainly grateful for it, and I've added a few free games of my own to the mix, but I also think it's perfectly reasonable to expect people to pay for a product in which you have truly invested.
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Thomas Rushing
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kurthl33t wrote:
Indy1725 wrote:
Do you guys think it's reasonable to do a paid (inexpensive) P&P download as well as a more expensive published set of a game? Or should a p&p version of a published game always be free?


Why would it need to be free? You're offering a product into which you put time, effort, and presumably money, if there is any real art or graphic design involved. I think it's astounding that so many people offer up their print and play games for free. I'm certainly grateful for it, and I've added a few free games of my own to the mix, but I also think it's perfectly reasonable to expect people to pay for a product in which you have truly invested.


Nate, I couldnt agree more! You know my game, do you think $5 is unreasonable or too high for a simple PDF download?
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Indigo Kelleigh
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I guess I just wouldn't have expected anyone to want to pay for a game that expects them to do all the work of putting the set together. If you're all telling me that's not the case, I'll certainly rethink my strategy! I wouldn't mind making a few bucks off of these PnP downloads before putting in the effort to publish the game through GameCrafter, that's for sure!
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Nate K
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tomarush wrote:
kurthl33t wrote:
Indy1725 wrote:
Do you guys think it's reasonable to do a paid (inexpensive) P&P download as well as a more expensive published set of a game? Or should a p&p version of a published game always be free?


Why would it need to be free? You're offering a product into which you put time, effort, and presumably money, if there is any real art or graphic design involved. I think it's astounding that so many people offer up their print and play games for free. I'm certainly grateful for it, and I've added a few free games of my own to the mix, but I also think it's perfectly reasonable to expect people to pay for a product in which you have truly invested.


Nate, I couldnt agree more! You know my game, do you think $5 is unreasonable or too high for a simple PDF download?


$5 for a deck? Or for the whole set? Because if you're only charging $5 for the whole set, you're getting robbed. But $5 for a deck seems perfectly reasonable for a game that's been well-tested and balanced like yours, especially since your art is top-notch.
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Brook Gentlestream
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1) If I buy a printed game, I'm unlikely to also buy a PDF.

2) If I get a free PDF version, I'm more likely to pre-order / kickstart a printed copy. I'm more likely to be able to convince my friends that we should get a printed copy.

3) Print-and-play product can be an excellent way to distribute customizable components. Want new heroes? New weapons? And entirely different theme? No problem. I think very few people would complain about too many expansions if they were print-and-play.

4) I'm not sure I'd pay very much. A PDF doesn't have much value to me since its limited by my own skills, which are dismal. Of course, its a different case if a print version is also available or I know I can use a printing service like Print & Play Productions -- then I might just consider my printed copy to be a demo.

5) I'm more likely to buy a printed version of a game than a PDF.

6) I feel like I have more "to go on" when buying a printed game, whether or not its logically true. Let's face it, when you see a big $40 boxed game, you have a pretty good idea of what you're getting. When you pay $5-15 for a PDF downloadable product... well, there are expectations there, too.

7) I would have thought buying print-and-play boardgames to be unthinkable, except that some excellent print-and-play free games have changed my mind.

8) Screenshots of well-made components will go along way to selling your game.

9) I feel that when selling digital copy, it makes sense to give some sort of free preview. If possible, a small PDF demo of your game might go along way to selling your product.

10) If you sell a print-it-yourself product, don't be too surprised when people start distributing their own custom components, expansions they designed themselves, etc. You're selling to do-it-yourselfers after-all...

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Thomas Rushing
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kurthl33t wrote:
tomarush wrote:
kurthl33t wrote:
Indy1725 wrote:
Do you guys think it's reasonable to do a paid (inexpensive) P&P download as well as a more expensive published set of a game? Or should a p&p version of a published game always be free?


Why would it need to be free? You're offering a product into which you put time, effort, and presumably money, if there is any real art or graphic design involved. I think it's astounding that so many people offer up their print and play games for free. I'm certainly grateful for it, and I've added a few free games of my own to the mix, but I also think it's perfectly reasonable to expect people to pay for a product in which you have truly invested.


Nate, I couldnt agree more! You know my game, do you think $5 is unreasonable or too high for a simple PDF download?


$5 for a deck? Or for the whole set? Because if you're only charging $5 for the whole set, you're getting robbed. But $5 for a deck seems perfectly reasonable for a game that's been well-tested and balanced like yours, especially since your art is top-notch.


$5 per pre-constructed PDF deck with the actual artwork but borders of cards are grey scale and basic pastels.
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Brook Gentlestream
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Indy1725 wrote:
Do you guys think it's reasonable to do a paid (inexpensive) P&P download as well as a more expensive published set of a game? Or should a p&p version of a published game always be free?


I guess you'd be selling to two different audiences here, because I can't imagine ever buying both. I'd feel a little cheated somehow.

I think you'd sell more with a printed set, but the print-and-play is likely to have greater profit margins. A handful of people might choose to "upgrade" to a printed copy once they played the print-and-play version, depending on how much they've already put in.

I can imagine that some gamestore owners would not want people playing print-and-play versions of the game while a printed copy is on their shelves.

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Joe Mucchiello
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lordrahvin wrote:
I guess you'd be selling to two different audiences here, because I can't imagine ever buying both.

Of course, that's what James said above. They are two almost distinct types of customer. Sales of one version will not reduce sales of the other. People who want a PnP game are willing to take the time to print and mount the game pieces. Most people are not and would not even look at the PnP version. They will only consider buying the printed game.
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Johan Haglert
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I would never buy one.

I'm not even likely to print out any of the free commercial card games such as the new Thunderstone base set with Advanced theme or that outer AEG (?) game they also had hosted the complete card setup for.

(And maybe not even Ghost stories expansion cards or if there's some bug fixes or what not of Agricola.)

Simply because the price will be high anyway, with an ink-jet printer probably about the same as buying the game or even more and with a laser printer I don't know how good it can look but I would expect the factory printer product to be better (That got me the idea of sending the cards to a card printer service though.. That may work but still not be perfect.)

Also there's the back side + maybe regular cards for stiffness + sleeves and general mess.


Now I don't know what game you're talking about but DIY seem to use up a lot of work and money to so....

I've seen the Magic realm and merchants of venus copies. They look awesome but it's not really "free", neither in time or money.
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Johan Haglert
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kentreuber wrote:
Many miniatures rules and RPG supplements are going the PDF route. Places like RPGnow, Wargame Vault, and Saber's Edge are selling.
For a role playing game with manuals / books of course PDF would be acceptable =P

Card games.. probably not for me
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Thomas Rushing
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aliquis wrote:
I would never buy one.

I'm not even likely to print out any of the free commercial card games such as the new Thunderstone base set with Advanced theme or that outer AEG (?) game they also had hosted the complete card setup for.

(And maybe not even Ghost stories expansion cards or if there's some bug fixes or what not of Agricola.)

Simply because the price will be high anyway, with an ink-jet printer probably about the same as buying the game or even more and with a laser printer I don't know how good it can look but I would expect the factory printer product to be better (That got me the idea of sending the cards to a card printer service though.. That may work but still not be perfect.)

Also there's the back side + maybe regular cards for stiffness + sleeves and general mess.


Now I don't know what game you're talking about but DIY seem to use up a lot of work and money to so....

I've seen the Magic realm and merchants of venus copies. They look awesome but it's not really "free", neither in time or money.


The game in question is ARC: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/111418/arc
(Sorry for the long link, not sure how to link it lol)

When we were on Kickstarter there were 2 demo decks available for marketing purposes in the form of PDFs. They were free to download if you signed up for our mailing list on our website. Lots of the people who were considering making a pledge downloaded and played the demo PDF versions of ARC. It helped us get feedback for development and was a huge success.

It was recently suggested by our fulfillment house to create a similar product but sell it on our website for a small profit. These were my thoughts on the matter:

1) The product would need to be cheap enough so people would want to try it and not feel bad about "upgrading" to the real deal. Somewhere between $3-5 per deck.
2) The product would need to be made to look less appealing. The cards would still feature the real artwork on them but the borders wouldn't be as nice, they would be in generic pastel colors.
3) It would be a way for people to try the game for a low cost before making a larger investment for the $15 legitimate purchase.

If we ran another Kickstarter campaign for an expansion we could feature a deck or two for free, while still marketing to the masses the other 3 decks for all those who come across them and get curious. At $3 per deck it almost seems like one hell of a bargain, but then again since most people haven't heard of ARC because it is a relatively new game and it hasn't actually been released yet maybe it would be better to make them free for a short time? I am still torn, even with all this amazing feedback!

Part of me feels like I shouldn't give it away completely free because there was a boat load of work that went into developing the game. It really is on par with many of the top shelf card games out there. The other part of me wants to give opportunities for people to get the PDF versions for free since if it were done the right way, it would help to market the game.
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Dennis Gadgaard
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I've bought a couple of game products from TwoHourWargames in PDF format, and I have to say, for the type of game, I think it works just fine.
I don't think a PDF game should come free; there's a lot of work that goes into putting mechanics together and testing, and I think that should be rewarded.
However, by self-publishing as a PDF the final price can most likely be fairly low if you set out to get the same return per copy that you would from a fully produced and distributed game (same with novels as ebooks really).
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Thomas Rushing
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DenGad wrote:
set out to get the same return per copy that you would from a fully produced and distributed game (same with novels as ebooks really).


Now that's one hell of a way to look at it.

thanks for the feedback everyone! I have another thread going with another problem I am having regarding the first expansion for our game and how to release the expansion pack structure. As you ALL have been very helpful here, your feedback would be much appreciated on that thread as well!

Here is the link to the other thread: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/809583/ffg-expansion-pack-qu...
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