Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2008

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion


To the 109th issue of The Guild Companion.

Guild Companion has an ICE e-store

It has long been a matter of concern to us (and indeed to ICE) that our PDF products have been underperforming in terms of sales, particularly compared to the sales of ICE's own PDF's. One suspicion that we've had is that by and large ICE fans buy their ICE-related PDFs at ICE's own storefront, not elsewhere. Thus we believe there is a natural resistance to shopping elsewhere. Whereas our commercial presence is on RPGNow where we are competing for visibility with thousands of other products and on YourGamesNow where there simply aren't very many customers. We have considered now and again having our own storefront on this site, but the administrative and security grief simply is not worth the pain. Guild staffers are volunteers, doing this as a hobby. Keeping a store working and secure requires full-time attention. We've all got day jobs that pay considerably more than we'll ever earn from selling rpg products - and given the current disastrous pound-dollar exchange rate, I'll earn more in a month from my day job than from writing Something Wicked. So having our own storefront was a non-starter.

ICE's new ecommerce engine, however, gave us an opportunity to escape from the commercial trap that we've found ourselves in. With substantial help from Tim and Bruce at ICE, we now have our own dedicated storefront on the ICE website and our entire back catalogue is now available for purchase from guild.ironcrown.com. We've already had more sales at guild.ironcrown.com in a couple of weeks than we've had at YourGamesNow.com ever. We're not yet at the same quantity of sales as we achieve in an ordinary month at RPGNow, but we've not had a full month on the ICE site and we've not had the energizing effect of a new release yet.

As an aside, it's still a coin flip whether the digitally remastered Rolemaster Companion I will sneak out before Xa-ar or vice versa. Rick Hansen has just sent over the final cover art for Rolemaster Companion I, so it is just waiting on Andrew completing the layout. Xa-ar needs Terry to finally say that he's done, hand it to me for editing and insertion of RMSS/FRP stats, and me to send back for him to integrate the changes. Dun Cru and SWMA OGL 3.5 Edition are queued behind these two.

Back to the main thread. Regardless of which of these products makes it to publication first, we will put them up for sale on all three sites - guild.ironcrown.com, RPGNow and YourGamesNow. However, that will not always be the case for all future products.

Unlike some RMSS supplements whose copyright has reverted to a singleton or a pair of authors, nearly all RM2 Companions have many, many authors. It makes it impossible to find a complete set for some RM2 Companions, which means that republishing those works as complete remastered versions of the originals is not going to work. I have considered the possibility of creating multi-author compilations but the payment adminstration that would entail is a nightmare I'd like to forego. With the new ICE-based Guild storefront, we can consider producing mini-products that reincarnate a RM2 profession and spell lists, a variant rules subsystem, or whatever, and charge a sensible price without customers suffering the minimum payment charges that accrue on RPGNow say. Enough RM2 Companion contributors have now been located that there could be a steady stream of these - but I want some of our production queue cleared before adding more products into the mix!

If you've read the ICE newsletter of the 22nd February, you'll have seen a mention of Guild products in the future being available in printed form. Yes, you did read that correctly. There are various logistical issues that we have to sort out first. It is also unlikely that all Guild products will be available in print - for instance much of the value of Friends & Rivals comes from having spreadsheets for each character at every level from 1st to 10th - and we may find that the printing setup is only sensible if we have a minimum number of orders to kickstart the process. Those provisos duly stated, it would be a shame not to make proper use of ICE's shiny new printing facilities.

Farewell for now ...

All being well, my day job will not encroach on my evenings this incoming month, so I hope that I'll be able to report on progress with Something Wicked. We'll be back in April with issue 110, but until then …

Keep gaming and have fun,
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion