Is the roleplaying industry actually an industry at all? Or is it just a commercialised hobby? Do fan made products keep prices down and so low that professionals struggle to earn their keep? Do players pirate more content than they pay for?
These are old questions but they circled my thoughts as I watched this Kickstarter pitch by Rustyn Sa for Fudge it! Fudge Dice Infusion. In this instance we have fans raising money to support the ecosystem around the game. Surely this is a new and powerful example of players helping the industry?
David Hill is supporting this Fudge Dice campaign. He publishes professionally for the RPG industry via Machine Age Productions and has a Kickstarter for Apotheosis Drive X too. This gives him a uniquely strong perspective on the debate.
David kindly agreed to tackle some of the questions around this Kickstarter and the debate.
What are your top three “Fudge Dice” systems and why do you like them so much?
The Dresden Files: Dresden is a wonderful game that benefits from being developed directly by Evil Hat. It covers a very popular modern literary genre, and does it very well.
Diaspora: Whereas Dresden does modern urban fantasy very well, Diaspora takes a harder science fiction approach. It takes what is ultimately a very fiction-driven game system, and makes important tweaks to evoke its desired style of play.
Bulldogs!: Bulldogs! acts as a fun contrast to Diaspora. It’s still science fiction, but it’s all about pulpy action. It’s probably the simplest expression of the Fate rules out there right now.
If there was real demand for Fudge Dice wouldn’t there be plenty of them to buy?
The demand’s partly a new one. With Fate Core’s massive success on Kickstarter, thousands of players have inherited a need for more Fudge Dice. Even people that may have had a set before will want more now, as Fate’s becoming less and less of a niche interest.
Are some forms of accessories just too much to ask publishers to support? Would support kill profits?
There may be an upper end somewhere. But gaming is a hobby industry. People will buy whatever they can within their means. If they want to double down and focus on one game ecosystem, they’re going to do that. Further accessory options just allow them to.
Should RPG fans think about supporting the industry? Should fans make the effort to back Kickstarters and run projects of their own?
I sure think so. Gaming is all about community. More community is better. Fortunately for game developers, we don’t live in this weird vacuum where more games hurts the industry. It’s quite the opposite. Every new game has the chance to bring new developments to the hobby.
It’s like evolution. Some games will do well. Some won’t. But even the ones that don’t do particularly well might contribute traits to later games.
For every fan that helps the RPG ecosystem do you think there are two who harm it through piracy?
No. Game fans are a really cool bunch. They like supporting creators, and they like being a part of creating new things. So they’ll pay for things, just to have a copy in their hand (or their tablet). In a niche hobby like gaming, file sharing helps to expand horizons and bring in a new audience.
Look at the successes that are on the tips of tongues right now. Pathfinder’s rules are all available online as part of the d20 SRD. You could play the game without actually buying a book. Fate Core is a “pay what you want” model, released under a Creative Commons license that encourages sharing. Eclipse Phase? Creative Commons. Cortex Plus was just announced to be going open license. We have all these great games openly available, and it’s not hurting them. It’s engendering trust and good faith within the community.