To help small publishers who might be struggling with finances during the lockdown Onebookshelf (who operate the Dungeon Masters Guild and the Storytellers Vault), Wizards of the Coast, Fantasy Grounds and White Wolf will take zero commission on products sold through DMs Guild or the Storytellers Vault.
To encourage people to buy downloads or print on demand products during this time, then there will be a sitewide sale too; 20% off any download that’s at least 30 days old.
Usually, both Onebookshelf and the license owner take a cut. For example, if you create a 5e product and sell it through the DM’s Guild then you’ve made something for Dungeons & Dragons and are selling it with Wizards of the Coast’s blessing… but not for free. You don’t get to keep 100% of the sales.
From May 4th to May 17th, that’ll be different as everyone has agreed to waive their fees.
Play It Forward, as the initiative is called, is a really generous offer from Onebookshelf, Wizards of the Coast, Fantasy Grounds (you can buy Fantasy Grounds modules from the DM’s Guild) and Wizards of the Coast. It should be applauded.
However, it has created a group who will suffer a little – that’s sites like Geek Native.
Onebookshelf runs an affiliate program, offering to pay back a small percentage of sales of RPGs and accessories generated as a direct result of media coverage.
As Onebookshelf are waiving their fees, they are also waiving the money from sales they would use to pay affiliates. As a result, affiliates won’t be earning commission during Play it Forward.
Geek Native isn’t aware of any affiliates being consulted in advanced or asked. Indeed, access to Onebookshelf’s affiliate program isn’t a right, there’s no contractual obligation one Onebookshelf to keep it running.
It’s hard to earn money as an affiliate, and as a result, I speculate there are no full-time RPG affiliates in the hobby. It may well be the case that the majority of affiliates earn beer money and little more. I hope that’s the case, anyway.
The lockdown has been tough on many affiliates. Most recently, Amazon’s drastic response made international news as it slashed commissions.
Geek Native typically uses affiliate commission to buy books to review (most recently What We Were), pay server costs, Amazon storage costs and for tools and technology such as the competition widget you see on posts like this one.
It won’t be great not having any income from DMs Guild or the Storytellers Vault for two weeks, but Geek Native still supports Play it Forward and hopes it will be a great success. I encourage readers to take full advantage of the 20% sale and fill their shopping carts.
Last week, Geek Native launched the Karma Queue as a way to try and support publishers during the lockdown.
Correction: The 20% off applies only to products that are 30 days old. (4th May, 2020)
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