Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pathfinder RPG Sells Out in Pre-Orders

This morning I received an email from Paizo indicating that the core rulebook of their upcoming Pathfinder RPG has sold out in pre-order. I think that's great, since, while I'm not really the target audience for Pathfinder's rules -- they're still too fiddly and complex for my liking -- I have a healthy dose of respect and affection for the guys and gals at Paizo, particularly Erik Mona, whose love for pulp fantasy exceeds my own. I keep my eye on what the company produces and am glad to see them succeed. I hope that, one day, they might dip their toes into the old school waters, because I have little doubt they understand what made the original editions of D&D so great.

Still, press releases like this all raise my skepticism. Nowadays, it's not uncommon to hear that a product in this industry has sold out before release, but, without solid figures on how many copies have been sold, what does it all mean? Erik Mona is quoted as saying, "To sell out a hugely ambitious print run before the release date just goes to show what an immense audience this game will enjoy in the years to come." How many books are in "a hugely ambitious print run?" Is it 10,000 copies? More? I doubt we'll ever really know and, on some level, I'm not sure it matters. So long as it's enough to make Paizo some money and keep Pathfinder profitable, the numbers are probably immaterial. I just wish more gaming companies were more forthcoming with sales figures, since they'd go a long way toward putting the current state of the hobby in context, particularly to those of us who remember its faddishness -- and ridiculous sales figures -- from the 1980s.

In any case, my congratulations to the Paizo crew. However you slice it, this is good news for them and I wish them every success in the world.

24 comments:

  1. I wish them success as well. I was following pathfinder eagerly for a little while but after a while
    I was pretty sure it just wasn't for me.
    I hope they do sell many thousands of copies because it does help enforce the notion that D&D-like RPGS need not all follow the direction of a single publisher.

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  2. Given the state of the industry, "hugely ambitious" might mean just "3,000." Impressive in these waning days, but nothing compared to what was.

    Regardless, like you I like and admire Paizo's products, even if they're not to my taste. (Though I've been meaning to subscribe to Planet Stories.) I hope this is the herald of a huge success for them.

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  3. I'm betting dollars to donuts they arrive at GenCon with about 1,000 books and tear through them all that weekend. The 3.5 PHB were going like hotcakes when they were dropped off a few years ago.


    Good luck to Paizo, I plan on picking this sucker up (in hardback, PDFs PFISH!) when it lowers in price a bit as my gaming dollars are stretched as it is.

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  4. I also wish them well as a former customer of theirs.

    Unfortunately (for them) I've moved away from 3.X after 8 years of wrestling with the rules in order to get the game to flow more smoothly.

    Like James, I'd LOVE to see them produce a rules-lite version of Pathfinder that is reminiscent of old school D&D.

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  5. JD: all weekend. I'd bet real money that if they show up with 1000 copies that they sell out by friday at the latest. It wouldnt suprise me if they sold out thursday of 1K copies.

    Thats great news to hear.

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  6. Isn't Pathfinder usually heavily story driven product that allows little in the way of DM creativity and control? I'm not sure I want to root for that.

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  7. Isn't Pathfinder usually heavily story driven product that allows little in the way of DM creativity and control?

    Pathfinder magazine features adventure paths that are a bit heavier handed than I like for gaming purposes, yes, but the rules themselves are rather neutral on this point. They're basically a cleaned up version of v.3.5 D&D.

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  8. While I'm no big fan of "Mathfinder", I do wish the company success!

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  9. Thanks, guys. I appreciate the kind words even (or perhaps especially) from those of you who have no stake in the product because you've got a different game of choice. From where I sit, ANY success in the RPG industry is worth cheering about.

    And while we have not released sales figures, I can say that we don't consider 10,000 units "hugely ambitious," and we'll be bringing well more than 1000 copies to Gen Con. Still, I'm worried about selling out, because the game appears to be moving much faster than any of us anticipated.

    And while we have not formally thrown our hats into the "old school" or rules-light field, our hearts are very sympathetic to the cause, and I wouldn't be too surprised to see something down the road.

    First things first, of course.

    --Erik Mona

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  10. "And while we have not released sales figures, I can say that we don't consider 10,000 units "hugely ambitious,".."

    That's really interesting, Erik, and heartening. I had thought the market had shrunk so much that days of runs over 10K we long gone. Well done!

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  11. Though Pathfinder is coming out with a 3.x game book, don't forget that they have a campaign setting book that we can freely mine and adapt to other systems. That's what I'm planning on doing, at least.

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  12. Good to see an RPG company succeeding.

    However, between adventure paths with their plot restrictions and the heavy rules set biased to spellcasters, Paizo is selling nothing I'm buying.

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  13. I know that adventure paths are not the game of choice here but Paizo do do them very well..

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  14. When I read news like this, it really makes me wonder if 4e is as widely accepted and played as its supporters claim.

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  15. Wow, that's great! Like others, I'm not interested in Pathfinder (I wasn't into 3e either) as a game for me, but nonetheless I wish you guys success with it. Does this mean the market is being carved up in ways we haven't seen before? More specifically, what I wonder is whether it has splintered so much that more people have essentially stuck with an older edition than ever before.

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  16. I for sure would not want any company (retail, food market, porn distributer, game company) to do badly. That would be downright unAmerican.

    But as somebody who usually only buys miniatures and almost no other gaming product (I still have tons of my own ideas for my AD&D 1st ed, Coc, and Champions even after 30 years, so not usually looking for modules and adventures), my gaming world and future doesn't really hinge on it being this huge, crazily popular and accepted by mainstream thing. I actually always got off on the hobby's somewhat underground nature (maybe some self-loathing. My non-gamer friends don't even know I do it) and I will find players for my games no matter how the market place goes.

    I don't mean this in any bad spirited way, but the best gaming material/supplements/adventures I have found this last year have been free online, and usually appeal to my style more than anything gaming related that you need to pull your wallet out for.

    I'd like to see things be more grassroots. Free. We will always have a community as long as we have access to each other's stuff gratis.

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  17. I agree that free is a powerful distribution method, which is why our playtest rules have been free for more than a year. It's worked wonders for the game's popularity, apparently. :)

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  18. I would bet that it worked wonders for getting feedback from play-testing!

    That probably helped (along with your previous track record) to give people confidence that you would deliver a quality product.

    You don't have to please me, any more than do Goodman or Kenzer. To thyself be true, doing work of which you can be proud, and you can probably afford to be more ambitious than folks who must wonder, "Is this crap? What does the latest survey say?"

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  19. I'm very happy to hear this. Although not a big fan of 3.5 (and certainly not of 4th), I'm very please to see another company join the frey with great success, well done Paizo.

    "Like James, I'd LOVE to see them produce a rules-lite version of Pathfinder that is reminiscent of old school D&D"

    Ditto.

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  20. Forget reminiscent... I'd love to see them produce a version (or merely support products) *compatible* with old school D&D.

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  21. I'll just add my voice to the many: although not at all interested in Pathfinder, I like Paizo, think you've done great stuff for making classic pulp literature available (I say as I look at my copy of The Secret of Sinharat), and am really happy at your success.

    A bit surpised actually. Given my Old Man Nature, I just assumed that "those damned kids" who liked 3.141, would naturally gravitate towards 4th ed. I now realize that there will come a day when 3.141 will be remembered as a classic by a certain generation.

    Hmn, now I feel old and decrepit. I'd better take my Geritol and go to bed. :)

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  22. So many old men in here (which makes sense, I don't think demographic research need to be conducted on "old school" rpg'ing).
    Anyway: I'm on my way to become an old man too I guess since I'd rather stick with 3.x than move on to 4.0. Now let's see if I can convince my group to use these new rules.
    Nice one Paizo!

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  23. I'm most impressed with the lack of skeptism that meets the announcement as opposed to every WoTC announcement. Goes to show that doing things the customers want is a good way to get good 'vibes' so to speak on the net.

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  24. I can't wait to get my copy. I've had it on preorder for months. So looking forward to this...

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