Saturday, March 26, 2011

Question about RPG Companies

Here's a question whose answer I genuinely don't know: how many companies are there out there these days the majority of whose incomes derive from RPGs and which have 10 or more salaried employees? Off the top of my head, the only one I can think of is Paizo, though perhaps White Wolf still qualifies too. Most of the other companies I can think of whose incomes derive primarily from RPGs have, at most, only a handful of salaried employees, assuming they have any at all.

Unless I'm simply overlooking a large number of companies (which is possible), this means that most RPG publishing is a part-time or even hobbyist affair rather than something more grandiose. Mind you, I'm not sure this is any different than it was back in the day. When I entered the hobby, I suspect TSR was one of the few companies to have more than 10 salaried employees whose income was mostly from RPG sales. Nearly every other company was probably a two or three-man operation done on a part-time basis or as an adjunct to some other kind of publishing or manufacturing -- just like today.

22 comments:

  1. I take it you are not counting such companies as SJ Games (which derives most of its income from card/board games) and Wizards of the Coast (which gets more income from Magic)?

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  2. Correct. I'm looking for companies that the majority of their income from RPGs.

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  3. Scratch White Wolf then, since they got bought by the company that produces and runs the EVE MMO, which I'd have to guess is their primary revenue stream. Palladium probably doesn't make it, I'd be shocked if they have more than a handful of full-time people there...frankly, I think the average 'gaming company' in the 20teens is probably three guys and a list of art contractors. So yeah, I think you've got the list already, at one...

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  4. Green Ronin and Margaret Weis Productions maybe?

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  5. Simplest way to find this out:

    1) Go to the Facebook page of the company's owner/director/whatever.
    2) Look at employment info.

    I don't think I've ever worked for anyone who does RPGs as their day job.
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    As for Paizo, is their actual revenue base selling RPG supplements, or operating their online store?

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  6. The only possibility not mentioned I can think of is Mongoose.

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  7. Like you mentioned though, James, I'm not so sure that much has changed in this regard since the mid-80s (with the notable exception of TSR's staff devoted to RPGs).

    Back then my favorite RPG publisher was Fantasy Games Unlimited. I'm given to understand that FGU was really just one man, who then outsourced (or in-licensed, depending on your point of view) all the creative work.

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  8. Maybe Pinnacle? Their site lists 10+ people, but I've no idea if they're salaried.

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  9. Yes, Mongoose probably qualifies. I'd forgotten about them.

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  10. Something like 75% of SJG's sales these days are generated by Munchkin, which both boggles my mind and disqualifies them from consideration.

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  11. What about Chaosium? I am pretty sure their primary income stream is rpg's but I am not sure of of their size...

    FFG has enough employees but although their rpg line is bigger & bigger I still suspect their bread & butter is board/card games.

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  12. I'm pretty sure Chaosium's full-time staff is quite small, perhaps consisting of just Charlie Krank and maybe another, at most.

    I thought of FFG, which is pretty successful, but, as you say, their bread and butter is board games these days.

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  13. Kobold Quarterly?

    Kenzer & Co. ... their main income is KODT but you could argue KODT is a roleplaying product.

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  14. How about Palladium? What counts as an employee?

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  15. how many people work full time at troll lord games?

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  16. Possibly Cubicle 7. But only because they are also acting as a printing, fulfillment and distribution house for other RPG companies. [In the same manner as Mongoose.]

    Very little seems to be done "in-house" any more, probably because there is no need to do so. Or for people to be colocated in the same physical area.

    But yes, the number of full-time employees in the entire field of role-playing games is fairly limited.

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  17. Are you sure Paizo's lead revenue is from RPGs? Between the online store and the Planet Stories novels, I wouldn't be so sure.

    But yeah, Mongoose is the only one that jumps to mind. C7 is 100% RPGs AFAIK; but they're a part of the bigger, videogame-centric Rebellion Group which also included at one time AD2000 comics.

    I'd submit Green Ronin and Palladium but I'm not sure how many people do they employ.

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  18. For Paizo I'm pretty sure their largest source of income is RPGs. I know they have mentioned that their Adventure Paths are the most successful thing they do. I'm not sure if that corrolates to revenue but from all of the comments from the staff on the site I would say that RPGs is their bread and butter.

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  19. No, Kenzer and Company only has three full time employees, and two of those are VPs. :)

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  20. I wonder how the situation today would compare with the 3e boom era a few years ago.

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