Designer Diary: Pricing

No video this week!

It was a fairly ‘workaday’ week with nothing exciting or provocative happening until last night. OneBookShelf/DTRPG suddenly announced that they were proposing to increase prices in line with US inflation at 9% from September 12th.

I don’t know the significance of the date; there may not be one.

I am not entirely sure who benefits from this.

Most indie and hobbyist creators seem a little worried about raising prices. There is always the fear that if you charge real money, then people won’t buy. I have only seen this happen once, and it wasn’t in putting the price up, it was when going in at too high a price in the first place.

There is a writer that I have known online for years now that has been creating adventures, typically in the 70-90 pages in length ballpark. These have been selling for $9.99. He then released a 120-page adventure for $49.99 and was surprised when it didn’t sell. Over time he dropped it down to $19.99, and it now gets a regular trickle of sales.

What does this tell us? That $50 for an amateur adventure is too much, and that $9.99 is probably too little.

I started off creating free and pay what you want, then moved to 99cents, then $1.99, and slowly but steadily moved up to $4.95 for most of my titles. I chose that price point because there is a prominent Under $5 carousel on the DTRPG home page.

A few of my titles I have released at $4.99, and then when they have dropped off the hottest under $5, I have put the price up to $7.99, which was what I had intended the price to be originally.

These more expensive titles sell in the same numbers as their cheaper siblings, or $2 is not enough to turn people away.

So, the near site-wide price increase was the first bit of news last night, then it changed. Not only are prices going to go up by 9%, but then after that, they would be rounded up to the nearest 99 cents. If you book was $4.99, it would go to $5.44 and then get bumped to $5.99. In essence, that is a 20% uplift.

If you were releasing things at just 99 cents, your prices will double to $1.99.

I have something like 50 one-page adventures that I sell at $1.99, and they will become $2.99, a 50% increase.

Will a dollar more on everything under $10 break the bank?

I don’t think so. If people are so hard up that they are in that position, they have probably stopped buying these sorts of gaming booklets already.

Anyone can right an adventure, and for many, it is part of the pleasure of RPGs. You don’t need to spend $2 or $3 for an adventure if you can write your own.

The people buying our stuff still have a disposable income.

I think the real driver behind this is OneBookShelf. They provide the same service to the same people and get at least 9% more per sale than prior to the price uplift. If their staff need a pay rise, this is the only way to achieve it.

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