Designer Diary: Dealing with Licensing

The cool thing about getting a license for a game is that there is a fair chance that other publishers won’t. It thins out the field and when you are competing for eyeballs, the less competitors the better.

Having a license can also make your thing more appealing to GMs that want to ‘have it all’!

The not so good thing about licenses is that they can take forever and a day to organize. If you are not paying for the license, or paying commission or royalties, then there is little benefit to the license holder to rush your application through. They could also be dealing with dozens or hundreds of applications.

Normally, I deal with these things once in a blue moon and if something takes a little longer then it is no big deal. the back end of this year I seem to have run into a block of them all at once.

The only reason this is an issue for me is that my basic business model is what is know as Longtail.

The idea of longtail is that you create a massive back catalogue, and over time what happens is that within your niche, whatever someone is looking for, you have it. You cover every setting, every genre, every game system that you niche includes.

You have a great range of small standalone products and you can then build anthologies or bundles of these to create new, more substantial products. Raging Swan favours the anthology route, skirmisher games likes bundles. I prefer bundles as my titles do not fit together well as anthologies.

I have production cycles that are typically about 2 weeks long. I also have two types of products that I am making. Bigger games, like Terrors & Tommyguns take several weeks to read, play, write and revise solo rules for. Then you have much smaller games that can be read in an afternoon, played over a couple of evenings and the entire thing goes from reading to ready to publish in 3-4 days.

If I can organise one big, one small, in in alternating cycles I can launch one thing every week. When I cannot do that I know I can create a one page adventure in a matter of hours. I can create a cut up solo book in two days. I have options to stop there being a hole in my production and it is a very rare week when I have nothing.

Unless you run into a log jam of licensing when you spend time creating stuff and then cannot launch it. That creates a hole today, and at some future point I will end up with fully finished books but no slot to sell them in.

I will hang on to those books until I want a vacation and then take a week off and launch one of them to fill the gap.

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