Once again, I mean this in the more aggressively helpful, positive, and upbeat manner possible. There are a lot of creators out there, designing brilliant tabletop roleplaying material, who don’t grasp the business side of things. They think they can Field of Dreams their way through, and that their efforts will eventually pay off. If you build it, they will not automatically come. Your social media followers and real-life friends cannot be relied upon to buy your thing. Businesses don’t run on favors.
Almost every day I see this disconnect on RPG Twitter. I don’t get it. Someone sees that an indie RPG funded for a crapton of money on Kickstarter. That clearly validates that there’s some sort of market for indie RPGs, then, right? Well, maybe. Bolstered by those crowdfunding dollar signs, they go throw their lovingly crafted game up on Itch. Because they’re nice people, they add a bunch of community copies that poor roleplayers and struggling creators can download for free. They are then shocked SHOCKED I SAY when the freebies are quickly gobbled up, but no actual sales result.
Yeah, people don’t download community copies because they’re really excited about your game but can’t afford it. People download free stuff because it’s free. I wish we lived in a better world, but this is the reality of the one we live in. Most of those people are hoarders, and they’re not going to pay it forward by doing you the favor of writing a review. They won’t be telling people about your game. It’s unlikely they have any intention of playing it. Odds are they won’t even read it. Sorry.
Kickstarter campaigns don’t fund because a creator threw something up there and walked away. They spent at least a month prior to launch working on the campaign. Not the game; the Kickstarter campaign. Then they spent every day that the campaign ran working on the campaign. They work as hard or harder on the Kickstarter than they do on the project itself.
The system is not fair, no. Brilliant work goes largely unrecognized. Mediocre work gets elevated because it has better marketing. People are woefully underpaid by companies that can afford to do better, as well as companies that have no choice because they’re barely getting by. But this is how things are. Do what you can, where you are, with what you’ve got. And don’t rely on people doing you favors.
Businesses Don’t Run on Favors
RPGaDay is an annual event held each August. It asks tabletop gamers to use provided daily prompts to express something fun, interesting, and positive about the hobby. David F. Chapman (Autocratik), the award-winning game designer, created it.
About Dancing Lights Press
Dancing Lights Press is a lo-fi publisher of tabletop roleplaying systems and system-agnostic creative aids, including the best selling Building series, the DoubleZero action thriller system, and Hippogryph, a fantasy story game system with traditional roots. Our products embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation because roleplaying is an activity, not a collection of expensive rulebooks.