Something for nothing and your clicks for free

I understand the arguments on both sides of the piracy debate, even the one about “pirated copies” not necessarily being lost sales, because often the people getting them that way are doing no more than flipping through them and having the ego-boost of collecting them, a bit like collecting stamps almost. My only proviso on that is, if you use it, like it and continue to use it, buy it from the folk who wrote it. If your argument is “it’s like a demo” then fine, like the demo, buy the product.

This isn’t about that. This is about the attitude to prices of PDF products. Again, I understand the anti-arguments on cost. I have made them myself. The cost of printing is transferred. If you try and get it printed professionally, some places won’t do it, believing it to be copyright infringement, and sometimes they are right. I remember when a set of Fantasy Wargame rules I like come out in a new, PDF only version. That price was certainly way too high, but I am considering more reasonably priced products.

A friend of mine recently produced some Ancients Wargames Rules, Augustus to Aurelian, and charges the outrageous sum of £12 for the rulebook, army lists (or guide to be honest) and quick reference sheets. This is a PDF product, meant for reading on a computer or tablet (there is a special iPad version) and represents two years worth of work. It is not a shoddy document either. It is professional looking with some of Phil’s own figures illustrating it, and he is no slouch with a paintbrush.

However I have seen him decried for this price, PDFs should be cheaper goes the cry. I disagree with that as a blanket statement. PDFs should be charged for at a FAIR price, and in my (admittedly biased) opinion, it is a fair price for what you get.

Another call has been for it to have been printed, and I admit I wish it had been for sale through a route that allowed for Print on Demand, but the cost to print this by the traditional route would have been at least £20,000. Assuming that with markups etc the unit price for the set was at 35% of retail (£4.20) that means Phil would have to have sold 4,762 copies to have broken even (at that £12 price). Never mind advertising and shipping to distributors. Even at a more realistic printed price of £25, again discounting shipping, that is 2,286 copies just to break even . That is a lot for a speculative venture on a new set of rules.

He’d make more money hawking hairs from his beard to use as paintbrush bristles.

So, what do I take from that. One, gamers are cheapskates. We all are in one way or another. I am parsimonious with figures. I’ll try and get an army to do different jobs, not just because of cost, but also because I don’t have the time to paint as I would like.

However, cheapskates though we be, we should think about being fair. These things don’t just grow on trees, people put in time and effort. If we don’t like it, we don’t have to buy.

Having said that, I still like freebies. Free RPGs and Free wargames that people do for the love of it. I haven’t got to grips with this game yet, but I’m passing it on cos it might be good. Epic Wargaming, free rules and terrain

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