Monday, 9 December 2019 Bans Publisher for Slander

ATLANTA, VANCOUVER, Dec. 9, 2019 -- DriveThruRPG -- Last week, while most of our staff were heading to the PAX show, a customer reported a title on our store, citing inappropriate content. The title was a short RPG wherein players are meant to assume the role of police officers who harass innocent victims such as “person of color” and “queer person.” 

The work in question was arguably satirical, its author perhaps attempting to make a statement against police corruption; however, our initial review determined that the work warranted a more considered review. A game that has players take the role of police oppressing minorities simply warranted more than a quick look. So, as is our policy in such a situation, we suspended the title from public sale until all of our staff could return from PAX and we could then review the work more carefully. In the interim, we notified the publisher that the title was being temporarily suspended for internal review. 

Over the weekend during the PAX show, the publisher then undertook a number of questionable actions, including deactivating their other titles and then using DriveThruRPG tools to email prior customers messages falsely blaming DriveThruRPG for having removed those titles. 

The publisher also made use of a tool that allows publishers to customize the appearance of their storefront page on DriveThruRPG; with this tool, the publisher created a false version of events, making it seem as though DriveThruRPG had banned the publisher, and then posted a screenclip of that falsified message in several places online. The clear intent of the publisher was to create outrage against DriveThruRPG. It is difficult to see this series of actions as anything but slander. 

Screenshot of the error message created by the publisher that spread on social media

Screenshot of publisher's category header tool (through Manage Publisher Page) showing the message in an editable text box.

We do not want to work with any creator who uses our platform to falsify reports against others, nor do we want to maintain a relationship with anyone who undermines the integrity of public discussion in the hobby. As a result of this publisher’s slanderous actions against us, we have decided to stop doing any business with the publisher.  
 DriveThruRPG celebrates and supports difference. We believe that a variety of opinions, beliefs, and lifestyles, as expressed both among our customers and publishers and within the titles we carry, is the sign of a healthy hobby and a healthy society.

Friday, 11 October 2019

DriveThruRPG Creates Phone PDFs is proud to announce the Phone PDF, a new format designed specifically for handheld mobile devices. At the RPG gaming table, while game masters are likely to have a laptop or tablet nearby, an increasingly large number of gamers use their phones for quick reference.

Typical game manuals and comic books in standard PDF format use the same page size and pagination as printed hardcopy editions. That format works well on tablets and monitors, but normal PDFs are not well suited to phone-sized screens.

In early 2019, DriveThruRPG worked closely with Onyx Path Publishing to create the Pugmire Phone PDF (get it FREE today!).

Starting in May, we invited several publishers to join us in creating Phone PDFs of their own RPGs. Today, DriveThruRPG is thrilled to announce that Andrews McMeel Publishing (Zweihander), Denagh Design (vs. MIRRORSHADES, et al.), Magpie Games (MASKS), Metal Weave Games (Baby Bestiary), and Troll Lord Games (Castles & Crusades) — as well as a number of community content creators on DMs Guild — have created Phone PDFs using our specs, and many other titles from a variety of publishers are currently in development. 
Visit our Customer Knowledge Base to learn more about Phone PDFs, including
recommended Apps for phones and other information.

Are you a creator or publisher wanting to convert your book into a Phone PDF to join the first wave of
amazing titles now available? Visit our Publisher Knowledge Base.

About DriveThruRPG

DriveThruRPG is part of a family of premiere online marketplaces including Dungeon Masters Guild, DriveThruCards, DriveThruComics, DriveThruFiction, and WargameVault. Together, we have been selling digital and print-on-demand comic books, roleplaying games, and fiction since 2001.

As of 2016, we have launched multiple community content programs as well as our Community Card Creator for fans to create content for some of their favorite roleplaying and card games.

In May 2019, DriveThruRPG established the process for creating books in Phone PDF format, and we launched the format publicly on October 9, 2019.

About Onyx Path Publishing

Founded in 2012, Onyx Path Publishing is a Pennsylvania-based company dedicated to the development of exemplary, immersive worlds. Working with a group of amazingly talented creators, we explore print, electronic, and other forms of media distribution to produce games and fiction based on the Scarred Lands, Pugmire, Scion, Trinity, Exalted, World of Darkness, and Chronicles of Darkness properties. 

With over 20 years of publishing experience from which to draw, we are industry professionals who love the art of the game and plan to continue making meaningful, innovative contributions in the years to come.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Best Practices Part 1: Follow your Bliss

Christopher Tang works here at OneBookShelf in publisher services. His responsibilities
include helping every new publisher for RPGs that registers with our site. Every day he gets
questions from new publishers about how best to get started or to grow as an RPG creator.
With the Best Practices series he will try to answer some frequently asked questions about
how best to grow and develop both on and off DriveThruRPG.

Getting into RPGs can be overwhelming. So often I talk to people who are brimming with
their own ideas and ambitions as they’ve finally taken the plunge to put their creative work
into the world. Sometimes the problem is not so much “what should I do” so much as
“what should I do first?” In this article I’d like to answer a few of the questions I hear as the
creative wheels start turning.

What sells best on DriveThru?
The short answer that is not actually helpful is that Fantasy is the genre that sells best and
D&D 5E is the rules category that sells best.

What people are usually actually asking “what should I create if I want to make money?”
That’s a harder question to answer.

You can make money doing Fantasy 5E products and several people on our site do.
However, it is a crowded field, and if you’re going to jump in to that field you’ll want to make
sure that your work stands out by offering something unique

What is more important is to think about what you are truly passionate about. Do you read
detective novels all the time? Play every relationship simulator that you can get your hands
on? Do you put together ships in a bottle for fun? If you follow your passion then that
passion will translate into your work and will sell better than if you try to chase trends.

What should my first product be?
When you’re getting started the best thing to do is to start with something short. This could
be a one page game or adventure or something just a few pages long. So often I see people
getting started who have grand ambitions of a magnum opus that is hundreds of pages long
but who then get stalled out. Start with something small and finish it. After that move on to
something bigger and finish that. As you create, you’ll learn more about how to create. As
with anything new, you’ll make some mistakes, and it’s less painful to make those learning
mistakes on smaller works.

Small products also become easy access points for new fans. Someone who likes your work
in an adventure is more inclined to check out your big rules book. Even as you grow these
small products are an important part of succeeding and getting your work out in the world. 

What kind of games are out there? Is there a game like mine?
Sometimes I know this off the top of my head (I play a lot of games) but the more important
lesson here is do your DriveThru research. We are the largest role-playing download store
in the world and so looking through our website can give you a look into what the state of
role-playing is in the world without having to buy everything. Try searching for key terms
that you think your game would be associated with. No one is saying you can’t make your
game, but it is important to know what is out there and similar to your game so you can
differentiate yourself in a positive way. What’s a positive difference? Well one example
could be a game that is more rules lite or rules heavy. One could be a game that focuses
on a different group than the standard set of protagonists. One excellent example of this
is the game Masks: A New Generation. There were already dozens of superhero RPGs
and even one Apocalypse Engine Superhero RPG, but by focusing on teenagers and
the sub-genre of teen heroes, Masks sets itself apart from what came before.

That’s it for now. Hopefully this advice can get you started on your adventures making
role-playing games. See you next month for more Best Practices.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Tribute to James Mathe

I woke up this morning to the tragic news that my friend and business partner James Mathe died in his sleep. I want to pay tribute to him here so that more people might get a glimpse of the man and know his many contributions to our tabletop gaming hobby.

Perhaps James' most far-reaching contribution to the hobby was his founding of RPGNow, the first webstore to focus on selling roleplaying games in PDF format. James launched RPGNow in 2001, the same year Apple launched iTunes. Well before the iPhone, iPad, or the Kindle, James recognized the opportunity for RPG publishers to reach more fans through digital versions of their titles.

By 2004, when I and a few others started DriveThruRPG, we were the Johnny-come-lately to the pioneering work James had already done with RPGNow. Nevertheless, it was through the resulting friendly business rivalry between DriveThruRPG and RPGNow that I got to know and soon came to respect James. Our professional acquaintance turned to camaraderie when we decided to merge RPGNow and DriveThruRPG in 2006 to form OneBookShelf. My esteem for him, both as a person and as a professional, only continued to grow during the 13 years we remained business partners.

What James started in 2001 has grown each year since, so that now roughly a million gamers visit OneBookShelf sites each month to discover games. Some of the webpages James coded in the early days still remain in use on the sites. He designed RPGNow to be open and transparent to game publishers and to entrust and empower those publishers with great freedom to manage and modify the marketplace directly as they saw fit. I think these design decisions were intuitive outgrowths of James' own nature.

The man's many contributions to gaming hardly stopped with the webstore, though. James never met a business opportunity he wouldn't entertain. He collected gaming-related web domain names like some gamers collect dice, and he would regularly spin up new websites overnight dedicated to some facet of gaming or another.

He also founded and operated the Game Universe retail stores in Wisconsin, expanding to three stores before later selling the stores so he could focus on his many other business pursuits.

And as if I haven't used the word "founded" enough yet, James also founded game publisher Minion Games, primarily as an outlet for his own abiding passion for board gaming. He produced hit games like Manhattan Project and, along the way, became one of the early experts on using crowdsourcing to fund game development.

He then generously turned that expertise into a website devoted to offering free advice to other board game designers and publishers, thus helping many other people who were seeking best practices for creating their own games and funding them via crowdsourcing. James also started several groups on Facebook that have since grown to be among the best places for new publishers and experts to swap game publishing advice.

To speak fairly and earnestly, James did not, in person, always convey the kindest first impression. There was a frankness to his manner that, upon first exposure, led some people to not seek out his company a second time. Those people missed out. James had a heart of gold. Whatever roughness might have shown on the surface was just an expression of James' drive to never be satisfied with the status quo and to improve things, not just for himself but for everyone.

James was a very smart entrepreneur in a hobby business full of smart people. He embodied the best of the US Midwestern virtues of work ethic, honesty, and fairness. He's gone too soon. I am saddened that we will never see what else he might have founded in the years to come.

Rest in peace, James.

Forever your friend,
Steve Wieck

Monday, 15 April 2019

Announcement: DriveThruRPG Partners with Astral Virtual Tabletop

Astral Virtual TableTop is the easiest way to create, host, and play tabletop roleplaying games. Astral has partnered with DriveThruRPG to launch a new experience that makes running tabletop roleplaying games immersive, simple, and fun for both Game Masters and players. Use Astral to play with friends online, or as a helpful tool around the gaming table. Play any tabletop roleplaying system in Astral by importing and sharing your favorite titles purchased through any DriveThru site, including DriveThruRPG and Dungeon Master's Guild.
All accounts come with a ready-made starter template, tokens, audio files, and a helpful guide to help you get started. Use Astral for free, or level up to a Pro plan to unlock automation tools and 10,000 assets (designed by Mythic Portal Games) that come with every Pro account.

Get started today:
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Thursday, 7 March 2019

Annual Sitewide Sales

A lot of people have reached out to us about this so we wanted to give a general idea of when our sitewide sales are. 

We have several recurring sitewide promotions each year. Few of these sales are attached to a firm date, but rather most slide a bit each year to suit both the international calendar and our internal marketing schedule. We also prefer to keep things flexible in case a delivery slips or we have a conflict or a last-minute change.

Even if the precise dates might move around a bit within each month, here are some guidelines that can help you when setting your own release or promotion schedule.
  • Early January: New Year, New Game occurs in the first half of January. It tends to focus on quickstarts, intro adventures, and “starter pack” bundles for game systems.
  • Early March: GM's Day is one of our three biggest annual sales, with substantial discounts on a huge swath of titles.
  • All of May: D&D Month — Throughout the month of May, we host Dungeons & Dragons-specific sales, including all editions.
  • Late July: Christmas in July is another of our top three biggest annual sales. It usually starts the Thursday before July 25.
  • All of September: Our September System/Setting Sales focus on one or two major game systems or settings for the entire month, with broad sales on all titles for that system or setting.
  • Mid- to Late October: We generally hold a Halloween Sale in the mid- to latter part of the month. Usually the focus is on Horror titles of some kind.
  • Late November: Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales take place around the U.S. Thanksgiving Day weekend. This promotion has grown over the past few years to challenge GM's Day and Christmas in July as our biggest of the year. We usually have a wide array of titles on sale for the entire weekend, with separate sets of headliner/doorcrasher items at very deep discounts for each of “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.”
  • Early to Mid-December: Prior to Christmas, we hold the Teach Your Kids Holiday Sale. This promotion features child- and family-focused games only. 

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Print on Demand Prices Changing in April

Hello Publishers,
I hope that your February is going fantastic!
This is a quick update for print on demand books as we prepare for the following print cost changes in April. We do not have a definite date yet, but as we get closer, we will notify you as soon as possible.
The short version is that Lightning Source has implemented a pretty significant change to their print cost structure. As a result, there will be a few changes coming to our sites soon:
·       Short books of all types will generally decrease substantially in cost as the fixed price for low page count books goes away.
·       B&W books will be 10-15% cheaper.
·       Standard Color books will be 10-35% more expensive.
·       Premium Color books will be 15-30% cheaper.

    There will no longer be a "Medium" size for Premium Color books. The 6"x9", 6.14"x9.21" sizes will now be considered small, and the 8.5"x8.5" size will now be considered large.

Changes to Book Print Costs

You can compare the new cost formulas below to the current costs here:
The new cost formulas below apply to all available page counts.
·       Black and White (Small / Softcover): $1.55 + $0.0138 per page
·       Black and White (Small / Hardcover): $5.98 + $0.0138 per page
·       Black and White (Large / Softcover): $1.61 + $0.0202 per page
·       Black and White (Large / Hardcover): $5.98 + $0.0202 per page
·       Standard Heavyweight/70 (Small / Softcover): $1.55 + $0.0316 per page
·       Standard Heavyweight/70 (Small / Hardcover): $5.98 + $0.0316 per page
·       Standard Heavyweight/70 (Large / Softcover): $1.61 + $0.0503  per page
·       Standard Heavyweight/70 (Large/ Hardcover): $5.98 + $0.0503 per page
·       Premium (Small / Softcover): $1.55 + $0.0676 per page
·       Premium (Small / Hardcover): $5.98 + $0.0676 per page
·       Premium (Large / Softcover): $1.61 + $0.0905 per page
·       Premium (Large / Hardcover): $5.98 + $0.0905 per page
·       Premium Color Landscape will have the same price as other Premium Large formats.
·       There will be no more Quantity Discounts for bulk orders over 50 copies.

Updating Site Prices for POD

In April, when we update print costs for your POD books, we will adjust the site price on your titles automatically so as to maintain the margin you have set for that printed format. As part of this site price adjustment, we will try to maintain similar price points that still end with $X.95, $X.99, or $X.00 to stay as close as possible to the prices you have set currently.
For example, if you have a 300-page, hardcover, premium color, 8.5x11” book on site now, the current print cost of that would be $39.90. After the April cost changes, the print cost will drop to $33.13.
If you currently have the print margin on this title set to $20.09, then its site price to customers would be $39.90 + $20.09 = $59.99.
With the April update, our code will first attempt to maintain your margin of $20.09, re-setting the site price initially to $33.13 (new print cost) + $20.09 = $53.22.
As that site price does not match the format of your former site price ($59.99 follows the $X.99 format), then our code will adjust your margin from $20.09 to $20.86, so that your new site price becomes $33.13 + $20.86 = $53.99.
Of course, after the April update, you are free to further adjust your margins (and resulting site prices).
We think this automatic price reset is the easiest and most effective process for us and you. We welcome your feedback.

What if I planned my KickStarter?

Many KickStarters print runs may benefit from the cost reductions, but if you already planned on a larger (i.e., higher page count) standard color book, you may be facing a sizable cost increase.
We will work with you on grandfathered pricing if your KickStarter launches on or before March 1st, 2019. If you are within that date range, please contact your Publisher Service Representative so we can work with you through your fulfillment.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to me through e-mail during normal business hours.
Meredith Gerber