This morning on my way to work, I stopped at my local Wawa for breakfast (bad for the waist line, but still good) and there was a guy from the local newspaper there handing out free copies of their paper. I didn’t take one and as far as I could tell no one else did either. It amazed me that they were still trying to keep that end of the market alive. Why weren’t they offering some kind of “try our online subscription free for 30 days” or something like that. This might sound harsh, but when the nation’s largest newspaper (the New York Times) could spend HALF as much money by buying every single one of their subscribers a Kindle and letting them read it there instead of printing the actual paper, your industry needs to find a different business model, and fast.
My next thought though was: how does this apply to RPGs? The print side of the market has been shrinking for years while the electronic side as really been the only growing part. While the total market for electronic books is miniscule compared to the print market, those numbers will not be that way forever. But when Amazon sales of Dan Brown’s book The Lost Symbol are selling better on the Kindle than in hardcopy, the rest of the market cannot be far behind. Keep your mind open for the whole of the RPG market to be on those devices in less than 5 years.
What else is changing? Sci-fi-like battlefields are finally here. If you have not seen this video yet, check it out. Surfacescapes Demo Walkthrough for D&D from Surfacescapes on Vimeo. Throw a network connection on there, and you’re set to game with the rest of the world.
But back to my newspaper musings, I see some RPG companies getting it and some not. Some companies post the whole of their system up on a wiki and others that do not place bookmarks in their PDFs. Now we’ve got the Nook from Barns and Nobles that is full color. Printing full color costs a ton; displaying full color images on the device costs the same as black and white. Why print when you can do that? Companies need to be ready for the future, because the future is here. As Michael Stackpole put it, “The war between digital and print is over. Digital won, print just don’t know it yet.”
How will you be reading your RPG material in five years? Have you ever tried reading a book from your phone or an eReader device?