2010-08-13 : IPR and You

Lots of conversations about IPR at GenCon this year.

Just remember kids, it's our games that make IPR cool, not IPR that makes our games cool.

1. On 2010-08-13, Anna Kreider said:

I've been a little frustrated that attempts to have conversations on this issue with current IPR management haven't really felt like dialogues. I had a really fantastic conversation with Brennan on Sunday night about my concerns and the reason he wasn't able to address them the way that he would have liked while he was running things. I don't feel like I'm hearing the same willingness to have dialogue from current IPR management. (And granted this is the internets and we're all words on a screen again and yadda yadda yadda.)


2. On 2010-08-13, Alex D. said:

Not speaking as a person who has or (probably) will publish a game, but I would've thought "it's our games that make IPR cool, not IPR that makes our games cool" would've been obvious to almost anyone involved, even those (mostly) on the outside, like me.


3. On 2010-08-13, Vincent said:

So you'd think!

If I sign with IPR again, can I expect the same customer service that Two Scooters Press is getting now? Because screw that.


4. On 2010-08-13, Adam Dray said:

Is anyone claiming that IPR makes your games cool?


5. On 2010-08-13, Vincent said:

Yes, of course they are.

It's just one of their sales tactics. "Sign with IPR or you'll be lucky if your game sells 30 copies."


6. On 2010-08-13, Andreas said:

Well, it might actually be true. It's far easier to go to IPR and shop than to track down independed designers hawking their wares from their own site.

Isn't that one reason the "unstore" exists?


7. On 2010-08-13, Adam Dray said:

Huh. I haven't personally seen that.

Still, selling 30 copies isn't the same as your game being cool, either.


8. On 2010-08-13, Matt Wilson said:

I'm sad to hear about poor service.


9. On 2010-08-13, Teataine said:

Well, for those of us living far away I can assure you that many games that are sold on individual sites with paypal buttons would sell more if they were on a service like IPR. With IPR, I can order in bulk, share the postage etc.

But otherwise, I agree with everything.


10. On 2010-08-13, Brand Robins said:

Ironically, there is a chance I'm less likely to order your game if its on IRP and only on IPR.

Has everything to do with shipping, you see. Being in the frozen north sucks for IPR shipping, so most of the time I don't do it. I'll be there with a full cart, then not order because I can't stand to pay 30 bucks in "get it here" fees.


11. On 2010-08-14, Moreno R. said:

It's not only the frozen north.  Even here in sunny Italy (underwater Italy, these days...) it's usually LESS expensive ordering direct from a game author than by IPR.

And it's easier and faster to find a rpg with google than searching in IPR's on-line catalog.

The real "plus" of IPR, at the beginning, was the choice of the games they would keep. It was a selection, and did help to choose the games to buy. But these days, being at IPR doesn't say nothing about a game...


12. On 2010-08-16, Simon Rogers said:

"it's our games that make IPR cool, not IPR that makes our games cool"

Is there a single person in the world who does not think this?

Certainly not past IPR management and shareholders, and certainly not current IPR management and shareholders. I wish you had been privvy to our conversations over the past few years.

I'm surprised people have had trouble talking to the new management - they seem devoted to listening at the moment. Do tell if you've had negative responses, or been ignored. And I mean by direct personal contact - not just overwhelming threads on the internet.

Anyway, I hope to see changes which give emphasis to the smaller publishers, and those who are not on a constant cycle of releasing new products soon.

Note while I am a shareholder, I have no management power whatsoever.

Vincent - do tell me who said this "Sign with IPR or you'll be lucky if your game sells 30 copies." I'd certainly like to nip this attitude in the bud if it's prevalent.

What changes, if any, would persuade you to rejoin, or are you just against the whole thing in principle?


13. On 2010-08-16, Vincent said:

Hi Simon.

> Anyway, I hope to see changes which give emphasis to the
> smaller publishers, and those who are not on a constant
> cycle of releasing new products soon.

This would make a big difference to me!

IPR's interests and my interests overlap, but they don't align. This shouldn't surprise anybody; of course they don't. It's in my interests to sell a lot of my books and put my books into a lot of hands, for instance, but it's in IPR's interests to sell a lot of books period, without paying any special attention to mine. It makes sense for IPR to actively promote its top sellers, given their interests, but it means that IPR underpromotes games that aren't already top sellers, against those publishers' interests. Within IPR, it puts smaller games in competition with bigger ones, where outside of IPR no such competition exists.

So, no, I don't object to IPR in principle, it's all very practical (if occasionally ideological). Whether IPR's insterests and mine CAN better align, through some change of policy or other, I don't know. I'm open to it.

I'll email you about my customer service probs, I suppose. It's not really my job, and it sounds like it's not really yours either, so I dunno if it'll be worth the time. Brennan asked me too, and it's not really his either! It's kind of funny. Anyway, email is the better medium for that. I wish it'd worked out to talk about it live at the con.


14. On 2010-08-16, Vincent said:

Another significant nonalignment between IPR's interests and mine:

It's in IPR's interests to be the essential go-to for indie games. IPR wants every game buyer to come to them first. Of course it does! It's in IPR's interests for us publishers to think that we need it.

It's in my interests as an independent publisher for there to be no such essential go-to.

Could IPR change its policies to make this conflict of interests go away? I don't know! Maybe it could.


15. On 2010-08-17, Brad Murray said:

We had great results with Diaspora and we explicitly chose not to list with IPR (mostly for reasons of risk and return, very high and very low respectively). There are many options available to an independent developer/publisher and the zero-risk model we elected to use is, I think we demonstrated, functional.

Now, a year later, we may well list with IPR, but again using tactics that limit our risk and use the power IPR has rather than assume it as a necessary sales point otherwise grant it more utility than it has.


16. On 2010-08-17, Chris Chinn said:

It's in IPR's interests for us publishers to think that we need it.

All I know is that over the last few years, whenever people have publicly reconsidered using IPR, looking just at hard numbers... the response has not been "Well, here are all these benefits" as one would sell to a customer, but rather, "Here's all our costs and reasons"...

Which never really addresses the bottom line issues and often is framed in a way to shift the issues to one of sympathy, etc.

As I wrote recently - Forge 101: you don't need a distributor to sell games, and where you choose to use one, it should be on the basis of it serving your business, not the other way around.


17. On 2010-08-17, Brad Murray said:

Yes and double yes, Chris. That was our experience as well—if they had made a strong claim about store penetration and site usage and maybe made it clear the ways the game would be promoted (front page exposure for x weeks, press release, etc.) we might have gone there. But yeah, mostly it felt like they misread my concerns and instead felt the need to explain.

Hmm, maybe they are (were?) plenty indie after all.


18. On 2010-08-17, Simon Rogers said:

IPR is very different to other similar companies, for example, Publishers can place their own games on their own website and not on IPR until they are getting diminishing returns, then add them to IPR - taking advantage of the IPR brand name without losing maring. They can do this selectively, on a per-product basis.

If you want a sale on your sight and not on IPR, you can do it.

While it might arguably be in IPR's interest to be the first choice for customers, we have been acting against our interest. Most of the issues which have affected Vincent our actually our efforts to be as fair as possible - if we'd been doing things on footprint alone, the little guys would have had less chance, and DitV would have been on the front page the whole time.

rpgnow's approach is that you must release your products at the same, must not have a sale on your site if they don't, and get a better discount if you are exclusive.

The canny indie publisher will get everything they can from their own site, then release on IPR.

Vincent, we must have a proper talk sometime about IPR in person.


19. On 2010-08-17, Vincent said:

Oh, Dogs in the Vineyard was on IPR's front page the whole time it was at IPR. I benefited like crazy! Unlike Mechaton, In a Wicked Age, Shock:, and Sorcerer, Dogs lost sales when I quit IPR.

I, uh, I'm going to let that claim stand, that Shock: and Sorcerer sell better direct through the un-store than they did through IPR, but maybe Joshua and Ron can come around and confirm or deny. Mechaton and In a Wicked Age sell better now than they did.

Anyway, I especially lost retail sales, although they've been recovering pretty well. I expect to regain a lot of ground with retailers with Apocalypse World over the next year. Signs so far are very good, but of course the game's barely newborn so who knows.


20. On 2010-08-19, ScottM said:

How do retailers approach you about carrying your games (and the games from other unstore creators)?


21. On 2010-08-19, Vincent said:

About half of the time, a customer introduces us to each other in email. The other half, the retailer just emails me cold. I imagine that they heard about me from customers too, of course. One retailer approached me at a con because she'd heard of my games; it was just luck that I happened to be there.

If you'd like to get your favorite retailer interested, let me know, I can maybe help.

Other indie publishers may have better or worse systems than I do, I have no idea. Oh but speaking of which: hey, indie publishers, if you'd like a retailer portal on the un-store, let me know, I'll make one for you.

Not counting Graham, half a dozen retailers have put in orders for Apocalypse World, and it's been available for retailers to order for like 2 1/2 days.


22. On 2010-08-21, Ron Edwards said:

Not counting my sudden lack of presence in retail, Sorcerer and Sorc supplement sales increased signficantly after shifting to the Un-Store, which also means focusing on my own site and promotion.

My checks from IPR were originally extremely substantial every quarter, when Brennan was the primary mover in IPR policy. Later, they were piddly, just pennies really.

The market was out there, and still is. My on-line sales and the GenCon booth showed that in spades. IPR as administered by Fred and Simon did not serve me in reaching that market.

The current dialogue is being too polite about this and missing the key issue of management priorities. IPR-Brennan was a powerful and signifcant force in favor of broad-based publisher success. IPR-Fred-Simon was not; the priorities were focused on maximum extraction from the highest-earning titles.

The only downside from leaving IPR was to fall out of retail. The issue wasn't about the money (because the profit margin is terrible), but because I like the store owners in question and they liked my titles. Fortunately, I have found that retailers are now seeking me out personally to carry my books, both in the U.S. and internationally. So I didn't really need IPR for that, either.

For the record, I am very happy about the change in management and look forward to what Darren and Jason have in mind for IPR. If their policies do serve me and my existing market, then we'll have a lot to talk about. This was and is a *business* decision.


23. On 2010-09-23, Darren Watts said:

Hey all! Alas, this thread was literally just pointed out to me. I confess, I'm not entirely up on all the locations discussions about IPR go on, though I'm working to get educated as quickly as possible. Vincent, I'm also sorry we weren't able to meet f2f at Gencon. Please be aware I'd be delighted to talk to you anytime, anyplace; you can reach me by email at darrenwatts AT yahoo DOT com, or I can get you my cell number to chat about any concerns you might have.

As far as our philosophy goes, we are absolutely in agreement that it's the games that are cool, not us; and that our primary customers are the publishers. If anybody's suggested otherwise to you, please let me know about it, especially if they do so as rudely as you say you've heard.

Please, anybody with questions or concerns about IPR, what we think or how we do business, bring them directly to me, at the address above or in person anywhere I might be. I hate to hear anybody's dissatisfied with us second-hand. IPR can't be all things to all people, but we can't be anything useful to you if we don't know there's a problem. dw


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