On Q3 2012 Sales Numbers, and Letting Things Go Out of Print

In the past I’ve been putting up Evil Hat’s sales number posts over on my personal blog, Deadly Fredly, but as of this post I’ll be sharing them over here on Evil Hat. There are a few interesting things to say about this one.

During the past quarter we ran and wrapped the Race to Adventure kickstarter, so you’ll see all those presales reflected here. Last quarter we wrapped up the Dinocalypse Now kickstarter, which is why you see a precipitous fall-off in the sales numbers there. (Fiction’s also a slow seller for us, but that’s not much of a shock, since we’re just starting to dip our toes into those strange waters.)

This quarter also included several key conventions that IPR took our stuff to (as we don’t have a lot of budget for the why-did-I-think-a-booth-was-a-good-idea-again expenses of convention attendance). We’re definitely happy to be continuing that partnership. Distribution continues to be a strong channel for us as well. While we’re getting less money per sale with distribution than any other method, that’s still positive cash flow for the company, and importantly helps us reduce our inventory volume, which can help at tax time.

When to Reprint, When to Retire

Something that’s only partially reflected in the numbers here is inventory considerations. Whenever we get low at the main warehouse, it triggers reprint considerations. Some of our products have only ever had initial printings (Happy Birthday Robot and Do, at the least), while others have had several. Each time, it’s important to evaluate how successful the product has been to date, how strong its continuing performance is, what the minimum cost of a reprint would be, and what our remaining goals are for the products under consideration.

With all of those factors in mind, we’re making a decision to let our supplies of Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, Happy Birthday Robot, and Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple run dry. These products won’t be completely unavailable — physical copies still need to make their way through distribution, and a few more copies will sell over the course of this quarter and possibly next; and beyond that, the PDFs will continue to be available on the Evil Hat store and elsewhere.

I’ll talk about the decisions in a bit more depth now.

In all three cases, we’re looking at slow sales performance despite critical acclaim. We’re also looking at profits — which are shared with the creators — going on pause whenever a reprint is done, because the costs of that reprint have to be recovered first. That means Chad and Dan would be looking at one or two or more quarters of no payout whatsoever because of that slow sales performance — rate of revenue divided into current revenue generation rates adds up to long timeframes before the products would go back in the black. If, on the other hand, we let these things transition to electronic-only availability, the revenue generation continues to net cash to go in Chad’s and Dan’s pockets. So from that perspective, we find a good case to be made for letting the transition occur.

The slow sales performance also produces some problems when combined with the form factor of these games.

With both Happy Birthday Robot and Do, we’re looking at something that’s a hardcover, full color interior book. These are not things you can reprint in small, print-on-demand-sized quantities — most of our softcover, black and white interior catalog is printed through POD/short run services. So slow sales performance there means that even with a 500-750 copy reprint, we’re looking at a LONG timeframe before all of that sells through. For the 87 sales on Do in Q3 include PDF; but even if it didn’t, even 500 — the smallest we could really afford to do given the unit cost of manufacture — would take well over a year to sell out. And over time, rate of sale tends to fall off, so even “today’s” sell rate needs to be looked at with some skepticism. We could potentially look into producing black and white versions of these games, but that would be something of an affront to their original, gorgeous color incarnations. While we might explore that potential in the future, right now the better course of action is to let the colors live on in PDF.

Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies is a different beast, here. It is a print on demand title, but with particularly slow paper sales, and in a size format (my fault, admittedly) that makes it, unit-by-unit, one of the most expensive books we print in print on demand. With lifetime combined print and PDF sales approaching 2000 — fairly strong lifetime performance for a PDQ system product, I think — we’re left feeling that printing more paper versions would kill trees and keep money out of Chad’s pocket, when neither are really necessary. Here, too, the right move is to let the game live on in PDF — tho at some point we might look into something like DriveThruRPG’s print-a-copy-when-it-is-ordered POD program for this one.

So that’s the why of that decision — if you’ve been meaning to grab physical copies of any of these three, I encourage you to run on over to the Evil Hat webstore today and grab ‘em while they last.

And Now, the Sales Numbers

Here’s how we did.

Title Sales Last Q Sales This Q LQ vs TQ Prior Lifetime New Lifetime Type
Penny 56 60 +7% 1273 1333 RPGs
Diaspora 200 252 +26% 1627 1879 RPGs
Do 104 87 -16% 1442 1529 RPGs
Do:BoL 20 21 +5% 124 145 RPGs
DLYM 101 74 -27% 1898 1972 RPGs
DRYH 300 206 -31% 4823 5029 RPGs
DFRPG:OW 525 595 +13% 12392 12987 RPGs
DFRPG:YS 835 799 -4% 15384 16183 RPGs
HBR 54 31 -43% 732 763 RPGs
SOTC 383 361 -6% 8248 8609 RPGs
SOTS 31 32 +3% 807 839 RPGs
S7S 51 27 -47% 1864 1891 RPGs
DRTB 478 238 -50% 478 716 Fiction
DinoNow 1664 148 -91% 1664 1812 Fiction
DinoBeyond 1520 0 Not Yet 1520 1520 Fiction
DinoForever 1520 0 Not Yet 1520 1520 Fiction
PharaohHK 1520 0 Not Yet 1520 1520 Fiction
AmeliaStone 1520 0 Not Yet 1520 1520 Fiction
KhanOfMars 1520 0 Not Yet 1520 1520 Fiction
KingKhan 1520 0 Not Yet 1520 1520 Fiction
RTA 0 1018 New 0 1018 Board

 

And to dig into the sources for each of these…

Title Source Direct Retail/Distro Virtual Convention/Other Total
Penny EHP Store  7  -  7  -  14
Diaspora EHP Store  11  -  10  7  28
Do EHP Store  13  -  5  -  18
Do:BoL EHP Store  10  -  5  -  15
DLYM EHP Store  4  -  10  -  14
DRYH EHP Store  10  -  26  -  36
DFRPG:OW EHP Store  50  -  65  -  115
DFRPG:YS EHP Store  57  -  73  -  130
HBR EHP Store  3  -  1  -  4
SOTC EHP Store  13  -  45  -  58
SOTS EHP Store  2  -  1  -  3
S7S EHP Store  2  -  -  -  2
DRTB EHP Store  13  -  9  -  22
DinoNow EHP Store  -  -  2  -  2
Penny OBS  -  -  7  -  7
Do OBS  -  -  18  -  18
Do:BoL OBS  -  -  6  -  6
DLYM OBS  -  -  26  -  26
DRYH OBS  -  -  47  -  47
DFRPG:OW OBS  -  -  58  -  58
DFRPG:YS OBS  -  -  84  -  84
HBR OBS  -  -  3  -  3
SOTC OBS  -  -  92  -  92
SOTS OBS  -  -  5  -  5
S7S OBS  -  -  6  -  6
DRTB OBS  -  -  17  -  17
DinoNow OBS  -  -  5  -  5
Diaspora OBS  -  -  -  31  31
Penny e23  -  -  -  -  -
Diaspora e23  -  -  1  -  1
DLYM e23  -  -  1  -  1
DRYH e23  -  -  1  -  1
DFRPG:OW e23  -  -  1  -  1
DFRPG:YS e23  -  -  1  -  1
HBR e23  -  -  -  -  -
SOTC e23  -  -  1  -  1
SOTS e23  -  -  -  -  -
S7S e23  -  -  -  -  -
DRTB Amazon  -  -  61  -  61
DinoNow Amazon  -  -  27  -  27
DRYH Amazon  -  -  14  -  14
SOTC Amazon  -  -  49  -  49
Diaspora Amazon  -  -  28  -  28
DRTB B&N  -  -  16  -  16
DinoNow B&N  -  -  3  -  3
DRYH B&N  -  -  -  -  -
SOTC B&N  -  -  4  -  4
DRTB Robot Trading Co  -  -  4  -  4
DinoNow Robot Trading Co  -  -  6  -  6
Penny Distribution  -  13  -  -  13
Diaspora Distribution  -  130  -  -  130
Do Distribution  -  26  -  -  26
DLYM Distribution  -  14  -  -  14
DRYH Distribution  -  68  -  -  68
DFRPG:OW Distribution  -  403  -  -  403
DFRPG:YS Distribution  -  559  -  -  559
HBR Distribution  -  13  -  -  13
SOTC Distribution  -  139  -  -  139
SOTS Distribution  -  24  -  -  24
S7S Distribution  -  19  -  -  19
DRTB Distribution  -  94  -  -  94
DinoNow Distribution  -  105  -  -  105
Penny IPR  1  22  -  3  26
Diaspora IPR  1  22  -  11  34
Do IPR  1  2  -  22  25
DLYM IPR  -  14  1  4  19
DRYH IPR  2  23  2  13  40
DFRPG:OW IPR  -  7  -  11  18
DFRPG:YS IPR  -  5  -  20  25
HBR IPR  -  3  -  8  11
SOTC IPR  2  7  3  6  18
SOTS IPR  -  -  -  -  -
S7S IPR  -  -  -  -  -
DRTB IPR  -  14  -  10  24
DinoNow IPR  -  -  -  -  -
RTA Kickstarter  850  168  -  1,018