Friday, June 7, 2013

Which Side of the "Pay What You Want" Fence Do You Stand On?

OneBookShelf / RPGNow recently added a "Pay What You Want" option for the pricing of PDFs at their store.

Basically, the buyer can pay nothing or something for the product. He may pay nothing initially and come back and pay more if he likes, or not.

The secret to the success of PWYW from the seller's point of view is "volume sales". If you sell 10x more PDFs than you were moving prior to PWYP and folks are on average paying 25% of your regular price, you've still increased your sales dollars by 150%.

It isn't a physical product, so volume CAN make up for the lower average selling price.

I can see how this pricing would not work for many publishers or even most products, but as a way to sample a publisher's wares (perhaps on an older product) I can see the usefulness of the pricing scheme.

I know there are some fairly large opinions on both sides of the fence (Tim over at Gothridge Manor has a similar post up) but I'd like to see some other well thought out opinions of the perceived "pros" and cons". I'm always up for a good rant and I suspect I'll be reading a few before the night is out, but hopefully there are some decent opinion pieces too ;)


  1. Personally I think it is brilliant.Better to make something than nothing. Even the most obscure RPG/OSR product is heavily pirated. And some folks of means might want to overpay or "tip". If I was not putting something out for free, I would use this model, no question.

  2. I like the idea. So far I've only used it once (for Slaughtergrid) and paid the full price for it since it was on my 'buy on payday' list. Would really like to see this used on older pdfs that are no longer selling, it could help revive some interest in some of those oldies.

  3. If you got to decide what a movie was worth after seeing it, I would be seeing more movies in their theatre runs than I do...and I would be paying more for some as well. Others, not so much.

    This speaks, to me, of confidence on the part of the publishers/creators of a work. I think it is brilliant.

    1. (Of course, if a bunch of good publishers fold as a result, I will realize that I am wrong!)

  4. Great tool to enable publishers to survey customers as to what they're happy to pay. And a great way for customers to buy from publishers they normally have considered a bit too pricey.

  5. I like it so far. It avoids the 'I wasted money on this?' feeling with some products that has left me a bit gunshy on products that are probably actually reasonably priced.

    The only recent thing I've gotten this way is Fate Accelerated. I like it so far and it will probably result in a print order from me. And I will probably take a look at FATE Core, which probably would have gotten a pass from me otherwise.

    It's kind of the electronic version of pouring over a rulebook in the store, before deciding if you want to buy it. Except you don't put the well-thumbed copy back on the shelf and buy the fresh one.

  6. I like it myself. I would also have a product in mind that I would like to try it with. Saves me the issue of figuring out what the market value is.

  7. I've set my titles to be Pay What You want for a few reasons:

    1. Exposure. More people playing my games is a good thing. End of story.

    2. CC license. I've already given my games this license, so why not allow people even easier access to them?

    In a day, I've had 10 downloads between my two games. That's more than I've seen in the last two months. Money? I've made none; everyone has gotten the games for free. However, I think that this early in my publishing career, exposure is worth more than the dough.

  8. Though about 60% of the people who've bought my PWYW stuff have paid $0 for it, the remaining 40% have accounted for an increase in sales during the past 3 days (compared to any random 3 days during the previous month, for example). I'm happy with it.

  9. I'm still a little uncomfortable with the system. Honestly I've been afraid to buy anything because I've been afraid that I'd either end up paying an insulting amount, or overpaying. It's the same social pressure that gets me every time I tip at a restaurant. I wasn't aware that you could pay more after you purchased it though, so maybe I'll give it a go. I just wish there was some kind of suggested pricing.

  10. I like the fact that some publishers have noted in their product descriptions what the regular pricing is. I've seen PWYW used in a lot of other areas and by all reports it tends to work out in the publishers' favor over time.

    For myself, I have a pretty meager budget for the hobby, but there are a lot of creators whose works intrigue me. I'm really glad I've had the chance to sample some things that I might not have otherwise justified to myself.

    The items I've bought so far have mostly turned out to be things I probably won't have a real use for any time soon, so I'm glad I was able to estimate what the experiment was worth out of my own budget. In some cases I know that I won't want to buy more of a given series, but I feel confident that other products by the same writers will be worth the asking price (for example, I don't think I'll be getting any more volumes of Minor Majiks & Miscellaneous Arcana, but I'll be eagerly looking through your other offerings).


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