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Thursday, January 4, 2018

What Exactly Happened to Remove The RPGPundit's Latest Release from RPGNow?



In case you missed it, the RPGPundit's Lion & Dragon RPG got delisted and then re-listed at RPGNow, initially losing is "Copper" seller status, issuing it a new link and certainly losing its place on the Best Sellers list (currently at #28 - it was Top 10 prior.) You can read the Pundit's post on it here.

So, what happened?

According to The Pundit, OBS said when The Pundit's publisher uploaded the file to be published, there was  "some kind of an 'error'." They said 'the system' mistook some prototype page for the real page we'd been using all month, and that now it couldn't be switched back and the old page was lost.
At first they gave us a new page with no pdf option, without our copper status. After some gentle shouting and threats on my part, they restored the copper button."

I've only uploaded three products to OBS's servers for sale. As far as I know, there is only one way to do it. Assuming that is the case, it wasn't an error on the publisher's part but on the end of OBS.

Question - Has this happened with other publishers? Has this happened to you?

Now, The Pundit thinks this was an act of intentional sabotage over his anti-censorship stance. If you are going to go that route, you may as well throw in his right wing political stances into the mix too. I don't see the evidence for either. Not saying The Pundit is wrong, I just don't see the hard evidence.

There IS some hard evidence to take from this and The Pundit made the observation himself:
They restored my copper bestseller status (though now that we know they can fiddle with the numbers who's to say that they won't be secretly keeping me from reaching Silver or higher, or for that matter that games that have reached to high positions like that got a "little help" for being ideologically correct??) - emphasis mine
I've already asked OBS in the past about certain sales numbers and rankings I felt didn't add up. Their answer was plausible but this observation from the Pundit is making me think. Its certainly something to keep an eye on.

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41 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting about this.

    Note that I'm also willing to accept the possibility that this was just incompetence, rather than some kind of intentional sabotage. And by the way the company responded if it was the latter, it clearly didn't come from the top (but, I would assume, from some disgruntled individual).

    Anyways, thanks for sharing about this, and note that I'm not calling for some kind of boycott either. Quite the contrary; this is an opportunity to remind OBS of which groups actually BUY RPGs rather than just talking a lot about them (mostly to complain). If anyone reading is so inclined, help me out and make a point to OBS by purchasing Lion & Dragon, which I trust anyone who digs OSR games is going to really enjoy regardless!

    https://www.rpgnow.com/product/226021/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Based on my publisher experiences with OBS, my vote is definitely for incompetence.

      Delete
  2. Yo Erik, the link to the product's page is broken. It's currently just pointing to "http://%26affiliate_id%3D1446/"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks :)

      i'm not normally up this early - gotta keep on top of shoveling the snow...

      Delete
    2. Link seems to go nowhere... did they move the page again? @_@

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. Yes. It's been moved again. They continue to fuck with me with "accidents".

      Delete
  3. While we are complaining about OBS, it is worth noting that their bestseller list is determined by the dollar amount of the product that has sold, not the amount of units sold. $6 PDF can sell twice as many copies as some $19 pdf on the top ten and not come even close to it in ranking.

    It makes setting fair prices on products harder than it should be. Publisher have to worry that too a low a price will make their product disappear from the front page too fast and lead to lost sales.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not 100% accurate. While Best Selling is weighted towards sales dollars and Hottest Small Press is weighted towards units sold, it isnt all one or the other.

      If it was, SWCL while priced as PWYW would never have hit 12th on the Best Selling list.

      It is, however, a question I had asked customer service. The answer was not fully satisfying.

      Delete
    2. I've been following the best seller algorithm since last year, when they changed it and I noticed it impacted some of my books (I developed a low priced line designed around my understanding of the algorithm prior to it being changed). They haven't been terribly clear on how these work since. For a while they stated above the list how the number was arrived at, but they removed that without saying anything. I think they have a few different algorithms depending on the list and the platform. So Drivethru RPG apparently has an under 5$ list, which either uses a different measure or at least manages some of the disparity by corralling all the low-priced lists together (this list, as far as I know isn't on RPGnow). I wasn't aware that the Small Press list was by number of copies sold (which is how the old best seller list used to be before early 2017). That is useful information.

      Tenkar when you spoke with them about the Best Selling list, are you saying they stated that more weight was given to sales but that number of copies sold was also a factor (just want to make sure I understand your phrasing). I've spoken with OBS extensively on the main Best Selling list and what they've told me is that one is based entirely on sales dollars and number of days on sale. So if you have a 3 dollar book, it has to sell three copies to equal 1 sale from a 9 dollar book for the purposes of being rates on the list. As far as I was told, number of copies sold is not factored in on that list at all.

      Delete
  4. Any reason to buy Lion and Dragon if I already have Dark Albion?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dark Albion is a setting while Lion & Dragon is a game. In RPGPundit's words:

      "Lion & Dragon is designed for running Dark Albion."

      Delete
    2. You could also use it to run another setting (Westeros comes to mind).

      Delete
    3. Yes. Dark Albion is a setting book.
      Lion & Dragon is a rule-set, but one that is ideal and melds perfectly in Dark Albion. It's a massive extension of my Appendix P rules from Albion.

      And yes, Lion & Dragon would work GREAT on Westeros.

      Delete
  5. I've heard some reputable publishers complain about OBS as well and the difficulty uploading. Personally I've had trouble downloading some PDFs from there. Yet only here am I seeing a sort of paranoiac response to the clunky nature of the site.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Pundit's complaint is the loss of a month's sales figures, sales rank and a well distributed sales link that is now dead after a month.

      If he feels he MIGHT have been targeted based on his rep, that's his opinion. As I stated above, I don't see any hard evidence of that being the case.

      I fail to see any paranoia being voiced here.

      Delete
    2. This wasn’t an upload issue. They removed it entirely weeks after it went live. The product URL was 226022 and the new is 226021. That is...weird.

      I still think it’s incompetence. But OBS has an editorial position and Pundit and his politics doesn’t fit it. If this has happened frequently to others I think incompetence is obviously the issue.

      Delete
    3. Hey, Gus.

      Not sure what these publishers are complaining about since I lack the specifics. The OBS upload interface could be improved in my opinion, but it does the job, having used it a few times.

      However, the chaotic ways in which many publishers upload files - without any change notices, zipping files for a random variety of reasons, or for example providing separate covers - these are issues publishers could fix themselves. OBS could help by providing a central guideline and actively encouraging or working with publishers to adhere to it. I think that's also a staffing problem on OBS side.

      From what I see, a lot of the issues I have as a customer of OBS sites are actually issues with publishers, not with OBS. An improvement of the upload interface would help, including some unified way to mark the version of a file if it's uploaded several times.

      But a lot of the trouble customers have day-to-day can be fixed by the individual publishers they are customers with.

      Delete
    4. Not so much with what you're reporting (except perhaps taking the accusation itself as evidence of its truth) but Pundit's take seems rather of the paranoid style.

      Delete
    5. the link was changed by OBS after a month. I think that is established fact. why is a matter of conjecture.

      as for the narrative The Pundit has with OBS, I indicate it is a narrative provided by The Pundit.

      Delete
    6. I initially thought that Gus was overstating things, but then I went to Pundit's post and now I think he's understating. Erik, Pundit doesn't just fail to show "hard evidence"; he fails to give any evidence whatsoever. Maybe there's a big piece of the story I'm missing here. I'm totally aware of Pundit's strong objections to OBS censorship, but I haven't heard anything suggesting that OBS was terribly upset about it. Was there some sort of acrimonious back and forth? I'm not asking rhetorically.

      Barring that, this strikes me as Pundit crying wolf. I've seen a number of incidents where I think he was far too quick to attribute malice to other parties; usually liberals or storygamers and often both. If you're going to speak ill of someone, it's good to provide better proof than "because they have reason to dislike me."

      I actually put Lion & Dragon on my wishlist because it looks very cool, but I'm sure as hell not going to run out and get it now so Pundit can "fight the power." Gimme a break. I'll buy it on its own merits once I've made some progress on Mythic Constantinople and Death on the Reik.

      Delete
    7. I never "took the accusation itself as evidence of proof", which is what I'm taking issue with.

      Although the fix back to the link that could not be saved but now is confusing unto itself.

      What is the saying?

      Never assume malice when incompetence will suffice...

      Delete
  6. If "right wing views" were being censored on onebookshelf, 80% of the WargameVault would be gone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And ACKS would be having the same problems...

      Delete
    2. Neither wargamevault nor Autarch were nearly as vocal as I was back in september 2015 when OBS tried to implement massive censorship policies, nor as instrumental to thwarting a situation where any product could have been banned at the push of a button if a feminist decided xe was offended by it.

      I (along with a couple of other OSR guys) put myself out on a limb there, and it's increasingly possible to me (given that they've just fucked over the URL AGAIN in another "mistake") that there's someone at OBS who was really excited about getting to censor books and who is now getting some revenge on the guy who stopped hir.

      Delete
  7. plenty of games shop staff inject their own taste and values and creditor judgements If you have strong opinions and don't fly under the radar with vanilla content its gonna happen somewhere. I remain unconvinced it is malicious in this case but i don't believe it is not fixable nor do i expect retailors t have any kind of transparency

    ReplyDelete
  8. It would benefit OBS to create a simpler method of creating covers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like a template at a specific resolution. I had to fiddle with one PWYW/freebie cover almost as long as the actual product file took to make and it was darn minimal.

      Delete
  9. If they fudged numbers to adjust rankings they'd have to get a few publishers involved as those publishers might otherwise want to be paid for false sales. This to me makes it unlikely as the secret would be out fairly quickly.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The saga continues and RPGnow has screwed me over yet again. When they saw that thanks to all of YOU, "Lion & Dragon" had recovered twelve spots on the bestseller list in one day, suddenly someone at RPGnow decided to change the URL on me AGAIN.

    I had spent the whole day yesterday changing URLs (as they told me I HAD to do) and promoting that url, and now they've undone all that work. AGAIN.

    But I'm not done yet.

    Please check out this blog entry. Please share it or share both links and I'll let you know what other new links RPGnow decides to switch me into in the future, as they continue "accidentally" doing things that are clearly meant to stop Lion & Dragon from succeeding.

    Most of all, please help me to keep promoting Lion & Dragon. BUY IT on RPGnow if you haven't, or share the links to EVERY GAMER you can think of.

    We were at #30, thanks to RPGnow's shenanigans. Now we're at #18, and since we almost broke the top-15 they got up to more shenanigans. Let's get it back into the top-10. Thank you all.

    http://therpgpundit.blogspot.com/2018/01/rpgnow-has-screwed-me-over-yet-again.html

    ReplyDelete
  11. They restored the original link. Which makes this weirder and weirder

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually think they were trying to do the right thing by getting it back to the original link. This is a comedy of errors.

      Delete
    2. Never assume malice when incompetence will suffice...

      Delete
  12. Exactly, we only have what pundit says... Comedy of errors. What are the chances that OBS just plain said nothing, then corrected their mistake at pundits request with zero knowledge that pundit was switching the links...

    I agree with Edgewise and voiced it to theRPGPunit himself. He's G+ yelling at the top of his lungs how unprofessional OBS is, meanwhile... Fight the power, buy my book.

    Show some evidence RPGPundit, and I'll eat my hat. This is the sort of crap this community doesn't need.

    Certainly OBS made an error and should be held accountable for any error they made, but The only political statement being made here is by the person with a political agenda (and to sell more books).

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is some illuminati level conspiracy 😂

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anyone in the service industry knows what's going on here: you have regular squeaky wheels and you try to keep your staff apprised of who they are in case one of the inevitable service failures/problems arise which causes that squeaky wheel to make life hell for you for a while. This sort of failure would be non-story and quietly fixed with no issue (just time and some effort) if it were something I posted, but RPGnow had the bad fortune for a glitch to hit on an RPGPundit product. Now they must suffer.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The OBS platform is very obtuse, and the fact that their employees all work remote leads me to believe this was a matter of miscommunication. That being said, Pundit is creating a lot of noise (unsurprisingly) to make OBS fix the issue, and to generate more sales. And it worked.

    ReplyDelete
  16. We had a minor issue with Ghosts of Albion back in 2008. Kept us from having the #1 spot and then D&D 4 was released.
    We did what any professional publisher would do. We chalked it up to human error, lamented our loss, and then went on.

    If OBS was trying to "screw anyone over" there are far better ways to do it that wouldn't allow for conspiracy screaming.

    ReplyDelete

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