By Aaron T. Huss
Letters to the Industry is a new article series by Roleplayers Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Aaron T. Huss. The purpose of this new article series will probably shift about throughout its life, but the in the end they are meant to discuss trends and issues throughout the tabletop role-playing industry in regards to publishing, development, marketing, and all sorts of other things focused on the developers, not the players.
Cape’s Tales from the Gazebo article series focuses on Game Mastering and The Warden’s Under the Hood article series focuses on game mechanics and the actual RPGs themselves. So I have decided that it is time to speak to the greater industry about what’s going on, what’s going wrong, and anything else related to the industry as a whole.
So why do I feel I have a right to discuss these things? Well, as Editor-in-Chief of Roleplayers Chronicle, every day I get to see what’s in development, what’s been released, and what different publisher’s products look like. In addition, as President of Mystical Throne Entertainment, I understand the woes of being a publisher in an industry FILLED with publishers and development studios. And of course, I am a fan. I am a lover of tabletop role-playing games (and more) and have a good library of products covering my favorite game systems and settings. So while the majority of the community focuses on what they like the most (which they rightfully should), I’m going to spend more time concentrating on everything that I possibly can without becoming overwhelmed.
One thing you may ask yourself is “How big is the industry?” If I said huge, would that be sufficient? How about if I told you that one of my most precious possessions is a listing of publishers and studios? And what if I told you this list tops 850? Would that give you an idea? (And this doesn’t include the number of freelancers that don’t have their own publishing name) The tabletop role-playing industry is so big that you need a “catalog” just to know who all the publishers are and would need to update that catalog weekly to keep track of all the new ones that arrive. Big deal though right? Well, if you think about it, the industry is filled with so many products that you may only know of 1 – 5% of those products. Should you care about the other 95 – 99%? Well, maybe not, but I bet you’ll find a lot of cool stuff if you looked around.
How did the industry get so big? PDF publishing, that’s how. We live and play in the medium that can, and is, survive electronically. What about all those people who still prefer printed products? The ease of print-on-demand availability has resolved that as well. Nowadays, the industry has so many methods for a publisher to distribute their products, that virtually anyone can become a publisher… that is a discussion in and of itself. For now I will leave you with the thought that there are thousands of products available that you may never have heard of. Thus, if you’re looking for something in particular, just search around and you may find it. Consider this your introduction to the greater tabletop RPG industry.