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Is the RPG market counter-cyclical?

SJE

Bibliomancer
Validated User
In the same way that movie audiences boom during recessions (as people cheer themselves up with low cost luxuries whilst cutting back on their big ticket item purchases) I wonder if there was any data or studies beyond the purely anecdotal which might show that RPG sales or participation was counter-cyclical to the general economy?

Certainly its something that I've heard claimed before on these boards, but wondered if the numbers backed it up?

One thing that had prompted the thought was this post by Kevin Siembieda in which he'd argued that

The global economic crisis has not done us any favors, either. I’ve talked in these Murmurs about the up and down roller coaster sales we (and most of the flippin’ businesses in the world) have been experiencing. September sales have been terrible......
......
Why? Because Palladium’s fans are hurting and we can do something about it. I have not talked about this because I’m dealing with a lot of personal stuff (more on that in a different Murmur) and burning the midnight oil working on books, but this is what I keep seeing and hearing. Gamers who are dying to buy our new releases, but cannot afford them. I know this, because fans have told me so. I know this, because we see it every day. Palladium fans who used to buy everything as soon as it came out are buying books one at a time, often months after their release. At the store signing at Comics Archives I saw fans show up with a set budget. I saw them agonize over which three, two or ONE book to buy at a 40% discount, out of the 8-10 they WANTED to buy. I have even had fans apologize for not being able to buy more or support Palladium like they wanted to (no apologies necessary). We have a couple of fans who have taken to buying ONE book every 3-4 weeks as they slowly build their library.

I understand. Times are tough. People are hurting. Our fans are hurting. As a result, Palladium is hurting, at least for the moment.
However I was wondering if he'd conflated a fall in demand for Palladium products with a perception that the overall RPG market was down due to the recession. If the numbers support a counter-cyclical relationship then the former explanation seems more likely for his sales woes.

SJE
 

uncle_wilf

Journeyman retailer
Validated User
RPG players in a tight market can cheer themselves up by playing with the books they already have...
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
RPG players in a tight market can cheer themselves up by playing with the books they already have...
Yeah. Being an entertainment medium thats built around players making their own fun I always would have thought if anything a bad economy would be worse for them as players can use their existing stuff for new things. Add to that the ease with which groups can happily play with one set of books for a whole group.
 

Shining Dragon

Tough Tiger Fist
Validated User
However I was wondering if he'd conflated a fall in demand for Palladium products with a perception that the overall RPG market was down due to the recession. If the numbers support a counter-cyclical relationship then the former explanation seems more likely for his sales woes.

SJE
For all we know he is right, or wrong, about what is causing his drop in sales. Because to truly remove Kevin Siembieda's own prejudices from his conclusion (its not my products, its the global economic crisis) we'd need sales data from other game companies for the same periods.

But I don't know why he sees the need to emphasis "People are hurting. Our fans are hurting." A little over dramatic IMHO. But unsurprising given how long the Crisis of Treachery was used.
 

Spook

Burn the Heretic. Purge the unclean.
Validated User
Good Lord, I'm less then a mile away from the comic shop he mentions. They haven't sold gaming stuff for almost a decade.
 

MDarcy

Gamer for life
Validated User
RPG players in a tight market can cheer themselves up by playing with the books they already have...
True, but by the same token I find when money is tight I'm more likely to buy RPG books at the same or slightly higher rate while cutting back on more transient entertainment: expensive meals out, magazines, new books (used books does the same as RPGs), movies, ect because a new RPG book can create the thrill of "new" (both in game and out) and has a lower per hour cost (an adventure usually creates about 3-4 hours while a new supplement is in double digits). Plus, converting a regular night out into a second gaming night is more economical.

That said, I have no idea if I'm typical or atypical.
 

jephlewis

w1zz0rz r 3p1c f41l!!1!!!
http://forums.palladium-megaverse.com/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=107613 said:
At the store signing at Comics Archives I saw fans show up with a set budget.
Good Lord, I'm less then a mile away from the comic shop he mentions. They haven't sold gaming stuff for almost a decade.
Maybe KS and crew brought palladium rpg product with them? :confused:

Maybe he got the name of the place mixed up with another one? :confused:

It's got to be one of the two, right?
 

Sorel

Not a Brown Horse
Validated User
Considering that the peak years in terms of sales were probably during the early 80s recession, there might be some validity in RPGs being counter-cyclical. My own RPG hoarding and collecting might be the only extraneous expense I'm still spending at the moment.
 

SibKhatru

Registered User
Validated User
IMO the rpg market is likely to be counter cyclical; the movie industry certainly is as well... of course, it all depends on the proportional segments of the rpg buyers, some will act procyclically and others will go contra. Depends on the magnitudes of the responses to income changes. The key then is to see what side dominates, so is an rpg a normal good or an "inferior good"? I won't bet my PhD in economics on it, as all depends on the facts, so empirical work would have to be done... or someone with their eyes on the whole industry data could jump in:)
 

ggroy

Retired User
If rpgs are indeed counter-cyclical, then which ones are benefiting or selling like hotcakes in today's recession?
 
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