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Price point on HC RPG Books

lord dynel

Registered User
Validated User
The "issue" with A(D&D) books and their price points has always been, as I'm sure we all know, is their 3-volume entry point. Even at $27 on Amazon, to get a complete game you have to spend ~$85 for all three. PF2 Core and PF2 Bestiary is about ~$90 on Amazon. Still not bad, really, but I feel yo really need to consider how much of the complete RPG you're getting when you buy just a single book (and, to me, 5e isn't a complete game w/o the DMG and MM). SWN Revised, Cortex, and EP2 are, more-or-less complete RPGs in a single purchase...and a little less than the above "complete" games.

Advanced Labyrinth Lord, SWAE, and DCC RPG give me the complete game, all around $50 or less. :)
 

Tom B

Registered User
Validated User
Looking at the games we're currently running... $30ish, $30ish, $50ish for the core rule books. I have to be actually going to run a game before I'll buy a print copy, anything else I buy PDF. My first go-to after that would be e-Bay for a good price on a new copy. Then DTRPG, Amazon, or FLGS depending on convenience/price.

So, I'm still avoiding $60+ books. Luckily there are none I'm aware of that interest me.
 

E.T.Smith

A Most Sincere Poseur
Validated User
The "issue" with A(D&D) books and their price points has always been, as I'm sure we all know, is their 3-volume entry point. Even at $27 on Amazon, to get a complete game you have to spend ~$85 for all three.
I don't think that's a valid premise. For most people, the PHB is the only game book they'll ever buy. It has to be remembered that the responses in this thread are from dedicated enthusiasts, much more willing to spend extra money on materials in pursuit of one of their primary pastimes (and for several people here, it's their career). We represent a specialty market that's creates its own weird parameters, and one can't really apply the same metrics to all game books.

Or to put that another way, there's enough people willing to pay $80 for a game book, on terms that can be met by production, to make that a viable approach for some publishers, but that doesn't represent how the entirety of the hobby operates, and may not even be the primary one.
 

lord dynel

Registered User
Validated User
I don't think that's a valid premise. For most people, the PHB is the only game book they'll ever buy. It has to be remembered that the responses in this thread are from dedicated enthusiasts, much more willing to spend extra money on materials in pursuit of one of their primary pastimes (and for several people here, it's their career). We represent a specialty market that's creates its own weird parameters, and one can't really apply the same metrics to all game books.

Or to put that another way, there's enough people willing to pay $80 for a game book, on terms that can be met by production, to make that a viable approach for some publishers, but that doesn't represent how the entirety of the hobby operates, and may not even be the primary one.
I'll politely disagree, if that's okay with you. ;)

I think it is a valid premise, but I acknowledge that is my opinion. My point is what you get for your money - not all $30 books are the same, nor are all $70 books. There are some games in which the $27-30 dollar single PHB won't get you an RPG system, only one aspect/fraction of it. There's nothing wrong or incorrect in that, but comparing it to a $70, complete, game is (I feel) unfair. Many (though not all) games that start reaching this price point are complete games. And, when I consider that the $27-30 range is from a discounted seller (and not MSRP) and it only widens the discrepancy. The "intent" of the PHB is to pay $50 for only a fraction of a game.

But my point wasn't to focus on only the subset of the RPG buying public who's lives are complete with one PHB purchase. If looking only at that, your point is certainly valid. But I was trying to address the OP in stating that those big, beefy books (WHFRP, EP2, Cypher, etc) are complete games in one book, thus the higher price could be justified. My ancillary point was that these big books ultimately cost less when you consider that multi-book systems are going to cost more in the end (even as discounted prices).

The $80 game books, I think, are indeed outliers in the hobby. Will they become the norm? Maybe. It seems that $60 seems to be, at the moment. And when the industry is on an upswing mainly because of one or two publishers, it makes me question whether or not the rest of the them are benefiting from that "rising tide." I hope they are...whether they're making $20 books or $75 ones. 🙂
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
I think it is a valid premise, but I acknowledge that is my opinion. My point is what you get for your money - not all $30 books are the same, nor are all $70 books.
If you're comparing the cost of an entire system vs. a single physical book, then you also have to acknowledge that many games these days are available for half price or cheaper via PDF, or even free or pay what you want via an SRD or a no-art PDF.
 

lord dynel

Registered User
Validated User
If you're comparing the cost of an entire system vs. a single physical book, then you also have to acknowledge that many games these days are available for half price or cheaper via PDF, or even free or pay what you want via an SRD or a no-art PDF.
That's true, Sleeper, but now we're getting into a whole different realm of media here, at least with PDF. Discounted physical books (whether used, discounted, or what-have-you) are also anomalies.

And yeah, I guess I am comparing the single book vs. the entire system (contained in one book), which wasn't really my intention. That point, however, comes into play when I think about (or when it gets mentioned) that the PHB is only 25-30-ish dollars. That point alone is a valid one, sure. But when it's compared to a $60+ book, I feel it's a little disingenuous. I don't mean that maliciously, just in the context that the $30-ish book is only part of what one receives (usually) comapred to that $60+ book, which is usually all-encompassing.
 

JetstreamGW

Seeker
Validated User
That's true, Sleeper, but now we're getting into a whole different realm of media here, at least with PDF. Discounted physical books (whether used, discounted, or what-have-you) are also anomalies.

And yeah, I guess I am comparing the single book vs. the entire system (contained in one book), which wasn't really my intention. That point, however, comes into play when I think about (or when it gets mentioned) that the PHB is only 25-30-ish dollars. That point alone is a valid one, sure. But when it's compared to a $60+ book, I feel it's a little disingenuous. I don't mean that maliciously, just in the context that the $30-ish book is only part of what one receives (usually) comapred to that $60+ book, which is usually all-encompassing.
I should mention, the PHB is $50. Amazon discounts aren’t really relevant price points. Amazon’s model isn’t one that really any other business can emulate.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
I should mention, the PHB is $50. Amazon discounts aren’t really relevant price points. Amazon’s model isn’t one that really any other business can emulate.
I disagree. The proper way to measure the cost of a product isn't some theoretical sticker price, it's what people actually pay. And enough people use Amazon, or similar online retailers who discount the list price almost as steeply, to influence the typical price across the entire market. Though evaluating what that means is a lot trickier than just saying it.
 

lord dynel

Registered User
Validated User
I disagree. The proper way to measure the cost of a product isn't some theoretical sticker price, it's what people actually pay. And enough people use Amazon, or similar online retailers who discount the list price almost as steeply, to influence the typical price across the entire market. Though evaluating what that means is a lot trickier than just saying it.
I think Jetstream's point is that MSRP creates a baseline, and thus a valid one. Individual sellers, used books, discount online retailers - all of these will offer a discounted price. But - and Tango's more than welcome to correct me - I think that the OP implied MSRP. PHB's have sold for under $20 on eBay, but that shouldn't be confused for any kind of standardized price. There's too much variance.

But, let's take those Amazon prices into account, and assume that those prices are the "standard" for what people will actually pay. PHB is $28, DMG is $30, and the MM is $27. The combined price is still $85. For a complete game.

Whether you buy one book or all the "core" books that make up the game (and make it playable) the price points are going up. Fringe systems, some small press/indie games, or maybe just some nice RPG publishers put out sub-50 dollar core books still, but I think they're getting fewer and fewer.
 
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