No wait, that was Sauron after he got the One Ring in that fan fic I wrote.
One point from this article, which offers a lot of opinion backed up by very little fact, was his repeated assertion of downward price pressure on PDFs. Eventually, he refers to this as a "Race to Zero" in what he calls "the PDF price wars".
Ok, pithy turn of phrase and all, but just plain wrong.
Ive operated a storefront continuously on RPGNow since 2002. I wasn't the first by any means but I was real early.
And for most of that time (probably since 2003 or so) I've actually had hard data on TWO PDF companies, my own very small Vigilance Press and RPGObjects, who is one of the top 25 vendors on the site.
Ive seen the site split, which took RPGNow to the indie site, while RPGObjects remained on RPGNow, I've seen the rise of the smaller, low-cost sell in volume approach pioneered and mastered by Phil Reed and lots of other trends.
But the most inescapable trend has been one of increasing market visibility, viability and respectability.
Along with that comes an overall increase in prices.
When I first started selling in 2002, almost every PDF on the site was $5 or it was free.
If you wanted to make your product stand out, you made it bigger, without increasing the price.
Slowly, as our production values started to go up, we started inching our prices up to match.
I remember very vividly when Darwin's World 2 was in development, internal discussions about whether or not a $10 price point would fly.
I argued that it would not. That $10 was like the sound barrier. Even if you COULD break it, it would get mentioned negatively enough to not be worth it.
Obviously, I was way wrong on that and Chris Davis was right, that PDF prices worked like everything else- their perceived value would determine what folks would pay. There was no artificial top price.
And of course, today we know this is true. The average price of the top 75 products on RPGNow is 9.40 and that's with all of ENPublishing's products on sale for at least half price. Were they not running a sale, that average would be higher.
So the best selling products today sell for almost twice what the average product sold then.
And of course, the idea that very idea that PDF prices would trend toward zero flies in the face of simple economic common sense.
Sure, some folks are giving crazy deals on PDFs, either as part of a sale or as a permanent strategy to make buying their core book a no-brainer, so you have a larger pool of potential customers.
But this is like saying the existence of Dollar Stores means that eventually everything will be priced $1.
It just doesn't fly.
Times are tough economically right now, so people are running sales.
Many companies also have tried to emulate Phil Reed's strategy and concentrated on small products they intend to produce quickly, with low overhead and sell in volume.
But there is still a very healthy niche for the high quality, big book premium product, sold at a price point commensurate with its size and quality.
And it isnt just the venerable best sellers who can get away with this.
Number one product on the site right now has a price point of $10.
Number two is $7, three is $15, four is $12 and five is $1.50, for an average price point of $9.10
If this is a race to zero, everyone is going in the wrong direction.