After giving a respectful shout to their colleagues at Guardians of Order, the Hero Games folks announce a preemptive strike to keep from meeting the same fate. “Effective immediately, we’re going to start putting all of our books in the Online Store as soon as they become available to retailers. We are not going to make them available before retailers get them — that wouldn’t be fair — but we’re not going to delay for a month or more the way we have in the past.” Plus free shipping, some PDF products, and a bunch of other stuff.
Clearly, retailers are not thrilled about this kind of rhetoric, but it is increasingly looking like the way for smaller game publishers to survive. (If only because growing their market seems to be beyond them.) Retailers that don’t add lots of value through in-store events and outreach are gonna feel the pinch more than others, of course. The other risk of making an announcement such as this one is that gamers will let their insecure side dominate, and look to sell off their collections of a game that’s about to “die.” Me, I think we’re about to see the end of the days when a game’s going out of print impacts anyone’s ability to keep playing it, but then again, that prediction also relies on a lot of heads being screwed on straight, which you can never count on in our neighborhood. I keep meaning to write more about the net’s place in the future of RPGs, but, another time.