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Joined: 5-June 03
| At the moment we are reevaluating our various product lines, the release schedule and the like. As a result, there currently is no definite release date for future books in the Sengoku line (or our other lines), I'm sorry to say. I hope to have more news on this topic for everyone in the near future.
Right now it's more an issue of finances than anything else. Sales have declined across the board and I have lost money on the last few product releases. I simply can't afford to do the amount of work required for these projects, nor can I afford to accumulate more debt (by hiring freelancers for writing, art, etc.), because I have bills and debts to pay, quite frankly. And if the bills aren't getting paid, then I need a new plan.
So I am, indeed, working on a new plan. A new business plan, actually. I hope to take the company in a new direction this summer; a direction that will provide adequate funding to re-launch Sengoku in the manner in which it deserves (and to pay off what we owe our freelancers, as well as provide a better income for yours truly).
In addition, I am talking with another company about a licensing deal for one of our properties. This deal, if it happens, will give us a great boost, both in terms of finances and in exposure for the property. While I really can't go into detail right now, I promise that it will be a very big deal for GRG if it happens and will excite our fans quite a bit.
So, while things have slowed down considerably here in the area of RPG development, the prospect that it will take an up-turn are good. And if/when this happens, you can bet that I'll be spreading the word from the highest mountain tops! Plus -- if these deals/plans come to fruition -- I can promise you products of enhanced quality (such as a Sengoku hardcover, possibly with full color pages), and a serious marketing push for those products... I want to launch products such as Sengoku 2nd Edition in a manner befitting the property.
The industry is, without a doubt, changing. While I've tried to open a dialog with various industry peers and the general consensus is that sales are down across the board (with new product sales in the 200-800 unit range; very low compared to just 2 years ago), only two companies besides GRG have offered actual figures for us to analyze.
Even so, and despite the fact that some publishers are enjoying reasonable (and in some cases "good") sales figures, many, if not most, publishers are feeling the pinch. GRG is no exception, unfortunately.
One of the elements of the marketing plan we're developing for products, such as Sengoku 2nd Edition, is a push through both educational and cultural channels. My intent is to get exposure and endorsements from these sources, as well as others. Marketing to the RPG market alone is no longer economical for us.
Don't get me wrong, we'll still be doing a marketing push to the RPG market (much better than we did for 1st Ed., to be sure) but some products, such as Sengoku, lend themselves to promotion on so many more levels.
Among are goals are exposure in the multimedia sector, as well as exploring another product media that will work well as a wholly new advertising venue for us.
Blah, blah, blah... corporate speak. What it all means is that, if our reorganization and venture takes off, Sengoku 2nd Edition will be more than "just an RPG," and Sengoku fans will get much more than they could hope for under our current structure and with our current resources. People will hear about Sengoku who never have before, despite 4 years of great reviews and GRG's minimal marketing of the property. So stay tuned.
One observation I've made is that there are just too many products on the market right now for any one to really "stand out" without a big hook. Even so, more and more RPG publishers are acting like "real companies," killing things that don't make money. In the past, the RPG market has involved a lot of product lines that barely "hung on" in the market and some publishers were willing to spend money with little return in order to try to maintain their loyal fan base. In those days, that was often enough to turn a modest profit.
Today some companies are still able to do that. Many are not.
One of the results of the current market shifts, I believe, will be the falling off of a number of publishers. I fully expect a number of current publishers to either consolidate or simply disappear this year.
You can bet that GRG will survive this period, however. But to viable in a changing market, one must be willing to change. GRG has always been an adapter. The combination of both changing to a profit-based model and the adaptation required to stay ahead of the game in the marketplace mean that GRG is undergoing a more radical change than ever before.
With forward thinking, a realistic business plan, and proper funding, however, I see GRG becoming something resembling more of a "powerhouse" in the industry than a "small, loss leader" publisher, such as it's been for the past couple of years.
I'm speaking pretty frankly here, and more than I've been advised to by some of my associates. But I think that the fans deserve honest answers to the tough questions. I won't post our actual numbers for the last year, but I can tell you that I can no longer afford to run GRG as it's been run for the last several years. It's time to change drastically or throw in the towel.
So what does this mean for you, the fans? Here are a few short answers to that very question.
1. Our "core" products, such as Sengoku 2nd Edition, will not see release before summer of 2005.
2. New products that require added "outside" development costs won't be released until we have fully paid all of our freelancers for past projects. Some products developed "in-house," without the need for hiring freelancers, will continue to be developed.
3. Our "re-launch" products, such as Sengoku, will be seen outside of the RPG industry.
4. GRG will develop more than just RPGs in the coming year(s)
5. There will be less "free" product offered from GRG
6. We will move to a "pay-for-access" model for much of our new digital content.
7. There will be a significant increase in the quality of new content after the re-launch
While some of these changes will not be popular with the "I like free stuff, I don't buy books" crowd, the fact is that they don't pay our bills or help keep us in business. True fans who enjoy our product and are willing to pay a fair price for excellent quality are the folks we'll be focusing on in the months and years to come.
And those folks will definitely get their money's worth...in spades.
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