What a year 2018 was. Most exciting, wonder- and stressful was the birth of my baby girl in January, almost exactly a year ago. It was a wonderful ride that of course shook up a everything and turned my life upside down. To have an outlet as a stay at home dad I decided to publish my first games on DTRPG. On the one hand of course out of curiosity but mostly so I could earn some money from my hobby to continue to invest in more games and stock art etc. Money is tighter then it has been in a long time and this is my way of earning some “play money”.
I specifically want to explore the difference PWYW and fixed price made for me. My games are super niche and can’t compare to any bigger names but I hope those numbers will still be informative for you.
Besides my free stuff I have 3 PWYW and 1 fixed price title, all using the minimald6 system. I will look at each of the four separately.
The first release was Furious Roads. My take on a Mad Max like post apocalyptic RPG. I made it available as PWYW with a suggested price of $2 in April. In the first month it gathered 124 Downloads generating sales of $13.90 for earnings of $9.73. The downloads dropped off sharply but there are a few each month, most not generating any income. In total there have been 225 Downloads that resulted in earnings of $22.51 which is $15.55 USD in my pocket. Better then nothing but not even returned the investment I had made into the art. In the end I earned almost $0.07 per download.
My second release was Fangs, my love letter to a certain Vampire game. Released as PWYW in May with a suggested price of $1. In the first month it gathered 194 downloads generating sales of $15.57 for earnings of $10.90. Again the usual drop off with some downloads here and there. By the years end it had gathered 247 downloads and generated sales of $19.08 or $13.36 for me. Since I only used freely available stockart this time a much better return for me personally. Sadly earnings per download where even worse, only $0.05 per download.
My third release was Riders, also in May. A game about biker gangs. Also released as PWYW with a suggested price of $1. This one really “tanked”. Only 8 downloads in the first month with no income whatsoever. Surprisingly this title picked up in June with 39 downloads and sales of $1.10 or $0.77 for me. All in all over the year 69 downloads and generating $2.61 in sales and $1.83 for me. Or $0.02 Per download. Doesn’t look good even though I again had no cost for art as I did everything myself. I do recognize of course that the genre is super niche and I already am in a niche as it is.
My final release last year was Get Funky, a 70s action bonanza RPG. I released it on the 19th of December at a fixed price for $2.99 and sent out a coupon to everyone who downloaded any of my other minimald6 games to get it for $1.99 in the hope to convert some of those previous downloads into additional sales. In the 13 days until the year ended I had only 29 sales resulting in $77.71 and earnings of $54.40 or $1.87 per download. Even though I had to pay for the stock art this time again, it returned that and earned me some play money! Sheer sales were down significantly but Get Funky earned more in two weeks than all my PWYW games combined in 9 Month.
One thing that surprised me the most is that I got more ratings on the PWYW PDF and none on the fixed price yet. I even have a rating for a playtest version of a system I have up there. I would have thought that people paying for things would be more eager to make themselves heard. But it looks like that’s also a sheer numbers game. You need a lot of downloads to even get two or three ratings.
If you want sheer downloads to get contacts for marketing purposes on DTRPG and get some tips PWYW makes sense. You may be better of with free though in that case. My free Savage Worlds fan product for example has more than a thousand downloads. PWYW is also great if you mainly release games for the fun of it and enjoy the extra tip money here and there.
But sadly for my use case where I want to supplement my RPG addiction with some income only a fixed price release makes sense. How is your experience in this area? Any insights to share? Let me know in the comments.