In the last couple of weeks I have engaged in two different experiments with Highmoon Media Productions. Since we won’t be doing any D&D 4e material this year, and I want to be careful about how much time I spend on 3.5 material that may be possibly obsolete (or at least harder to sell), I figured I might as well give some things a try and see how they panned out, perhaps open up some new options for the company. So far my experiments have been… interesting. One has certainly done well enough for me to consider it a success, the other I’m still trying to figure out.

Experiment 1: Domains of Adventure
I started this line to provide system-independent locations, coupled with Rules Appendixes for various open systems (d2o, RuneQuest, etc). I published the first product for sale on November 1st, and offered the Rules Appendix for free as a download from my site. Since 11/01/07 it has sold 21 copies, i.e. really poorly. Of those, 14 were sold before March 2008, specifically before the GM’s Day sale that just ended. Right before the GM’s Day sale began (on March 2), I decided to add the Rules Appendix (now d20 and RuneQuest) as free products available through RPGnow, if only so I could get an idea of how many of those were being downloaded, and to see if by offering the mechanics for free it encouraged people to purchase the fluff material as well.

As I mentioned, the product has sold 7 copies since March 1st, all of them during the March 3-7 period of the GM’s Day sale. During that time as well, the two free products have been downloaded 249 times (133 d20, 116 RuneQuest). That means that I sold one Domains of Adventure product for roughly every 35 free downloads of the Rules Appendixes. Ouch. Now, I had never put out a free product, so I do not have any previous context of the number of downloads for a free product; I know it’s a lot, but this is only from hearsay. I expected the Rules Appendixes to be more downloaded than the paid product, but I guess I was naive in expecting a better free-to-paid ratio.

Now, this does mean that I have a large number of new customers in my mailing list now (not sure how many exactly though, as I have no easy way to correlate how many of them have purchased from me before) that I can target directly for my next products, and especially for any new Domains of Adventure (a new one is coming out in a week or so). I will also see if I can convert some more of those free downloads to paid customers with a coupon, though in my experience this rarely works out.

So, I’m not sure how well this experiment turned out. I have a mind to take off the free products, but I haven’t decided yet. I know my next DoA product will NOT be sold the same way as the first one. This one I will pre-package with the Rules Appendix and sell each combo as a separate product (the d20 version, the RuneQuest version, etc) and see how that goes. I could also sell the fluff part and the Rules Appendixes each, and put together a bundle for each rules system, but I want to avoid the exponential proliferation of product entries in my vendor page.

I’ll revisit this one after I release the next DoA product and I have some more data to chew on.

I’ll talk about my other experiment in the next entry.

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