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I can be a LG RPG Pirate?

Rating: 2 votes, 4.50 average.
I just started Pathfinder recently (only 1 session, so no serious judgments yet) and it has brought up the same old questions surrounding Pirating (since much of Pathfinder started off as free PDFs from what I understand).

I think that all too often music, video games, and even rpg books/materials are outrageously overpriced and that in many cases it would even be logical for them to be freeware. However, how could any artist or developer afford to keep going if everyone steals?

Donations have been the traditional answer, but it relies on the intrinsic honor of people raised in our modern society; Marxism also relied on this and you can see how that turned out under Lenin/Stalin.

So, from that has evolved the idea of advertising. In Europe, several websites offer free internet radio and downloads, while paying royalties to the appropriate companies using the money from ads. And while some performers have complained that the companies aren't giving them a fair share, in theory, it is a great system. However, do you really want ads everywhere when you go to such a site?

On Youtube, they usually aren't a nuisance. But on Veoh (which I used to *LOVE* for watching anime), the damn things are slowly taking over. There's about an ad every 6 minutes that stops your stream and lasts the longest 6-15 seconds of your life - and that's before the fact that they sometimes mess up your video (it will stop playing and then you'll have to wait for it to reload, etc.) and often are not at all interesting or appropriate for the crowd of the website. (Though in Veoh's defense, they tried to correct the last part - by instituting an ANNOYING survey system.)

So, obviously, that type of ad system won't work either (and well, I'm not too keen on the idea of having so much advertising to begin with, out of principle). But you know what? I've given it thought and a system that's a mix of the ostentatious sucess of GameFAQs (the most valuable site on the web due to ads that pay pennies/view) and Facebook's system of Up/Down Voting ads might just do the trick.

Online, the workings of such a system is straightforward: hire someone (maybe a small committee) to filter out potential ads which are blaringly inappropriate for the site (alchohol on a MADD website), then post ads on the pennies/view system and in a way where they don't clutter the site/become a nuisance (I'm thinking of you, "middle of the screen pop-ups and ads that talk and play music"). Visitors can up/down vote as they wish. After a certain vote threshold (which some economist can calculate), "bad" ads are removed and "good" ads are shown more often - assuming the company is willing to pay for more air time. New ads replace old ones, etc.

Everyone is happy here - the business that can appeal to the growing gamer (and thus growing female, young/teen, and "lifetime customer") markets, the gamer community which gets its sh*t for free, and the website which has become an epicenter of sorts. And nothing illegal is going on at all.

This system can be modified to work EVEN BETTER in RPG book setting. Before publication, do what Paizo did (and WotC has kind of picked up on) - give gamers free pdfs so that they can edit for you - surrounding them with non-obtrusive ads. Before publication, have the biggest bidders (that have been pre-screened, as above) in a "best ad" contest online. There's the usual Up/Down Voting and the top X get a spot in the actual book, having paid both to be in the contest (hey, it's still advertising) and the book. Add in an incentive for voters somehow (some kind of raffle), maybe spread some viral hype about the contest, and that's even better for business.

Next, make sure all the ads are together in the front, back, or middle, and can be ripped from the book cleanly. Not the best thing on earth, but if it makes the hardcover cheaper or even ::gasp:: free, then I think I can live with it. Especially since the ads will hopefully be apropo and of exceptionally high quality, having passed through the gauntlet of an angry gamer popularity contest. , LoL.

I think it could work, especially since the company can then invest in getting extra money from other merchandise (dice, figs, etc.). The only issue I could foresee is company greed (jacking up prices in other areas) or intial reluctance from advertisers (let them in the contest for free - free advertising anyone?). If I were starting a video game or rpg comany right now, I'd definitely give this a shot - who wouldn't love the company that gave away the core of it's material for free (as long as the system doesn't suck)?


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  1. michael's Avatar
    This is a really interesting perspective.