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Michael Hopcroft

DriveThruRPG.com

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One of the year's most controversial development in the RPG industry came about this week when White Wolf launchedDriveThruRPG.com and convinced several other companies (such as Guardians of Order and Eden Studios)to join in. they are selling digitally proctected PDFs of both out-of-print and IN-PRINT RPG products. I'm not quite sure how they do it, but the PDFs I;'ve pobtained (mostly their giveaways) have been of very high qulaity. The discounts are not that substantial; on most in-print product, the PDf costs only about 25% less that the print book.

 

No doubt Hero Games has noticed this development. I've noted the difficulities they have had marrketing electronic books in the past. Is this something that Hero might want to consider for some or all of their product line in a few months 9after they see how welkl DTRPG does in the marketplace)? Or has Heroi abandoned the idea already?

 

I don't really expect Hero to comment on this right away, but I was wondering whether we should expect things like an $8 eBook of Sidekick in the near future.

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Re: DriveThruRPG.com

 

Thanks for the link MH ... I may have to get some stuff from here :)

Why do I get the feeling that I violated some unwurtten rule of the board by positng that link? Since no HERo products are sold there (and the whole point of the post was to ask whether Hero rppoducts would be sold there eventually) all I did by that was helkping Hero's coimpetition, especially White wolf who own DriveThru RPG.com. I think I may have seriously violated BBS ethics with that post. Ileave it to the BBS admin to determine an approproate remedy.

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Re: DriveThruRPG.com

 

AFAIK we haven't even been approached by these people (though Darren would've been the one to talk to them if we had, not me). In any event we have no intention of selling PDFs of any in-print books. To the extent we want to sell PDFs, you can find them in the Online Store. :hex:

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Re: DriveThruRPG.com

 

Michael, you haven't violated any code of ethics with your post, so don't worry about it.

 

As for DTRPG, by looking at what is going on inthe discussions about it on RPG.net, I'm rather glad were not involved. It all seems a bit crazy right now.

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Re: DriveThruRPG.com

 

Thanks, Michael!

 

I've been looking for two out-of-print White Wolf supplements and didn't want to pay E-Bay prices. This is pretty cool.

 

Of course a downloadable version of FREd, with a keyword search.... ohhhh... Yeh, I know: Aint gonna happen. I'm just daydreaming is all :)

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Re: DriveThruRPG.com

 

As for DTRPG' date=' by looking at what is going on inthe discussions about it on RPG.net, I'm rather glad were not involved. It all seems a bit crazy right now.[/quote']

 

No kidding... I'm starting to think that some of the folks involved are probably already regretting the decision to include DRM with those PDFs. There's a LOT of bad feelings being directed at them right about now... (I thought it was rather telling - though unsurprising considering his past experiences - that Steve Jackson announced that SJGames wouldn't be using DRM yesterday.)

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Re: DriveThruRPG.com

 

We did in fact talk to them, but we have fairly strong misgivings about offering PDFs of anything we're still selling through retailers (compared to many RPG publishers, our books tend to have a longer shelf life than most, and we're not sure exactly how much of a PDF-only market there is out there to make up for the sales we'd lose through the retail channel.) The only things we considered using them for are for books that go out of print with no plans to reprint, and frankly we don't have any of those yet (except for the Resource Kit, which we're selling ourselves as a PDF here in the store.) If and when we do, we'd consider using them, though I also remain unconvinced about the DRM process they use as anti-pirating security- while I'm also strongly against PDF piracy, I'm not sure that's the best tradeoff of customer convenience. We might also simply use RPGNow, who sells both the Resource Kit and Shades of Black, or we may just decide to keep the whole process in-house. We'll let everybody know when we come to that bridge. dw

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Re: Shades Of Black

 

Darren, my curiosity has been aroused by your mention that Shades Of Black is being sold on RPGNow. If you don't mind my asking (and not expecting any sales figures): have sales of SOB significantly improved since offering it via another retail channel?

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Re: DriveThruRPG.com

 

Unfortunately, no. After 10 months, SoB has made back what we spent on the art and a bit more. At this point, we really have to pronounce interest in PDF as a medium among Hero fans to be pretty much negligible, though we're obviously still keeping track of what's happening in that market in case things seem to be changing. dw

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Re: Shades Of Black

 

Maybe someone can clue me in on the controversy over the security ont he PDFs? I went and sorted through some threads on RPG.NET and just found a lot of people bad-mouthing it but not saying anything specific. I saw mentions of IP addresses. Are they linking access to the PDF to a computer's specific IP address or something? (If so, are they insane?)

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Re: DriveThruRPG.com

 

Isn't it possible to sell pre-5th edition books or Digital Hero?

 

I'm living in Sweden, and over here there is only two (d20 and Storyteller) American system that really matters (messured in sales). Sadly enough there isn't a HERO System hype over here. To be honest, few people know about Hero Games at all, and the few who those can't see the difference between HERO System and Champions.

 

The HERO System needs all the attention it can get. I think just judging the sales for PDFs in terms of sold products online. In a way, they also serve as a form of commercial for the creators.

 

If you doubt me, just ask Monte Cooke. Compared to the other authours of the DnD 3rd ed., I think he is the most well known one. I'm not that sure if that would have happend without Malhavoc Press. Anyway, he have continued to deliver PDFs for quite some time and I don't think he does it just because he's such a nice man.

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Re: Shades Of Black

 

Maybe someone can clue me in on the controversy over the security ont he PDFs? I went and sorted through some threads on RPG.NET and just found a lot of people bad-mouthing it but not saying anything specific. I saw mentions of IP addresses. Are they linking access to the PDF to a computer's specific IP address or something? (If so' date=' are they insane?)[/quote']

 

I was wondering the same thing. There seem to be a lot of cries of "DRM is bad" without any explanation as to why RPG companies shouldn't have the right to protect their copyrighted IP with what amounts to a pretty loosely restricted form of copy protection. Unlike some software which you can only install on one computer you can at least view these files on any device you have registered with a valid email address. I don't see the problem. Somebody care to enlighten us?

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Re: Shades Of Black

 

I was wondering the same thing. There seem to be a lot of cries of "DRM is bad" without any explanation as to why RPG companies shouldn't have the right to protect their copyrighted IP with what amounts to a pretty loosely restricted form of copy protection. Unlike some software which you can only install on one computer you can at least view these files on any device you have registered with a valid email address. I don't see the problem. Somebody care to enlighten us?

I think their biggest gripe is that the DRM protection scheme seems to make those who purchased it jump through hoops in order to view and print the product they paid for when those who end up getting a hacked copy (and there will be hacked copies) don't have to pay for it OR jump through the hoops.

I understand why the companies want to protect their PDFs, I just don't think that DRM is a good way to do it. In fact, there probably is no way to seemlessly and completely protect digital media; the haxxorz are just too dedicated...

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Re: Shades Of Black

 

I think their biggest gripe is that the DRM protection scheme seems to make those who purchased it jump through hoops in order to view and print the product they paid for when those who end up getting a hacked copy (and there will be hacked copies) don't have to pay for it OR jump through the hoops.

 

I don't buy that argument. It seems more or less equivalent to arguing that one shouldn't have to pay for food at the supermarket when thieves can get it for free and what's more they don't even have to wait in the line!

 

I've got a couple of files from DriveThru already and the supposed hoops I had to jump through didn't take me any longer than 30 seconds or so.

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Re: Shades Of Black

 

Heh. I don't think Ben is making that argument, merely repeating what people are saying. And you're right, it's crazy.

 

But I also wouldn't buy something if I had to reverify it every time I opened it somehow. I found the original security on early Herosphere a big enough pain in the butt, where it tried to verify over the net when you opened it; I'd hate to have to be concerned with whether I'll be able to open my PDF each time I want to. If that's indeed a concern with this system. I don't know the nuts and bolts.

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Re: Shades Of Black

 

Heh. I don't think Ben is making that argument, merely repeating what people are saying. And you're right, it's crazy.

 

But I also wouldn't buy something if I had to reverify it every time I opened it somehow. I found the original security on early Herosphere a big enough pain in the butt, where it tried to verify over the net when you opened it; I'd hate to have to be concerned with whether I'll be able to open my PDF each time I want to. If that's indeed a concern with this system. I don't know the nuts and bolts.

Right... another of the first and biggest complaints was the whole "printing at Kinko's" issue. If you wanted to do that you'd have to pay for internet time at the print shop in order to verify your account. I believe a workaround has been found, but customers don't want workarounds... they want it to work without them having to put forth any effort.

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Re: Shades Of Black

 

Right... another of the first and biggest complaints was the whole "printing at Kinko's" issue. If you wanted to do that you'd have to pay for internet time at the print shop in order to verify your account. I believe a workaround has been found' date=' but customers don't want workarounds... they want it to work without them having to put forth any effort.[/quote']

 

I can see the printing issue being a problem but verification isn't (at least not for me). My experience has been that each file is authorised only once, when you download it (a process which causes a slight delay but doesn't require any active intervention) and thereafter opens without difficulty.

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Re: Shades Of Black

 

I can see the printing issue being a problem but verification isn't (at least not for me). My experience has been that each file is authorised only once' date=' when you download it (a process which causes a slight delay but doesn't require any active intervention) and thereafter opens without difficulty.[/quote']

Have you tired opening that same file on a different machine?

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Re: Shades Of Black

 

I was wondering the same thing. There seem to be a lot of cries of "DRM is bad" without any explanation as to why RPG companies shouldn't have the right to protect their copyrighted IP with what amounts to a pretty loosely restricted form of copy protection. Unlike some software which you can only install on one computer you can at least view these files on any device you have registered with a valid email address. I don't see the problem. Somebody care to enlighten us?

 

No one is arguing that RPG companies don't have the right to protect their IP.

 

What we are arguing is that DRM is ineffective, and that it turns the experience from "buying a game" into "renting some IP". Any number of issues, technical and non-, could conspire to deny you access to the content you paid good money for. And guess what -- no refunds. If there's a problem, the game companies blame DTRPG, DTRPG blames Adobe, Adobe blames the other two, and you get the shaft.

 

And finally, acceptance of DRM here means that it is yet another step toward a world where all content is protected by some kind of DRM, over which control is concentrated in probably about eight companies worldwide.

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Re: Shades Of Black

 

Have you tired opening that same file on a different machine?

 

I hadn't until you mentioned it. Just now I tried to transfer one of the files to my Palm PDA. It didn't work, despite the fact that my PDA has been properly added and registered to my Adobe DRM account, which lists it as activated. So yeah, I see your point. It would be OK if it worked the way it's supposed to, but apparently it doesn't.

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Re: DriveThruRPG.com

 

Isn't it possible to sell pre-5th edition books or Digital Hero?

 

In terms of DH, we'd prefer to sell that ourselves and keep all the money. :hex:

 

In terms of pre-5E products, except in limited circumstances we don't want to sell them, for a whole bunch of reasons, including (a) it's counterproductive and contrary to our general long-term business strategies to support earlier editions of the rules, and (B) almost none of the older books are available to us in PDF format (we'd have to go through laborious scanning and checking for a few paltry sales). There are other reasons, but those are definitely near the top of the list.

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