Measuring Success: The First Six Months

BrokenRuler_logo_websiteheader_Oct2015_noshadow

It has been exactly six months since Broken Ruler Games was relaunched and the time has come to look back at those early days to see where things have progressed to date. Yes, exactly six months to the day.

Pay no attention to the date of this post!

Hello again, loyal readers and casual Googlers. This is BRG’s big cheese, Todd Crapper, here once more to review the numbers that have been flying across my screen these past few months. As this latest update in the Measuring Success is arriving a bit behind schedule and there’s still plenty of work ahead on the High Plains Samurai Kickstarter, let’s jump right into the fray, shall we?

Cutting Up The Numbers

Below are the total sales for both OneBookShelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, and affiliates), the Open Gaming Store, conventions, and direct sales between September 20, 2016 and March 31, 2017.

Product Total Sold Gross Sales Earnings  
Killshot: The Director’s Cut 20 $86.12 $50.39  
PDF 18     **listed as Silver Best Seller on DriveThruRPG
Hardcover B&W 2     1 print demo ordered from Lightning Source
Hardcover B&W + PDF 0      
         
Killshot: An Assassin’s Journal 5 $0.00 $0.00  
PDF 5      
Softcover B&W 0      
         
Killshot: Direction 0 $0.00 $0.00  
PDF 0      
Softcover B&W 0      
         
Killshot Files #0 22 $2.00 $1.17  
PDF (Free) 22      
         
Killshot Files #1 5 $6.00 $3.64  
PDF 5      
         
Killshot Files #2 6 $17.47 $10.22  
PDF 6      
         
ScreenPlay: The Rehearsal Edition 0 $0.00 $0.00  
PDF (Free) 0      
         
Ironbound 101 $5.83 $3.49  
PWYW 48      
Softcover POD 0     limited to 5 copies only for PbP playtesters!
Blessed and the Damned 53      
         
ScreenPlay 32 $189.20 $129.75  
PDF 23      
Softcover POD 2      
Softcover POD + PDF 4      
CreateSpace / Retail 5     for backers/playtesters/patrons only!
         
Dial M for Monster 18 $68.50 $40.08  
PDF 16      
Softcover POD 2     1x POD proof ordered Sept. 2016
         
High Plains Samurai 911 $0.00 $0.00  
Rehearsal Edition 911      
       
TOTAL 1146 $365.12 $238.74  
         
Killshot Directors Kit (Bundle) 5    

With only one new paid release in this period (Dial M For Monster), these are decent numbers. Considering how ScreenPlay quickly lost steam after a strong release and Dial M (to be blunt) failed to click with classic monster movie fans in October, these are good to see and a positive sign moving forward. Killshot continues to hang on and Ironbound refuses to go down (much like the magick hunters themselves).

This is also the first time I’ve been able to include sales from multiple sources and not just OneBookShelf sites. Broken Ruler Games is now a proud member of the Open Gaming Store, Composed Dream Games Marketplace, the IGDN (providing access to some American conventions with plans to move into retail distribution as well), and we’re also available in at 401 Games in Toronto. A brick-and-mortar store selling physical copies of ScreenPlay! Always brings a tear to my eye. Plus there was a copy sold at BreakoutCon. Oops, there’s another tear.

What really stands out over these past six months is that nice big number next to High Plains Samurai: The Rehearsal Edition. 911 downloads. In one month. Wow! And that number is soon approaching 1,000. Compared to the 645 downloads of ScreenPlay‘s Rehearsal Edition during the initial playtest campaign and during ENnies voting, roughly four months of availability, and that’s a big leap. Clearly the concept connects with people enough to add it to their catalogue; the question becomes whether or not it will be enough to make a healthy portion of them want to help expand this project into something bigger and wilder. Time will soon tell.

Tightening The Focus

dialm_finalcoverThese numbers have brought something to light: open ended products do not sell as well as detailed concepts based on a particular genre. By this, I mean products with a clear direction and theme in mind, such as a game about robot hunters on Mars versus a game about telling a story around a campfire. Killshot is still selling (and selling better than ScreenPlay) after four years and HPS‘ initial downloads prove that case. While Dial M provided a clearer idea of the system than the ScreenPlay core rulebook, it was not unique enough to stand out in the crowd. At this point, the only two products consistently getting clicked are the modern assassination RPG, Killshot, and there appears to be strong interest in Samurai‘s mad mash-up. Perhaps more than the positive signs, it’s the negatives telling me BRG needs to consider a greater focus on more unique concepts than open-ended, “do-it-all” systems.

ScreenPlay and Dial M For Monster are currently financial losses and it looks as if it will be a while before they break even. Those are strong negatives as far as aiming at similar projects in the future. It’s not to say such products will never be on the menu again, just that there will be some smaller budgets attached to them. Much smaller. It will mean smaller page counts but it also means future ScreenPlay treatments are still possible with the rules left up to the core rulebook. Maybe a collection of treatments. If anything, it’s a worthy experiment that will help shape BRG’s future (even if the result was less than hoped).

Getting Ready To Unleash The Samurai

hpslogo_kickstartermay2017

As mentioned above, we’re closing in on the Kickstarter launch of High Plains Samurai and all wheels are spinning in that direction. Seeing such impressive numbers for the free playtest have been incredibly encouraging… but the low number of survey results have skewed that sentiment. To date, there has only been one survey result completed for HPS but there are a couple factors to consider. First, this first quarter of 2017 has been Kickstarter season (one we were originally due to be part of were it not for the scheduling change and I’m very glad HPS wasn’t trying to compete with so many other amazing games during March). There’s been a lot of new stuff coming and going. ScreenPlay‘s playtest was released in October versus HPS‘ in March. Obviously, this time difference is huge and has been noted for future playtests. The downloads suggest HPS definitely appeals to a wide audience; without the feedback, it’s hard to tell if it actually resonates with people.

Another crucial factor is that getting feedback on anything – let alone a playtest – is difficult in the best of times. What I had hoped was a working formula has now been revealed to have been a lucky fluke with ScreenPlay… or maybe it’s more of the audience each game attracted. ScreenPlay definitely struck a chord with the story game crowd, Samurai has appealed to a more traditional RPG audience (or perhaps a hybrid crowd, such as Powered By The Apocalypse fans). Even people who playtest something face-to-face with the creator can be loathe and unable to provide detailed feedback, but I’m happy to report there are some playtests in progress at the time of this post and there should be more to work from going into the Kickstarter campaign. The initial response to this game is still very strong and I should have BIG NEWS for the launch party (to me, at least, because I get to fan gush when the time is right). Stay tuned for that.

All that aside, revisions have been made to the Kickstarter’s goals and stretch goals in light of this shift in playtest results. For starters, I’ve adjusted the goal to a lower $3,000 (Canadian) to fund a “basic” version of the game and by that I mean a 96-page edition containing the complete rules and basic setting material with an appendix for the Black Scorpion storyline and a host of supporting characters from around the One Land. This will at least give me the satisfaction of knowing I can publish HPS in a way that I would still be proud to slap on the BRG label and provide something magical for people to play. At $6,000 (still Canadian), we will produce High Plains Samurai: Black Scorpion’s Revenge, the true version of the game I’ve always intended. At nearly 160 pages, this will contain everything from the “basic” version plus incredibly detailed guidelines for directing/playing HPS and a chapter for each of the six major locations in the One Land. Within each of those chapters, a series of scenarios will provide story beats to help your group play out your version of Black Scorpion’s Revenge, the main storyline that threatens to wipe the One Land from existence. At $10,000… you know what, let’s leave that one for now. Yep, I’m teasing you.

My Money Where My Mouth Is (or Do You Want To See The HPS Kickstarter Budget?)

Due to time constraints and wanting to get this post out the door before the end of April (sheesh!), I’m going to skip the fourth component of this post… for now. Seeing as I’ve been open with my sales figures, it seemed only fair to be as open with my Rehearsal Edition/Kickstarter budget for High Plains Samurai. How much I’ve spent to date to create the version that will exist as of May 30th as far as editing, artwork, marketing, and more. Time permitting, that will happen before the launch. Otherwise, I will make a point to include it during the campaign itself.

Until then, if you have any questions, comments, or random swear words to throw my way, I’m always game to hear from you. Thank you for your support so far as BRG continues moving forward and I hope there’ll be some crazy numbers to show you next time. Like numbers with four digits. Whaaaaa….?!!

The Con Is On! BRG Games Available at Breakout & Cangames 2017

cx2cdmy2     cangames-17

With High Plains Samurai: The Rehearsal Edition only days away from cracking open your hard drive, Broken Ruler Games will be running HPS as well as Ironbound and Killshot at two of Canada’s biggest conventions of the year. There are some spaces remaining (but not many) for Breakout in Toronto and registration launches on Saturday for Cangames so if you’re planning to attend either and want to play any of these games with their creator (that’s me!), do the thing that needs doing to make it happen.

Breakout (Toronto, ON)

Friday, March 10th
High Plains Samurai (10:00pm to 1:00am)

Saturday, March 11th
High Plains Samurai (10:00am to 1:00pm) – only one space remains!
ScreenPlay Presents: Ironbound (3:00pm to 6:00pm)
Killshot (7:00pm to 10:00pm)

Cangames (Ottawa, ON)

Saturday, May 20th
High Plains Samurai (2:00pm to 6:00pm)

Sunday, May 21st
High Plains Samurai (2:00pm to 6:00pm)

Measuring Success (or How Well ScreenPlay Sold)

(This is the second draft of this post written from scratch. Something about the chart above is really throwing off WordPress and anytime I attempt to select more than one word, it scrolls straight down to the bottom. Therefore, to keep it simple and avoid a third attempt, all links are provided at the bottom of this post.)

Another fiscal year has come and gone and this one is extra special. As detailed in my personal blog, Broken Ruler Games is now an actual business. Licence and everything. Which means apologies must be made for any ruse or hand waving magician-ry of the past four years. Yet what made the goal of starting BRG remains and fuels the engine of this next step.

It meant creating a clean and accurate slate as a business rather than part of freelancing. Only a month ahead of schedule, it was time to see how well ScreenPlay has fared and discover the aftermath of 2015’s Bundle of Holding.

Let’s See Some Numbers

Yes, let’s start with that. Below are the sales/downloads for everything in the BRG catalogue from October 2015 to August 2016.

Product Total Sold Gross Sales Earnings
Killshot: The Director’s Cut 36 $259.21 $140.08
  PDF 25
  Hardcover B&W 4
  Hardcover B&W + PDF 7
Killshot: An Assassin’s Journal 6 $10.17 $5.95
  PDF 6
  Softcover B&W 0
Killshot: Direction 2 $7.15 $4.18
  PDF 2
  Softcover B&W 0
Killshot Files #0 42 $9.78 $3.98
  PDF (Free) 42
Killshot Files #1 16 $19.94 $11.67
  PDF 16
Killshot Files #2 16 $57.22 $33.47
  PDF 16
ScreenPlay: The Rehearsal Edition 645 $0.00 $0.00
  PDF (Free) 645
Ironbound 444 $64.46 $37.72
  PWYW 231
  Softcover POD 5
  Blessed and the Damned 208
ScreenPlay: The Rehearsal Edition 92 $444.44 $260.01
  PDF 75
  Softcover POD 5
  Softcover POD + PDF 12
  Hardcover POD (playtesters exclusive) 11
TOTAL 1315 $872.37 $497.06

Starting with highlights, the numbers for both ScreenPlay: The Rehearsal Edition (not including additional downloads during ENnies voting, which were provided on Google Drive instead of RPGNow – the original provider) and Ironbound are impressive. Those are loads of opportunities for people to discover ScreenPlay with little to zero cost (and risk). Did it translate into the desired number of ScreenPlay core book sales? No. Based on the initial launch, core book sales have dropped nearly 70% in August compared to May 2016. Even the Christmas In July sale did not improve sales. There are still sales taking place with 11 PDFs in August and a couple POD sales.

There was also no carry-over from the ENnies nomination. A couple hundred more downloads, yes, but there doesn’t appear to be any impact on core rulebook sales.

The true test will be the October release of Dial M for Monster (slated for layout this weekend). At the very least, it will make for a geiger counter of a specific concept over a universal system. And whether or not people like to play old drive-in movies for Hallowe’en as emphatically as they did in playtesting.

Overall sales were down 50% from the previous year. Killshot sales dropped significantly, down by more than 90% from 2014-15 and the main cause is the Bundle of Holding. Oh, how could you, sweetest moment of BRG’s short life. The BoH was an amazing opportunity and it was also a swan song for this edition of the game. At this point, it seems to be cooling down to a slow trickle… but this is after three years in the spotlight. For my first original design, this is truly amazing and I’m happy to report over 1,000 copies of Killshot: The Director’s Cut are resting on bookshelves and tablets all over the world.

Perhaps this means it is time to take another crack at Killshot Reloaded in the near future…

Um, Great Time to Start a Business, Huh?

It does seem like going +1 forward on BRG after a year like this may not have been the smartest move but it’s all skewed on one major factor: the Bundle of Holding. For a small indie publisher such as BRG, gaining access was fundamental to last year’s success. Yet such a thing cannot be expected as a regular feature. When I look at the total earnings BRG has accumulated in four years, 2015-16 was on par. 25% of its total earnings were made in the last 11 months and that means we held our heads above the water as the cruise ship took off without us. Thumbs up!

There’s also the price points between Killshot and ScreenPlay, with the latter priced at half that of its violent older brother. While ScreenPlay’s numbers were not what I hoped, those for Ironbound are very promising and I am considering a possible Ironbound sequel once it reaches 300 downloads.

Here’s what this teaches me. For the past four years, Broken Ruler Games has been a development studio with help from Mystical Throne Entertainment and operated on soft launches and zero marketing. Promoting, yes, but promoting is when you connect with an existing audience (Twitter followers, email subscribers) and marketing is reaching a population outside of that. Plus it’s only been available on OneBookShelf sites – that’s going to change. A lot is. It has been a learning experience these past four years and there’s a very good indication this could grow into something more, something with a bit more muscle going into the bigger picture. I’ve been having fun with BRG and creating games for people to play; now it’s time to take it seriously.

Are you ready?

Un-Broken Links

To read my personal blog post on turning BRG into a legit business (that sounds kind of mafia, doesn’t it?), click here.

You can read more about ScreenPlay, Ironbound and Killshot by clicking on them words.

Discover all about the Bundle of Holding and pick up some sweet bundle on their website.


Todd Crapper is the Owner/Lead Designer/Jack of All Trades for Broken Ruler Games. Basically, anything you see written with that blue target and snapped ruler on it was written by him. Including this. He’s writing about himself in the third person. Weirdo.

Become One of the Blessed or the Damned with a New Free Supplement for Ironbound

Ironbound_BlessedDamned_700x1000_June2016Character creation can be intimidating when you’re starting out on a new game and sometimes you need to simply open up a book and use pre-generated friends and enemies to keep the story going. Not to fear, ScreenPlayers, as we’ve just released a free bonus supplement for Ironbound called The Blessed and the Damned.

A collection of 19 pre-generated characters, including five lead characters of the Penitents, the very Ironbound unit featured in our play-by-post playtest tale featured on the ScreenPlayers Guild community on Google+. Witches, warlocks, allies, soldiers, undead, and more can be found quick and ready for your own tale. Available now on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG. 

ScreenPlay On Sale Now!

ScreenPlay_cover_7x10_finalYour story begins… NOW!

Broken Ruler Games is proud to present the PDF release of the ScreenPlay core rulebook. This original storytelling RPG provides everything you need to begin telling your own stories with friends both old and new. Placing narrative control on the players (known as the Writers) working with the Director to create engaging stories combined with the action-packed options of a traditional roleplaying game, ScreenPlay allows everyone to pit their lead characters against the challenges of any genre you can imagine.

Available through DriveThruRPG and RPGNow as a PDF for only $5 US, you can also preview the first chapter from here and experience Ironbound, a dark fantasy preview of ScreenPlay, right here. You can also learn more about the game from our ScreenPlay page. 

Learn How To ScreenPlay From Lead Designer, Todd Crapper

A new addition completed this weekend, this 12 minute “how to play” video provides a breakdown of how it helps players create a shared narrative experience. Take a look and enjoy the ride.

Preview: The Oath of the Ironbound

Ironbound_cover_7x10_March2016_preview3Your chance to tell the legend of the Ironbound is just a week away as Phase 1 of the ScreenPlay launch is underway. That means it’s time to start offering a preview for this special preview of our new co-operative storytelling RPG.

Click here to download an 11-page PDF preview of Ironbound‘s second chapter, The Oath of the Ironbound. Containing full details of the five lead roles, secondary roles, guidelines of using spells and rituals, and two supporting characters, this free preview offers up a glimpse of the finished product. Not enough for you to start playing yet, of course. You’ll need to pick up Ironbound starting May 16th to do that. Sneaky, isn’t it?

You can learn more about this product by visiting our Ironbound page and you can learn more about ScreenPlay (releasing May 30th) here.

Get Ready To Play: Release Dates For ScreenPlay and Ironbound

This past weekend, layout wrapped up for both the ScreenPlay core rulebook and the preview treatment/adventure, Ironbound, making it time to make our announcement official. So official they’re going up in big, BIG fonts.

Ironbound_cover_7x10_March2016_preview3

Ironbound goes on sale as a Pay-What-You-Want PDF release from DriveThruRPG/RPGNow on Monday, May 16th.

ScreenPlay_cover_7x10_final

The ScreenPlay core rulebook PDF goes on sale for $5 USD from DriveThruRPG/RPGNow on Monday, May 31st.

We’re also working on getting Print On Demand version of the ScreenPlay core rules ready for a projected launch in June 2016 and the wheels are in motion for the continuation of this new sage for BRG. Throughout the coming month, Broken Ruler Games and Mystical Throne Entertainment will begin the marketing campaign for both products and expect to see your copy of either or both PDFs later this month if you were a part of our Rehearsal Edition playtest.

To learn more about ScreenPlay and what you can expect, click here. Learn more about Ironbound and their fight against slingers of magick spells and invokers of summoning rituals here.