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.

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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.

Talkin’ ScreenPlay: An Update From The ScreenPlayers Guild Community

#ScreenPlayRPG_website_image_400x227
Use the #ScreenPlayRPG hashtag to help maintain the hype!

It’s been a couple of weeks since anything for the ScreenPlay playtest has graced this page and it’s not because everything’s gone quiet. Far from the truth, the finishing touches are going into Version 1.4 of The Rehearsal Edition with hopes to release it by early next week to everyone who downloaded this free PDF from DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.

600+ downloads later and we’ve collected a fantastic group of avid playtesters are not only giving this game a run for their money, they’re creating new stories, settings, and genres to play. Playtest surveys are still rolling in with two additional unlocked treatments putting it at over 100 pages. The shining crown of this playtesting is the activity going on in the ScreenPlayers Guild, our online G+ community. Here’s a sample of the most recent discussions and events.

  • Ironbound Play-By-Post: Already into its fourth scene, this rendition of ScreenPlay’s dark fantasy tale of witch hunters features Derya (the scout), Gareth (the blade), Drachen (the archanist), Philip (the shield bearer) and Lyonesse (their new commander). If you’re looking for an idea on what makes this game tick, be sure to check out the Ironbound PbP thread.
  • Necronomicon Stories: Based on an idea created by one of our playtesters, we’re experimenting with a Lovecraftian tale of monstrous terror… in the future! The ball has only begun to bounce on this upcoming story and with only two Writers currently signed up, there could be room for a couple more.
  • EscapeFromTheX_logo_CMYK_preview2Escape From The X: The third treatment recently unlocked from playtest surveys, this sci/fi-horror story takes place in Mystical Throne Entertainment’s Mercenary Breed. The short and sweet of it: mercenaries hired to deliver an alien prisoner to a secret installation find themselves desperately outnumbered when someone mysterious releases every inmate to wreck havoc and spill as much blood as possible. Look for it in Version 1.4 next week!
  • Optional Rules For Building Potentials: With many core mechanics locked down, some optional rules are being considered. Such as building your dice roll’s value based on the number of details you apply in a scene.
  • Kickstarting It Up A Notch: Finally, we’re also looking at Kickstarter to help elevate the finished version of this project. With playtest surveys averaging a score of 4.6 out of 5 and ideas bouncing around for a small product line built using ScreenPlay, all options are on the table right now.

This and more is taking place at the ScreenPlayers Guild. Join us and see what all the fuss is about before the cool kids see what we’re doing and want to make it a crowd.

Measuring Success: A Breakdown of the First Half of 2015

Every now and then, you’ll find an indie publisher posting their sales data (money and all) direct on their website for all to see. The biggest one of them all would be Evil Hat Productions, currently the mecca for all indie publishers looking to make it big. Those with business degrees would wonder why someone who do such a thing and give away any potential secrets to their success or reveal how poorly they’re doing in the market, but that’s the thing about indie publishing: we all ride on everyone’s success. Besides, the motto around here is “breaking all the rules,” so it’s not like we’re about to do what’s proper.

As the Big Cheese around here, I’ve been meaning to get around to posting these at the start of every quarter (April, July, October, and January) since our merger with Mystical Throne Entertainment. It’s just never panned out that way… until today. So when I say these are the figures Broken Ruler Games produced in the first half of the year, there should be a clarification that these results are actually what’s gone down since the merger back in late November of 2014. In essence, this is how things have fared with BRG since we started bunking with MTE. A fair warning that I will not provide any $ with these totals as anyone can figure those out if someone was really set on it and as BRG is in a partnership, such figures were deemed irrelevant and improper for this post.

Let’s Start From The Top, Shall We?

First off, the total figures from November 23, 2014 to the end of June 2015. Plain and simple, a total of 2642 purchases – downloads, freebies, and POD sales –  took place (not including bundles, of which there were 26). Of those, 1933 were made available at no profit to us whatsoever for a charity bundle back in April of this year and 541 came from the recently exhilarating Bundle of Holding last month. Here’s a breakdown of exactly what was purchased, regardless of source.

Killshot: The Director’s Cut
Total Sales – 578
(576 PDF, 2 print on demand)

Killshot: An Assassin’s Journal
Total Sales – 1955 (includes the 1933 for the charity bundle)
(1954 PDF, 1 print on demand)

Killshot: Direction
Total Sales – 0

Killshot Files #0: Redemption
Total Sales – 47 (all PDF)

Killshot Files #1
Total Sales – 31 (all PDF)

KIllshot Files #2
Total Sales – 31 (all PDF)

Before vs. After Partnership

As noted above, BRG formed a development partnership with Mystical Throne late last year, thereby allowing myself to move away from the day-to-day requirements of publishing and carry on with game design and project development. Not a day goes by when I’m not thankful for that and to prove how effective and agreeable a decision that was, I’m going to share one tiny dollar sign with you.

$40

That’s the exact difference in net earnings BRG has collected since the partnership formed compared everything else before hand. Yep, in only seven months and a few days, the partnership has allowed us to make almost as much as it took in 2.5 years trying by myself. Which is why today’s lesson is always learn how to chew your humble pie and know when to turn to someone with better skills than you.

While I will admit the biggest difference was participating in the Bundle of Holding, no doubt about it, for otherwise that difference would be closer to $600 but even with individual downloads alone there are 667 more copies of Killshot products on people’s computers since the partnership than beforehand. Even if a large portion of that boost came from a charity bundle and not a dime into our coffers, that’s a significant number more gamers with opportunity to discover our work (and we were able to help out a family in dire times, making it well worth the extra dust in the wallet). In short, there are now 4,609 editions of Killshot around the world as of the end of 2015’s first half. All in all, this year’s turning out Broken. (Wait, does that sound right?)

Up And Coming? Why, ScreenPlay’s Playtest Edition, Of Course

ScreenPlay's cover revealed!The time has come to start filling the virtual shelves with more than just Killshot products. It’s time to start moving forward with our next game, ScreenPlay. At this time, I’m cracking away at a special Playtest Edition of the storytelling RPG system with plans to launch this sneak peak by Autumn of this year. And by Playtest Edition, I mean a glimpse at what the game is about with enough detail to break it out at your table (complete with advice for Directors and Writers crafting their own tales and an introductory, grim fantasy treatment called Ironbound) and incentives for readers and players alike to help fortify this game into something stronger than I could ever imagine. Think of Kickstarter-style rewards without having to shell out money and instead sharing your feedback. Details to come as they become available, so stay frosty on that by keeping an eye on our ScreenPlay page.

For now, that’s everything… oh, wait. There is one more thing I’d like to announce, something a little more personal and fitting to this section. There’s a new body here in the Broken Office and while his skills won’t be put to the test for many years to come, there’s a new member of the team here nonetheless.

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My son, Logan. And yes, his dice are already on order.

Sincerely,

The Warden
Proud Publisher and Papa
Broken Ruler Games

Welcome to Broken Ruler Games!

BrokenRuler_logo_websiteheader_Jan2015It is my absolute pleasure to welcome you to the Broken Ruler Games website. Or if you’ve been a fan of BRG before today, welcome to the new and improved site with a swanky new domain name and content.

Before I go into a quick presentation of where you can find everything you need to know on Killshot (especially where to buy your copy) and get a handle on what’s coming up next from the Ruler (ahem! ScreenPlay!), there’s one individual in particular who must be thanked for making this happen. That’s not to say there isn’t an army of people to thank for making the Ruler what it is at this very moment, including the likes of my Development Teams past and present, our fans, customers, and every tabletop gamer out there who has played our work. Without all of you, the doors would have been closed a long time ago, but this one individual in particular literally helped bring this studio back from the dead. And that individual is Aaron Huss, President of Mystical Throne Entertainment.

A couple of months back, I announcement the end of the Ruler across all our social media. Within hours, Aaron sent off an email with an offer: make Broken Ruler Games a development studio under the Mystical Throne banner and I could continue to do the work I loved while he would take care of all the logistical aspects of publishing and marketing. I’ve been working with Aaron for close to three years now (including the second edition of MTE’s Mercenary Breed and the long-running Under The Hood column on Roleplayers Chronicle) and his hard work has helped make MTE a very successful indie RPG publisher, so my answer was a very quick and eager, “Yes!” This new arrangement has given me new vigour and motivation to proceed with everything I had intended for the Ruler without getting bogged down with the necessary burdens of publishing and production management. So if you see anything you like from this day forward, it’s all thanks to Aaron Huss.

But enough with these pleasantries, it’s time to let you check out the new site. You can start by learning more about Broken Ruler Games (which we call “the Ruler” for simplicity’s sake and that essential coolness factor) on the About page. Then jump over to our assembly of Killshot pages to learn all about the ENnie Award winning assassin RPG before seeing what’s in store next with High Plains Samurai (an upcoming B&W/wushu hybrid RPG) and ScreenPlay (the system behind the Samurai and an upcoming improvised standalone roleplaying game). Finally, you can learn about our next phase of the Optional System and the hushed and deadly work of rogue operatives… oh, but I may have said too much already. That one will have to wait for another time.

From there, you can also find us across the social media spectrum and stay up-to-date on our various machinations. Follow us on Facebook, join in on Google+, and read all about it on Twitter. Of course, there’s always good ol’ fashioned email where you can reach me personally at optionalwarden@gmail.com.

Now let’s start making a future together, shall we?

Signed,
The Warden
President/Lead Designer, Broken Ruler Games