I've been looking at how the scene is evolving and I would recommend that atlas review the prospect of having a cloud based project where subscribers would be able to access their purchased product from their account.
This would help getting new blood into the fold as many no longer prefer the physical books to virtual ones. Monthly subscriptions also are a better stream of revenue for companies like atlas. As a customer, I would prefer having access to my enhanced products that always have the errata in there. No need to bring the 100 pound bag to the game location. By subscribing, I also know that the line of edition is being funded for new products.
I like the hardback books (showing my age) but I would like access to electronic copies also - all the better if errata is incorporated as it is identified. If I could buy the hardback and get a code that gave me access to an on-line copy then all the better. I am reluctant to pay full whack for the hard copy and the soft copy when it (eventually) becomes available. I have only done this with the core rulebook.
PDFs are available for virtually all of the line, only the last what 4 books aren't available, and this is a rolling period, as I recall.
The PDFs are DRM free and I have them on my tablet, and synchronized via Dropbox.
Yes and this model worked fine in the early century but is kinda broken now our days. Look at what WotC have done with their insider thingy. Then we see all the cloud products coming out in all fields
Gaming - SteamBox, Sony cloud, MS cloud
TV - Google TV, Amazon TV, most broadcasters now allows you to have a virtual place to store your purchased content
Education - Teachers make their content available on a cloud service more and more
To think about it, all the social media has been cloud lately... facebook, twitter, etc.
I mean, if I could pay 10$ a month or 75$ a year to have access to all the content except say the last 4 books that came out, I'd be very happy and would still by a hard copy here and there...
Am I going to have to pay a monthly fee for it? It's not about being a Luddite, it's about owning something. When I have books, or DRM free PDFs, I have a greater measure of control over the disposition of the final product. I'm not against advancing technology I'm against the idea that as a consumer I have to subscribe to something that arguably doesn't change after publication. Errata aside.
Yes, I would drop new products in a second. I have strong feelings about subscriptions for products that are essentially complete.
Like any product, it is always a question of perceived value.
Easy customers such as myself, may not need much more incentive then " You'll never have to worry about where your books are and if there is an errata on this thing "
As we go into the more difficult to gain customers, we can see stuff added on a promo basis or just as a bonus to everyone:
Enhanced web based metacreator
20% discount on pre-order of hard copies of books
Access to Special content or i.e fanzines
Just to name a few...
Everybody has a "price tag" except fanatic devout but I'm pretty sure we all pay our internet connection by the month so we all share, at least at that low level, open mind to pay by subscription models. So I guess the more constructive question is what would need to be in the offered product to hit your price tag?
This is my stance as well.
I stopped playing DnD when they started to shove the subscription model down my throat, and I despise sub models which do not deliver consistent value each month.
Show me the value during the sub period, and then explain what my retained value is after I stop subscribing. If my access to the books is totally cut off when I stop paying, then it is a non starter for me.
Also, don't imply I'm backward because of that choice please. Subs have their place, but not in my rpg content; which is a valid choice.
Sure I have no choice for internet access provider, but (a) the service is essentially the same from most providers, and (b) I get value from that every day, (c) and the competition in the market keeps the price down. ISP compared to RPG Content is comparing apples to space stations.
D&D started to shove the subscription down your throat? I'm not much of a reference for D&D but last I checked, you could still play after buying their books no? I mean, it aint because they add salad to the menu that you have to order.
My point was simply that Atlas might be facing funding issues to keep on delivering quality products. The fund this project before we do it thingy is good but sporadic and barely allows for a product to be produced so not very profitable.
We may not like it but the new generations will probably go directly to soft copies and if Atlas is not well positioned I fear it is only a matter of time before it is no longer worthwhile to make new products... we are getting old!
I think Atlas doing pre-funded books is an interesting idea, and far better idea than a subscription. At this point too I'm opting for the pdf versions rather than the printed books too, given the material is something I'm interested in but seldom use.
I'd guess that for Atlas to move to the kind of subscription model that has been mooted (including the enhanced web version of Metacreator) there's a lot that would have to change. Atlas don't produce Metacreator for one thing, nor do they sell direct (as far as I know), which means either taking those things in-house or coordinating with third-parties.
Companies like Paizo or WoTC are set up for that kind of relationship. Of course, they had to get there, but I'd hazard a guess that the economics behind that required investment were more conducive than for Atlas' Ars Magica output. How many supplements does Paizo produce each year for Pathfinder? I'd guess around 18. That's a big conveyor belt of stuff. Ars Magica has four titles a year with the back-catalogue available as PDF. Personally, I just don't think that's enough content to justify a subscription model. Of course... I'd buy a subscription if it were there. I suspect many of us would, but the ramp-up costs to start providing that facility would likely be prohibitive and with no additional ROI in sight - you'd be spending money in anticipation of getting the same income from the line as you did before you made the investment.
The only way I can see the economics of it working is if the line suddenly changed from four titles a year to twelve or more so that we had a monthly feed of content. They wouldn't all need to be full supplements, but I think you'd need to produce smaller supplements most months, perhaps additional content that helped troupes leverage the last couple of main supplements. I could see short scenarios, NPC write-ups, more detailed locations, and notes to players and storyguides alike. But that really does require a ground-up revision of the Ars Magica business model to the point where you'd likely be alienating one fan for every other one that you reinvigorate. And again, moving to that kind of output is also not investment-free.
As for the core cloud idea, I invest in the PDF copies and store them in my Google Drive so that I have them available via tablet, etc. I still take a bag of books to each session but I'm less anxious about forgetting something that someone might want to refer to. Right now, with four titles a year, I'm happy to do that.
That's clouding for the sake of clouding.
Looks good on your annual rapport, is actually a bad idea, for the costumer anyway.
And interestingly, serves the providers of these services (possibly except the educators), because it still leaves them holding your product.
I'm afraid I don't see your point?
Really? I pay about 15-30$ per book (as I recall), for a DRM-free .pdf, which I get to keep. Since I purchase from e23, I can re-download in case I loose all of my copies, stored offline or in the cloud.
Even if e23 or (hopefully never) Atlas Games should go belly up, I'll still have my .pdf files and every legal right to copy and keep them (for my own use, obviously).
I wasn't going to say this, but I feel it applies, so here goes. "Cloud" services are not new. We've (meaning I work in IT, and have personally done this) been delivering apps, content, connectivity and such for over twenty years. I delivered a "subscribed online only app" for automated tunneling between Unix servers via a dial-up or ISDN in 1994. Cloud is not new, the term is blunt broad marketing.
Cloud is at worst another hype term, or at best it is a service logically provided to meet a specific need. I cannot see the match between the assumed problem for Atlas you're describing and "Cloud-ish" as a solution, becasue I think people are looking for more flexibility and breadth in their content services.
I agree though that I am getting old. With that age comes a willingness to fund niche products, an acute awareness of value, and an unwillingness to support any organisation blindly (don't get me wrong, I love Ars and many other Atlas games). Lock in subs just don't strike me as a valid way to deliver content anymore. I know US based content providers do this every month, but I think their market is also slowly dying as they fail to show value and also cannot compete with piracy. Why would Atlas move to a model which is proven as flawed?
If I understad you correctly, you mean that for $75/Y or $10/m I get access to all (including the 4 newest books) that AG has published as PDF?
How will this stop me from paying for 1 month and then downloading every book the first month and do this every year?
Why should I pay for something I have already paid for if i purchase PDFs?
This is infact the meaning of what you propose: I borrow/rent the books from AG for the duration i pay for. When I stop paying, I am left with nothing. So say that I pay $150 for 2 years, then after 2 years I am left with nothing?
No thanks, I will probably quit supporting AG at that time, and as Jonathan. I will remain in whatever edition I am in and never bother buying another book from this company.
I want to know that if i pay something, I get it and not just rent it.
Cloud based systems are a fad, when it comes to content delivery.
The only one I willingly utilize is Steam, and that's because the team behind it are already wealthy enough that they have no justifiable reason for screwing over customers. And the fact it's also doing the job of keeping my games up to date and comparable with other players.
When it comes to Pen and Paper games, though, I hardly want "My internet was down" to be yet another reason to end up having to cancel that weeks game.
I agree that Cloud ish technology has been around for a while now but it has been gaining mass traction into the consumer market in the last couple years. It is the latest attempt to counter piracy and despite claims, it looks promising on many fronts. I mean, how many project Atlas is putting on ice because they know that the piracy market of their products is getting critical? Maybe we're not there yet but it is heading that way. On top of that, we old consumers that like paper and fear the loss of internet like our forefathers feared the loss of electricity and their forefathers, the storms, we are destined to be, eventually marginal. The new blood thrives in digital media which goes beyond to offering a simple .pdf file.
They (and I) what interactive media, support for the game that is centralized, easy access to incorporate game modules into their campaigns. Hassle free gaming which for them, often precludes having to search for which book has what on p xx & better defined on yy.
Again, just my 2 cents here. Better get the conversation running before we have no time to do it.