Friday, March 9, 2018

Counter Culture: Looking at the Pathfinder 2E Announcement

I've been working at my store for 19 years. I've been through the launches of DnD 3, 3.5, 4, 4 Essentials, 5 and Pathfinder.

This announcement for Pathfinder 2nd Edition, as a retailer, has been a bit odd for me.



First, there isn't any buzz in my store about it. There is amongst my group, as I ponder if I will try it (I pondered trying Starfinder but it was more system than I want right now).  Heck, there was more buzz about Starfinder, in fact. Now, that is completely shocking because Paizo has always cultivated a better direct to consumer program than any other RPG publisher. But that also meant, even at it's height of sales when Wizards of the Coast abandoned 4E and we were waiting for Next, it's sales were not anything significant for us, as DnD always had been. But it's also not as shocking because WotC wisely decided not to do a 5.5 and those unsure of it playing other games are now more willing to dive in. And new players are diving in every day, right now. Meanwhile, I'm lucky to turn (sell) a Pathfinder Pocket Core book every two months.

To complicate things, it seems that Erik Mona is bristling with comparisons to 5E, while he and his teams are making statements that remind me of 4E. If I were Erik, I'd look at the fact that their success is built upon WotC walking away from a customer base AND the fact that almost four years into it's life cycle the Player's Handbook is STILL #4 on Amazon. I would want to catch that lightning. That doesn't mean I would make 5.5, but I wouldn't necessarily distance myself either.

In fact, if I were in charge of Pathfinder, now would be the time I would take an older Adventure Path and convert it to 5E. Yes, WotC screwed them on the OGL portion of 4E and yes they were smart enough to capitalize on those who didn't want to leave 3.5 behind, but when Green Ronin is selling their Critical Role books like they are, why wouldn't you try a campaign out?

This is merely my gut feeling, but I think Paizo has as good a chance of having their 2nd Edition be received the way DnD 4E as they do of having a hit. Understand, at the retail level, Starfinder did great for everyone on it's first printing. But there is been very little momentum on additional supplements or it's second printing for my stores.

And please understand, I don't wish Paizo ill, I learned about eight years ago they wouldn't drive RPG sales for me the way WotC and DnD do. You see when DnD is successful, the whole industry is successful. Other systems and DnD "competitors" like Pathfinder or 13th Age NEED DnD to be huge, so that the iconoclasts and grognards out there have something to rebel against it. That's why the OSR was good for DnD.

I'm watching all of this and waiting to see how it turns out.
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