Release Schedules: How Often is Too Often?

I don’t know the answer to this question. Indeed, I’m not sure there is one.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not an important question.

Myself and my accomplices are currently doing our third product launch in the last year (precisely one year after the first in fact) and we’ve had a few friends tell us that we’re going too fast. On the other side we’ve got the Tories busily telling us that we’re scroungers and skivers because we’re not going faster.

So, is three launches in a year too much? My current favourite game is Atlas Games Ars Magica, and they release three to four books a year. But they also have a far bigger market, and most customers (myself included) only buy a small proportion of the products they bring out.

What I can say for sure is that, at present, I’m not going fast enough to live on my earnings*. Maybe that’s a sign that I’m pursuing the wrong path, but I prefer to believe that I just need to keep on picking up speed.

*And my rate of posting here is simply abysmal…

How often do you prefer to see new releases? What factors are involved in deciding when enough is too much?

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4 thoughts on “Release Schedules: How Often is Too Often?

  1. It certainly is a valid question Ste. I can only speak as a fellow game designer as, being similarly in straitened circumstances, I can’t afford to buy books atm.

    I published my first (co-authored) game last November. I’m currently playtesting three others (and have outline concepts for about a dozen more), my intention being to publish them as and when they’re ready, and if that means putting out three or more a year then so be it. There are also practical reasons for doing so:

    1. If you aren’t a big name it makes sense to have several games out at once.
    2. Companies that have a range of products, rather than just one, look a bit more professional.
    3. More money.

    One possible drawback is that you might end up spreading yourself too thinly, marketing-wise, and if you have lots of promo campaigns going on at the same time you risk confusing the customer. However, I think these cons are outweighed by the pros but, you know, you’ve got to make up your mind.

    Good luck anyway.

  2. For me, frequency is irrelevant. I don’t tend to buy stuff when it comes out anyway, and if I want something badly enough then I’ll buy it even if I already bought some games from you recently.

    However, I would question whether the number of products you produce is the chief determinant of profit. Have you read Vincent Baker’s posts on his sales volumes? Some products so far outsell others that he almost might as well have not published the others. Marketability and quality may be more important than getting more games out.

    • I don’t believe that rate is the chief determinant, just one of the factors. Unfortunately making a mass-market product seems beyond my reach for now, so I’m trying to make a living within my little niche (and the size of the niche makes marketing costs hard to justify except as long term investments in fan base).

      Perhaps I’m approaching things from the wrong direction, and I need to be looking at doing more marketing anyway: long term investments can pay off in the end.

  3. Not sure that the release RATE is the issue. A game with lots of support materials is going to be more successful than one which had no support materials. How much MORE successful will vary and the supplemental materials themselves might not make much.

    Also, as Leo says, companies with wider ranges tend to do better. And the first rule of a small business is to appear to be a big business. A range of systems which appeal to different segments of the market is useful.

    Also, people at conventions look for new releases – so you might want to release a new title at eg. Dragonmeet and Expo each year.

    For most of us, we’ve got more ideas than we’ve got time to finish them off. If you’re able to release lots of titles and regularly, I’d say go for it, as fast and as often as you can.

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