Domesday 2: The Reckoning

A while back I told the story of how Cellar Games was started and Chronica Feudalis was published. This was in the tradition of several indie games publishers who are forthcoming and transparent with their business. I know that for myself, Evil Hat’s quarterly sales reports were an amazing help when starting to get into this to help set my expectations for what kind of numbers I could expect to sell. Not that I ever expected Chronica to sell like Spirit of the Century but, you know, it’s a point of reference.

So here is another point of reference. Cellar Games’ sales for Q4 of 2009:

IPR Sales Q4
Print (Retail) 42
Print (Direct) 16
PDF 18
OBS Sales Q4
PDF 19
Lifetime Sales
Print 160
PDF 154
Total Sales 314

When we last talked about this, I was around $300 shy of Chronica Feudalis being a profitable endeavor. I am happy to say that it has now certainly made more money than I have put into it.

Along those lines I wanted to comment on something I said in that post. I said something off-the-cuff like “But if you ever expect this hobby industry to pay for your time, you’ll be sorely disappointed.” While I think it’s completely necessary to manage your expectations when getting into something like this, what I said was false. There’s some truth in there but it’s one of those things that people say without really thinking about it. There are plenty of independent game designers and self-publishers that do in fact pay themselves for their time. Vincent Baker said over at Story-Games that he gets “about $20/hour.

Now I might be more accurate in saying that we can’t all be Vincent Baker, but there are examples of people making money doing this. Whatever, you know all of this. Point is, I said something wrong and, fuck, I’m going to own up to it.

The good news is that Chronica Feudalis continues to sell. From the reports I’ve heard, people are enjoying the game. As a new publisher and a hobbyist game designer, this has been a project I have been tremendously proud of. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible.

  1. For a while now, after conferring with my business partner Rob on the matter, I have Evil Hat paying me about $450/month, based on the idea of $100/week and a month running slightly longer than 4 weeks. That’s probably much smaller than $20/hour, but I’m also making a deliberate decision to make sure that EHP has as much money as possible in the coffers to fund current and future projects.

  2. For myself, the big question in paying myself for my time is where do I draw the line for what time should I pay myself for? I spend an awfully large amount of my time thinking about my games in which I’m playing with dice mechanics in my head or considering how I’m going to write something. But this isn’t time sitting in front of the computer and actually producing something. Still, it’s a necessary step in the process for me.

    It’s always intrigued me, Fred, how you’ve made a career out of the industry. Obviously Evil Hat is not the only piece of the puzzle, but combined with Hero Games and your other projects, you seem to have carved out a way to make a go of it. Nice.

    And we’re all looking forward to those upcoming Evil Hat projects!

  3. I finally bought it january 12th, so yeah, it certainly continues to sell :)

    I’m glad you’re doing more than breaking even. You deserve it! Chronica Feudalis is filled with nice concepts, the writing is a delight, the mechanics are streamlined, it comes with an open license to “spread the love” and I also appreciate that you were readily available to talk about it.

    It is the thread I started on The RPG Haven which really sold me on the game. Many months later, I now have a physical copy.

    I’m hoping to see many more projects from you, and may they all make a profit!

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