This post discusses business information which will probably not be of interest to most readers. Another article will cover our product development plans for 2012.
It was a tough time for the world economy, including the Eurozone, the UK and the USA, our primary market. My view is that while the economy has a negative effect on sales for many businesses, the effect of the economy on individual businesses is less pronounced than other factors, some of which are under the control of the business owners. Other businesses (Domino’s Pizza for example) positively benefit from downturns. Psychology suggests that we are much more likely to attribute positive results with our own endeavours, and negative results with external factors. So, anything I say here is pretty much speculation. Take the salt provided.
So this year, our UK sales in pounds were within a gnat’s whisker of 2010 and 2009, when adjusted for inflation. This is pretty good. I’d like to say it’s all down to our business choices, despite the downturn, but I think there is an element of the Domino’s Pizza about the roleplaying hobby – it’s one of the best-value pastimes there is. People get hours and hours of use of our of software and their games, and it’s a lot cheaper than going out. I’ve said facetiously that the RPG industry slogan should be “There’s never been a better time to enter a world of fantasy.”
Only a neglible fraction of our sales are through distribution, and this hasn’t changed. However, retail sales are disproportionately CC3, so it’s still worthwhile continuing this. Another interesting phenomenon is that while annual sales of CC3 (our entry product) increased by 6%, the average sale declined slightly as if to compensate.
We did release a new product – FT3 – but the upgrade was modestly priced, reducing our potential revenue, and because it’s such a widely accepted product among CC3 users, it was mainly upgrades. 2012 will be different – we’ve got three products in the pipeline.
Ralf says that convention sales are down a bit, but that overall the quality of maps has increased. Ralf and I think that the size of the table top roleplaying game market is stable, or even shrinking, but that the existing participants are older, wealthier and more committed than before. I am hoping that market leader Wizards of the Coasts new version of Dungeons and Dragons will expand the market, as that helps everyone.
Site visits increased about 30% since 2009, as has the average time on the site, the number of pages per visit. We achieved more than 450,000 unique visitors in 2011. We did a lot of work earlier in the year using Google Analytics to increase our conversion rate; it definitely increased as result, but nonetheless the conversion rate was lower than in 2010. I suspect that has more to do with the nature of the visitors, though I speculate that people are taking longer to decide and are spending their money more carefully. We updated our copy rather carefully, too, and have plans to revamp the website based on our recent poll.
Other RPG Cartography Companies
It remains true that we are the only company producing cartography software for the RPG industry full time.
In our tiny industry, we think of other rpg map-makers as colleagues rather than rivals, so we were sad to see that, according to forum posts, Dundjinni has not been on sale for while. There has been no update since March last year. We’ve tried to reach the owner, Mindy, to no avail. It’s sad particularly because of the excellent community which built up around the software, creating new art which the CC3 community could also use. (This situation may change – I hope it does – so check their website to make sure.)
NBOS continues to produce Fractal Mapper, and Ed Diana released a new version of Astrosynthesis which he made compatible with the latest Fractal Terrains 3.
- There is a definite seasonal sales trend over the years. The spikes for product releases just about even out, though the Annual subscription helps our December sales disproportionately. I’d be very interested to hear if this pattern is repeated in other related companies.
- The relative sales between the UK, USA and the rest of the world have remained unchanged now for at least three years.
- The proportion of download sales has increased from about 25% to 30% from 2010 to 2011
- We’ve sold to 92 countries in the past two years including Cameroon, Albania, and Reunion.