Pathfinder Publisher Paizo Doesn't Care About the Numbers, Only the Fans

Pathfinder Publisher Paizo Doesn't Care About the Numbers, Only the Fans

paizo gen con 8

"Looking at the numbers can be dangerous."

One of the most striking things to see at Gen Con is certainly Paizo's Pathfinder special. 160 tables, each seated with five to seven players, all playing in the same world at the same time. Paizo widely touts that they only make the game products they want to see, from their Pathfinder Roleplaying Game to their wildly successful Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. It's clear that Paizo is at Gen Con because their fans are - because their players are. It's a philosophy that has always guided the company, according to Publisher Erik Mona, because the entire company are gamers "from the CEO to the interns." I spoke with Erik Mona at Gen Con about the philosphy that has allowed Pathfinder to grow into a brand capable of taking on those towering above it.

"Sometimes there is a difference between what's good for the business and what's good for the game," said Mona. "We don't want to mess up our own campaigns by releasing books just to sell them. And the players have reacted really well to that."

Its paid off. Mona said that Pathfinder has sold more core game books each year since they released, which Mona says isn't supposed to happen in roleplaying games. "When we started making Pathfinder the style to support a d20 Tabletop roleplaying game was to release loads of splatbooks. That model was increasingly about jamming as much player character content out as fast as we can." Mona described how that model evolved, with the leap from selling player content because there's more players than game masters, then the leap to selling more expensive full-color hardcover books, then the leap to putting out a book every month. "You churn through your design space very fast, and people can't keep up the pace. That's why it took us so long to make an entire book of classes."

"We didn't like that option as players," said Mona. "So looking at the numbers can be dangerous. We have to look at what the players want."

"People are always asking us when we're going to do a new edition of Pathfinder, well, we'll do that when the players want it."

In the meantime, Paizo has supported the game by expanding the Pathfinder brand rather than game specifically. That's why they did products like the Adventure Card Game, the Pathfinder Battles miniatures, monthly adventures, and minifigures. That includes their recent partnership with Obsidian Entertainment to develop digital games for Pathfinder - which happened more or less because of mutual passion for each others' games. The newest version of the card game, Skull & Shackles did brisk business. The Paizo booth itself sported the longest line of any at the show for several days, with loyalists lining up to get the latest releases and show exclusives.

For Mona, and the Paizo veterans like him, its been a long and humbling road. Mona neatly summed that up with an anecdote about the early days of Paizo: "I remember saying to Lisa [Stevens, CEO of Paizo] that you need to commit to publishing at least the first six volumes of Rise of the Runelords, our first product, because none of us will be able to rest until it's done. If we don't finish we'll be hounded for the rest of our lives by fans. And now we're working on Pathfinder #100."

As for the future? "We're going to have action figures, so that's almost everything on my dream checklist," said Mona. When I prompted him for more, he said there were only about three things still on that list they haven't done.

"Like what?" I asked him.

He grinned and said "Well, there's no Pathfinder movie."

For now, though, they're staying focused on making the game. Like they always have.

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I like Pathfinder, but this is kind of a non-story. A largely substance-less interview, headlined by a title that isn't even close to impartial.

Look, I'm sure Paizo are nice guys, but if they weren't looking at their bottom line and the numbers, they'd have gone out of business by now. It's nice to say "we care more about the game than the money," but normally those words should be taken with a large grain of salt, as saying that is little more than a nicety meant to appeal to the Pathfinder fans that whinge about Wizards of the Coast having "ruined" DND by making it "casual."

I would have rather seen a story talking about how Pathfinder has progressed, as the details about miniatures, card game, and video game license are actually interesting. Seeing what is essentially a gigantic "Hurrah for Pathfinder" thread in place of actual news is disappointing given that there's already a thread with actual Pathfinder news active in the News section.

scotth266:
I like Pathfinder, but this is kind of a non-story. A largely substance-less interview, headlined by a title that isn't even close to impartial.

Sorry to hear that. I would not have put my name behind what Erik had to say if I didn't believe him, though. I thought his attitude was different enough from how others talked about their games at the show that it was worth sharing.

JonB:

Sorry to hear that. I would not have put my name behind what Erik had to say if I didn't believe him, though. I thought his attitude was different enough from how others talked about their games at the show that it was worth sharing.

JonB, be honest... did Erik Mona sleep with you to get this publicity? Should we question your journalistic integrity?

OT:
I like Pathfinder quite a lot. Though I grew up with AD&D, d20 is where it all made sense to me, especially in the mechanics focused groups I was in. This is heartwarming to hear and reminds me to look if there are some things I've missed, so while I don't necessarily buy into the "we're there for the players" bit, it's appreciated.

I agree with the first post that it's non news, but I welcome these small pieces.
If you have more from this guy, I'd love to hear it. It's been a while since I've read a decent interview.

Well, Paizo deserve their success because their D20 revision is really good. A little messy sometime (too much options spread over too many books) but i don't really mmind it.
Their scenariis are good and their approach of the Epic part is interesting.
And yes, i'm a DM and i'm in the third part of the Kingmaker ^^.

JonB:

scotth266:
I like Pathfinder, but this is kind of a non-story. A largely substance-less interview, headlined by a title that isn't even close to impartial.

Sorry to hear that. I would not have put my name behind what Erik had to say if I didn't believe him, though. I thought his attitude was different enough from how others talked about their games at the show that it was worth sharing.

Then show, don't tell. Saying "Man these guys are excited" is a blog post, not a news story. If I'm reading a news story, I should feel informed. Being excited is a secondary concern - an important one mind you, but still secondary. This is basic journalism stuff - you're allowed to be excited about things, but unless you're writing editorials, journalism is supposed to be of a primarily informational nature, not a persuasive one.

One method you could've used is to post a lengthier interview sample, give us an idea of the flow of conversation. It makes the post more informational and professional, and we can draw conclusions about the person's attitude from that. In fact, considering you guys appear focused on being part news organization, why not ask for video/audio interviews? Plenty of news sites run them and post the results afterward (editing as needed). It gives us a lot more to go on, feels a lot better to read, and having a post like

MT:"Pathfinder Exec Credits Fans During Strong Showing At Gencon"
ST:"Publisher Erik Mona gives interview about success, credits focus on pleasing fans"

looks a hell of a lot more professional/independent than

MT:"These guys care about the money, not the fans"
ST:"Looking at numbers can be dangerous."

If games journalism ever expects to be taken seriously, it's gotta start acting the part.

EDIT: PS, your trash-bag captcha refuses to take the answer "None of these choices," and gives you a failure message. Apparently sarcasm is not appreciated by the trashbag advertising overlords.

Smilomaniac:

I like Pathfinder quite a lot. Though I grew up with AD&D, d20 is where it all made sense to me, especially in the mechanics focused groups I was in. This is heartwarming to hear and reminds me to look if there are some things I've missed, so while I don't necessarily buy into the "we're there for the players" bit, it's appreciated.

This. A thousand times this. When I finally read 3.0, I was thoroughly soured on 2nd Edition. Upon cracking open the 3.0 handbook, it was like someone had sat down and written an edition of D&D just for me. "Hey, you don't like race/class limits? No problem, we'll ditch 'em for you! Feel like multiclassing? Gotcha covered! What? No, you don't need 17s in your attributes. No, you don't have to be an elf, either." And on, and on. I loved the 3.0 and 3.5 days, and the vitriol for 'my' game when 4E came around broke my heart. Pathfinder is like everything good from 3.x upgraded and made shiny.

(Granted, Paizo and I still disagree over some niggling details, mostly about good-aligned undead and having magic items that aren't effectively a 3x/day potion, but that's what house rules and 3rd party published material is for)

OT:

Based on how they put out their product, I'm inclined to believe him. Their Adventure Paths are excellent stuff, and most of their sourcebooks show enthusiasm from their authors. Obviously they have to keep an eye on the bottom line, but from reading posts on their forums and interactions there, they seem to take their player base seriously.

Paizo is a weird case. They have their hearts in the right place, and they seem to legitimately like their stuff. Also, the SRD is the greatest thing ever and every company should have some form of it. They are a good company forever for that decision. However, they never really fixed any of 3.5's issues, of which there were very many, and the taint of Sean K. Reynolds and his hatred for the crossbow and fighters still hangs heavy over their heads. I'd like to see them go back and create a Pathfinder 2e, drawing more on the ideas of things like FantasyCraft and 13th Age and that has deeper changes. Such a thing would push them from being a company with a fairly good heart but a troublesome product to just a great company.

Ftaghn To You Too:
Paizo is a weird case. They have their hearts in the right place, and they seem to legitimately like their stuff. Also, the SRD is the greatest thing ever and every company should have some form of it. They are a good company forever for that decision. However, they never really fixed any of 3.5's issues, of which there were very many, and the taint of Sean K. Reynolds and his hatred for the crossbow and fighters still hangs heavy over their heads. I'd like to see them go back and create a Pathfinder 2e, drawing more on the ideas of things like FantasyCraft and 13th Age and that has deeper changes. Such a thing would push them from being a company with a fairly good heart but a troublesome product to just a great company.

I'd be interested in seeing what they made too, but then i'm one of these kinds that reacts to a new ruleset like a moth does to a lightbulb.
I'm always impressed with the amount of support they give to their product, at least in terms of supplements.
I don't have the opportunity to play it, but am always impressed with the amount of books they put out.

Ftaghn To You Too:
FantasyCraft

Now these guys...
I sincerely wish they had so much more exposure and resources available to publish more work on this line.
There are some wonderful ideas in this system.

Ftaghn To You Too:
Paizo is a weird case. They have their hearts in the right place, and they seem to legitimately like their stuff. Also, the SRD is the greatest thing ever and every company should have some form of it. They are a good company forever for that decision. However, they never really fixed any of 3.5's issues, of which there were very many, and the taint of Sean K. Reynolds and his hatred for the crossbow and fighters still hangs heavy over their heads. I'd like to see them go back and create a Pathfinder 2e, drawing more on the ideas of things like FantasyCraft and 13th Age and that has deeper changes. Such a thing would push them from being a company with a fairly good heart but a troublesome product to just a great company.

They'll not launch a new edition but:
http://paizo.com/products/btpy97vo?Pathfinder-Roleplaying-Game-Pathfinder-Unchained-Hardcover
They're planning to refresh the system. Like the occult rules (for psychic powers), they said numerous time "their is no need for a new edition" but, imo, D&D5 is coming and they need to act.

I'm not interested in D&D5 because i've invested a lot in Pathfinder and because they didn't butchered my favorite campaign setting ^^ (Ravenloft...).

the only thing I dislike about Paizo right now is this:

The release a Sci-Fi module, laser rifles, light sabers, ect. you can even play as an android in a fantasy universe and it's widly accepted. you try to play as a gunslinger? guns are too unbelievable and OP because they resolve vs touch AC.

Still love 'em though, Paizo doesn't go after more sales, just making things people will want to play.

 

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