Money is no Object–Why I Don’t Mention Price in My Reviews

I could be wrong, but I think the only review where I have actively mentioned the price of the product I was reviewing was my review for D&D Beyond on Gnome Stew. In this instance, I felt that it was relevant in that most of the decisions about purchasing D&D Beyond revolve around moving to fully digital format with internet access (at the time of the review) and/or buying the material in addition to physical copies.

For the most part, I don’t factor cost into my reviews. This is for a number of reasons. I want to provide an analysis of what is included in the product, which is where I put most of my effort. I have already modified my original process of assigning starts to using different levels of recommendation, because I felt that was more in keeping with what I was trying to do with my reviews. It can already be difficult to determine the level or recommendation I’m willing to append to the review, and that would be even more difficult if I were attempting any kind of cost analysis.

In addition to the cognitive load that doing a cost analysis imposes, I also think that people can take the information that I give them, see the price of an item, and determine if that price is within the range of what they want to buy. Additionally, years down the road, that same review is going to serve the same purpose for someone evaluating a Bundle of Holding sale or a Deal of the Day as it does for the person that picks up the product on day one, and if a price that I determined was attractive or unattractive were factored into the review, it becomes harder to determine how much weight I gave the cost analysis.

There is a very wide range of opinions on the cost of media when it comes to RPGs. There are people that think it’s perfectly acceptable to charge almost full price for PDFs, but also think that when ordering the hardcover, the PDF should be free. There are others that think incentives like that undercut local game stores, but support programs like Bits and Mortar, where similar arrangements can be made through a participating retailer. There are some consumers that have a hard limit that they will impose on any PDF price, regardless of product size or production value.

More important that all of the above, however, is the fact that the RPG industry sells itself far too cheaply. Consumers have become accustomed to companies that operate on far smaller margins than any other industry would accept, and designers have learned that no matter how much work they put into the industry or how well their material sells, only a very few game designers can do it for a living, and even then, it’s not the most lucrative or stable living.

Including any kind of cost analysis in this instance can be potentially harmful, because people that have become comfortable with current price points may also assume that any aggregate recommendation that includes price is also a commentary on what someone’s labor and creative energies are worth, and that’s not something I’m interested in commenting about at all.

I am more than willing to say that most people that work in the RPG industry do not get anywhere near the amount of money that they should make for their efforts. I will also say that RPG products should cost more, and consumers that have never taken the time to look at the costs that go into the production of RPGs should take some time to do so, and to look at similar items produced for other industries and note those prices in comparison.

I won’t say that I will never again mention the cost of an item in a review, but it would be in the rare circumstance that the price of the item is especially relevant to any potential recommendation. For most RPG products that I am evaluation, that’s not going to be a factor that I want to include.

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