GenCon Indy 2011

The ProFantasy BoothAnother GenCon has come and gone – it seems in only the blink of an eye. While the show was good for ProFantasy, it wasn’t quite the spectacular success we’ve had in some previous years – sales declined about 10% from a very high base, and we are still one of the few companies which makes a modest profit from GenCon. While the fact that we didn’t have a finished new product this year (FT3 is only in beta) is part of the reason, selling software which can also quite easily be downloaded from the website gets just a bit harder each year, as broadband gets more and more common and people increasingly prefer the electronic-only version of software. Our website sales reflect this. We also get a post-Con blip as people who have seen the demo make their decision.

Interest in ProFantasy’s software and individual sales at the booth remains very steady, with almost exactly the same from last year. What was down a bit, was people buying larger bundles in one go. Last year we repeatedly applied our 4 for 3 bundle multiple times to a single sale. That was less frequent this year.

The FT3 beta couldn’t quite pick up the slack of last year’s new release: Cosmographer 3, which on the other hand continued to sell very well on its own. I think this is because it has such beautiful artwork and effects, and this bodes well for the forthcming Perspectives, Dioramas and Character Artist version 3s. I’m very happy to see that it has almost the same popularity of our two “big” add-ons City Designer 3 and Dungeon Designer 3. Interest in the Tome of Ultimate Mapping remains high, and I just wish we already had a version for CC3 to sell.

Personally I am especially pleased that the Cartographer’s Annual continues to sell steadily at the show (despite us originally envisioning it as a download-only product). Even the current subscription, for which obviously have no physical product to show was very popular. It was the beautiful example maps from these Annuals which attracted the most attention.

The general reaction to CC3 and ProFantasy from the audience was very good. There are always a few who complain about a steep learning curve, but those comments are getting rare. I even had several people recommend the software to their friends on account of its “ease of use”.

Wall of Maps

Generally new customers are most impressed by  the splendid look of the example maps on the wall,  the speed with which you can create a basic map, and  powerful functions like the Floorplan command in CD3, or the hull drawing tool in Cosmographer 3.

    Sadly (and I do mean that) I noticed that our map-making competitors Dundjinni and Fractal Mapper seem to be virtually non-existent at the show. Dundjinni seems basically dead with not being commercially available at the moment. NBOS (the publishers of Fractal Mapper) have been at GenCon in the past, but not this year (and I don’t think last year either, correct me if I’m wrong). Hexographer is around now, and Joe Wetzel (its author) had a booth at GenCon for the first time in the entrepreneurial area. He stopped by our booth and Simon and I at his, having a good chat about the business and GenCon.

    As always we had plenty of contact with other companies like Scrying Eye Games and d20Pro. Keep an eye out for more crossover products like Scrying Eye’s Traveller starship deckplans in the future.

    Thanks go out to our tireless US helpers Steve Mulhern and Tom Evans, for bringing all the material and stock and doing almost non-stop demoing and selling at the booth. I was glad to be able to spare an evening of gaming with them and their friends. Thanks for the Castle Ravenloft game – even if that bloody Howling Hag got us in the end!

    See you next year, GenCon and Indianapolis.

    4 Responses to “GenCon Indy 2011”

    1. Yes the Tome of Ultimate Mapping updated to CC3 is VERY desirable and I’ve been hanging out for it for ages! I’m not surprised that the Annuals do well.

      Have there been any requests or enquiries about a 64-bit version? Most of us will be on a 64-bit version of Windows now, or on our next PC. File sizes and demands for higher resolution images etc are placing greater demands on CC3 and it would be nice to be able to use all my PC memory.

      Glad all is going well!

    2. As far as retail sales vs. electronic-only downloading of Profantasy’s products, I always prefer the retail version. I love having a physical copy of the product, I love the design of the packaging’s inserts and discs, and I especially love the manuals. As long as your company is there and sells retail copies of your products, I will be a supportive and loyal customer.

      Count me in for a yes on the Tome of Ultimate Mapping updated to CC3 as well.

    3. I would have loved to have gone this year – will make it a point to try to get there next year.

      A few points that you touched on:

      #1, the reason why folks are preferring the electronic only versions of the software is that they can get the product right away, and burn it to a cd / dvd / blue ray disk themselves – rather than waiting for a package to get to them via snail mail. Personally I like actual physical products better myself, but that’s just me. People actually want a physical version of the product because Hard Drives do crash – and motherboards do get fried from time to time, they just don’t want to have to wait for it.

      #2, The economic atmosphere this year GLOBALLY is bleak, but the United States is feeling it especially hard. Right now here in the U.S., especially with the devaluation of the dollar, high unemployment, an impossible national deficit – a lot of which is the result of several wars we are waging now, and the fact that we have had enough devastation from multiple, record breaking natural disasters
      to eqaul the damage and life loss of a limited conventional attack from either the Russian Federation, or the People’s Republic Of China – is somewhat sufficient in explaining the apparant drop off. Folks in the U.S. are more necessity oriented in there shopping habits at this time. I am actually seeing more folks riding bicycles down my street nowadays as opposed to cars to save on gas money – it is truly heartbreaking.

      My viewpoint is this – stay afloat, keep going, and eventually thing will get better! Usually when things do pick up after a lag – they pick up like crazy!

    4. Hi, Bill. We get our customers’ email addresses at conventions and by mail order and send them a link to the downloads even if they have bought the physical version. The take up of physical products is still high. The recession certainly affects us, but not as badly as some industries – rpgs are an inexpensive hobby.