Sometime during the first three months every year, we make a post looking back at the previous year and looking forward at the year to come. I try to make this a frank discussion of where our business stands, in the vein of Mongoose Publishing's State of the Mongoose, Steve Jackson Games' Stakeholders Report or Evil Hat's many open reports. It's our attempt to add some transparency to the tabletop gaming industry.
2020 marks our seventh year in business; I hope with many more to come.
From a business perspective, 2019 was an off year for us. We released four new products, all of them adventures for our existing game lines:
What we didn't do in 2019 was run a Kickstarter, and this was only our second year without one (the other being 2016). During years in which we run one, Kickstarter accounts for over half of our annual revenue. Unsurprisingly then, revenues in 2019 were down significantly from previous years.
The silver lining is that throughout 2019 our costs were also low. We maintained our website and hired one freelance writer. Furthermore, much of the year was spent designing, writing and playtesting Age of Ambition, which sets us up for a much stronger year in 2020.
Looking to our existing roleplaying products, Shadows Over Sol continues to be our best-selling game line by a large margin. We expect to support it well into the future. Meanwhile, Against the Dark Yogi has a core rulebook that continues to sell well, even if its adventures and supplements haven't always done the same. Dime Advenures, on the other hand, has unfortunately underperformed compared to our other game lines, and we are debating how to best support it in the future.
In terms of our card games, I'm happy to say that we finally sold though the last of our existing Ganjifa stock. The final decks shipped out to Studio 2 for distribution just before the end of the year. We also made substantial progress playtesting and iterating on the design of We're All Going to Die Here, our comedy horror card game. This clears the way for our reentry into the card game market in the not too distant future.
The low point of the year for us was our continuing struggles with traditional distribution. While Studio 2 continues to be a great partner on that front, the large hobby distributors aren't always as amenable. In particular, we learned this fall that Alliance has decided to stop carrying Shadows Over Sol product. This is sad, but there is little we can do. However, if you want to to see Shadows Over Sol on store shelves, go tell them so!
As you probably know by now, the Age of Ambition Kickstarter was a success. Not only did we reach our funding goal, but we met every stretch goal and had more backers than any Kickstarter we're run since Against the Dark Yogi.
This is awesome! But it also means that we have a lot of work to do fulfilling those Kickstarter rewards. And that's likely to occupy us throughout the first half of 2020. It's still early - only two weeks since the Kickstarter ended - but right now everything is on track for a PDF release in April and a physical release in July.
Looking to our Patreon, we released the Age of Ambition: Quick-Start in January, and plan to release Shadows Over Sol: Crash Zone in April. Then in July we will release two adventures for the price of one: Age of Ambition: Rise to Power - which was unlocked by the Kickstarter - and an as yet untitled Shadows Over Sol scenario.
As we move into the second half of the year, we want to spend some time reaching out to our fans and reevaluating how to best to support our game lines. We're toying with the idea of smaller, more frequent releases, either in addition to, or in place of, some of our quarterly scenarios. Don't be surprised if we experiment with some smaller releases in the fall to see how they fare.
Moving on to card games, we're hoping to wrap up development of We're All Going to Die Here this year. If we manage that, it may see a Kickstarter or release in the late fall or winter. We're also toying with the idea of a Ganjifa reprint, since the demand from traditional distribution was greater than expected.
Last but not least, we've started outlining a second possible Shadows Over Sol expansion. This one would focus on the Jovian colonies and the mysterious Jupiter Group Incident. Like Siren's Call, it would be a combined campaign and sourcebook, although likely one with a smaller page count. (When writing Siren's Call I was aiming for 120 pages, but ended up writing 240. Oops!) I'm sure we'll write more about this as the it develops, but realistically not much is happening with it until Age of Ambition fulfillment is further along.
And that's it now. We hope everyone has a great year ahead! Good gaming!
No problem! Preorders for Age of Ambition are now live!
It's now been two weeks since the funding period for the Age of Ambition Kickstarter ended. If things keep to their usual schedule, Kickstarter should send us the funds sometime in the next week. We'll send out the BackerKit survey shortly after that.
In the past week, both the Consequence Cards and GM Screen Inserts have seen major progress. They've got from outlines, to layout, to physical proofs being ordered. The core rulebook has also seen substantial progress. We've been busy adding spot art and doing the electronic proofing, page-by-page. We've also added a third artist to the active list of commissions.
Here's how everything stands: