OBS - Monopolies and their TOC. (Split off thread).

Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

TristramEvans

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Does Drive-Thru's TOS really ban any game featuring "child endangerment"? Because that seems an unteneble restriction - wouln't it effectively invalidate Tales from the Loop, Kids on Bikes, Witch Girl Adventures...not to mention Little Fears?
 

Fenris-77

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Does Drive-Thru's TOS really ban any game featuring "child endangerment"? Because that seems an unteneble restriction - wouln't it effectively invalidate Tales from the Loop, Kids on Bikes, Witch Girl Adventures...not to mention Little Fears?
I suspect the verbiage looks a little different than that, otherwise you'd be correct..
 

CRKrueger

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Hmm, wasn't there a Dresden Files adventure where if you didn't allow a Las Vegas kiddie porn ring to continue operating, it would unleash an Elder God (or something) and start the End of Everything?

Stuff like Black Tokyo might be out on the fringe, but at least the point is stopping shit.
 

Black Leaf

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Does Drive-Thru's TOS really ban any game featuring "child endangerment"? Because that seems an unteneble restriction - wouln't it effectively invalidate Tales from the Loop, Kids on Bikes, Witch Girl Adventures...not to mention Little Fears?

This is the TOS:

Neither your Work, description, nor any promotional material, including blog posts or press releases, may contain racist, homophobic, discriminatory, or other repugnant views; overt political agendas or views; depictions or descriptions of criminal violence against children; rape or other acts of criminal perversion; or other obscene material without the express written permission of OneBookShelf.
 

Endless Flight

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The fact is, if you search on DTRPG for certain key words, you will find overt political messaging. They need to either clamp down on all of it or change their TOS to allow all of it. I prefer the former by a long shot.
 

VisionStorm

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Personally I don't mind if people want to insert politics into their game. I can easily ignore it if I don't like it, so I don't need a company protecting me from certain speech. I only mind when people try to force their politics on me or others, or when a company is inconsistent with their rules.
 

Black Leaf

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I think they probably only actually look at stuff if someone reports it, if it gets media attention (especially MSM) or if someone keeps shouting their mouth off on social media drawing attention to themselves. An algorithm would likely give off too many false positives.

Realistically, they don't *need* to do anything. They aren't our friends, they'll move if something seriously affects their bottom line. (Which probably means a dispute with WOTC or maybe a few companies the size of Cubicle 7). Every single person on here could refuse to use them without them even noticing. You either use them to buy/publish your stuff (both of which de facto mean agreeing to their terms) or you refuse to on a point of principle. There's not any other options.
 

Rob Necronomicon

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Hmm, wasn't there a Dresden Files adventure where if you didn't allow a Las Vegas kiddie porn ring to continue operating, it would unleash an Elder God (or something) and start the End of Everything?

Stuff like Black Tokyo might be out on the fringe, but at least the point is stopping shit.
The problem with that is that 'one man's meat is another's poison'.

It's all about having the choice to buy what you want but I get that they are also a private company. So you have to live by their rules even if I don't approve of them personally per se.
 

Black Leaf

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The problem with that is that 'one man's meat is another's poison'.

It's all about having the choice to buy what you want but I get that they are also a private company. So you have to live by their rules even if I don't approve of them personally per se.
Yeah, I mean I think the fact they're taking the same cut as brick and mortar is outrageous, but you either suck it up or you don't do business with them.
 

Gringnr

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Does Drive-Thru's TOS really ban any game featuring "child endangerment"? Because that seems an unteneble restriction - wouln't it effectively invalidate Tales from the Loop, Kids on Bikes, Witch Girl Adventures...not to mention Little Fears?
IIRC, it was phrased as "illegal child murder", or something like that.

As a former restaurant manager who sometimes had to remind people of the difference between "private" and "public" property, usually before I tossed their ass out, I'm of the opinion that dtrpg can do whatever they like. As long as they're not breaking any laws. Someone doesn't like it? Tough. Itch, Gumroad, IPR, Lulu, hell even Amazon. Tons of options. They wanna enforce their rules arbitrarily? Tough. The won't carry your stuff 'cuz they think you're ugly? Tough. It is what it is. I feel that way regardless. If the ownership of Twitter changes hands tomorrow and I don't like what they do with it? Hey, tough luck for me. As long as they're not breaking any laws, businesses should have say over who they do business with, how, and why. If it bothers you that much, take your business, or your products, elsewhere.
 

Rob Necronomicon

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Given they're a core part of his marketing plan, if not the entirety thereof, I'd rather see him add them to his payroll... if they are actually other people, of course, and not him submitting the complaints under an alt account.
I think the poo really hits the fan when creatives try to inject highly topical and divisive issues into their games. As opposed to when they were being innovative, satirical, and subversive back in the day. It's when games become so overtly 'in your face' or preachy then IMO the real creativity dwindles.

Personally, I don't want to play 'edgy' material just because it's edgy. I just want to play stuff I dig, and if it happens to be edgy or political I'm fine with that as long as it doesn't take over the game.
 

Gringnr

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I think the poo really hits the fan when creatives try to inject highly topical and divisive issues into their games. As opposed to when they were being innovative, satirical, and subversive back in the day. It's when games become so overtly 'in your face' or preachy then IMO the real creativity dwindles.

Personally, I don't want to play 'edgy' material just because it's edgy. I just want to play stuff I dig, and if it happens to be edgy or political I'm fine with that as long as it doesn't take over the game.
Some creators can pull off subversion. Some can even pull off overtly political stuff and make it great. But the talent and creativity has to be there. I knew a guy who was a stand-up comic. He toured some, supporting bigger names. Did parties and stuff, too. Without going into details, he once pointed out a bit by another comic that was in complete opposition to his own beliefs. But he thought it was excellent comedy, and he found it hilarious.
 

Voros

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A true radical provocateur shouldn't be surprised when their provocations evoke a response.

I don't think W.S. Burroughs or the Butthole Surfers gave two shits if a bookstore or radio station didn't carry their art.

But then both were very talented and had a strong streak of irony and humour in their work that saved it from being merely adolescent nonsense.
 

Black Leaf

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A true radical provocateur shouldn't be surprised when their provocations evoke a response.

I don't think W.S. Burroughs or the Butthole Surfers gave two shits if a bookstore or radio station didn't carry their art.

But then both were very talented and had a strong streak of irony and humour in their work that saved it from being merely adolescent nonsense.
The Pistols found themselves regularly attacked by Teddy Boys with Stanley knives.

Conflict were banned from gigging across the UK by order of a Government white paper.
 

BedrockBrendan

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Looking it over, there's stuff that I actually raise an eyebrow at way more than "if you attack our business as part of your marketing we won't do business with you" which pretty much any business would put their foot down on you.

Some of it has been there for years.



This is and always has been stupid. Flattering though it is that Drivethru seems to think I'm a business rival of Cubicle 7, I'm afraid to say that isn't in fact the case.

But more importantly, it really screws over niches like LARP. Almost all the people that would review LARP are also publishers and we're generally at most two people removed from playing in each other's games.

Also, the wording of this is really mealy mouthed.



Well chaps, the reason this happens is that you take a much larger cut than your nearest rival Itch.io. So in fact, most of this supposedly unfair pricing is people making the same money from you as you do from them. I don't consider you charging the same as a bricks and mortar distributor "fair treatment" considering your lack of overheads.

I wouldn't mind some of the terms if they weren't a defacto monopoly. That is the big issue. Sellers wanting to have a say on what they sell is is fine, except when you get into Amazon or Clear Channel Territory. Basically you have to be on OBS in order to function as a publisher. So their terms are going to shape content and cause publishers to hedge in order to not be pulled. Also, I think treating a public complaint about a title being removed as hostile marketing is very heavy handed. It effectively makes it hard to critique a removal of your own book. Again, none of this would matter if there were five viable platforms like OBS. There are other platforms, but you basically don't exist if you aren't on OBS. I actually don't sell my print copies on OBS for instance, and many people assume we don't sell print copies of our books (because if that is where people go to find out what RPGs are out there, if they don't see it there, they often assume it doesn't exist).

All that said, what can you do? They have a right to put down whatever conditions they want to do business with them and I can either agree or not as I see fit. I have neither the motivation nor the required skills to try and set up a new storefront (if you do, employ me to deal with LARP yo). So I'm not going to portray myself as a victim for disliking parts of a voluntary agreement I choose to sign up for.

I think there is a gray zone here. You don't have to claim to be a victim, and you don't have to throw up your hands and do nothing. You can voice your opinion, contact OBS directly and let them know politely if you have concerns. There really isn't much publishers can do beyond trying to persuade people, because it isn't like you can move OBS by going to another platform (there just isn't another platform that is as viable). I will say in terms of contacting them directly, they are pretty reasonable when you do that. I've never had any trouble there even when I have had complaints (I think they are aware that they are if not a monopoly, close to effectively being one, and understand that comes with some responsibility).
 

Tommy Brownell

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Looking it over, there's stuff that I actually raise an eyebrow at way more than "if you attack our business as part of your marketing we won't do business with you" which pretty much any business would put their foot down on you.

Some of it has been there for years.



This is and always has been stupid. Flattering though it is that Drivethru seems to think I'm a business rival of Cubicle 7, I'm afraid to say that isn't in fact the case.

But more importantly, it really screws over niches like LARP. Almost all the people that would review LARP are also publishers and we're generally at most two people removed from playing in each other's games.

Also, the wording of this is really mealy mouthed.



Well chaps, the reason this happens is that you take a much larger cut than your nearest rival Itch.io. So in fact, most of this supposedly unfair pricing is people making the same money from you as you do from them. I don't consider you charging the same as a bricks and mortar distributor "fair treatment" considering your lack of overheads.

All that said, what can you do? They have a right to put down whatever conditions they want to do business with them and I can either agree or not as I see fit. I have neither the motivation nor the required skills to try and set up a new storefront (if you do, employ me to deal with LARP yo). So I'm not going to portray myself as a victim for disliking parts of a voluntary agreement I choose to sign up for.
My guy, policy used to be that their Featured Reviewers couldn’t rate a product below three stars. I did it once and got my wrist slapped (I’m no longer a featured reviewer…until today I always assumed it was due to inactivity, but now I wonder if it came from pointing this out online).

IMO, that makes not letting publishers rate/review each other’s stuff look quaint.
 

Black Leaf

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I wouldn't mind some of the terms if they weren't a defacto monopoly. That is the big issue. Sellers wanting to have a say on what they sell is is fine, except when you get into Amazon or Clear Channel Territory. Basically you have to be on OBS in order to function as a publisher. So their terms are going to shape content and cause publishers to hedge in order to not be pulled.
Yeah, I'd agree that they're an effective monopoly at least with the exception of a) arty farty "lyric" games etc. which I think are probably ok just going on Itch and b) wargames (where Wargame Vault doesn't have the same dominance, partly because most minis merchants also stock rulebooks).

What I'm not convinced of is that a viable alternative couldn't exist if people had the will.
Also, I think treating a public complaint about a title being removed as hostile marketing is very heavy handed. It effectively makes it hard to critique a removal of your own book. Again, none of this would matter if there were five viable platforms like OBS. There are other platforms, but you basically don't exist if you aren't on OBS. I actually don't sell my print copies on OBS for instance, and many people assume we don't sell print copies of our books (because if that is where people go to find out what RPGs are out there, if they don't see it there, they often assume it doesn't exist).
Particularly with it being reactive, I suspect at least not much is going to change.

Publishers who deliberately court controversy by making public declarations or accusations of censorship resulting from this process in order to draw attention to their products will be considered to use hostile marketing.

Publishers who direct or support public accusations of impropriety or censorship toward OneBookShelf when their controversial titles are rejected or removed from our marketplace will also be considered to use hostile marketing.

I can see that the subjectivity is going to worry some people, but that doesn't actually preclude people mentioning or critiquing it. It is specifically aimed at people using that to draw attention from their products. I'd guess this is only going to be used against the most egregious cases (which yes, probably does include Venger). But I can't see you getting a warning for any of your implied criticisms here.
I think there is a gray zone here. You don't have to claim to be a victim, and you don't have to throw up your hands and do nothing. You can voice your opinion, contact OBS directly and let them know politely if you have concerns. There really isn't much publishers can do beyond trying to persuade people, because it isn't like you can move OBS by going to another platform (there just isn't another platform that is as viable). I will say in terms of contacting them directly, they are pretty reasonable when you do that. I've never had any trouble there even when I have had complaints (I think they are aware that they are if not a monopoly, close to effectively being one, and understand that comes with some responsibility).
As I said, if I had the ability setting up a LARP webstore would likely be viable. A lot of this is that understandably few publishers want to get into the distribution business. But we aren't in a Steam situation.

When my main complaint is "you take too much money" I have to say raising that as a complaint feels pointless. That isn't something I can see them bending on.
 

BedrockBrendan

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I can see that the subjectivity is going to worry some people, but that doesn't actually preclude people mentioning or critiquing it. It is specifically aimed at people using that to draw attention from their products. I'd guess this is only going to be used against the most egregious cases (which yes, probably does include Venger). But I can't see you getting a warning for any of your implied criticisms here.

As I said, if I had the ability setting up a LARP webstore would likely be viable. A lot of this is that understandably few publishers want to get into the distribution business. But we aren't in a Steam situation.

When my main complaint is "you take too much money" I have to say raising that as a complaint feels pointless. That isn't something I can see them bending on.

I think my concern is it reads that if you just label it censorship, that could be regarded as hostile marketing (maybe they are reserving it for a case where someone is doing that in bad faith, or crossing a line into brigading territory) but I would be reluctant to voice concerns about censorship if I had product pulled, even if I felt they were being censorious (because the penalty here is pull your account after your first warning: which is again, given how significant OBS is, it is going to make most publishers hedge a lot. I get that companies should be able to not work with companies attacking them, but when you are the only game in town, it can really make it hard to lodge valid criticism (and you are going to have to weather plenty of pointless criticism to get the valid critiques). I will say a few years ago I was upset about the change in the stop seller algorithm. I voiced my concerns publicly and explained why but they were pretty good about. I still didn't agree with their reasoning, but their position was a reasonable one (and I think a lot of publishers agreed with the change). I was pretty impressed with how they reacted. I think allowing for that kind of expression of concerns by publishers is important (and I am happy to stop complaining once I have voiced my concern and a final decision has been made).

I think with the too much money thing, I too wouldn't mind a better deal, but I get it. What I did was a non-exclusive agreement on OBS. It does mean they can take more out, but it also allows me to put my PDFs where I want to (but in all honesty while I have had them up in other places, over 99 percent of PDF revenue is from OBS). Like it isn't even worth counting how much I've made from other platforms.

There are other places people can go if they want to avoid distribution that are viable for print. I have arrangements elsewhere and don't have to worry about distribution. You lose a similar chunk of money but you also don't slip through the cracks if the company you are dealing with has a modest but not oversized client list. For print at least there are still viable alternatives to OBS. However I don't know how easy that is presently for companies to jump into (it may be that companies just starting out also would basically need to have their print books up on OBS).
 

BedrockBrendan

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My guy, policy used to be that their Featured Reviewers couldn’t rate a product below three stars. I did it once and got my wrist slapped (I’m no longer a featured reviewer…until today I always assumed it was due to inactivity, but now I wonder if it came from pointing this out online).

IMO, that makes not letting publishers rate/review each other’s stuff look quaint.

On publishers reviewing, I think as long as it were labeled as such and as long as publishers couldn't impact the star rating average, it would be a pretty fair way to allow publishers to engage in talking about other projects they like without having to worry about people muddying review scores.

I didn't realize you weren't a feature reviewer there any more. Was the three star minimum strictly for featured reviewers or did they encourage all reviewers to leave at least three stars?
 

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Updated Publisher Conduct Guidelines

The relevant section.

Hostile Marketing: Our policy regarding potentially offensive content (see Product Standards Guidelines) reported by customers is to deactivate such titles while they are being reviewed. Publishers who deliberately court controversy by making public declarations or accusations of censorship resulting from this process in order to draw attention to their products will be considered to use hostile marketing.

Publishers who direct or support public accusations of impropriety or censorship toward OneBookShelf when their controversial titles are rejected or removed from our marketplace will also be considered to use hostile marketing.

This behavior will not be tolerated. We have adopted a strict one-warning policy for those who engage in hostile marketing: The first incident will prompt a warning, and after a second incident, their accounts will be removed from our site permanently and immediately.

I strongly disagree with all of this. This is a big distribution platform with a strong share of the market (a "defacto monopoly") placing a gag order on publishers not to discuss a policy that could be used unfairly or weaponized by 3rd parties against them while their products are locked out of circulation for potentially needless or arbitrary reasons. They have all (or at least most of) the power in this situation and are using their weight to shut people up while they take one sided arbitration and essentially dictate what kind of content you're allowed to publish or what qualifies as "offensive content". That's just corporate strong arming and abuse of power, accusing others of "hostile marketing" while they essentially brand their content as objectionable, which could potentially have an impact not just on sales but a publisher's reputation.
 

robertsconley

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I am going out on a limb here I think like the original implementation of content guidelines this isn't going to amount to much except for those who go to extreme limits to antagonize DriveThru or or push the limits of taste. This is what our fourth or fifth go around on this stuff with different folks?

If it was up to me, I would go with something that says

"If after being put on pre-publication review X times (2 or 3?), Onebookshelf is no longer willing to host the publisher's content due to amount of work it is causing us to review each and every title they release." And put on my big boy pants when it comes to criticism when this is enforced.
 

BedrockBrendan

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OBS is more than just popular: they are the Amazon of RPG sales platforms. Other companies exist sure, but everyone needs to be on OBS if they want to be viable (sure you can wilt away on some other platform, and you might have a small audience that supports you, but unless you are already a big RPG company or occupy a unique space in the RPG market (where you are able to have say your own sales page) you definitely have to be on OBS to survive. If you don't think Amazon is a monopoly, then fair enough I suppose. But I think defacto monopoly is an accurate term for both OBS and Amazon. Monopoly doesn't meant there aren't competitors. It means no one else is truly viable and one company is able to dominate the market (is there any question that OBS doesn't dominate the RPG sales platform market?). Personally I think OBS has been good in that position (I could easily see other companies misusing that space in ways OBS absolutely doesn't). I like a lot of the people that work there. But that doesn't make them not a monopoly in the RPG industry.
 

Tommy Brownell

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On publishers reviewing, I think as long as it were labeled as such and as long as publishers couldn't impact the star rating average, it would be a pretty fair way to allow publishers to engage in talking about other projects they like without having to worry about people muddying review scores.

I didn't realize you weren't a feature reviewer there any more. Was the three star minimum strictly for featured reviewers or did they encourage all reviewers to leave at least three stars?
Featured. I had a review removed presumably at publisher insistence, followed by a strongly worded email from the then-head of the review program telling all reviewers that we were not to leave less than three star reviews due to the disproportionate impact on publishers or something to that effect.
 

Gringnr

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Dominant =/= Monopoly

Screenshot_20220627-124526_Google.jpg

Yes, they're the biggest player. But there are people who choose not to use OBS. Anomalous Subsurface Environment is not on OBS, yet it's still a fairly popular megadungeon, and got a decent amount of attention in OSR circles when it was released.
 

BedrockBrendan

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They are more than the biggest player: they are the only relevant player. Again, there are exceptions. Some RPG companies have a unique place in the market like I said. But most RPG companies are going to languish if they aren't on OBS. And very few companies are getting good numbers on PDF sales outside of OBS. There is not viable competition at the moment to OBS.
 

AsenRG

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Well, strongly disagree. It's a free country... for now.
I already told you, "you can reject it all you like", so let me finish: "but you're an interested party, and I'm a customer who has ZERO affiliation with either of you". Which of us do you think is more likely to be biased:grin:?

Also, we're not living in the same country, just FYI:shade:.

Basically every argument I've seen against Venger so far (other than the trite "It's a private company, it can do what it wants!") amounts to "you were trying to provoke a reaction, therefore you got what you deserved". Hence, my first post in this thread "Venger likes to wear short skirts". Which is to say, these are all just "victim blaming" arguments (to the extent he can be argued to be a victim) aided by the fact that you don't like "victim" or what he did, so it's OK to blame and deride him, rather than truly solid rational arguments.
Oh, so it wasn't TMI, then:tongue:?

Yeah but this is the exact attention Venger wants.

OBS is not a monopoly by any definition. Lulu, IPR, Gumroad, itch, or just emailing pdfs/snail mailing books to people who PayPal/Venmo/CashApp you are all options. Just because OBS is the most popular, doesn't make them a monopoly. And the policy doesn't prohibit Venger from discussing the issue, only from accusing OBS of censorship while they investigate whether the title violates their ToS.
Sorry, man, but that's frankly BS, their position fits the definition of "natural monopoly" to a T:thumbsup:!
OK, it's better termed "natural monopsony", but the effect is pretty much the same: you play with the monopolist or you're screwed.
 

Gringnr

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it really doesn't, though, because there is no reason why it's only economically viable for one retailer - OBS - to do what they do. Anyone could do it, and other companies DO do it. Whether they are as popular as OBS is beside the point, as the viability of these other platforms (and none of them have gone belly up yet) proves that OBS is NOT a natural monopoly.
 

AsenRG

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it really doesn't, though, because there is no reason why it's only economically viable for one retailer - OBS - to do what they do. Anyone could do it, and other companies DO do it. Whether they are as popular as OBS is beside the point, as the viability of these other platforms (and none of them have gone belly up yet) proves that OBS is NOT a natural monopoly.
There are >1: it is more convenient for RPG fans to have their purchases in one place, most existing RPG fans already have a number of purchases on OBS which helps the previous point, and it's got so much product already that most people simply don't think to look elsewhere.
Thus, any new competitor is not only going to be smaller, it would also be starting at a significant disadvantage:thumbsup:!
 

TristramEvans

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In economics, a "monopoly is a dominant position of an industry or a sector by one company, to the point of excluding all other viable competitors".

I think if there is no viable competitor to OBS, it's safe to talk about it in terms of monopoly. Just because other options exist, doesn't mean they are economic competition. Because it's about the ability to operate without competition. Competition regulates businesses, because informed consumer choice allows them to pick betwen alternatives based on what company represents their interests best. Without viable competition, OBS can do what they want without worrying about customers turning to a competitor.
 

Gringnr

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In economics, a "monopoly is a dominant position of an industry or a sector by one company, to the point of excluding all other viable competitors".

I think if there is no viable competitor to OBS, it's safe to talk about it in terms of monopoly. Just because other options exist, doesn't mean they are economic competition. Because it's about the ability to operate without competition. Competition regulates businesses, because informed consumer choice allows them to pick betwen alternatives based on what company represents their interests best. Without viable competition, OBS can do what they want without worrying about customers turning to a competitor.
You can sell digital as well as physical media on Amazon. I'd say that's a pretty healthy competitor to OBS. And their physical books are often cheaper.
 

Brock Savage

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You can sell digital as well as physical media on Amazon. I'd say that's a pretty healthy competitor to OBS. And their physical books are often cheaper.
As a general rule, Amazon is pretty crap when it comes to RPGs and minis. Once in a great while I will find a deal or they have something that's out of print that I can't find anywhere else but it's a stretch to call it a healthy competitor. It's like saying 7-11 has food so that makes it a healthy competitor to grocery stores.
 
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TristramEvans

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You can sell digital as well as physical media on Amazon. I'd say that's a pretty healthy competitor to OBS. And their physical books are often cheaper.

So your claim is that Amazon provides viable competition to OBS for the purchase and sale of RPGs as digital media?
 

AsenRG

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This is like calling Apple Music a monopoly because you can't download the music on your iTunes account from Amazon.
Seriously, man, you have publishers explaining to you why OBS is a monopoly. You have a definition, as posted by Tristram. You have court practice, which, surprise, DOESN'T require 100% or even close to it of market share...
And I guess you're going to cling to your opinion nonetheless, because why not:grin:?
Anyway, here's a link for you:

Courts do not require a literal monopoly before applying rules for single firm conduct; that term is used as shorthand for a firm with significant and durable market power — that is, the long term ability to raise price or exclude competitors. That is how that term is used here: a "monopolist" is a firm with significant and durable market power. Courts look at the firm's market share, but typically do not find monopoly power if the firm (or a group of firms acting in concert) has less than 50 percent of the sales of a particular product or service within a certain geographic area. Some courts have required much higher percentages. In addition, that leading position must be sustainable over time: if competitive forces or the entry of new firms could discipline the conduct of the leading firm, courts are unlikely to find that the firm has lasting market power.

...and I don't think it is going to persuade you, because I guess you've already made your mind. So I'm done discussing this:thumbsup:.
 

robertsconley

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In economics, a "monopoly is a dominant position of an industry or a sector by one company, to the point of excluding all other viable competitors".

I think if there is no viable competitor to OBS, it's safe to talk about it in terms of monopoly. Just because other options exist, doesn't mean they are economic competition. Because it's about the ability to operate without competition. Competition regulates businesses, because informed consumer choice allows them to pick betwen alternatives based on what company represents their interests best. Without viable competition, OBS can do what they want without worrying about customers turning to a competitor.
The biggest threat to OBS is convergence from another platform. Itch.io came out of nowhere and while it is not a true OBS competitor, it is instructive as a way to see how OBS's dominance can be challenged.

Basically, the competitor has to be good at something that incidentally turns out also to be good for RPG publishing.

Realistically it will have to take several things to happen before an OBS exodus is even a thing. But if it does happen, I can see it happening very quickly if one of the circumstances is that the new platform brought in a large new audience for RPGs OBS won't go away due to the large back catalog but it ceases to be THE dominant player in the industry.
 

Gringnr

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As a general rule, Amazon is pretty crap when it comes to RPGs and minis. Once in a great while I will find a deal or just have something that's out of print that I can't find anywhere else but it's a stretch to call it a healthy competitor. It's like saying 7-11 has food so that makes it a healthy competitor to grocery stores.
No, it's not. They're a massive global company, with instantaneous brand recognition, that most people already use, and almost anyone can sell on. I'd be surprised if they don't sell more physical rpg media than OBS does. Not saying they do, but I'll bet Amazon is considered viable by WotC, R. Talsorian, etc. A not insignificant chunk of my phus9cal library came from there.
 

robertsconley

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No, it's not. They're a massive global company, with instantaneous brand recognition, that most people already use, and almost anyone can sell on. I'd be surprised if they don't sell more physical rpg media than OBS does. Not saying they do, but I'll bet Amazon is considered viable by WotC, R. Talsorian, etc. A not insignificant chunk of my phus9cal library came from there.
The problem of Amazon are
  • The lack of a RPG Space where only RPG products are sold.
  • PDF only sales.
  • Integration of PDFs and Print in a single listing.
  • Being able to offer a package of files as your product.
  • Lack of Card, Poster, and Stiff Paper Stock printing.
  • The pollution of search results by spammers and bots.
 
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