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Opportunities of e-book market for game publishers

There are only few successfull book series based on videogames. Why? New opportunities for games on new e-book market.

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Opportunities of e-book market for game publishers

  1. 1. Publishing books based on video game franchisesImportant note. This presentation doesn’t imply to the market of so-called interactive books, most oftendistributed as applications in Google Play or AppStore.
  2. 2. About me Sergey Grushko Was the head of the publishing branch of a development studio (GSC Game World) from 2004 to 2007: publishing games in CIS (Cossacks 2, Alexander, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Heroes of Annihilated Empires) and publishing a PC game “Heroes of Annihilated Empires” worldwide. During this term, successfully launched the book series “Heroes of Annihilated Empires” (3 books, 60 thousand copies in Russia), and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (80 books, 6 mln. copies in Russia and 8 books about 100 thousand copies in Germany). After leaving GSC Game World continued to handle the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. book series matters (outsourcing), and also cooperated with the independent authors as the publishing agent:  - “Технотьма” book series (“Techno-darkness” Eng.) (2010 – 2012): 14 books, 340 thousand copies in Russia, the first book of the series has already been published in Germany in June, 2012)  - “Нашествие” (“Invasion” Eng.)(2011 – 2012): 3 books, 53 thousand copies
  3. 3. There’s a large online market of electronic books worldwide 2011 USD billions e-books 2.7 2.07 0.45 Worldwide Worldwide USA The market size of electronic books* only in USA in 2011 was almost equal to the entire AppStore* - not including teaching and scientific literature
  4. 4. And this market is actively growing US e-book market 3500 3000 2500 2000 USD mln 1500 1000 500 0 2009 2010 2011 2012 (outlook)Do the game franchises need to aim at this market and can it be profitable, since there are so few franchises that turned into book series??? Firstly, we need to understand why they are so few
  5. 5. How the game and book publishers usually cooperate?- my brand costs piles of money, we - if I pay for the brand, I save on thehave thousands of fans marketing and promotion, otherwise, why should I buy it?- if we gave out the book publishing tothe book publisher, he has to think - promoting the someone else’s brandabout how to earn money doesn’t have much sense, because the benefits (movie, cartoons) will not be- publishers must be watched for to minemake sure they stick to the game’suniverse and storyline VS
  6. 6. W was buying a gam like before? hat e Having read the magazines and having surfed the game forums, the player went to the store and bought the disc with the game. Housewives downloaded small casual games in the online communityfriend’s advice buying the gamegame press
  7. 7. W was buying a book like before? hatHaving read the book reviews in the newspapers and magazines, the reader went to the store to buy a book. Often the desire to buy “something to read” appeared during the visit to the store: looked through the bookshelves, paged through some books, listened to what the seller communitiesfriend’s advice buying a bookbookshelves in theshop
  8. 8. What did we have in the output?- book market is too small, it’s - gamers don’t read booksimpossible to gain profit - game brands don’t add value to the- gamers don’t read books book sales- book publishers are poorly promoting - it’s better to work with moviebooks based on games companies or promote in-house writers VS
  9. 9. In actual fact, both sides do not analyze the existing obstacles Marketing obstacles• Different informational resources (game portals don’t write about books)• Different communities (game forums and network groups seldom discuss books)• Game companies don’t participate in promoting the books (“we sold the license, let the bookpublisher promote the books himself”) Conceptual obstacles• Different sale spots (game shop networks seldom sell books)• Different content carriers (monitor/TV vs. book)• Different types of leisure (it’s far from being obvious in most cases that the gamerattracted to the picture also enjoys the process of reading)
  10. 10. How did S.T.A.L.K.E.R overcome the marketing obstacles in 2007 - several years before the game release we started aSTEP 1 (different communities) literature contest, actively supported by the PR- department on the official game forum. The prize − being published in the short stories collection book (this has initially created a loyal audience of the book series)STEP 2 (promoting the books) - game ads in magazines contained the ads of the books - each game box or case had the ads of the first books in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. book series insideSTEP 3 (promoting the books) - prize-winning contest on the official game web-site among the buyers of the bookSTEP 4 (different communities) - literature contests continued, we created two more collections of short-stories. The community and official web-site supported the fan-fic writing movement (amateur literature work inspired by the game)
  11. 11. Resultsduring the first month the initial print runs of four books (15 thousand each) were completely sold out – about 5% of the game sales during the first month (300 thousand) bookshops began to dedicate best shelves to this successful book series readers who didn’t play the game began to buy the books new books of the series (total of 80 books) had the best places on the shelves, the interest to the series continued to grow During 4 years the volume of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. book sales exceeded USD 36 mln. (in retail prices)
  12. 12. Can the strategy of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. be repeated? YESAnd although the book market in Russia experiences a deep crisis however…
  13. 13. Now is the time for the unique opportunity!Playing and reading is possible on the same device!
  14. 14. How books become popular in the electronic storesFamous writer-brand. There are very few novice authors successful with the first book on the market of electronic books. More often an author publishes several books getting a better recognition, and each new books sells better, thus increasing the sales of the books already published.Major paper book publisher. Author columns-reviews of the books’ new arrivals in newspapers and magazines are still important for the buyers. The major publishing houses have close contacts with the press, and can prepare the good publications for the new book beforehand.“Random traffic”. The system of ratings in Kindle store (market 60%) is built in the way so that upraising a book by a popular column writer or blogger may lead to a one-time leap of the sales (for example, 200 books bought in a day), and the system of recommendations and section ratings continues to support the growth of the book sales. This is however a luck factor, but it happens quite frequently.
  15. 15. The marketing level is five years behind the game market E-books market accessible for independent and small publishers promotes the books like in the “old days”• Press columns “about books” (aimed at the major publishers) are still important channels of promotion• Amazon doesn’t promote the commodity group on the web-site, and the ads on devices is not available for the small publishers• Cross-promotion is currently in the rudimentary stage: many books in Amazon TOP-100 have un-clickable list of author’s books (although, there are no restrictions to do that), and most often the list is given on the last page of the book. (Perhaps, with an intention to hide it away from those who downloaded the trial version of the book.)• No traffic sources that can be “bought”, and there are too few large Internet-portals about books to place ads at. CONCLUSION: Those who enter with the targeted traffic may get a large share of the market. The game publishers have this traffic, it’s important to use it properly.
  16. 16. How to make the books series based on game popularSTEP 1 Unlike the printed books, there’s no need to create big novels. 2-3 short-stories is enough to start with (“The notes of Sherlock(what do we sell) Holmes” is a perfect example of the format). Besides, each short- story is single selling unit, assembled into the collection edition afterwards.STEP 2 The start of the book sales must be planned to the moment, when the audience of the game is large enough (the first weeks for the(start) P2P games, several months after the start for F2P games).STEP 3 The book ads must be included into the game (for example, in the menu section “Books”). The game platform defines the store link(ads) given in this section. No one will start buying new short-stories without the initial traffic. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s experience, and failure of other games proved it.
  17. 17. How to make the books series based on game popularSTEP 4 Evaluation is necessary during the first weeks after the start of the series: did the readers and players like it, does the rating grow, is it(evaluation) reasonable to continue the series. The primary criteria for evaluation must be the comparison of growth dynamics of the game audience and the book sales. If the book series demonstrates worse dynamics than the donor-game, this means that readers who didn’t play do not buy it. Thus, as soon as the new traffic from the game runs out, the sales of the books will drop off. If the series shows the growth, new books must be published, and the series has to be developed as an independent product from this point on. Having published 5-6 short- stories on onу game, it’s possible to generate the revenue from books not less than the main revenue from the game.STEP 5 If the book sales grow, it’s necessary to continue publishing new short-stories considering that the growth of the readers audience(growth) will not only make money, but provide new players as well (the books have the game links included). If the book series demonstrates the decrease in sales, the books become free and provide additional traffic for the game. The free books have a much broader audience and its own distribution system.
  18. 18. How much does the book series cost1. Preparing only one book series is unreasonable, because same as in games it’s impossible to forecast the reaction of the consumer to product. It can either become a bestseller, or go unseen. This is exactly why publishers took so long to put “Harry Potter” on the shelves – the editors considered this book unpromising.2. The direct costs of literary preparation of one series makes up to USD 4-6 thousand at the start. This includes text, translation (if the author is not English-speaking), creating book cover.
  19. 19. Figures aside… Books is not only the additional revenue for the game brand, but also…- book series has a long life cycle. Many books from Amazon TOP 500 are being sold for 2-3 years already (500th – 5 thousand copies per month, 200th – 20 thousand copies)- successful book series attract customer’s attention and can be turned into the comics series and even movies- one successful book series can be a source of purchases for the other book series of the publisher, thus turning into a separate branch of the business
  20. 20. Contact me If you’re interested in discussing the market of electronic books and the possibilities for the game studios E-mail me at: Skype: sergiygrushko Sergiy Grushko