Pathfinder and all the players who love the game had a very strong presence at Gen Con 2014. As someone who personally loves to play Pathfinder, it's sometimes hard to believe that the game is still so new.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Paizo Publisher and Chief Creative Officer Erik Mona about how Pathfinder has come to be this incredibly popular game beloved by fans worldwide.
Back in 2008, the tabletop fantasy roleplaying game world was shaken-up by the shift from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition to 4th Edition. While some players were willing to learn this new system that wouldn’t be compatible with the older version, there were still fans who enjoyed the 3.5 system and wanted to keep it alive. Paizo Publishing at the time was producing monthly adventure supplements that used the 3.5 Open Game License.
With all the 3rd Edition stuff going out of print, Erik Mona recalls the incredible decision they made at Paizo.
“Let's use the OGL [Open Game License] to create our own version of that rule set. Fix the stuff we don't like, throw it into open playtest, get 50,000 gamers to really run it through its paces and tell us what they would like changed. Then republish the rules as the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game,” said Mona.
This was the largest open playtest in the history of tabletop gaming. Gathering so much feedback from the players has definitely contributed to the success of Pathfinder. “After we released the rules in 2009, every year we sold more Core Rulebooks than the year before,” Mona explains.
In the tabletop gaming world, the network effect is key. Word of mouth is probably the most powerful way to get your product out there and grow your brand. Friends introduces other friends to Pathfinder, parents teach it to their children, and so on.
“It has sort of become like a self sustaining thing where the more Pathfinder players there are, the easier it is to find Pathfinder Campaigns. And the easier it is to find Pathfinder Campaigns, the more players there are,” Erik Mona explains the precious cycle of gaming.
In less than a decade, Paizo has gone from publishing monthly gaming magazines to creating the best-selling tabletop roleplaying game in hobby stores.
What makes Paizo such an amazing company is their passion for the game and respect for the players. Their employees are gamers, and if you visit the message boards, you'll see that they're also there communicating with the players and getting feedback from their customers.
Paizo prides themselves on making products their players want, and it's refreshing to see a company actually care about their customers.
One of their hugely anticipated releases at Gen Con 2014 was the Pathfinder Advanced Class Guide. The Advanced Class Guide introduces 10 new hybrid classes, new class abilities and archetypes for the existing 29 base classes, new feats, spells, and so much more.
“We ran the book through an extensive public playtest. We did two iterations of each of the new classes during the playtest, and the third iteration is the final ones that are in the book. There's a lot of feedback that we've incorporated into their development, and I think they're stronger for it,” Mona explains.
As long as Paizo continues to see their players as their most important asset in the success of their brand, they will continue to dominate the tabletop gaming world.