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2018: The Bundle of Holding year in review

2018: The Bundle of Holding year in review

by Monday 31 December 2018 0 comments
By Bundle of Holding founder and operator Allen Varney

As we emerge from the decade-long ordeal played at 10x speed in 2018, which brought unneeded suffering to untold millions, it’s perhaps unseemly that my site, the Bundle of Holding, once again enjoyed strong success. Since its debut in February 2013 the Bundle has presented 345 time-limited offers comprising nearly 2,600 tabletop roleplaying game .PDFs and RPG-related ebooks. The site has lifetime total sales approaching 245,000 bundles, purchased by over 55,000 customers. As always, I thank all of you for your kind support.

The lineup

This year I presented 69 offers, up from 67 in 2017 and equalling the 69 offers in 2016. First-time contributors this year included 0one Games, EN Publishing, Free League Publishing, Gallant Knight Games, Gypsy Knights Games, Hebanon Games, John Wick Presents, Misfit Studios, Playground Adventures, Rowan Rook & Decard, Scratchpad Publishing, Silver Games, Steve Jackson Games, Stygian Fox, and several others. They joined returning stalwarts like Arc Dream Publishing, The Design Mechanism, Dream Pod 9, Evil Hat Productions, Flying Buffalo, Modiphius, Posthuman Studios, R. Talsorian, Schwalb Entertainment, and more.

Most of the publishers in 2018’s lineups have appeared often in the site’s six-year life. Pelgrane Press and Atlas Games remain the site’s most diligent lifetime supporters; each has contributed 18 offers to date, plus individual titles in many more. Next is Marc W. Miller’s Far Future Enterprises (13 Traveller offers plus Dark Conspiracy); Cubicle 7 Entertainment (13); Onyx Path Publishing (11); Ulisses Spiele/Ulisses North America (11); Hero Games (9); Pinnacle Entertainment (9); and Monte Cook (8 total — five from Monte Cook Games and three via Malhavoc Press). Other veterans include Mongoose Publishing (6 offers), Nocturnal Media (6), Palladium Books (6), Triple Ace Games (6), Catalyst Game Labs (5), and Green Ronin (5). Together these 15 publishers have contributed four of every ten Bundle offers. I thank them all for their outstanding generosity.

This year’s popular offers included Delta Green 2, Dragon Age/Fantasy AGE, Symbaroum, Coriolis & Tales From the Loop, Mutant Year Zero, Tunnels & Trolls, Dungeon World +3, Mythras, 0one Blueprints, WOIN (O.L.D. and N.E.W.), and the double offers of Deathwatch, Deadlands Reloaded, and Shadow of the Demon Lord. Another highlight: The Early Champions and Early Hero System double offer, which marked the debut in .PDF of the 1980s Hero Games product lines.

The all-time top-selling offer hit in May. Campaign Cartographer, our first software bundle, sold 1,909 copies at an unimaginable average price of US$62.27, grossing nearly $119K — and in just nine days! In this triumphal march, the only off note was my terrible mailing-list blunder. I sent out the announcement a week prematurely, baffling would-be customers. Sorry! I’ve set up safeguards so that won’t happen again.

Bundle of Holding charities in 2018

Ten percent of each offer’s revenue (after payment gateway fees) benefits one or more charities.The Bundle of Holding’s 2018 earnings for charity total over $125,000, counting the five offers still in progress. When I send the checks for those offers, lifetime charity donations will surpass $535K. The most frequent beneficiaries this year, repeating from 2017, were Doctors Without Borders and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Other established charities benefiting from Bundle offers included Reading is Fundamental, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Human Rights Watch, and several others.

As in 2017, several offers this year benefited the Roleplaying Game Creators Relief Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides financial assistance to tabletop roleplaying game creators facing medical emergencies, natural disasters, and other catastrophes.

Social media

In just two years, the free (and spam-free) Bundle of Holding mailing list has doubled in size to nearly 23,000 addresses. The mailing list is your best way to learn about new offers, especially given the upheaval in social media. In April 2018 Google+ suddenly and unjustly declared me a spammer, without possible appeal or recourse. When I stopped posting to the Bundle’s G+ page, one person noticed — four months later. Then a second user noticed — two months after that. I’m unsurprised Google+ itself will shut down soon.

The Bundle of Holding Facebook page and @BundleHolding Twitter feed continue. More and more, though, I find all social media dismal and dispiriting. I keep desultory personal accounts on mastodon.xyz and MeWe.

Coding is hard

The site’s major weakness is still programming. In the three years since the Bundle’s original programmer cut back for health reasons, I’ve brought in three new coders who cost a lot but made almost no visible progress. I’ll spare you the prolonged whining from my first draft (you’re welcome). But cross your fingers: We’re deploying a new backend codebase early in January. I’m sure that will be fun and educational. And then — then — well, I hope progress grows visible.

As I’ve said in my last couple of year-in-review posts (2016, 2017), I still hope to launch new sites that sell bundles of ebooks about military history, art and photography instruction, anime/manga/Asian pop culture, and other subjects not currently served by specialized sites. If you can operate such a site, get in touch.

The year ahead

For 2019 (assuming the new codebase doesn’t blow up) I plan 68 offers, of which 50-51 are new and 17-18 are revivals of past successes; many of the revivals will have new companion offers. This compares with 13 revivals in 2018, alongside 10 new companions. What offers, you ask? We’ll find out together. I always dream of arranging the schedule weeks or months ahead, but reality has dictated otherwise. Still, I’m sticking with it, and I hope you will too.

(Previous year-in-review posts: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014)

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