Amazing Tales: DriveThru RPG Metal Tiers is a good page, but a couple of years out of date – it has explanations of how things used to be. I’m very grateful that it existed back in the day, but this is updated information.
OK, Hit It!
As that amazing tales page says, bestseller badges are a mark of how many of a product has sold. The product needs to go for at least $0.20, so most price promotions will count, but giveaways don’t. A non-zero number of publications lost badges when that price limit was introduced. It’s an anti-abuse number, to make it less worthwhile to inflate your own prices.
The numbers, taken from One Book Shelf: Bestseller metals, and how to earn badges:
Copper: 51-100 units sold
Or, in a nice graph format that shows the difficulties but compresses the lower numbers:
Each number is harder to reach than the last, because not only does the number required double or more than double with each step, but selling the 100th copy of a product is harder than selling the 1st. This means it is comparatively easy to get to the first badge, and then often sales will slowly drift upwards to the second and third. We can tell how badges go from a trawl of drivethrurpg’s website.
Thanks once more to Amazing Tales, we have a reference to https://www.drivethrurpg.com/metal.php – a list of the numbers of title that have each badge, and a scrollable list of the Adamantine and Mithral titles, in top-down1 order.
The drivethrurpg page gives these numbers:
And in graph format:
In addition, the page says that Copper is 14% of titles, so the corpus is about 100,000 titles. The thing that is interesting here is that where copper used to be the most common badge, now it is silver. This is likely to be a combination of two things: OneBookStore used to keep tabs separately over different sites, and products age gracefully.
Unless there is a re-adjustment of numbers sold to deal with abuse issues, a product that remains on sale will not lose sales, but will either be static or gradually accumulate them. It looks like most items plateau at the 100-250 mark, either staying under the silver limit, or getting into it and staying a while. Electrum is harder to get to; 7.25% of products hit electrum sales.
And the Jonstown Compendium?
For those of us who write for the Jonstown Compendium, the numbers look good. We’re a small but very loyal community of buyers, and the Jonstown Community is our outlet for creativity. One of us, Nick Brooke, started putting together an index of what is for sale, and includes what awards they all have, and he has now been keeping track for over a year. The last issue of his spreadsheet says that 70 items out of 99 are copper or better. (4 are free, 103 total, at last count. A few of those have been withdrawn from sale, but there is still data available.) Of those with medals, only 18 are copper, and 32 are silver. Those things that have not hit copper are generally new, niche, or outside of the run of ‘sourcebooks and scenarios’ which seem to work best. Electrum and gold are over-represented compared to the general corpus2.
This means that our graph skews right, insofar as it can. Compared to the behemoths, RuneQuest is a smaller system, and ultimately our market share is going to be smaller, but the level of quality on the Jonstown Compendium is high, and sales are generally good per item. I attribute this to a few things; the lack of a race to the bottom, the relatively small number of player-gms (who publish) compared to super-fans (who buy) and the support of Chaosium itself. We have an active community that is relatively well joined up, and often actively wants to buy from the Jonstown Compendium.
1. As I (1 GM at BWT) understand it, the newest badge gets to go on top until another one comes along.
2. This is a long way of saying ‘hooray’.