Tabletop gamers seem to be a curious breed when it comes to selling by unconventional means. You can sell gamers something directly and by and large we're ahead of the curve technology wise, especially when it comes to the adoption of electronic publishing, try something a little more unconventional though and things break down.
- Donationware doesn't seem to work, you release something for free and ask for donations or hook up a 'donate' button and pretty much nobody ever does. They'll happily take what you offer, but you'll be lucky to see even a single return, even on thousands and thousands of 'sales'.
- Shareware doesn't seem to be a model that can work particularly well, but the closest example is probably the practice of offering preview/quickstart sets cheap or free to get people's attention. I can't say that's made a noticable difference in the couple of cases I've done anything along those lines but White Wolf did it a bit more and for several games, so you'd have to ask them if it really worked.
- Freemium model seems to be one that could work, giving away the base game for free and then charging for extensions, but in gaming you only really NEED the main book and can make up the rest yourself. In MMORPGs etc it works because you need the item/expansion to keep playing and to be competetive. I'd be interested to see how Eclipse Phase is doing.
- Subscription ideas were something I bandied around a few years back but nobody really took seriously. DDI appears to be working, sort of, though I only think I know one gamer who actually has one. Dungeonaday seems to be rattling on but is the potential subscription base big enough to support one site along these lines or any more? I'm not sure that it does.
- Hostageware does seem to work, to an extent, there's been a few releases put out on that basis and I met my target in terms of social media dissemination. It might be worth trying on a monetary basis some time, but I think you really need to be a 'name' in order to get enough enthusiasm for your product.
We need to innovate, find new and effective ways of supporting gaming 'auteurs' and small companies and the other way around finding ways to provide useful services to gamers and effective ways of providing value for money, but unless we can overcome some of these payment difficulties and people's seeming conservatism when it comes to alternative finance models, we're kinda stuck.