RPG Kitchen is a digital service currently under development that wants to provide tabletop RPG players a storefront for renting titles, while also funneling nearly all profits to indie designers.
Currently in alpha, the website functions very close to the archaic process of renting movies from Netflix, or using similar services such as Gamefly for video games. Except, instead of Blu-ray or DVDs the customer is borrowing a digital PDF.
Creator Adam RK understands that sounds like a weird ask on its face, but they are confident in the proposed model. “My pitch for players is ‘try before you buy’,” they told Dicebreaker via email. "I don't think there's much appetite for long-term borrowing without owning, but I think as a cheap, short-term option it could work."
The somewhat limited selection - RK said they are always accepting mroe creators to test things - currently on offer during the alpha release can be purchased outright or rented for one month at about 20% of the full price. Instead of DRM-locked downloads, the rented PDFs can only be viewed through the RPG Kitchen website during the length of the lease. All money spent borrowing reduces the cost of a game if the player decides later to purchase it, and at that point they’re provided a full download.
RK repurposed the site from a web app they had developed during their time working on the Ninth Soul RPG. A “conference for business hippies” persuaded them to invest both the technology and their efforts towards a charity aspect, giving the operation a new goal and new motto: “feed the hobby, feed the hungry.”
RPG Kitchen launched as a Community Interest Company in 2020. Not quite a charity in legal terms, CICs must still invest its profits into the community it declared to serve upon creation. “I wanted the goal to be helping to feed the hungry but for the purposes of CICs 'the hungry' isn't a community,” RK said. “So, I narrowed down the legal goal of [RPG Kitchen] to helping TTRPG creators earn a living.”
I'm so super-hyped to announce that the alpha-release of the new RPG Kitchen web-shop is now live!— Web shop - alpha release now live!!! (@RPGKitchen) May 14, 2021
This brings #ttrpg creators a new way to earn income.
It took months of work. It might be huge.
Please share the hell out of this.
To that end, RK gives creators who rent and sell their games in their storefront a 90% split of profits - they claim a full 100% wasn’t quite possible if the servers were to stay hosted. This aligns with the revenue cut digital storefront Itch.io sets as its default, though the company allows individuals to scale that figure up and down - or sometimes eschew it altogether. RPG Kitchen may have a similar feature in the future if RK sees creators calling for it - their guiding principle is “creators deserve to be paid fairly for their works.”
The storefront is accepting any genre or kind of tabletop RPG from independent creators or freelancers looking to create under their own name. More features, such as a creator-controlled free pass or other incentives, are currently in the works. RK hopes a reliable rental site with a broad selection of titles will also reduce digital piracy by providing an affordable middle step below buying a full price book before it has hit the table.
Those interested in learning more about the process can find free rentals in the store on RPG Kitchen’s website.