Ville pointed me to this page on DriveThruRPG. Its a page on shipping costs to selected countries. So, what’s so interesting about that?
Well, the list is as follows: USA, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Mexico, and UK. If we compare population sizes, the list goes as follows (from Wikipedia):
So, why does Finland, with its population of about half the second lowest on the list, warrant an inclusion on it? Of course, the answer here is that we buy a lot of physical stuff from there. The real question is why.
Because this is me writing this, I’m not going to bother asking people or doing real research, and instead I’ll speculate wildly. Much more fun that way. If any reader has any real information, feel free to share.
The Weakness of Local Offerings
Maybe there just isn’t enough stuff available in Finland. Maybe the distribution is too concentrated on a few key products, that won’t satisfy all the needs of the community.
The Strength of Local Offerings
… or maybe its the opposite. There’s so much stuff available in Finland, that the community produces enough interest in all sorts of weirder products the LGSs don’t have any interest in offering.
Lack of Language Barrier
Below a certain age, pretty much all Finns know English. Not only that, but most of us are very confident in our skills (sometimes its warranted, other times not). My former professor from the Uni days used to use all sorts of Finnish idioms translated to English with no questions on whether the audience understood them.
What’s the situation with Kindle and other e-book readers in Finland? Is the situation better now than before? Maybe Finland is in that list, because we’d rather get the physical book instead of the PDF because e-book readers aren’t very popular here (due mostly to restrictions from several parties, as I understand it).
Appreciation for Books
Maybe the Finnish culture is just more about books than most. We have a pretty old system of public libraries, which are in a very active use, so perhaps a certain appreciation for the things has been instilled in us.
Finnish population is not only small, but its spread out in quite a large area. So, many people live a long way away from specialized businesses, such as game stores. Therefore buying off the Internet is popular… and if you’re already doing it, its not a big step to order from abroad and places such as DriveThru.
Interest in All Things Indie
Maybe Finns are just more interested in all the more esoteric things available from DriveThru. After all, there’s pretty much anything you can imagine available. Well, actually not, because the average role-player has a pretty wild imagination, but figuratively, anyhow. These games don’t have the popularity (or the backing) to bring them to your LGS, so they are only available from the Internet.
Probably the Real Reason
Maybe our community is just so big, varied and active that we need something like DriveThru to accommodate our needs. Okay, so this is a bit overly sugary ending to this article, but anyhow… Also, the real reason is probably a combination of the above. There probably needs to be multiple reasons for this kind of disparity to happen.
Ooh, wild speculation about Finnish RPG culture, count me in!
Another two reasons come to my mind. First, Arkkikivi was found in 2004 but quieted out around 2010. There’s no knowing about how much RPG sales Arkkikivi made compared to Fantasiapelit and Fantsu has taken up many indie games into their catalogue since. Still, it’s possible that Arkkikivi’s indie game audience turned to the web and found their way to DriveThruRPG.
Second, DriveThruRPG might be a major business. There are other big RPG web stores like Indie Press Revolution but as far as I know, DTRPG has a wider selection. It’s easier to find all your games from one location than searching them up from the web individually. Also, it’s possible to order some of your products as physical books and others as PDFs from DTRPG but not from Fantasiapelit.
The interesting thing is why aren’t there any more Nordic countries on that shipping cost list. There are big RPG scenes in Sweden and Denmark, but neither is mentioned here.