That said, can a business survive in this Long Game? New versions is a way to consolidate all the new rules and learnings into one reorganized package?
I'm so glad I'm not in the RPG business, because those are hard questions. There is so much theory and marketing that goes into the business, that sadly, a great product is not enough. I've come to appreciate support and community, and that also is not enough. There is also that Perception and Reputation that gets annoying, that really is the most exploited in business as it does not need to be grounded in reality (it just needs to be a little grounded) and the emotional temperment and fickle nature of consumers.
Can you believe economics and trade is build over such fragile and illusionary concepts of value?
Everyone has their preferred system, but not all systems are equal. In all the preferences and perception, there is some reality to be found despite our childhood nostalgia and fanboy enthusiasm. Some systems can be said to be "mathematically" simple and elegant, to others "WTF is MATH doing in a story telling exercise?!". In gaming the RPG market one can approach the lowest common denominator OR creative and thrive in a niche.
The more I look at what makes a succesful product, the more it is the marketing and not the product. Because the "market" is that one advantage that once you have it, for what ever reason you gained it, you pretty much just have to figure out how it would happily part with its money. Again i'm so glad I'm not in this business.
All skills are not equal, and marketing (propaganda and merchant in GURPS) does not need to have a great product, you just need to gain peoples trust (OR just make everyone else appear as a worse option) and you can build that great product while people wait for it, even if a better one is out there which no one trusts. (this is basic customer support and public relations).
Its not even about credibility, one can be in the market for the longest time and has one of the best track record in a business analysis metric, but its worth squat if the market is not the kind to shell out cash.
So how do you win the RPG business game? You grow out of it, you adapt your IP to be more than just RPG material. You create worlds, build stories, and use that internally consistent expertise into a new experience.
I was talking to a friend about trying to supplemental our income, and puzzling all this it seemed pointless. Of course, the only thing going is all that imagination we got from playing. I realized might as well use that and pursue Blender, programming, art and story telling. Build those up and have fun with it, make in a way you can share it. Or make a way for others can build up their worlds easier.
The way we game is changing, with this technology that can "bring a lot to the table" literally. I'm thinking, hopefully we can be part of it.