Roll20 released their industry report for Q1 2020 today. Table Top RPGs have always had an interesting challenge when it comes to reporting data. “What RPG is the best?” is a hotly debated subject, and beyond intangibles like “Fun” and “Cool” the most measurable source to answer that question is “What sells the best”. Answering that question leads to the point of this article today.
RPGs have an interesting challenge answering questions about sales data. If you ask any of them, they generally always say they are selling the best. WoTC has had the best year ever, pretty much every year since the first year of D&D 4e. I think we all know the last few years of 4e weren’t actually selling a ton of books. If you dive into the press releases they are filled with weird qualifiers like excluding anything sold prior to 4e release, or combining branch’s that used to report separately. Ultimately, its all a marketing ploy, and any brand does it, the big guys are just an easy example. What brand announces that they are doing poorly?
Roll20 releases a great report quarterly, highlighting the actively played games. Its a subsection of the industry, but it a big one.
Checking out the data, the obvious take away is that DND 5e is leading the charts. What surprised me though, was how badly PF is doing. for the big 2nd name in the industry right now, combining both editions, you still have less active campaigns than Call of Chulhu. PF combined being just 2.82% of games compared to CoC’s 12.15%.
My big two insights/take aways from these numbers.
- PF 2e killed the Paizo brand. PF used to compete with or even beat 5e on roll20. Now its a rounding error.
- 5e is doing way better than I imagined. It’s over half of the active campaigns on roll20.
Their blog makes a big deal about the OSR growth, but I’m not really seeing it. Sure HeroQuest had a 4066.67% increase. Its still .03% of their active games. Translated to real numbers, that may very well represent a single group getting their campaign started and finally inviting his players accounts to join. Its tied with JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, a homebrew system coming out of 4plebs and managed via twitter (which hasn’t had an update since June of last year).