Google Statistics on the Edition Wars: D&D & Pathfinder [updated]


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  1. #1
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    Google Statistics on the Edition Wars: D&D & Pathfinder [updated]

    Awesome Dice Blog has performed a statistical analysis on the number of web searches for terms related to both D&D and Pathfinder, in an attempt to add some new data to the "edition wars". The analysis tries to take into account the various types of search phrases which people might use, simultaneously attempting to avoid the problem that there's a car with the same name as Paizo's game. It's obviously not conclusive in itself, but it does add to the oft-cited data points (such as Amazon sales rankings, iCV2 retailer reports, a plethora of anecdotes, and more) regarding the popularity of the competing game systems.

    Interestingly, it concludes that D&D 3.5 isby far the most searched for D&D-branded system, that D&D in general gets more searches than Pathfinder, but that Pathfinder seems more popular than any specific D&D iteration (although it only overtook 3.5 recently).

    My suspicion is that many people searching for D&D information don't tend to specifiy an edition - most people just have a few rulebooks and play a game they call "D&D" without thinking too hard about its edition; so a group of teenagers searching for a clarification on, say, a 4E rule, will often tend to just search for something like "Ranger attack powers D&D" or something, rather than specifying "4E". Much of the detail comes into play in online communities like EN World rather than the greater world. But that's just a suspicion.

    You can read the full report and see more graphs here. No edition warring, please. Thanks to David for the scoop.



    Of course, information like this is far from conclusive. @dkyle (further down the thread) showed how the exact opposite conculsion can be reached just by varying the search terms. The below graph shows Google Insights (the numebrs are a 1-100 scale); as you can see, each variation of D&D, Dungeons & Dragons, Dnd, and so on, individually outweighs Pathfinder by a massive amount, and combined by a factor of 147-3. This isn't conclusive either; it just serves to illustrate how the conclusion can vary depending on your search terms.


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    Last edited by Morrus; Wednesday, 4th July, 2012 at 02:04 AM. Reason: Updated

 

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    It's interesting to see 3e showing so strongly in this arena, but not unexpected. The fantastic hypertext SRD means that the game is always supported. Certainly I think that while edition debates are getting to be framed in PF vs 4e terms, really a large group of relatively quiet people never left 3.5, and that those people like using the SRD and buying used books on Amazon, which is what this data supports.

    I also find it odd that 4e spiked strongly but briefly upon its release, and that the decline in 3.5 searches actually reverses around that point. The recent spike in PF searches is interesting; perhaps a result of the 5e announcement?

    But, like the man said, one can't draw many conclusions from this about what people are actually playing, just what they're googling.
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    Additionally, I would posit that, as supported games continue to release published material, 3.5 players and DMs might spend more time looking for new ideas on the Internet. As a 3.5 gamer, I do reference my available texts for rules interpretations and such, but if I want some new inspiration I have to look elsewhere, since nothing new is being released. (Of course, I look at a lot of Pathfinder stuff, too... since it's all pretty backwards-compatible.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    [SIZE=3]It's obviously not conclusive
    Morrus, thank you. I saw the link on Twitter and just assumed this would be a link and no actual analysis. Your analysis was really good and helped to frame the 'study' well.

    Sites like EN World want eyeballs, but in the speed to throw out links and grab attention the sites can sacrifice quality. I was glad to see you gave a link like this one the proper analysis to create good discussion rather than just fan edition war flames. Thanks!

    However, I might use my soapbox to say that (and this may just be me) I far prefer seeing on the left sidebar the "This week in D&D" or "This week in Pathfinder" than to see each article posted by either company. The individual articles end up being spam on my sidebar, reducing its value, or spam on my Twitter, reducing its value. Also, it keeps from drowning out the work by other RPGs (which cannot so easily produce content but still deserve attention).

    On the topic at hand, this study seems to just have a really questionable premise and method. It could be a good first step toward deep analysis, but it needs to be really be followed by behavioral analysis to have any value whatsoever. The only time I specify an edition in a search is when I'm looking for an old edition, and particularly for 3E. That's because the rules in 1E and 2E are already on my shelf and most classic adventure content is well known/found by name. With 3E we start to see robust offerings of many kinds from many sources and it isn't all on my shelf. I'm very sure that 3E would be the edition for which I would generate the most hits (according to the study's criteria), though I have played 3E/Pathfinder all of once in the last 4 years. Ironically, I generate those hits when I pull material to convert to 4E (or even other RPGs, such as 13th Age). As a specific example, I searched for AD&D character sheets recently so I could create a 13th Age and a D&D Next classic-styled character sheet. The survey draws the incorrect conclusion from my searches.

    That doesn't mean everyone is in this boat, but it suggests the study really needs to go deeper to see whether it can provide any real value.

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    Still need to read the full report, but does it include the online tools and etc that wizards offers? My group uses the D&D tools during play and iplay4e more than printed books now. Each person has a subscription (7 players) and etc...

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    Actually, as 4e is very complete in its offerings, and a bit restrictive in what can be offered by 3rd parties... why should I google for 4e?

    Everything I need is on the wizard┤s homepage...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    However, I might use my soapbox to say that (and this may just be me) I far prefer seeing on the left sidebar the "This week in D&D" or "This week in Pathfinder" than to see each article posted by either company. The individual articles end up being spam on my sidebar, reducing its value, or spam on my Twitter, reducing its value. Also, it keeps from drowning out the work by other RPGs (which cannot so easily produce content but still deserve attention).
    That conversation belongs in Meta. I'll happily chat about it there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UngeheuerLich View Post
    Actually, as 4e is very complete in its offerings, and a bit restrictive in what can be offered by 3rd parties... why should I google for 4e?

    Everything I need is on the wizard┤s homepage...
    Yep. Whereas 3E is supported by online documents. As a 4E player and DM, I've done more searches for 3E than for 4E... for the purpose of showing off the differences and flaws of 3E.
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    From what I've seen in my little corner of the meta-verse (me and my gamer friends), that chart fairly well mirrors our gaming activities. Played 3.x; checked out 4E when it came out, and subsequently decided it wasn't for us; then moved on to Pathfinder.

    Of course, that's nothing to say about the Shadowrun and other systems in the mix...

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    I think the search results reflect the lack of electronic documents available for 3.5.

    Most 4e stuff is available through DDI
    Most Pathfinder stuff is available through their online PRD (all core/splat books available)
    Hardly any 3.5 stuff, aside from the SRD is available online (legally speaking), so you have to search hard to find it.

    I don't think it necessarily reflects the popularity of any particular editions or system, simply the online support for those editions. Make all the 3.5 books available via DDI or included in the SRD and you'll see 3.5 searches drop sharply.
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