40 Million People Play D&D
  • 40 Million People Have Played D&D [UPDATED!]


    According to WotC, talking to Bloomberg, 40 million people play D&D annually; 9 million watched D&D on Twitch in 2017; and sales increased by 41% in 2017 and 53% in 2018. UPDATE! WotC's PR agency has reached to note that Bloomberg's figure refers to the number of people who have played the game since 1974, not annually!




    You can find this information and more in this article over on bloomberg.com, which is mainly about professional DMs.
    Comments 117 Comments
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by BookBarbarian View Post
      Absolutely great news for the hobby!



      I don't have anything against it in principle.

      But every read up I see of these professional DMs seems like they target people who have never played before. They work on voices, music, ambient sounds, and props, but that doesn't tell me at all about how they run the game. It's hard for me not to see it mostly as hoodwinking.

      I should also note I am inherently distrustful of anything I perceive as "gimmicky" so they may also be great DMs I just can't tell from what the articles and write-ups say.
      It feels somewhat like paying somebody to be your friend.
    1. BookBarbarian's Avatar
      BookBarbarian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parmandur View Post
      It feels somewhat like paying somebody to be your friend.
      While that seems weird to me, I don't fundamentally see anything bad about it. Though if I did pay for a friend I would have much higher expectations of them then my regular friends.
    1. 77IM's Avatar
      77IM -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parmandur View Post
      It feels somewhat like paying somebody to be your friend.
      Your friends are supposed to help you move*, but the last time I moved, I hired movers.



      * True friends help you move bodies. BEST friends help you move up to 30 feet on your turn, interact with an object, say a few words, and take an action.
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by BookBarbarian View Post
      While that seems weird to me, I don't fundamentally see anything bad about it. Though if I did pay for a friend I would have much higher expectations of them then my regular friends.
      Really, it's similar to cooking a meal for a bunch of friends versus going out to a restaurant together: but this feels weird, like witnessing the first restaurants come into being. Absolutely nothing wrong with it, just alien to the down-home DMing I'm used to.
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by 77IM View Post
      Your friends are supposed to help you move*, but the last time I moved, I hired movers.



      * True friends help you move bodies. BEST friends help you move up to 30 feet on your turn, interact with an object, say a few words, and take an action.
      That's a decent analogy, but I think the cooking metaphor might be closer to pro DMing.
    1. BookBarbarian's Avatar
      BookBarbarian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parmandur View Post
      Really, it's similar to cooking a meal for a bunch of friends versus going out to a restaurant together: but this feels weird, like witnessing the first restaurants come into being. Absolutely nothing wrong with it, just alien to the down-home DMing I'm used to.
      That's a good way to put it.

      To further the analogy: the articles I've read seem to focus on the ambiance of the restaurant, the music that's played, the parking, the aesthetics. But I can't help but wonder is all that to make up for bad food?
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by BookBarbarian View Post
      That's a good way to put it.

      To further the analogy: the articles I've read seem to focus on the ambiance of the restaurant, the music that's played, the parking, the aesthetics. But I can't help but wonder is all that to make up for bad food?
      Well, the guy they focus on for this article does stream online, so the food is available for taste testing.
    1. pogre's Avatar
      pogre -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
      Are you old enough that you maybe remember the world before The Service Economy took over?
      Not quite. I am a child of the 70s - born in the mid 60s. I was right in the middle of the transition.
    1. BookBarbarian's Avatar
      BookBarbarian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parmandur View Post
      Well, the guy they focus on for this article does stream online, so the food is available for taste testing.
      Except there is a fundamental difference between a cooking show and serving a meal.

      In a home game my primary audience is the players. If I was streaming a game my primary target is the audience, since the more of them I get the more money I make.

      It may be possible to serve both groups at one time, but I do think focusing on one comes at the expense of the other.

      For example, I think Critical Role is a pretty decent show, though I prefer HarmonTown because t's funnier, and shorter. But out of the two I'd rather play in the Critical Role campaign. But compared to a homegame, I don't think critical role is that good because the DM and Players are fundamentally performers performing for an outside audience rather than making the choices that are most fun for the people at the table.

      Still I suppose it's possible that this DM's stream is exactly like what I would experience if I paid for a session with them.
    1. doctorbadwolf's Avatar
      doctorbadwolf -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parmandur View Post
      Really, it's similar to cooking a meal for a bunch of friends versus going out to a restaurant together: but this feels weird, like witnessing the first restaurants come into being. Absolutely nothing wrong with it, just alien to the down-home DMing I'm used to.
      Good point! I still think it's most like professional event planning, though. I'd absolutely hire someone to throw a really good party.

      Quote Originally Posted by BookBarbarian View Post
      That's a good way to put it.

      To further the analogy: the articles I've read seem to focus on the ambiance of the restaurant, the music that's played, the parking, the aesthetics. But I can't help but wonder is all that to make up for bad food?
      This is where the analogy breaks down, IMO. It's easy to write about how food tastes in a fairly brief article, and people pay for mediocre food all the time.

      People aren't going to go back to that DM is the experience isn't good, and it isn't that easy to explain to people who don't play dnd what even makes a good game. Everyone eats. We all know roughly what "too salty" means, even if we don't share the same threshold for defining the phrase exactly.
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by BookBarbarian View Post
      Except there is a fundamental difference between a cooking show and serving a meal.

      In a home game my primary audience is the players. If I was streaming a game my primary target is the audience, since the more of them I get the more money I make.

      It may be possible to serve both groups at one time, but I do think focusing on one comes at the expense of the other.

      For example, I think Critical Role is a pretty decent show, though I prefer HarmonTown because t's funnier, and shorter. But out of the two I'd rather play in the Critical Role campaign. But compared to a homegame, I don't think critical role is that good because the DM and Players are fundamentally performers performing for an outside audience rather than making the choices that are most fun for the people at the table.

      Still I suppose it's possible that this DM's stream is exactly like what I would experience if I paid for a session with them.
      Actually, on the contrary, I'd say that Critical Role's success is largely in that they are playing for each other and ignoring the audience while in game.
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by doctorbadwolf View Post
      Good point! I still think it's most like professional event planning, though. I'd absolutely hire someone to throw a really good party.



      This is where the analogy breaks down, IMO. It's easy to write about how food tastes in a fairly brief article, and people pay for mediocre food all the time.

      People aren't going to go back to that DM is the experience isn't good, and it isn't that easy to explain to people who don't play dnd what even makes a good game. Everyone eats. We all know roughly what "too salty" means, even if we don't share the same threshold for defining the phrase exactly.
      Event planning also works there, since half of doing a D&D session is straight up planning a party: I think it's just that the game has been so DIY until the past few years, this phenomenon is just so new it seems odd.
    1. BookBarbarian's Avatar
      BookBarbarian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parmandur View Post
      Actually, on the contrary, I'd say that Critical Role's success is largely in that they are playing for each other and ignoring the audience while in game.
      I think they do more if that than other streams yes, but I still think there are things they do in that game that I wouldn't recommend for a home game. For example often see Mercer let players fight for spotlight. By that I mean outside of specific plot points the louder the player the more they get the get to interact with the scenario. Now since they are all professional actors it turns out the one speaking up the most in the moment happens to have the funniest thing to say. It's very entertaining!

      Which is great for a stream, but at my table I have big personalities and small. And such an approach would favor the former more than the latter. So I make sure each player has spotlight by asking each player "What do you do?" rather than the group as a whole. It's an approach I have never seen in a stream (but if you anyone can find one I'd love to see it), and I'm not sure it would make for the best viewing, but it's done wonders for my home game.

      Now like I said I do enjoy Critical Role and I do think there are lots and lots of things Mercer does that are great DMing. But I also the "The Critical Role problem" is a real thing these days that is frustrating DMs at their tables. And I think part of it is viewers not being able to separate show from game.

      Perhaps we've strayed to far from the topic at hand? I certainly feel like I'm rambling.

      Edit: I'm going to ramble some more:

      I thought of another example. Mercer will have all but one of the players leave the room so secret backstory stuff can happen. This can last up to a half hour. If I did that it would kill my home game.

      I do in fact see it happen with a table I'm a player at. You can see everyone but the player involve lose interest and get on their phones for up to 10 minutes while the DM elaborates on the intricate part of the characters story arc and it's always an effort to get everyone pack into the game. I know it's a habit this DM picked up from watching streaming games.
    1. Enevhar Aldarion's Avatar
      Enevhar Aldarion -
      Eh, in a way we already have semi-pro DMs, especially in Organized Play environments. Any gaming store that charges players for the table space to game and then turns around and gives some of that money to the DM, whether as store credit or actual cash or whatever, is making those DMs more than just a home game DM. The better DMs will get to run more games and have more maxed out tables and get back more from the store owner. The same is true with conventions. A DM runs enough games and they may qualify for a free weekend pass for the convention or even qualify for free use of a hotel room. That can be good "pay" for a weekend of running games.
    1. Tony Vargas -
      Quote Originally Posted by pogre View Post
      Not quite. I am a child of the 70s - born in the mid 60s. I was right in the middle of the transition.
      That's old enough: the service economy wasn't the dominant paradigm yet.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      The pro DM discussion has arisen twice a year for the last 20 years at least.
    1. doctorbadwolf's Avatar
      doctorbadwolf -
      Quote Originally Posted by BookBarbarian View Post

      I thought of another example. Mercer will have all but one of the players leave the room so secret backstory stuff can happen. This can last up to a half hour. If I did that it would kill my home game.

      I do in fact see it happen with a table I'm a player at. You can see everyone but the player involve lose interest and get on their phones for up to 10 minutes while the DM elaborates on the intricate part of the characters story arc and it's always an effort to get everyone pack into the game. I know it's a habit this DM picked up from watching streaming games.
      That is actually an example of something taken from their home game that Matt was worried wouldn’t work in a stream, and thus didn’t use it in the first stream campaign. He used to go into another room with that player, but same thing.

      In my home game, this has been a thing for at least a decade. Generally we work it into a snack and pee break. (Smoke break back in the day, but none of us smoke these days)
    1. BookBarbarian's Avatar
      BookBarbarian -
      Quote Originally Posted by doctorbadwolf View Post
      That is actually an example of something taken from their home game that Matt was worried wouldn’t work in a stream, and thus didn’t use it in the first stream campaign. He used to go into another room with that player, but same thing.

      In my home game, this has been a thing for at least a decade. Generally we work it into a snack and pee break. (Smoke break back in the day, but none of us smoke these days)
      Interesting. I think it's works super well for a stream as it makes the audience feel like they are getting secret info the other players aren't getting (despite the fact that the other players will see it later anyway). It's a huge hook for the audience.

      I could see the pee break working, as long as I'm not the one talking to the DM while I have to pee.
    1. pogre's Avatar
      pogre -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
      That's old enough: the service economy wasn't the dominant paradigm yet.
      I value service time for money. I'm an attorney (although I teach these days) - I better. I think it's more along the lines of what was said by others - it seems to rob a little of the "feel good" hobby aspect of it. Totally admit it is not logical, just my personal feeling.

      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      The pro DM discussion has arisen twice a year for the last 20 years at least.
      Quite right. Sorry about that.

      The discussion has evolved in that time though. Initially, I think most gamers were upset or at least fascinated by the idea. These days it is more of a given.

      If it gives a few people a job or side hustle they look forward to - more power to them. I certainly am a lot more accepting of the idea than I was 20 years ago - even if my old gamer gut still winces a tiny bit.
    1. Zardnaar's Avatar
      Zardnaar -
      Maybe I should start charging lol. Locally DM shortage but there's also a gap age wide. A few oldies like me in late 30s early 40s and a heap college age ( who are mostly broke). Shortage of reliable DMs might be more accurate. Most can't afford a phb.

      The DM charging is in Seattle or somewhere like that? His clients were Google staff iirc.
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