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. TheSword's Avatar
      TheSword -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post

      Part of the D&D mystique /is/ that gulf between player and DM. Narrow it too much and you get a backlash.
      I couldn’t disagree more. Spending time as a player makes you a better DM. You understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end. It also makes us question all sorts of assumptions we make as DMs about what is fun, what is obvious, and why we play.

      Secondly players that have DM’d seem to appreciate playing a lot more once they realize how much goes into a campaign. DMing is definitely something every player should try at least once even if it’s just for a single fun session.
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by jasper View Post
      Hey it was 78. No one was as old as 45 and some were younger than 33.
      Not casting shade on anyone: it's really a remarkable story of perseverance thatTSR did what they did.
    1. JustinCase's Avatar
      JustinCase -
      Quote Originally Posted by GreyLord View Post
      If it is still primarily ENGLISH copies that have sold... (snip)

      (1.5 Billion English speakers...but only 360 million are actually NATIVE English speakers as per google look ups, and over a billion are in other areas where D&D isn't sold much such as India...leaving us with 500 million in which the D&D market penetrates.
      I question the assumption about native English speakers being the sole audience. English is not my first language, and it isn't for any of the people I play with IRL, but we still use the English copies of the PHB etc. Firstly because there are no Dutch translations, and secondly because even if there were, hardly anyone would buy them because we're all familiar *enough* with English.

      I also question the figure of 40 million people that the original post says. Without knowing how they came up with this number, one cannot say if it is accurate, guesswork, or hyperbole.
    1. Monayuris's Avatar
      Monayuris -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jer View Post
      Wait - it doesn't?

      Are you saying that the DM doesn't have to run more characters than the players do? The DM has to run all of the NPCs the players encounter including all of the monsters - the players only need to worry about one character. If you get your fun out of immersing yourself in a single character - either because you like to immerse yourself in a role and play it to the hilt, or tactically because you like to figure out how all of your different abilities can be used on a battlefield, or for any other reason players have for enjoying playing a single character, then you aren't going to get that fun out of being a DM.

      Are you saying that the DM doesn't have to lose more battles than the players do? If you're DMing right you will lose and lose and lose again because if you don't your players aren't going to come back. If you get your fun out of the thrill of winning a battle, you aren't going to get that fun from being a DM.

      Are you saying that the DM doesn't have to get out of the players way and let them be the stars of the show? I guess that's true that you don't have to be, but in generally they don't make for great DMs - DMs whose NPC characters have to be the best at everything or who won't shut up and let the players play are the worst. When I end up at games run by guys like that at cons it's always a disappointment because I don't get to actually play.
      Basically, yes.


      The assumption is that only a select few can handle being a DM and it is not fun unless you are one of the special people who can enjoy it. It just seems very elitist to me.

      The game doesn't need to be as complicated and onerous as you detail. You are defining an set of expectations for what is required for someone to have fun as a DM that is excessive and then claiming that players don't find being a DM fun.

      So - characters and plots. A dungeon to explore is the plot. The monsters are the characters. Sure it's not a mystery to navigate, but the exploration of the dungeon is the story and you have to be the person keeping track of it.
      A dungeon is an environment to explore. It is up to the DM to put as much or as little plot into it as they desire. It can be simple... one just needs a couple rooms, some monsters, some tricks and some treasures. Look at the Matt Colville series.

      This is all that is needed to start running your own games. The barrier to entry for a DM is a lot lower than people make it out to be.


      Sure, anyone can DM, but can everyone HAVE FUN WHILE DOING IT? That's the actual question that matters - if you don't have fun as a DM you're not going to keep wanting to do it.
      Why wouldn't they have fun while doing it? Wouldn't it be better to make it easier for people to try, so they can find out?
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by JustinCase View Post
      I question the assumption about native English speakers being the sole audience. English is not my first language, and it isn't for any of the people I play with IRL, but we still use the English copies of the PHB etc. Firstly because there are no Dutch translations, and secondly because even if there were, hardly anyone would buy them because we're all familiar *enough* with English.

      I also question the figure of 40 million people that the original post says. Without knowing how they came up with this number, one cannot say if it is accurate, guesswork, or hyperbole.
      Stewart says that is their estimate: they have accurate sales data, and likely have a statistical model based on observation as to how many people are playing per unit sold, on average. At the number of sales they appear to be dealing with, this is probably quite accurate within an unknown to us margin of error: there may be less than 40 million, there be more, but either way it is probably not far off. Hasbro has a lot of big data resources at their disposal, and WotC has been working closely with demographic statistics throughout the design and release of 5E.
    1. Jer's Avatar
      Jer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Monayuris View Post


      Why wouldn't they have fun while doing it? Wouldn't it be better to make it easier for people to try, so they can find out?
      Because many people do try it and they don't have fun doing it? I have an entire table of players who don't like to DM - it isn't because they've never tried, it's because they've tried it and they have more fun not DMing. And there's nothing wrong with that! Everyone has fun in their own ways!

      I don't have a problem trying to find ways to make entering the DM fold easier, but the idea that everyone is going to be able to put on a DM hat and have fun doing it is just not true. Many people don't like DMing and that's fine - not everyone has to like doing it! It seems like I'm getting a lot of pushback on the idea that there's nothing wrong with someone who doesn't want to be a DM and that's just really weird to me.
    1. Tony Vargas -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheSword View Post
      I couldn’t disagree more. Spending time as a player makes you a better DM. You understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end. It also makes us question all sorts of assumptions we make as DMs about what is fun, what is obvious, and why we play.

      Secondly players that have DM’d seem to appreciate playing a lot more once they realize how much goes into a campaign. DMing is definitely something every player should try at least once even if it’s just for a single fun session.
      Doesn't actually sound like disagreement. The expectation has always been that DMs would play a great deal before getting behind the screen.
    1. kenmarable's Avatar
      kenmarable -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
      Doesn't actually sound like disagreement. The expectation has always been that DMs would play a great deal before getting behind the screen.
      Not in my experience. Vast majority of the gamers I know started with zero experience as players or DM. Certain people were interested in DMing, others weren’t. So the DMs just learned as they went. Whether they started D&D with BECMI, 2e, 3e, or 5e, every DM I know started as a DM, not as a player first. Whether someone is regularly a DM or a player, seems to have more to do with personality types than level of experience.

      (Although, I agree that trying to DM at least once is a good idea for everyone!)
    1. Hussar's Avatar
      Hussar -
      Which is different from my experience. We rotated DMing duties right from the get go. The notion of a single DM group never actually occurred to us until I got into 2e era. I wish more players would actually step up into the DMing role. Makes for MUCH better players.
    1. Tony Vargas -
      Quote Originally Posted by kenmarable View Post
      Not in my experience. Vast majority of the gamers I know started with zero experience as players or DM.
      When was this, and how many of the 40 million in question did they constitute?

      Certain people were interested in DMing, others weren’t. So the DMs just learned as they went. Whether they started D&D with BECMI, 2e, 3e, or 5e, every DM I know started as a DM, not as a player first. Whether someone is regularly a DM or a player, seems to have more to do with personality types than level of experience.
      As is typical on the boards, one person's experience is completely at odds with another's. ::shrug::

      Whether you struggle to teach yourself DMing, take to it like a duck to water through sheer talent, or - as EGG layed out in the 1e DMG, come to DMing after much experience as a player - DMing is the more challenging role to assume in the game.

      That goes for any edition of the game, and, really, almost any RPG. But in games that put a lot of responsibility on the DM, like 5e & the classic TSR eds, or that overload DMing tasks with mechanical complexity, like 3.x/PF, the challenge of DMing is that much greater, the learning curve to acquire the skills is longer, or the level of innate talent greater, to meet that challenge well.

      Either way, the result is a relative lack of DMs, especially when the player base is growing rapidly - even to the point of DM's starting to charge for their services.
      Which is exactly what we're seeing.
    1. Mistwell's Avatar
      Mistwell -
      Quote Originally Posted by Scrivener of Doom View Post
      Pernicious, eh?

      Players are fundamentally lazier than DMs. There is far less work to do as a player. There are fewer responsibilities, especially between sessions.
      This is not good logic. How lazy you are as a person cannot be measured by whether you choose to play or DM for a game.
    1. kenmarable's Avatar
      kenmarable -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
      When was this, and how many of the 40 million in question did they constitute?

      As is typical on the boards, one person's experience is completely at odds with another's. ::shrug::
      Exactly my point. Just when there’s a universal claim made like what “has always been,” there’s often plenty of experience to the contrary.
    1. Tony Vargas -
      Quote Originally Posted by kenmarable View Post
      Exactly my point. Just when there’s a universal claim made like what “has always been,” there’s often plenty of experience to the contrary.
      The expectation that DMs acquire long experience through play I first first saw articulated by Gygax in the 1e DMG (it might've been in 0e somewhere, or in a Dragon or Strategic Review article, first - heck, I might be confusing Sorcerer's Scroll with the DMG, he wrote both with much the same tone & authority).
      Along with a lot of other 'always been' assumptions and explanations about the game, like the role of magic items in balancing classes, the rationales for hps & saving throws, the handling of exp & leveling, the inclusion of NPCs in the party, and, among others, the obscure player role of Caller...

      Not that the game wasn't played differently by everyone - another expectation Gygax openly shared - just that there actually was a game, with stuff in print between it's covers.
      ::shrug::
    1. JustinCase's Avatar
      JustinCase -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parmandur View Post
      Stewart says that is their estimate: they have accurate sales data, and likely have a statistical model based on observation as to how many people are playing per unit sold, on average.
      That’s a fair assumption, I think. I’m just curious about their model.

      At the number of sales they appear to be dealing with, this is probably quite accurate within an unknown Tonya margin of error: there may be less than 40 million, there be more, but either way it is probably not far off.
      I can get behind that logic. It just feels like such a huge number, even with the current popularity of D&D, that I am immediately sceptical.

      Regardless, I’m very pleased that so many people are playing!
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by JustinCase View Post
      That’s a fair assumption, I think. I’m just curious about their model.



      I can get behind that logic. It just feels like such a huge number, even with the current popularity of D&D, that I am immediately sceptical.

      Regardless, I’m very pleased that so many people are playing!
      Oh, for sure, knowing what they are working with would be fun: doubt they will open that up for the public in detail, though.

      Remember, those numbers are for worldwide: ~40 million out of 7-8 billion is fairly niche. The books are available in several major languages now, with more on the way, outside of the Anglosphere.
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Other than English, D&D is currently in print in four other languages, with four more rolling out about now:

      "GF9 partnered with Wizards of the Coast in 2017 to translate Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition into multiple languages and oversee local market partnerships (see “Parlez-Vous 'D&D'?”). The first editions were for French, German, Italian, and Spanish. A Portuguese edition for Brazil was also in the works, but was delayed due to a licensing dispute (see “GF9 Delays Brazilian Language Release of 'D&D'”).


      Russian
      Now GF9 has partnered with local companies in Poland (Rebel), Brazil (Galapagos Jogos), Russia (Hobby World), and Korea (TRPG Club) to bring the D&D Starter Set, Players Handbook, Monster Manual and Dungeon Masters Guide to players in their native languages. The companies will also oversee translation of GF9’s licensed D&D products including Spell Cards and the Dungeon Master Screen."

      https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/...more-languages
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      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!
    1. Zardnaar's Avatar
      Zardnaar -
      Makes sense I figured they counted online games or something or attach rates to phb.
    1. Hussar's Avatar
      Hussar -
      Oh. That's rather sad then actually.
    1. Mistwell's Avatar
      Mistwell -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      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!
      Woah. Now that number looks super weird.
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