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. Mercurius's Avatar
      Mercurius -
      40 million ever makes much more sense and is still quote positive considering that according to the BBC in 2004, 20 million had played the game since 1974. That means in 15 years, the number of players (who have ever played) has doubled.

      1974-04 (30 years): 20 million
      2005-19 (15 years): 20 million more
    1. GreyLord's Avatar
      GreyLord -
      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.
      Well, it seems they clarified it (responding without having read the rest of the thread yet).

      The number is a hype number (no other hard numbers to back it up, such as PHB's sold total...etc.). If I said that 1 Billion people play Monopoly...that seems really impressive? Right.

      Of course, I could have gotten that number from anywhere, or extrapolated it from anywhere.

      NOW...if I had sold 300K copies of Monopoly in the last year...you might start wondering how I got 1 billion off of the 300K sold? If you take my extrapolation numbers, which averages the number of players as people per household that play (2-3 members per household, we go high to 3) which means we multiply the numbers sold by the number of people per household that probably play the family game, that still leaves us 999 million short.

      Then you learn that this is pertaining to the numbers TOTAL for the entire lifetime that Monopoly has been around...it makes more sense.

      In a likewise manner, this is a lifetime number. 40 million is the total that ever played the game...which makes the numbers of an impressive BG release lower most likely.

      If we use standard measures, and say the 5e PHB has sold 2 million copies...and then say a minimum group needs 5 players (planned 4 players and DM) we could get a 10 million players or some such thing. That would be using traceable hard numbers (numbers of PHBs sold) and other factors to come to a reasonable number. We could say 3 was the estimated group playing, or even 10...but at least it's a traceable number.

      Saying something like 40 million without other numbers to back it up can scare investors and others when it's just said out of the blue.

      So...why say it?

      The same reason that Nintendo constantly pushes how many consoles it's sold (normally, with some of the numbers they push when a console has been first released, I HIGHLY doubt it's the numbers sold through, which is different than sold). They want the impression that it is selling well and everyone is buying into it. This is good for marketing in some instances.

      Microsoft and Xbox One tried to do a similar thing (saying Xbox ones sold...last figure I had is old where it was between 40-45 Million Xboxes) but Sony (which was typically reporting those sold through) was not helping things in some ways for those comparing sales. Xbox one is HIGHLY successful...but Sony PR is pretty darn good.

      People want to be part of a successful thing (as this thread shows) and that includes D&D. Many times people don't look for hard numbers or even question the number (as you just did), or even look for something that could back a thing like that up (For example, when CoD says they have so many players online, they have a number to fall back on via their servers and how many were actually logged on and playing in a certain time period...but you cannot do that for TableTop games....so other things are needed to extrapolate those numbers).

      The main reason to state reasons (such as 40 million D&D players, OR, 10-15 million active D&D players or those that have tried 5e, or other numbers) is to build hype and marketing. It is to make people feel that they are part of something...sometimes something BIG...and to encourage others who want to be part of the crowd to also jump in.

      This thread is FULL of people that feel this way. They think it is absolutely awesome that it was reported that many people have played D&D. It makes them feel that their hobby is successful and they are part of something big. They don't want to question the hard numbers that it is derived from, but instead take the number to build further hype.

      The problem, as I would point out, is that it can get out of hand to make certain expectations from those you want to sell related products, others involved with the company (stockholders if they aren't seeing the supposed money such should be bringing in with their calculations and such), investors and other things.

      However, from a hype and brand viewpoint...just as this thread demonstrates...it can work wonderfully or great. The next step is that people then tell their friends...showing how successful this is and how many others are doing it and others ALSO want to try it out. Afterall...how can 40 million people be wrong?

      If 40 million have done it or tried it...obviously there must be something to it...

      And that is how it can help build momentum, even while momentum is already going...it can build it up even more.
    1. Henry's Avatar
      Henry -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
      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.
      I agree - I’m also of the opinion that, just as every DM owes it to themselves to be a player at some point, each player should try DMing at least once or twice, because it does give greater appreciation for both sides of the table in my experience.
    1. Mercurius's Avatar
      Mercurius -
      Quote Originally Posted by Henry View Post
      I agree - I’m also of the opinion that, just as every DM owes it to themselves to be a player at some point, each player should try DMing at least once or twice, because it does give greater appreciation for both sides of the table in my experience.
      Hmm. I understand your underlying point and agree with it, but think this statement misses the reality of the fact that a large number of players are very casual D&D fans and don't think about D&D between sessions. They show up to hang out and have fun, then go about their lives. They probably don't own any materials beyond a set of dice and maybe a Player's Handbook, and many not even that. It is hard for me to justify a "should" statement about these folks DMing.

      For those that are more serious, I think your point applies - but that it is largely a moot point, because I would guess that the majority of serious fans are also DMs, or have DMed.
    1. Henry's Avatar
      Henry -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
      Hmm. I understand your underlying point and agree with it, but think this statement misses the reality of the fact that a large number of players are very casual D&D fans and don't think about D&D between sessions. They show up to hang out and have fun, then go about their lives. They probably don't own any materials beyond a set of dice and maybe a Player's Handbook, and many not even that. It is hard for me to justify a "should" statement about these folks DMing.

      For those that are more serious, I think your point applies - but that it is largely a moot point, because I would guess that the majority of serious fans are also DMs, or have DMed.
      Same applies for any hobby. Should someone study Kasparov and Fischer and read about strategy if they want to be better Chess players? Sure - but they can play Chess just fine for their entire lives and enjoy it without doing so.

      As far as serious fans of D&D already being DMs, we have around 8 players in one of my groups who own rather large collections of dice and books, and about half have played for years and never DMed. In another group I play in, about the same thing - 6 players, and half are diehards who are still too afraid or try, or have just said “it’s not for them.” Anecdotal, but it leads me to suspect there’s a LOT of regular players out there who are pretty invested but still haven’t tried both sides of the table, I suspect because there’s always been someone else to step in and DM and save them from the intimidating proposition of running a game.

      My personal belief is still the same that, regardless of whether they do or don’t, it’s still something that can contribute to being a more well-rounded player. Me trying skydiving or learning musical notation would likely make me a more well-rounded person - but I ain’t gonna, and i’m fully at peace with that. 😄
    1. Zardnaar's Avatar
      Zardnaar -
      IIRC someone posted a 20-1 ratio of DMs to players.
    1. ad_hoc's Avatar
      ad_hoc -
      I wonder what the actual number is then of currently active players.

      A while ago the number was reported as 12-15 million.

      25+ million sounds about right to me.
    1. jasper's Avatar
      jasper -
      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!
      So 40 million since 1974. So under a million per year. BOY WHAT A NICHE HOBBY.
    1. schneeland's Avatar
      schneeland -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parmandur View Post
      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'”).
      I can't speak for other countries, but from what I hear, D&D5 is selling quite well in Germany, but the numbers are still negligible when compared to the English version (last thing I hear was that sales had crossed 6000 copies). In general, the number of players seems to be growing again (which is great), but the hobby is still an absolute niche.

      Edit:
      My numbers were outdated. Ulisses now reports that they have crossed 10000 copies of the core three books.
    1. doctorbadwolf's Avatar
      doctorbadwolf -
      Quote Originally Posted by jasper View Post
      So 40 million since 1974. So under a million per year. BOY WHAT A NICHE HOBBY.
      Half of that is from the last decade, basically.
    1. KentDT's Avatar
      KentDT -
      Originally Posted by 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'”).


      I can't speak for other countries, but from what I hear, D&D5 is selling quite well in Germany, but the numbers are still negligible when compared to the English version (last thing I hear was that sales had crossed 6000 copies). In general, the number of players seems to be growing again (which is great), but the hobby is still an absolute niche.

      The core books and Starter's Kit were all translated and published in Japanese by the end of 2017 (I brought my Japanese version of the Player's handbook to GaryCon X and got it signed by by Mike Mearls, Tracy Hickman and Joe Manganiello- which was all pretty cool). Since then several of the adventures and other rules books have been translated into Japanese although I haven't kept up on buying them all (I have them in English, after all). So it seems to be doing fine in Japan.
    1. schneeland's Avatar
      schneeland -
      Quote Originally Posted by KentDT View Post
      Originally Posted by Parmandur
      The core books and Starter's Kit were all translated and published in Japanese by the end of 2017 (I brought my Japanese version of the Player's handbook to GaryCon X and got it signed by by Mike Mearls, Tracy Hickman and Joe Manganiello- which was all pretty cool). Since then several of the adventures and other rules books have been translated into Japanese although I haven't kept up on buying them all (I have them in English, after all). So it seems to be doing fine in Japan.
      Just to clarify: with those numbers, D&D5 is still one of the top players in the German market. And similarly to what you describe for Japan, most books from the line have been or will be translated. So yes, D&D seems to be doing quite well. Yet, when we compare it to the 80s and 90s where early editions of The Dark Eye were found in ordinary stores and sold more than 100000 copies/boxes, it feels like the TTRPG resurgence has not quite caught on here.
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Henry View Post
      Anecdotal, but it leads me to suspect there’s a LOT of regular players out there who are pretty invested but still haven’t tried both sides of the table, I suspect because there’s always been someone else to step in and DM and save them from the intimidating proposition of running a game.
      I've met a number of often quite good players who either won't or can't DM. I know I ended up DMing early because I was the "early adopter" among my friends (due to the Erol Otus cover Red Box) back in the day and so I had it pushed onto me, but I suppose if I hadn't had to step up right away I'd not necessarily know what to do. It's not an easy skill to pick up. I've also met some folks who are better at DMing than playing, for instance not being able to turn off their inner DM.
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      Quote Originally Posted by GreyLord View Post
      Well, it seems they clarified it (responding without having read the rest of the thread yet).

      The number is a hype number (no other hard numbers to back it up, such as PHB's sold total...etc.). <...> They want the impression that it is selling well and everyone is buying into it. This is good for marketing in some instances.
      Remember the advice of Sage Carlton Douglas Ridenhour: Don't believe the hype!
    1. Scrivener of Doom's Avatar
      Scrivener of Doom -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mistwell View Post
      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.
      Um, there's the implied context of my statement: In the context of the RPG hobby, players are lazier.

      It's neither a particularly controversial viewpoint nor lacking in logic.
    1. Mistwell's Avatar
      Mistwell -
      Quote Originally Posted by Scrivener of Doom View Post
      Um, there's the implied context of my statement: In the context of the RPG hobby, players are lazier.

      It's neither a particularly controversial viewpoint nor lacking in logic.
      I think within your implied context, my retort stands. It's bad logic. It is controversial, as seen by the fact almost nobody here agreed with your statement and most responses were disagreement. You just assuming it's not controversial because it's what you happen to believe is...well...kinda lazy. Look around - you're not seeing what most people would call an "not controversial" reaction. I don't think laziness can be measured by mere "player vs DM role" choice. I don't think there is a correlation there.

      You have some DMs who just open a published adventure and start DMing right from the book without any prep (what you might call lazy). In contrast, you have some players who spend weeks working out a back story and hours outside the game working up after action game reports and journals for the group, handling treasure divving, mapping, trying to work on adventure clues, planning stategy, etc.. The spectrum of DMs an players is broad and not a good topic for generalizations much less firm statements like "one is lazier than the other".
    1. Tony Vargas -
      Quote Originally Posted by Scrivener of Doom View Post
      Um, there's the implied context of my statement: In the context of the RPG hobby, players are lazier.
      That's an unwarranted generalization.
      Playing is less demanding than running, generally speaking. It varies with the game. Chargen can be incredibly involved in some system, for instance. Other systems take a lot of the load of the GM and share it out to the players.

      True, in the context of D&D, players have less of a burden, though, again, it varies both in degree and nature. For instance, in the current ed, the DM has a very heavy burden relative to the prior ed, and, while it's perhaps comparable in degree to what it was in 3.x, it's not a matter of time/effort in prepping detailed monsters, NPCs, challenges, & magic items, rather, it's mostly a burden of responsibility.

      Finally, a lot of us both play and DM. Our innate laziness or industry does not change when we shift roles.

      It's neither a particularly controversial viewpoint nor lacking in logic.
      Where you went wrong was in drawing conclusions about people's innate qualities (so, yeah, your logic was flawed), rather than making a point about the game: that players generally have less work to do (acquiring knowledge of the system, prep, attention & energy at the table) and shoulder less responsibility for the success of a session & campaign than the DM.
      I suspect /that/ would be a less controversial way of putting it.
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