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!


Screenshot 2019-07-10 at 15.02.09.png


You can find this information and more in this article over on bloomberg.com, which is mainly about professional DMs.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Comments

pedr

Explorer
I like the release of actual sales figures for the Starter Set. 126,000 in North America in 2014 (from the July release); 306,000 in North America in 2018. I wonder what we can extrapolate from that!
 

Myzzrym

Explorer
Some very interesting info in there! Numbers are always great to get since it's often super vague.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
That last figure is the most important one to me because it's a better figure to analyze. Do 40 million individuals play annually, or are they counting people more than once by counting total convention attendees, etc? Did 9 million different people watch twitch, or did it have 9 million views? I.e., I'd really like to see the methodology. But the last figure, the sales %, that's much more clearer. And it's a great sign.

And I've always had people waiting in queue for me to DM games, obviously I should start charging money on it lol. $300 for 4 hours? Forget Lyft or Uber, that's a sweet deal :)
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I like the release of actual sales figures for the Starter Set. 126,000 in North America in 2014 (from the July release); 306,000 in North America in 2018. I wonder what we can extrapolate from that!
It's not red box figures but it's not to far off. Starter set has sold more than every edition except red box and 1E phb. And Keep on the Border Lands.

Depending on how many phb sold it's not quite peak D&D but it's close that depending on what metric they are using they could at least make that argument.

No one knows exact red box figures but if they can keep up sales they will hit lower estimates of the red box this year.

I still don't think they have hit 1983 numbers but technically that was two editions of D&D which is the Golden age so it's plausible 5E has outsold all the other D&D's. We would need phb numbers but they seem fairly close to B/X plus 1E numbers.

They're basically duplicating 81 to 83 or coming very close but without phb numbers can't really say 100%. I did adjust numbers for inflation and D&D in 1983 alone was still bigger than the entire rpg market 2018.

Population is a bit bigger as well so relatively speaking they have less market penetration. In dollar terms unadjusted for inflation they are beating 1983.

As I said depends what metric you use. They're doing very well though in D&D terms. There's only 3 items that gave outsold the starter set and in 2019 they might beat two of them.
 

darjr

I crit!
These numbers are incredible, I wish camel camel camel was reporting sales rank again.
 

Parmandur

Legend
It's not red box figures but it's not to far off. Starter set has sold more than every edition except red box and 1E phb. And Keep on the Border Lands.

Depending on how many phb sold it's not quite peak D&D but it's close that depending on what metric they are using they could at least make that argument.

No one knows exact red box figures but if they can keep up sales they will hit lower estimates of the red box this year.

I still don't think they have hit 1983 numbers but technically that was two editions of D&D which is the Golden age so it's plausible 5E has outsold all the other D&D's. We would need phb numbers but they seem fairly close to B/X plus 1E numbers.

They're basically duplicating 81 to 83 or coming very close but without phb numbers can't really say 100%. I did adjust numbers for inflation and D&D in 1983 alone was still bigger than the entire rpg market 2018.

Population is a bit bigger as well so relatively speaking they have less market penetration. In dollar terms unadjusted for inflation they are beating 1983.

As I said depends what metric you use. They're doing very well though in D&D terms. There's only 3 items that gave outsold the starter set and in 2019 they might beat two of them.
A few somewhat scattered points:

The sales numbers provided are for North America alone: anyone outside of NA that bought the Starter Set is in addition to these numbers.

Currently, the Starter Set is ranked #127 on the bestsellers list for Amazon, which is good: the PHB is currently #52 (these are current sale rates, not historical). So the PHB is selling better, at least on Amazon (the Starter Set will sell better at Target, for instance, which doesn't carry the books).

40 million worldwide playing versus less than a million Starter Sets sold *in North America* suggests somewhat the gap here. More than 40 people per set? Pretty plainly the tip of the iceberg in terms of their total sales.

One difference between 1981-3 and 2014-9: no Internet meant that anybody who wanted to play needed physical copies of the books: now, there are the Basic rules, Fantasy Grounds, Roll20, and D&D Beyond (in addition to unfortunate dishonest routes). The numbers for those other platforms, or Amazon or Target, are not going to be part of the hobby shop reports to which you are referring.

We are in Peak D&D, though the peak is still climbing.
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
This IS fascinating...isn't it.

And we have to wonder how big it might get.

Right now the claim is that 10% of ALL families in the populations that D&D is within (market penetration, actually selling) has at least someone playing D&D.

10%

That is...of course, saying that Gale Force 9 has MAJOR sales on this!!!!

If it is still primarily ENGLISH copies that have sold...

That means 60% of households on average in English Speaking homes have a D&D player.

That's spectacular...that's above any fad even....

(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. We are doing low ball numbers of family numbers at 3 per family...world wide parents have 2.4 children on average, but it is lower in Europe/US/Australia where the primary D&D market currently resides with 1.7 - 1.8 children and a 2.53 household size).

Interesting stuff.

Wonder how big the marketing numbers will claim???

Right now, as per their statements, as many are playing D&D as have an Xbox One...or close to it.

With that many playing...it must be talked about constantly in schools all over the place by a majority of the students, it's hit penetration levels higher than many major blockbuster movies and other things!!!

Exciting times and exciting claims.
 
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pogre

Adventurer
I really, really don't know why I should care, but the professional Dungeon Master gig bothers me a little bit.

My logical brain say 'good for them.' My gut says 'there's something sad about this new trend.' Just getting old and behind the times probably.

Glad to see so many people enjoying the game!
 

Parmandur

Legend
This IS fascinating...isn't it.

And we have to wonder how big it might get.

Right now the claim is that 10% of ALL families in the populations that D&D is within (market penetration, actually selling) has at least someone playing D&D.

10%

That is...of course, saying that Gale Force 9 has MAJOR sales on this!!!!

If it is still primarily ENGLISH copies that have sold...

That means 60% of households on average in English Speaking homes have a D&D player.

That's spectacular...that's above any fad even....

(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. We are doing low ball numbers of family numbers at 3 per family...world wide parents have 2.4 children on average, but it is lower in Europe/US/Australia where the primary D&D market currently resides with 1.7 - 1.8 children and a 2.53 household size).

Interesting stuff.

Wonder how big the marketing numbers will claim???

Right now, as per their statements, as many are playing D&D as have an Xbox One...or close to it.

With that many playing...it must be talked about constantly in schools all over the place by a majority of the students, it's hit penetration levels higher than many major blockbuster movies and other things!!!

Exciting times and exciting claims.
I believe they have the game available in other languages at this point, so that 40 million probably extends beyond the Anglosphere a fair degree. But, yeah, D&D is doing very well right now.
 

Parmandur

Legend
I really, really don't know why I should care, but the professional Dungeon Master gig bothers me a little bit.

My logical brain say 'good for them.' My gut says 'there's something sad about this new trend.' Just getting old and behind the times probably.

Glad to see so many people enjoying the game!
I agree, really: it seems un-hobby-ish, against the historical "playing with friends" scene. But, if the market supports a skill being paid for, it will happen...
 
My gut says 'there's something sad about this new trend.' Just getting old and behind the times probably.
There's more people wanting to play than there has been in a very long time, and DMing is not exactly easy nor quick to pick up - especially to a level that you might expect from viewing streaming examples of play.

Rising demand, inelastic supply: market clears at a higher price. It's just, before, it was clearing at 'free.' ;)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I really, really don't know why I should care, but the professional Dungeon Master gig bothers me a little bit.

My logical brain say 'good for them.' My gut says 'there's something sad about this new trend.' Just getting old and behind the times probably.

Glad to see so many people enjoying the game!
Its no different than charging for custom dnd character portraits, or for throwing/planning/hosting a party.
 

gyor

Hero
A few somewhat scattered points:

The sales numbers provided are for North America alone: anyone outside of NA that bought the Starter Set is in addition to these numbers.

Currently, the Starter Set is ranked #127 on the bestsellers list for Amazon, which is good: the PHB is currently #52 (these are current sale rates, not historical). So the PHB is selling better, at least on Amazon (the Starter Set will sell better at Target, for instance, which doesn't carry the books).

40 million worldwide playing versus less than a million Starter Sets sold *in North America* suggests somewhat the gap here. More than 40 people per set? Pretty plainly the tip of the iceberg in terms of their total sales.

One difference between 1981-3 and 2014-9: no Internet meant that anybody who wanted to play needed physical copies of the books: now, there are the Basic rules, Fantasy Grounds, Roll20, and D&D Beyond (in addition to unfortunate dishonest routes). The numbers for those other platforms, or Amazon or Target, are not going to be part of the hobby shop reports to which you are referring.

We are in Peak D&D, though the peak is still climbing.
If it's still rising then by definition its not at peak yet. There is still so much more room to grow that it isn't even near peak.

Baldur's Gate 3 and the Hypothetical D&D movie haven't hit yet, these could cause an absolutely huge spike in sales.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Absolutely great news for the hobby!

I really, really don't know why I should care, but the professional Dungeon Master gig bothers me a little bit.

My logical brain say 'good for them.' My gut says 'there's something sad about this new trend.' Just getting old and behind the times probably.

Glad to see so many people enjoying the game!
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.
 

pogre

Adventurer
Parmandur said:
I agree, really: it seems un-hobby-ish, against the historical "playing with friends" scene. But, if the market supports a skill being paid for, it will happen...
My gut agrees.

Tony Vargas said:
There's more people wanting to play than there has been in a very long time, and DMing is not exactly easy nor quick to pick up - especially to a level that you might expect from viewing streaming examples of play.
My logical brain agrees.

doctorbadwolf said:
Its no different than charging for custom dnd character portraits, or for throwing/planning/hosting a party.
My logical brain mostly agrees. I do see a difference between charging for a piece of portrait art and running a game. I charge strangers for painting miniatures, but it seems different to me.

As I said, not saying it is logical objection just something my old gut finds a little sad.
 

Parmandur

Legend
If it's still rising then by definition its not at peak yet. There is still so much more room to grow that it isn't even near peak.

Baldur's Gate 3 and the Hypothetical D&D movie haven't hit yet, these could cause an absolutely huge spike in sales.
I think we all mean "peak up to this time" when we say peak D&D. The old peak was 1981-83 for the Basic line: everything else was less successful, until 5E.
 
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