Really? Where are they?
How many people are currently in the RPGA compared to say, 2005? That would be an excellent indicator of the "fracture" and "not as successful" as it could have been.
Considering that as I look on the front page of En World, a site that has grown by about 30% since the release of 4e, I see that the 4e boards are about 10 times the size of the Pathfinder boards. On a site where you'd think that the "fracture" would be very visible, you'd think that there'd be a bit more chatter on the Pathfinder boards.
All of the "evidence" of the fracture pretty much only exists in the minds of those that want there to be this massive split. I have no idea why people insist there is this massive split when there is almost no evidence to support it. I blame Lanefan.*
* Someone has to take the blame.
I don't have statistics so I don't claim that my experiences are representative of the hobby as a whole, but I experience the fracture in my small (very small) corner of the gaming world.
I have been trying to get a gaming group together since the release of 3.5, with almost no success. The thing I've run into while recruiting at my FLGS is that all the other gaming options have grabbed a portion of potential candidates. I ran the Keep on the Borderlands Encounters season at the store, and had trouble getting 4 people at the table each session. I was the only person who had purchased the 4E rulebooks (Essentials for this campaign) but everybody had played some edition of D&D before. Most of the guys that sat in the game had abandoned D&D by the time 4E came out, but they play Magic the Gathering religiously.
When I go to a larger city in my area and search the "gamers wanted" bulletin boards in their shops, the index cards are looking for gamers for 1E through 4E and include Pathfinder. I'm not mad at WotC for this. None of those game systems are obsolete, so people will continue to enjoy them when 8E is released (in 2027 you heard it here first).
If there are something like 5+ existing editions of D&D plus Pathfinder, how could the one "in production" edition not suffer from dilution? I know that the idea is to bring in new gamers to board the train with 4E, but how many gamers get introduced to role playing games by joining an existing group? How many existing groups dropped the games they were playing and moved up to 4E? As I said, I don't have the numbers and I know that my area is not likely representative, but you would be hard pressed to join a 4E group here. I also know that when 5E comes, some will hate it and stay with 4E. I think that is unavoidable.
I like 4E well enough, though I do miss making PCs with pencil and paper. I want 5E to come as soon as it can, because it's one more "lottery ticket" to try to win the jackpot that is a game that will attract new players and convince 3.5 and Pathfinder players to move to the new edition. My reasons are selfish. I want to play. I need gamers to play. I desperately hope that 5E will attract gamers.