log in or register to remove this ad


3E/3.5 5E's Initial Raw Sales Numbers Stronger Than 3E's!

It seems that the initial sales of D&D 5th Edition are very strong. Asked about how they compare to 3E and 4E, WotC's Mike Mearls says that "Raw numbers are stronger, but that's not the complete picture. end of year 1 is the key." The Player's Handbook has now topped the hardcover nonfiction sellers list at Publishers Weekly. As of right now, it's #1 in Fantasy Gaming at Amazon, and a week ago it was the #1 book on Amazon!


In other news, prompted by some discussion about the gaps between D&D edition releases, I whipped up this quick info-graphic showing the dates that each edition was released. [threadcm]http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?359004-So-I-have-been-out-of-town-for-a-few-weeks-did-I-miss-something[/threadcm]

Last edited by a moderator:


Also note 4E had a good launch on Amazon as well. It is to premature to call it IMHO. Come back this time next year or even 2016.

log in or register to remove this ad

The RPGA network seems to have collapsed. They do not have the staff to support D&D like they used to.
The RPGA was incorporated into WPN and the various 'Living ______' stuff a long time ago, wasn't it? And, that last incarnation, LFR, was cut off by WotC in 2010 or 2012, I think it was, though the guys running it did come through with all the promised adventures through 30th level, surprisingly enough.

Maybe they're regretting that now? AL seems to have picked up pretty quickly in my area, though...


There were things like bulletin boards but you did not have things like facebook, twitter, youtube and apps on cell phones linking them all together.

I wish you would stop repeating claims that have already been refuted...unless you have a response to the refutation.


These were all big at the time. Bigger than mere "message board". They were, in fact, HUGE. MySpace surpassed Google as the most visited website in the United States at one point.

Computer use has doubled or tripled since 2000 depending on what country you are in, you could not msg the D&D designers on twitter or watch them on youtube.

This is another one of those Zard-specials, where you cite a generic set of data that has little to do with the topic but imply it has a lot to do with the topic. Nobody cares, say, computer use in Zibabwe for this topic. We're talking about internet usage, in the United States, which is where the overwhelming bulk of "D&D discussions on the internet" would be found. Right now internet usage is at 81% of Americans. By comparison, in 2000 it was about 51% of Americans. Now that is certainty growth, but it's not "doubled or tripled". We're also talking about gamer nerds - who were the first adopters of the Internet. I am sure the number of Americans online in the gamer nerd community has increased since 2000, but it's definitely not the wild numbers you're trying to imply here.

Its a slight difference of scale. I'm willing to bet you will find more positive reviews on the latest Game of Thrones book than Shakespeare or the bible as well.

Wow talk about disingenuous. We're comparing a book from 2000 to a book from 2014, where Amazon physical-book sales have raised about 30% and internet usage has raised about 30% as well in that period of time. So you compare it to books thousands of years old, which definitely never had any internet access when they released?

Why the constant exaggerations here Zard? It's not persuasive once someone reveals what you're doing, in fact it's the opposite. By doing this so much in this thread, you're decreasing the credibility of your arguments in general. It's like crying wolf.


I crit!
A new thing that needs confirmation.

The PHB has been sold out. Distributors don't have any more. Can anyone confirm this?


So yeah the PHB had sold out at my LGS and they had to order more. I was out of town this weekend and stopped at a LGS in the Vancouver area (Langley) apparently 5e as been a hot seller for them as well as there are lots of gamers taking a look at the new game.


Whoah, wait a minute. I think you buried the lede here: 3e was "fiction" but 5e is "nonfiction." This time we get to use real magic!

If only Jack Chick knew how right he was...

View attachment 64175

It's an oddity. However, I suspect it is usually easier to get on the hardcover-specific bestseller list for fiction than non-fiction, in a Presidential election year. That's because non-fiction hardcovers are usually dominated by political books and autobiographies of famous people during those years (along with some history books), which are endlessly promoted on radio and 24 hour news stations and entertainment stations.

This year happens to not be a Presidential election year, so we don't see the same sort of political and autobiographical books dominating non-fiction.


Still #3 in books overall. #1 in Fantasy Gaming books though. (actually the top 5 in Fantasy Gaming are all 5e books)

He is referring to the Hot New Releases list (see the title of this thread), where it is #1 now. This list is not related to the Fantasy Gaming Books list, it's just a general book list. You are correct that it is #3 on the Bestsellers list.


One month later...(I mean after starting this thread) it has slipped a little:


But still pretty strong for an RPG book.


Do we have any figures? How many copies sold? Would like to see the numbers for the PHB, Pathfinder, 4E, etc.

Ithink Eric Mona did give some numbers for the 3.x series PHB.

3.0 500k
3.5 250-350k
Pathfinder 250k

I have seen 4E estimates of 50-100k but not sure how reliable they are.

Note Amazon did not really exist as such back in 2000 so that alone would put a huge spike in early sales. 4E by most accounts had a good launch but the bubble burst fast. As Mearls says you will know more around 1 year in with sales of follow on material as the collectors and curious are less likely to buy splats and adventures. That will likely give you a more accurate picture of how successful your edition is. They also claimed 4E outsold 3rd ed at launch as well and we all know how that went. So either WoTC is lying, putting some spin in it or modern D&D does outsell 3E but only in front loaded spikes in sales. I suspect the later myself due to things like Amazon. If they do outsell 3rd ed and sustain sales somewhat half decent we have a new silver age.

They may hit a fake gold age as well due to things like inflation and more expensive rule books. If the starter box can break a million in sales and a 5E adventure sells 250k+ and they break 50 million in sales you are looking at a new golden age. D&D peak was 27 million in sales apparently in 1982/83 dollars.


Again, there was a lot of social media back then, it was just different names for essentially the same communications. MySpace was very big. AOL was big. Friendster was briefly big. Usenet was big. These names are mostly gone now, but back the they held similar positions to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.. People were on the net in 2000. It was not the beginning of being on the net by then, the net was firmly established hence the dot-com boom was peaking then. We all talked about D&D back then using those forms of communication. Just because the names have changed, that doesn't mean the quantity of talk has substantially changed.

Either Mike Mearls is just a dirty liar for repeatedly saying it's outsold both 3e and 4e for initial sales, or he's telling the truth. You say it's funny - so funny as in suspicious, as in you're calling Mike Mearls a liar, or funny as in haha, as in nobody but you is getting whatever joke you're trying to tell?

I am not sure why that is relevant to a discussion of sales though. Of course it isn't more popular INSTANTLY in online games, we don't even have the core books yet, the PHB is a month old, and people have not wrapped their prior games.

This is one of those reasons I keep talking about where we are right now, rather than trying to predict where we will be. Number of online games is a "where will we be" sort of question, since it's a given you really can't have more games of a game that isn't even out yet than those games that are already out right now and have been for decades.

Same argument as above. It was not the launch event for the core rules - we still have not had that. It was the launch of the first book. So all you could really have is games sponsored directly by WOTC. It's a silly argument to be making.

WOTC repeatedly said the initial sales of 4e outsold 3e. Indeed they painted a pretty specific picture of how each version has outdone the last in sales, however it's not catching the size of the market they think it could catch relative to other geek-oriented activities out there, hence the new edition was a concern over total market share of all geek related activities and not market share of D&D players. I will ask you again - are you calling them liars?

You do seem to be saying it's not selling well with this series of arguments and exaggerations you've made. You put a caveat in, and then you argue against the caveat as if the caveat makes it "Okay" to then go on to diminish every achievement 5e has accomplished so far (like #1 best seller, disproportionate number of positive reviews relative to other editions, etc..).

This is just yet one more method of you trying to diminish WOTC. First, I don't care how many third parties sell D&D stuff, that's a totally different topic. Second, the idea that Paizo's total staff is somehow representative of prior WOTC D&D staff is flawed - show me where that is a good example of staff size? Their team is a pretty good size team relative to prior teams and RPGs in general. Yes, it's smaller than Paizo's team, but that doesn't mean they cannot sell as many products as they sold for 3e (the two facts are not really connected).

And there is another series of snarky cheap shots at WOTC, claiming sales are from the curious and collectors and that releases are "bubble pops".

So let's cut the BS Zard - is there a different version of D&D that you prefer? Is there bitterness there over something WOTC did that is lasting with you? What is coloring your perception that you feel the need to take cheap shots and diminish every accomplishment WOTC makes right now?

Mearls had said contradictory statements though and he has been very careful how he has worded things. IIRC he claimed 4E for example sold well initially but only compared it to D&D he or WoTC had seen so it is unclear if he is comparing :):):) to 3.0, 3.5 or 3rd ed overall and he did not compare it to something like the original boxed set. He also did not answer when asked a direct question about why make 5E if 4E sold so well. He was also made it clear initial sales do not matter as much but wait a year. Ex WoTC staffers in recent interviews on this site have also recounted things like Mearls asking Monte to come and save D&D again. I don't think Mearls is being dishonest but he is limited to what he can say by the higher ups and he has to put the best foot forward so to speak. I don't know if he is counting the starter box either which had a very cheap buy in price ($13 on Amazon) so that is something to consider as there may be an overlap of people who bought the boxed set and PHB.

Other sources such as Monte Cook, Ryan Dancey and Sharon Applecine have also been very clear on how much of an impact 3.0 had on release. If WoTC has managed to outsell 3.0 that is great for them. Its clear 5E has had a better launch than 4E, 3.5 I'm just not sure about 3.0. I guess we will know more in a year or two.

How has its reception been on the round in the USA? DOes it feel like more people are playing it than 3.0?


Mearls had said contradictory statements though and he has been very careful how he has worded things. IIRC he claimed 4E for example sold well initially but only compared it to D&D he or WoTC had seen so it is unclear if he is comparing :):):) to 3.0, 3.5 or 3rd ed overall and he did not compare it to something like the original boxed set.

He clarified he meant it sold better than both 3.0e and 3.5e, initially. In fact he said 3.5e initial sales were better than 3.0e initial sales. I am sure someone around here can dig up that quote.

He also did not answer when asked a direct question about why make 5E if 4E sold so well.

He answered it quite well actually.

We were talking about the growth of D&D over the various editions. And Mearls explained to (without giving any solid numbers) that each edition of D&D had been successful. D&D had enjoyed a steady growth over all the various editions. More people were playing D&D every year and with each new edition. And that seemed like good news, so I asked the question that came naturally to me. “If that’s true, why are you scrapping 4E so soon and moving on to 5E?” I didn’t want to keep 4E, mind you. I’m not a fan of 4E. But if 4E had been successful and maintained the steady growth of D&D, it seemed like mothballing D&D for a two-year development cycle so quickly was weird decision. And here’s what he explained to me.

Mearls said that, even though the growth of D&D had been steady, something else had changed. In the prior five or ten years (remember, this was two years ago), there had been an explosion of people in geeky hobbies. More people than ever before were playing video games and MMOs, reading comics, watching comic and sci-fi and fantasy movies, watching anime, playing card games, playing board games, doing cosplay, attending conventions, and all that other crap that we gamers do aside from playing games. It was suddenly cool to be a geek. There were huge numbers of new geeks in the world. And every one of those new geeks was a potential D&D player.

But D&D wasn’t nabbing them. Somehow, D&D’s growth remained as steady as ever.

It’s like, imagine you have a fishing boat. And every day you go out and drag your net behind you and you catch some fish. And each day you catch a few more fish than the day before. Today you catch 100. Tomorrow, 105. The next day, 111. The day after, 118. And so on. That’s a steady 5% growth (approximately). But then, one day, imagine a tanker filled with thousands and thousands of fish crashes in your lake. And suddenly there are a thousands and thousands and thousands of extra fish swimming around. You’d expect your net to be a lot more full the next day, wouldn’t you? But the next day, you pull up 123 fish.

And that, Mearls explained to me, was what they wanted to do with 5E. They wanted to grab all those new players. They wanted D&D to be a simple gateway drug into role-playing games. To catch all those thousands and thousands of extra fish in the pond. They wanted to cast a wide net.

That is a good, direct answer. It explains a lot.

The Black Ranger

First Post
I think some of you are playing it up a bit more than it really is. What constitutes the "Hot new releases" section anyway? How long does a book stay in this category? The other books could have been out for a while so it's natural the sales will decline and when they are going up against a book that just came out, the newer book will come out ahead. Also, it says it's #1 sales in the Dungeons and Dragons section. The only other product it's beating is the starter set while everything else hasn't even come out yet.


Latest threads