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D&D 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]

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Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Mistwell said he was on the internet in 1982.

No, I did not. I said

I was actively talking D&D on BBS's in 1982 using my Commodore 64 (and thanks to FidoNet, it was national discussion by the mid 80s, with national email too thanks to EchoMail). By 1991 a lot of us were already on university internet access playing Nethack, MUDs, and emailing using PINE while discussing D&D on Usenet.

Does nobody understand what a BBS and FidoNet were?


Ok, a little confused here... [MENTION=6716779]Zardnaar[/MENTION] and [MENTION=6775000]Uchawi[/MENTION] in what scenario is a merchant selling out of your product not considered a good sign?


Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Hell I had friends using modems in 1991 to talk to each other.

I was actively talking D&D on BBS's in 1982 using my Commodore 64 (and thanks to FidoNet, it was national discussion by the mid 80s, with national email too thanks to EchoMail). By 1991 a lot of us were already on university internet access playing Nethack, MUDs, and emailing using PINE while discussing D&D on Usenet.

I am starting to wonder if this is a generational thing. I don't want to be impolite and ask your age, but is it possible you were a teen or younger in 2000 and maybe that's why you thought internet usage was lower than it was for that year? A lot has changed since 2000, but hardcopy Amazon book sales, internet usage in the U.S., and D&D discussion are not things that have changed all that much since then.

I'm saying the culture these days in regard to things like social media is very different now than in 2000 and you would be very disingenuous to claim other wise.

I am claiming otherwise in the context of "D&D discussion", it's not disingenuous for me to do so, and I'd prefer you stop being rude and reply to what I am saying rather than calling me names like liar (which is what disingenuous means in this context). MySpace was really not much different than Facebook, nor was Friendster or much of AOL. There are some aspects that are different, but not the ones that are most relevant to the topic of D&D discussions. In fact we've had some of the same discussions in 2014 that I had in 1991 on Usenet with people.

The social media for example is linked to your TV and cell phones and in 2000

Sure but most people are not posting on their TV. And whole many post on their cell phones, those same people were posting on their computers before. It's not like that changed the quantity of people talking about D&D, it just changed the device they were using to talk about D&D. But ask Morrus about his usage here - usage actually went DOWN for many years, and only recently rebounded with the introduction of 5e.

if you wanted to play online on a TV you were more or less limited to the Sega Dreamcast. The joke was also the only online business making money back then was porn as well.

I was General Council for a large internet co-location (server farm) company from 1997 to 2003. It was a joke only. We were massively profitable, and almost all our clients were profitable as well. Internet advertising was taking off in a huge way, and people were paying big bucks for it - in some ways, bigger bucks then than now.

And I was playing Xbox on Xbox Live in 2002 by the way. And before that I was at LAN parties, and playing 15 different people on Spaceward Ho!

Amazon and Ebay were in their infancy by comparison,

OK stop, just stop. This has already been refuted. You can't just keep pretending nobody replied to you, that nobody cited hard evidence to refute it, and then just repeat your claim. Amazon BOOKS were not in their infancy (they were almost as big as they are now). eBay in the U.S. was not in it's infancy (it was half a decade in already, and huge, and was about to buy PayPal).

It really seems like you think 2000 was 1990. Most of the stuff you're saying is off by about a decade. Which is why I referenced your age - I don't know of anyone who was a geek and an adult in 2000 who thinks these things.

blogs barely existed

Are you friggen kidding me? LiveJournal was huge. Blogging was huge. 2002 is the year Journalism classes were teaching blogging vs. journalism classes, and in 2001 "how to blog" books were being published. Once again it really seems like you're off by a decade on this stuff.

was no iPhone, no iPods,

iPod was 2001, and it was a copy of several devices that came before it. Palm PDAs were huge, and the Palm VII had internet access in the U.S. by 1999. I had a Palm Treo phone in 2003, which had apps, and internet access.

no twitter, facebook, steam, youtube.

No idea what Steam has to do with this discussion. But yes, no Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube, which is a point that you've made three times now and which has been responded to three times now. The longer you pretend it had no reply, the worse your argument looks.

These forums did not exist either although the pre ENworld forums were up IIRC.

WOW. Dude...what do you think E.N. World stands for? This forum was founded by Eric Noah BECAUSE of the launch of 3e. It was absolutely around then...before the launch in fact! They were not "pre-ENWorld" forums, we just had a board reset at one point. There are lots of people who have been posting here since before 3.0e launched.

It would be out right moronic to claim 5E is doing better than 3.0 due to online reviews.

Excuse me? Did you just call me a moron for disagreeing with you?
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Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Cut a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with the topic and just distracts

I guess we're going to do this the 'pulling teeth' way.

Question 1. Is there a different version of D&D that you prefer? Is there bitterness there over something WOTC did that is lasting with you?


100% of my group is playing 5e every Tuesday. ;). 100% of my group in the early 2000s played 3e.

Yes, I know it's a meaningless stat. But that's the same amount of data that exists on how many people are playing 5e vs 3e.


Looks like the PHB has slipped a few places on Amazon's bestseller list.
This could be the result of more popular books being ordered, or it could be the result of sales plateauing. It might even be the result of people cancelling preorders to buy from game stores now, which would be awesome but is less likely.

I guess we'll see if this is the start of a decline, if it will hold at a lower position for a while, or if word of mouth will boost sales again.

Cancelled my pre-order to impulse buy it from the LGS. It would be interesting to know how many actual copies that were sold, unfortunately we'll never have those numbers.


Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Wow. #1 overall on Amazon. Blown away. And it's beating not one but TWO books that have movies out right now, with massive ad campaigns behind them. AND the newest Follet book. And a ton of back-to-school books. And all the political books being hyped on talk radio and 24-hour news channels.


I wonder what impact Christmas sales will have on the PHB. I think many groups have a PHB, but Christmas might end up with more copies in groups.


I disagree. Quality matters, not just quantity. For months now we've heard how some may just buy it as a collector and then not buy anything more, or how all that matters it the long term and initial sales are just hype. But if people who buy the book really like it, like it enough to go give it a 5 star review, that is meaningful. It's not the only meaningful thing, it's not an overriding factor, but it's meaningful. And I don't know why you want to dismiss it, but I don't think it's wise to simply dismiss it.

Of course social media existed back then, it was just different social media. Blogging was already big, AOL was huge, Usenet was huge (and had a lot of D&D players discussing D&D), then Friendster and MySpace were big. Just because the names have changed (Twitter and Facebook) doesn't mean there wasn't any. And, I still have no idea what this has to do with Amazon reviews.

We know that is not true. We know this launch has gone better than the 4e launch. Are you now arguing Amazon was not relevant, social media was not relevant, when 4e launched too? That's what I am talking about here, you're being dismissive, and mixed in there are all these false claims like this one, and the one about Amazon, and about social media, a series of arguments you know are exaggerations to try and diminish the successful launch of 5e. Why?

We shall see, but all I am talking about is where we are right now, not where we will be. Do you have some vested interest in it not doing as well as 3e or something?

Don't you think more positive reviews in the first month than 4e got in the history of the game is a good sign then for people liking it enough to play it? Not the ONLY sign, but one good sign among many signs out there?

It never got to #1, or close to #1, on Amazon. It never had this many positive reviews on Amazon, or close to this many positive reviews. It's why people are mentioning it. But you keep acting like those things didn't happen or are not meaningful, unless it's convenient for you to mention "sold well" like you just did. Make up your mind...did 4e launch well, in which case 5e launching HUGELY better than it means something, or did 4e not launch well, in which case why did you mention that factoid?

Yes I am aware blogs existed back in 2003 along with message boards. THings like youtube, facebok, twitter etc did not so it is easier for word of mouth or whatever to get around.

Also note I am not claiming 5E had a bad launch, all things considered it seems to have had a good one. I just find it funny when people think it has out sold 3E when we know roughly what sales 3rd ed had in its 1st month and how many books it has sold in total. Same thing with TSR ear D&D we know how many books they sold.

Unless things have changed though we do know that 5E is not as popular as 3.5 let alone Pathfinder in online games. We also know more people were playing Pathfinder at GenCOn during a launch event for a convention D&D invented. I'm not arguing it has not sold well but we do not know how well it is actually doping. It seems to have out performed 4E but that is probably not to hard as OD&D seems to be the only version of D&D that has not done that.

We can loo at the size of the D&D staff and the relative lack of upcoming D&D releases. It will be virtually impossible for them to sell more stuff than 3.0 for example because they have no products to sell even if they sell more PHB than 3.0 and there is no OGL support for it like 3.0 back in 2000 where you could buy multiple 3pp adventures and things like the creature catalogue.

THis is why Mearls likely claimed they will know more after a year when follow on products sell as it wiill give a better indication to how well it is actually doing once the curious and the collectors stop buying stuff and the release bubble pops.


First Post
I'm sorry but trying to compare online services and usage from 2000 to now is absolutely ludicrous and makes me want to tell them to please educate themselves. Amazon was not selling back then like they are now because the populace didn't fully trust online shopping. The online bubble wasn't about shopping on Amazon or Ebay. FLGS and big retail bookstores are where most of your RPG's were bought and saying otherwise is just flat out wrong.

Making Amazon your measuring stick for success is just grasping at straws for some kind of confirmation of victory. We will never know the answer to which one would have sold better online because you are dealing with a 14 year difference which is huge.
Total products? Sure. Books? Not as huge as you think, as Mistwell has cogently argued a few pages back.


No, I did not. I said

Does nobody understand what a BBS and FidoNet were?
Fair enough, I was using "internet" as a catch-all term for "communicating with people via computer", including BBSes, Usenet, and email mailing lists, even though technically those might not be considered "internet". I assumed that's why you brought it up in this discussion. It's no biggie.

Olaf the Stout

I would say the Pathfinder stuff was bought mainly from Paizo itself, not to mention you can get everything via the SRD. I would say it's the top RPG book sold out of Amazon but that's it.

I could also say that Pathfinder stuff was bought mainly from Amazon, or mainly from FLGS. Without any proof to back that up, that statement is meaningless. I'm guessing only someone from Paizo could give us the numbers on how many books they sell directly through Paizo compared to other channels. I also doubt whether they'd want to give that sort of financial data up.

I do agree that all you can definitely prove about the 5E PHB is that it's the top RPG book sold by Amazon. However, I think that fact is still a good thing nonetheless, especially considering how many copies you need to sell in order to hit the #1 spot.

Olaf the Stout

Wow, that's awesome news if it's outselling 3E. So far, so good for 5E it seems.

Reviews are mainly positive. Sales are obviously strong. Let's hope WotC can keep the momentum going.


Wandering. Not lost. (He/they)
I appreciate that Mearls is putting it in a larger perspective instead of shouting the launch window numbers and acting like that was the complete picture.


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