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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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Something noteworthy pointed out by someone named BadMike on the WOTC boards:

5th editon PHB has racked up more 5 star reviews in one month (159) than the 5 and 4 star reviews the 4th edition PHB accumulated over 6 years (145).

It's also more than half-way to all the 5 star reviews for Pathfinder Core Book, or PHB 3e...in a month.

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Sailor Moon

First Post
"All" these rankings tell us is that the PHB has been a top selling book, relative to all other books, for around seven weeks now. At one point it was the top selling book. And not just on Amazon.

We also do know that no other role-playing book has come close to this in the last decade (including anything for 4E or Pathfinder). We have been told that the 3E PHB sold a lot in 2000. Mearls has said that 5E is doing better at this point...but sales where huge for 3E in its first year. We can neither confirm nor deny that 3E got into the top ten on any rankings (though it does seem like someone would have posted about it if it had).

Thats "it".
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.


Newtons! Hah! What was Apple thinking, PDA and messaging in my hand? Daft. Just daft. Nothing could ever come of it.

Yeah I was emailing people and taking pictures from my phone on my Palm Treo 600 in 2003 using an App well before an iPhone was even a dream of Steve Jobs. What was Palm thinking, that people would want to download Apps to their phone? I had over 50 of them I think. I sometimes miss my physical tiny keyboard and stylus.


We are at the 2 month point for the thread, lets see where things stand with the top books in fantasy gaming:

#1 MM 24 overall, 16 in new releases, 25/28 5 star reviews
#2 PHB 39 overall, 28 most wished for, 269/334 5 star reviews
#3 Starter Set 302 overall (released July 15)
# 4 DMG 311 overall, 83 in new releases
#6 HotDQ 663 overall

OK, that’s probably the last of these I do for a while, but I will probably do an update at some point.

Thanks for the update...interesting stuff, and happy to see D&D doing so well.


It is sold out... man. Is that really unusual? Did the 3e do that within the first few months? Wonder how long it is going to take to get it back in stock.


My brain is literally melting onto my keyboard as I type this because I simply cannot understand the level of cognitive dissonance on display here. The only way to explain it... is that this is performance art of some kind.


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?

No real preference but if I had to pick one it would be 2E. Anything but 4E is my D&D of choice as such. WoTC did blow up the Realms and trash Dragon and Dungeon so there is that. THey may have also run over my cat.


This is the best I can find. The PHB 3.0 was featured on the main page apparently a few days after reviews start appearing in Amazon's records.

Check this out too . It states that the 3.0 PHB was #1 on Amazon’s hardcover fiction list on about August 27th, 2000.
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The 300 000 in a month thing for 3.0 has been thrown around a lot and seeing how 4E turned out and the same claim being made

Funny how numbers are thrown around. The number I always saw thrown around was that the 1E PHB, albeit in print even up to and after the 2E PHB was released, sold around a million copies. And that 3E was the only edition to come close.

Again, as posted above, we know that 4E never got above 30 or so in terms of the amazon ranking. Normally hot selling RPGs, like the Pathfinder Core Rules, are generally in the 300-600 range. A supplement is lucky to hit 1000. Hitting number #1 (or 10 or 20) means an entirely different level of sales. The 5E PHB could have already sold more--through amazon, which is the caveat--then any RPG product has in years.

Olaf the Stout

The figures come from Dancey, who worked for Wizards and now works for Paizo/Goblinworks. Wizards of the Coast doesn't share its numbers, which completely keeps them from doing what you are accusing them of doing.

Moreover, we should be able to look at a company's sales without injecting edition wars into the equation. Very few industry people see the situation as Paizo vs D&D. Take a look at Gen Con: the biggest year yet for both Paizo and D&D organized play programs simultaneously. Most industry insiders say the best years come when D&D is huge and draws lots of interest to the hobby. It is entire possible, even likely, that Paizo and Wizards can both continue to grow. The only reason they would really need to worry is if either company produced shoddy games (not true) or if the size of the market was very insular (seems increasingly to not be true), or if their editions lose steam (still possible). Paizo and Wizards both make amazing products. Whether those products and their approaches can truly weather long editions remains to be seen. It's especially hard when we see very little information about the sales figures of lines over time. We don't know how the first Pathfinder supplement compares to the most recent, though it is likely that diminishing returns has to be there (because more recent supplements usually deal with a smaller space, rehash concepts, or are dealing with interesting but non-crucial elements). That both WotC and Paizo use different new techniques is great for the health of the industry overall. We will need new approaches if the hobby is to continue to provide us WotC and Paizo levels of quality for many decades.

Certainly what I've been reading seems to indicate that Paizo and WotC are aiming at the entertainment market as a whole, rather than trying to fight each other for an RPG pie.

That would definitely be a smart approach IMO.


A new thing that needs confirmation.

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

Amazon was sold out for a bit, but has it again.

I could guess that when stores ordered their MMs they also ordered more PHBs (according to the one I went to, they ordered "triple the normal amount"). Could have sold out.

You can still get it here :heh:


While it's great marketing, not good logistics. That means there is demand you are not meeting, which are sales left on the table.

Ideally you would always like to keep just slightly ahead in inventory


Customer reviews do not really matter that much either though only sales.

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.

Social media did not exist back in 2000/2003 either. People were not talking about D&D on facebook for obvious reasons.

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.

Don't get me wrong I think they have had a good launch but any version of D&D could likely have done the same thing.

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?

I do not think there will be a new D&D silver age maybe a bronze age if 5E is reasonably popular.

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?

The dark clouds on the horizon IMHO is how many people will actually play 5E once the honeymoon is over?

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?

4E had a good launch as well

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?


Back to Amazon rankings, still two D&D books in overall top 50, and two in top 100 for new releases.

Top D&D books in Fantasy Gaming

#1 MM: 22 overall, 13 in hot new releases
#2 PHB: 33 overall, 17 in most wished for
#3 Starter Set: 208 overall, a dip, but not much since I started tracking Aug 6
#4 DMG: 281 overall, 77 in hot new releases
#6 HotDQ: 597 overall, finally over taken by the Zelda book.

For some perspective on the overall sales rank, that Zelda book, which is the #1 "strategy guide" for games, is 412th overall.


Amazon sells more products in one day now than they had customers in 2000.

No they do not. In 2000 they served 20 million customer with a $2.76 Billion in sales (according to their 2000 annual report). In 2012 they were selling an average of 3.5 million products per day. And of course quantity of customers is not quantity of products sold, as people buy more than one product (if they didn't, you'd be claiming the entire 7 billion world population was buying slightly more than one item from Amazon every year). Average product price is now $47 according to that link.

And of course they were almost exclusively books in 2000, but are very diverse in sales now. Book sales are not that different in 2014 than they were in 2000 for Amazon (they are different, but not nearly by the factors you're trying to imply). Amazon made $5.25B in book sales in the past year (according to Forbes). Compare that to their $2.76B in 2000 which was almost entirely from books, and you will see we are not talking about the kinds of exponential growth in book sales that you seem to think. And when you count only non-electronic books (PHB was not available in electronic version in 2000 or now) the differences become even smaller (20% of that current book sales number is kindle books). The year 2000 was a good year for Amazon book sales, and it was not nearly so different than now in terms of books.

I appreciate you want to know more about Amazon sales in 2000 versus now, as this is the third conversation we've had about this. But it's also the third time you've made clearly false statements about this topic, which could have easily been looked up. Amazon has grown a lot since 2000, but it's not nearly as much as you seem to think it is.
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Doors and Corners
Sure, we had to wait for the nightly download, so discussions were slower than they are now. But it was national. We had national messaging as well, which also did nightly downloads.
Wow. Flashback! I remember going over to my friend's house and watching a movie until just after midnight, then catching up on the new downloads to his BBS. Wild ride on the memory express! Toot! Toot!

That was before I left permanently for the Army between AIT and Permanent Station, sooo 1988(?) maybe?


I just want you to know that when you alter your signature to go with the post, I always notice, and I appreciate it.


It's a little detail I like throwing in when it fits. I'm glad someone notices appreciates them. Thanks. :)


The PH(B) still #1 in "Hot New Releases" as of this post. And #3 in Amazon's overall "Best Sellers in Books" category. It has some legs.

Mearls mentioned on twitter: "Kind of stunned by this, honestly. If we hit #1 overall I think I'm going to freak out a bit."

I think it's safe to say, this launch has "met or exceeded expectations".



Don't get me wrong I think they have had a good launch but any version of D&D could likely have done the same thing. .....

4E had a good launch as well and they claimed it was doing better than 3rd ed and we all know how that turned out. ?

Ya, sure, any edition of D&D would have been a number 1 seller. Nothing remotely like that has happened in 30 years, but whatever you say.

Nothing will stop you from repeating this right? It doesn't matter that I have posted actual rankings from 4E and PF, (ie other editions of D&D) and that they are not remotely close to what 5E has done. That we have actually been told, and can infer, ourselves, that 5E has beat that famous number for 3E.

And you, in turn, have no evidence, at all, for what you have been posting (including what you say above about 4E claims). But sure, whatever you say.


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