AD&D Settings Sales Comparison 79-98

I know there have been a lot of these threads, and I'm holding off on any kind of overarching summary/compilation article until they're all in, but this one in particular jumped out at me. Again, this is from Ben Riggs, author of Slaying the Dragon, a history of TSR-era D&D, going out next month.


This graph shows a number of legacy settings and the total sales of their core setting product. Forgotten Realms is, of course, the top one. Interestingly, the other two settings that WotC has revisited in 5E -- Ravenloft and Spelljammer -- are near the bottom of the chart.

Ben says he will be providing the remaining settings tomorrow, and I'll update this post with those when he does.
  1. Forgotten Realms
  2. Greyhawk
  3. Dragonlance
  4. Ravenloft
  5. Dark Sun
  6. Spelljammer

settings.jpg
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Hussar

Legend
I'm looking at my Moldvay (goddammit spellchecker, that is NOT moldy) Expert rulebook right now.

The entire Karameikos setting material is exactly ONE page. Plus a map. Granted the Isle of Dread module, included in the Moldvay boxed set did include a little more - like two pages plus a map- but, if we're considering that to be "setting guide", that's an awful stretch.

I mean, seriously? Does anyone honestly think that anyone bought the Moldvay (goddamit spellchecker) boxed set so they could see the Known World or Mystara setting?

Methinks that @Dungeonosophy is perhaps overstating the case a bit for Mystara.

I mean, let's not forget Dragon magazine. How much setting material for Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms and then Mystara were in the magazine? Should we also start counting magazine sales? Just how far down the rabbit hole do we need to go?
 

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Hussar

Legend
Honestly @Helldritch - I think your point #3 is probably the biggest one. The gaming population just consistently bled away over the years and never brought in any new significant numbers of gamers. Vampire might have done some, I suppose, but, overall, the hobby was stagnating for a long, long time. Even with the boost in the 2000's with 3e and d20, we never really saw any serious increase in the numbers of active gamers until the release of 5e. That's a long time to go between significant numbers of new gamers joining the hobby.
 

Honestly @Helldritch - I think your point #3 is probably the biggest one. The gaming population just consistently bled away over the years and never brought in any new significant numbers of gamers. Vampire might have done some, I suppose, but, overall, the hobby was stagnating for a long, long time. Even with the boost in the 2000's with 3e and d20, we never really saw any serious increase in the numbers of active gamers until the release of 5e. That's a long time to go between significant numbers of new gamers joining the hobby.
The RPG industry did stagnated with new recruits. I remember the early 2000 as years of not having that many people interested in RPGs. It started to shift around 2006. Was it there that PF/Paizo started to really took roots? Or was it because WoW sparked the interest in RPGs anew and Burning Crusade was still a year away. I truly do not know. What I know is that it was around this time the number of people asking me to play skyrocketed. Most were WoW players but some were coming from the CCGs market. They saw that the CCG was quite hard to keep up with and searched for a less expensive hobby.
 

Reynard

Legend
The RPG industry did stagnated with new recruits. I remember the early 2000 as years of not having that many people interested in RPGs. It started to shift around 2006. Was it there that PF/Paizo started to really took roots? Or was it because WoW sparked the interest in RPGs anew and Burning Crusade was still a year away. I truly do not know. What I know is that it was around this time the number of people asking me to play skyrocketed. Most were WoW players but some were coming from the CCGs market. They saw that the CCG was quite hard to keep up with and searched for a less expensive hobby.
That feels a little late. 3E brought a bunch of lapsed gamers back, who then left again when 3.5 started to show its age and 4E was on the horizon.
 

That feels a little late. 3E brought a bunch of lapsed gamers back, who then left again when 3.5 started to show its age and 4E was on the horizon.
Yep, that is about my experience too. PF did keep the hobby aloft for a while though. It was not my cup of tea as I always considered it D&D on steroids; but it did a good job.
 

darjr

I crit!
I wonder if it’s possible that DMsGuild has sold more AD&D core books than TSR has? Is that possible to figure out? Is it a silly question?
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I wonder if it’s possible that DMsGuild has sold more AD&D core books than TSR has? Is that possible to figure out? Is it a silly question?
It seems implausible to me. They've only been available on there for a few years, and most people at any given time are buying the current edition. I think interest in older ones is still pretty niche.
 

GreyLord

Legend
I wonder if it’s possible that DMsGuild has sold more AD&D core books than TSR has? Is that possible to figure out? Is it a silly question?

Well...that's a hard question to answer.

The answer to a degree is...There are records being kept which can tell you how many AD&D core books have been sold.

Getting them if you are not a business associate is another matter.

If I may speak in parable for a moment.

Whether they have sold MORE than the AD&D core books is a matter of opinion (I know this will be an unpopular statement here, especially in this thread). I SUPPOSE you could take the information published in certain books that have been released on the matter as the gospel truth, but the problem with gospel truths is that there are a LOT of different religions and they don't always agree.

In that light, it depends on what you believe the numbers sold for the AD&D core books are. How solid do you want your facts to be?

ANOTHER wrench to toss into the matter, which I'm not sure that Riggs or anyone else actually addresses. This actually deals directly with what happened with the Book deal to a degree as well.

There is a DIFFERENCE between the number of books sold, and the number of books sold thru. It depends on how you look at the accounting and how you look at the numbers. Of those not sold thru, how many actually were sold and pushed out and how many stayed in the warehouse?

Were they counted on the same sheets. Which ones are being counted in the graphs? Is that information even being accounted for?

Gospel Truth has a weird thing of being interpreted differently according to different people, even when the words stay the same. And then you have the different Religions overall, which may take a similar idea, but have their own written canon for what they rely on.

It may be Riggs or someone else will be granted access to the DMsguild numbers at some point and use it for a comparison. That can be some people's gospel truth when it comes out.

I don't expect WotC or Hasbro to really touch that line of thought with a ten foot pole though (at least I wouldn't if I were them, but I'm retired overall). It's a pit of serpents that can strike with enough venom to be dangerous...in my opinion.
 

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