D&D General All Basic, B/X and BECMI and Rules Cyclopedia set sales, from Ben Riggs.


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Parmandur

Book-Friend
I will also note how interesting it is that the Basic box sold very, very well...but anything past thst didn't hold a candle to just Basic or the AD&D line. Almost like a Basic box leading directly into the core books is a good product strategy...looks at 2014 D&D product lineup significantly

Fun trivia fact, the initial plan with 5E was to call the Starter Set "Basic Dungeons & Dragons" (which they kept for the online rules document), amd the main three books "Advanced Dungeons & Drafons", bit their market research found that this confused and intimidated customers so they dropped it.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I mean, that's the thing: all of them sold well enough to establish vocal fanbases in convention and online forum spaces.
Right...but the better selling B/X doesn't seem to have that same kind of vocal fanbase. It's odd. People talk up BECMI and the RC all the time, but until Old-School Essentials came along it seemed like people barely remembered B/X at all.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Right...but the better selling B/X doesn't seem to have that same kind of vocal fanbase. It's odd. People talk up BECMI and the RC all the time, but until Old-School Essentials came along it seemed like people barely remembered B/X at all.
I saw tons of people online tout the rules of B/X as cleaner than Mentzer, as long as I've been paying attention. I guess it turns out that wasn't a fringe opinion.
 

darjr

I crit!
Right...but the better selling B/X doesn't seem to have that same kind of vocal fanbase. It's odd. People talk up BECMI and the RC all the time, but until Old-School Essentials came along it seemed like people barely remembered B/X at all.
I think that’s because the people who kept playing did move to AD&D. Kinda dismissing B/X.

Those that didn’t leave B/X behind, well they didn’t keep doing D&D.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I think that’s because the people who kept playing did move to AD&D. Kinda dismissing B/X.

Those that didn’t leave B/X behind, well they didn’t keep doing D&D.
Fair point, but I've seen a lot.of B/X partisa ship over the years, prior to OSE.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Weird how this all works, if the numbers are accurate. Most old-school Basic players swear by the RC. But its sales are not great. B/X is usually regarded as the lesser of B/X and BECMI...yet B/X stomped BECMI.
There were definitely multiple waves of new young players who came in with Holmes, B/X, and BECMI, but by the time BECMI was released the fad was on the wane (1983 was the last real year of it), whereas B/X's entire publishing lifespan was in the fad period.

IME people swearing by the RC is a more modern phenomenon. Certainly SOME folks liked it on initial release, but 1991 was well after sales were on the down trend and other games had started eating D&D's lunch. I remember that, as an AD&D-playing teenager, when I and my friends saw the RC we were a bit confused about the point of it. We saw the Basic/Classic D&D line as having been aimed at kids and functionally supplanted by AD&D. I think I picked it up and looked it over, as I remember it being well-reviewed, but the terrible interior art was a turn off.

B/X and BECMI have also benefited from retrospective re-evaluation, but most of our generation came in with one of those versions, and have some nostalgic memories of them, even if we then dismissed them as kiddie versions compared with AD&D. IME B/X, BECMI and the RC have all now gotten substantial critical re-evaluation since the OSR started ~15-17 years ago.
 


Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I bet a lot of folks that played AD&D picked up the Companion set for the War Machine and Domain rules.
That's possible. I would guess that lots of however many B/X players still existed also bought that one, as Cook Expert had promised a follow-up Companion book to go to higher levels, so this would have finally fulfilled that promise.

Still doesn't explain the 1987 sales bump, though.
 

Reynard

Legend
That's possible. I would guess that lots of however many B/X players still existed also bought that one, as Cook Expert had promised a follow-up Companion book to go to higher levels, so this would have finally fulfilled that promise.

Still doesn't explain the 1987 sales bump, though.
Yeah, I would guess that is about when I discovered it, probably at a Waldenbooks, so maybe it had something to do with distribution?
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
One thing to keep in mind is that, if I recall correctly, these numbers are only for North America. That's apparently significant, because the total sales numbers for the Denning set (i.e. the black boxed set of 1991) sold just under three hundred thousand units according to this chart. But in 30 Years of Adventure, Steve Winter says it sold over a half-million units worldwide.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
One thing to keep in mind is that, if I recall correctly, these numbers are only for North America. That's apparently significant, because the total sales numbers for the Denning set (i.e. the black boxed set of 1991) sold just under three hundred thousand units according to this chart. But in 30 Years of Adventure, Steve Winter says it sold over a half-million units worldwide.
Yeah, for a lot of the world BECMI is actually the only version of D&D that hit the market, and was successful.
 





Parmandur

Book-Friend
Didn't BECMI blow up in Japan? Which eventually got them to create their own RPG, Sword World.
Yup, with locally sourced Manga style art:

2018-06-04-19.27.14.jpg


 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
Was it the Mentzer set specifically in Japan?
That's the Rules Cyclopedia, which was ironically separated into different books. My understanding is that anyone playing Moldvay or Mentzer was importing English books and translating themselves for play, sort of an inverse of the Anime and Manga Fandom in the U.S. But the people doing that were often working in Manga, Anime, and video games...so Basic had a big influence in Japanese pop culture before getting thst official RC release.
 

Audiomancer

Explorer
That's possible. I would guess that lots of however many B/X players still existed also bought that one, as Cook Expert had promised a follow-up Companion book to go to higher levels, so this would have finally fulfilled that promise.

Still doesn't explain the 1987 sales bump, though.
This was definitely the case for me. I started with the B/X box sets, and begrudgingly bought B and E. When the Companion set arrived, I was glad to finally have the expansion/extension of BX that I’d been waiting for.
 

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