D&D General As of 1998, 4,007,685 people played AD&D in the US, as estimated by Ben Riggs.


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It's a good measure of books sold, yes. But there's no real way to extrapolate that out to how many people played. Anyone can make a guess but they're all about as equally valid in that they're all equally wrong.

Right? And on the other side of that coin in our group of 6-8 everyone had their own copy of the PHB and we had 3 DMs who each had their own copy of the DMG.
And were these DMs played only with you and your group or did they have groups of their own? I guess the later is probably true and thus, DMG are much more closer to help us in the estimation of players than the PHB figures are.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
And were these DMs played only with you and your group or did they have groups of their own? I guess the later is probably true and thus, DMG are much more closer to help us in the estimation of players than the PHB figures are.
Nope. They rotated running games for our group. None of them had outside groups to run for.

There's a whole mountain of assumptions Ben's making to arrive at those numbers. Here's a small, partial list of things Ben's guess can't possibly account for. Second-hand books. Gifted books. Shared books. Photocopies. Second copies. Groups with multiple DMGs. Collectors who didn't play.

There are so many variables that it's basically impossible to make anything approaching an accurate guess. If TSR and/or WotC conducted surveys those numbers are likely more accurate. But books sold, plus weird assumptions, plus back-of-napkin math...does not equal number of players.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
He does say guess, several times. It’s a swag to start a discussion. Kinda the reason this place exists?
Right. So here we are discussing things. Only trouble is a lot of people take what Ben says as gospel, so there's not much discussion to be had. Ben makes a statement, a lot of people just believe him, and anyone who says "wait a minute" is then argued with. That's not really a discussion. The start of any discussion cannot be "this person is right."
 

darjr

I crit!
Right. So here we are discussing things. Only trouble is a lot of people take what Ben says as gospel, so there's not much discussion to be had. Ben makes a statement, a lot of people just believe him, and anyone who says "wait a minute" is then argued with. That's not really a discussion. The start of any discussion cannot be "this person is right."
It’s not so much that your saying “wait a minute” it’s the implied sense of condescension. At least it seems that way to me.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
Welcome to the most speculative and controversial post in my series thus far!
Got that right.
I hypothesize that as of 1998, 4,007,685 people played AD&D.
Yikes.
Here’s how I interpreted sales data to reach that figure.

I would posit it was impossible to run AD&D without the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Therefore sales of the DMG can show us the maximum number of POTENTIAL DUNGEON MASTERS.
Utterly terrible assumption with no basis in fact.
The chart below shows us how many DMGs were sold for the three different versions of AD&D released between 1979 and 1998. In addition to showing the sales collapse between editions, it tells us that a total of 2,023,194 DMGs were sold.
As reported by you, with zero corroborating evidence. But, okay...sure.
Now, how many of those DMGs were people rebuying the book?
Literally no way to know without asking them.
148,412 copies of the revised DMG were sold. Let’s assume all of those were rebuys.
An utterly atrocious assumption to make with no basis in fact.
The second edition DMG sold 543,414. Let’s say half of those were rebuys.
Again, an utterly atrocious assumption with no basis in fact.
2,023,194 Total DMGs - 271,707 2nd Ed Rebuys - 128,412 Revised Rebuys = 1,603,075 DMG owners
More terrible assumptions with no basis in fact, but eyeballing the math...it looks right. At least that's something.
Now how many of those buyers actually ran the game? Feel free to make your own guess, but I’m going to be conservative and say only 50% of buyers actually ran the game. Rounding down, that leaves us with 801,537 theoretical DMs.
Again, a terrible assumption with no support. But the math checks out.
Let’s also conservatively assume that each of those DMs ran game for four players at least once.
Sigh. Another baseless assumption that's impossible to corroborate.
That would mean that between ‘79 and ‘98 4,007,685 played AD&D.
Wild guess.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
To many assumptions.

My groups for example were 5 or 6 players and people came and went so I probably played AD&D with 20 odd individuals.

They weren't all active players but they experienced it.

I suspect not much has changed.

I remember WotC claiming 6 million players 1999 or so. They probably just attached a number of players to each dmg perhaps including the floaters.
 

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