Ben Riggs Releases Historical Sales Numbers for D&D Settings


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darjr

I crit!
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darjr

I crit!
Behold! Sales numbers for Greyhawk and Oriental Adventures!

The first chart is a sales comparison of core Greyhawk setting releases between ‘79 and ‘94. The second shows sales of Oriental Adventures between ‘85 and ‘92. (It has no recorded sales after ‘92.)

There are some strange features on these charts which may be the result of sloppy bookkeeping at TSR because they just look so weird. For example, the Greyhawk Rulebook and World of Greyhawk all have years with zero sales, which just seems like a statistical oddity if it isn’t someone making a mistake in record-keeping.

There are also years with more returns than sales, which is why the chart does dip into negative territory.

I have so much setting data that I’m having trouble processing in charts, so for now, I’m going to post by setting, and then when it’s all out there, I’m going to compile some totals.

I’m posting actual sales numbers below for those that are interested.

Like these posts? Have you preordered my book on D&D history yet? Click the link in the comments below!

And remember, he has a book with many more details, in preorder here

 



aco175

Legend
1990 was a terrible year for Greyhawk. Does the negative number mean that people returned 20,000 copies or just that retailers returned unsold stock?
 




Jer

Legend
Supporter
1990 was a terrible year for Greyhawk.
Keep in mind what else is going on at the time - in 1989 TSR published 2e. The huge number of returns of unsold Greyhawk Adventures is probably because it came out literally months before the new edition dropped. Despite how we view 1e and 2e now, back then there was definitely a stripe of "why would I buy a 1e book when 2e is out now" going on and I suspect retailers were burned by it.
The Facebook responses are amazing, for instance THE D&D historian noted that he had to think about it and that he indeed didn’t even OWN a copy of “From the Ashes”
That From the Ashes 2e version of Greyhawk is also a blind spot in my own collection.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
The Facebook responses are amazing, for instance THE D&D historian noted that he had to think about it and that he indeed didn’t even OWN a copy of “From the Ashes”
I hear that it was pretty good, but controversial among the Greyhawk Fandom, due to the existence of metaplot (my Greyhawk experience was 3E era, and getting the old box set on DMsGuild).
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
A little surprised at the lack of legs for the Greyhawk and Oriental cringe Adventures products: almost everyone who would buy them picked them up within the first calendar year of release.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I'm not entirely sure the Greyhawk Adventures line sliding into negatives necessarily reflects returns from distributors/retailers. It might, but then why the little boom right after it?

There was a GenCon in that time period, I think during that little upturn, where I bought my copy for something like $4.00 at the TSR booth. The story they told me was that they had found some that had been poorly inventoried (lost in a warehouse or something) and so they were fixing to move them all at a low price.

I don't believe it had anything to do with 2e having just appeared. The Greyhawk Adventures hardcover has a blurb printed right on the cover that it's 2e compatible.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I'm not entirely sure the Greyhawk Adventures line sliding into negatives necessarily reflects returns from distributors/retailers. It might, but then why the little boom right after it?

There was a GenCon in that time period, I think during that little upturn, where I bought my copy for something like $4.00 at the TSR booth. The story they told me was that they had found some that had been poorly inventoried (lost in a warehouse or something) and so they were fixing to move them all at a low price.

I don't believe it had anything to do with 2e having just appeared. The Greyhawk Adventures hardcover has a blurb printed right on the cover that it's 2e compatible.
@BenRiggs does cite in the Twitger thread that there are weird gaps that suggest some bade accounting was occuring.
 


Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
So...hum...Greyhawk was not all that big?

I wasnt even born back then, but those numbers seems kinda small? Of course it was an other time, so maybe those WERE big numbers?

Can somebody make those numbers speak for us younglings?
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
So...hum...Greyhawk was not all that big?

I wasnt even born back then, but those numbers seems kinda small? Of course it was an other time, so maybe those WERE big numbers?

Can somebody make those numbers speak for us younglings?
I mean, each sale equates to one table worth of players and DMs, so that's still a shared experience for like half a million folks in the 80's, and a fair chunk of change for TSR.

I bet the Forgotten Realms numbers will be fascinating, one way or another.
 

darjr

I crit!
Good point. The more numbers are released the more sense some things make, at least in the sense that stark reality of financials may have forced a decision or two. Even given TSRs shenanigans. Now consider you are WotC and you just bought TSR and your looking at this.?
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I remember buying Greyhawk Adventures and Dragonlance Adventures for six bucks each at shop that also had the Wilderness and Dungeoneer's Survival Guides at that price. Unfortunately, I had already paid full price for both the survival guides. Worse still, a while later I'd return to that store and see them all marked down to $4 each!
 


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