WotC Comparing EN World's Demographics to the D&D Community's

WotC released some figures this week. I thought it would be fun to compare them to the demographics of our own little community here on EN World for the same period (2019).

WotC uses a metric it refers to as 40,000,000 'D&D Fans', but that's not defined. For the purposes of this, I assume a fan is a person who has interacted directly with D&D in some way (played a game, bought a book, watch a stream, played a video game, etc.) A fan's a fan, however they interact with D&D!

For comparison, I'm using people who have interacted with EN World in some way -- and what we can measure is unique visitors. Obviously this isn't on the same scale (40M people is a LOT) but it doesn't matter too much for what we're doing here; they're both samples for conversation. So, let's start at the top!
  • Short version: EN World skews younger, but more male than the overall D&D community.
WotC is looking at 40M fans, we're looking at 5.6M unique users (as opposed to overall visits, which numbers in the tens of millions). We get this data using Google Analytics, which provides a lot of anonymized demographic data. I can't identify any individual person with this; it merely shows the overall numbers. Our demographic data includes just under half of those 5.6M users; I don't know how WotC's data is derived. I know they do surveys from time to time, but I don't know what percentage of those 40M fans fill out those forms.

As an aside - 40 million D&D fans is awesome! We're definitely living in a golden age of tabletop gaming, and as the market leader, WotC is the entity most responsible for bringing in new gamers. Well, maybe Critical Role is, but they're playing D&D!

Age

So, the controversial data that everybody on Twitter is talking about -- the age groups. Google Analytics breaks it down a little differently to WotC's figures, so here's what we have. GA doesn't give stats on people under 18 years of age. The figures below are those GA has data on for EN World -- obviously that's only about half of overall users.

Age​
Numbers​
Percentage​
18-24592,401 users24.58%
25-341,309,373 users54.33%
35-44330,755 users13.46%
45-54138,372 users5.74%
55-6426,689 users1.11%
65+12,631 users0.52%

As you can see, the figures aren't as evenly distributed as WotC's. There's a significant number of 25-34 year-olds, and a higher number of 18-24 year-olds. Also, it shows people above the age of 45, who don't appear in WotC's stats.
  • We show a slightly higher percentage of people 34 or under (79% compared to WotC's measure of 74%) although we're not measuring people under 18, which would skew it younger if we were.
  • 26% of WotC's audience is over 25, while only 20% of EN World's is.
  • 7.37% of EN World's audience is over 45.
  • Under 18s are not included in the stats.
  • EN World skews younger than the D&D community overall.
Screen Shot 2020-04-25 at 12.09.27 AM.png

For comparison, here are WotC's figures.

Screen Shot 2020-04-25 at 12.42.49 AM.png


I've turned them into a quick and dirty bar graph. The number of players increases slowly from 8 up until age 35, peaking at ages 30-34, and then it starts to drop off sharply. That's the same age that the drop-off on EN World's readership takes place, too. Seems about 30 is peak age.

wotc_age.jpg


And here are those same figures in absolute numbers -- 10% of 40,000,000 people is a LOT of people!

Age​
Percentage​
Numbers​
8-1212%4.8 million
13-1713%5.2 million
18-2415%6 million
25-2915%6 million
30-3419%7.6 million
35-3915%6 million
40-4511%4.4 million

Gender

The gender demographics here skew much more male than WotC's stats do. Google Analytics shows male and female (it doesn't track non-binary people) and reports on under half of overall users (2.3M out of 5.6M total).

Of those, it reports 85.56% male, 14.44% female. It doesn't provide data on non-binary visitors.

Screen Shot 2020-04-25 at 12.08.51 AM.png



Geography

WotC's report shows that Europe is growing for them. As a European (at least geographically!) that's heartwarming news for me. So here's some figures on EN World's geographical distribution.

As you can see, it skews primarily English-speaking heavily, which is expected for an English-language community.

United States3,376,839 users59.14%
United Kingdom (yay!)478,217 users8.38%
Canada411,179 users7.2%
Australia198,922 users3.48%
Brazil125,682 users2.2%
Germany109,248 users1.91%
Italy95,682 users1.68%
Netherlands74,139 users1.3%
Sweden51,479 users0.9%
Spain47,096 users0.82%

The list goes on for pages, but we're under 1% now.

The average EN World reader is male, American, between 25-34.
 
Last edited:

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Reynard

Legend
Given that these forums skew significantly older than the general player population, I would guess there are a lot of bits of anecdotal evidence supporting the idea that new players are being introduced by the previous generation. I doubt that's an actual significant trend. I think millenials and zoomers are discovering D&D by way of Critical Role and other media influences, and are buying books and teaching themselves to play. Which is a good thing. They will come in with fresh ideas and the game will benefit from it.
 

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Given that these forums skew significantly older than the general player population, I would guess there are a lot of bits of anecdotal evidence supporting the idea that new players are being introduced by the previous generation. I doubt that's an actual significant trend. I think millenials and zoomers are discovering D&D by way of Critical Role and other media influences, and are buying books and teaching themselves to play. Which is a good thing. They will come in with fresh ideas and the game will benefit from it.
In general i think d&d players have almost always been introduced to it by older players. Not just now. Ill also bet that the median age on critical role is older than the median age of people they introduce to d&d by a decade.
 

Reynard

Legend
In general i think d&d players have almost always been introduced to it by older players. Not just now. Ill also bet that the median age on critical role is older than the median age of people they introduce to d&d by a decade.
I think as long as D&D has had a presence people have decided it looked cool and bought it and tried to figure it out. I also think they have begged their older siblings/cousins/friends to let them play. I have never seen any data that says which path in is more common or more likely to produce long term gamers.
 

Mark Hope

Adventurer
Given that these forums skew significantly older than the general player population, I would guess there are a lot of bits of anecdotal evidence supporting the idea that new players are being introduced by the previous generation. I doubt that's an actual significant trend. I think millenials and zoomers are discovering D&D by way of Critical Role and other media influences, and are buying books and teaching themselves to play. Which is a good thing. They will come in with fresh ideas and the game will benefit from it.
In the case of my daughter's group, a couple of them had heard of D&D through Critical Role and, I believe, the Adventure Zone, but were enjoying it as media, not as something you do. The others were all fresh to the concept and the game. My son's group had never heard of any of the streams. Like you, I've no idea which is more common in the overall.
 

akr71

Hero
I can wait to have kids old enough to play d&d...
We started when my son was barely 7 - below the 'suggested age' of 10 and my daughter was 12. Of course I started playing with my dad & older brother when I was around 7 or 8 also...

Some simple math skills help, but aren't essential - I maintained my son's character sheet for the first year or so. Also, keeping game content age appropriate - that is, make them feel like superheros, monsters and encounters are rarely lethal and short sessions to match their short attention spans.

It wasn't long before my son started running very free-form games for us. A lot of it was improv story telling hugely influenced on the cartoons he was watching, and our characters were basically boiled down to 2 or 3 'stats' & 'skills' that he assigned us. A lot of Last-Airbender/Ninjago types stuff.
 

We started when my son was barely 7 - below the 'suggested age' of 10 and my daughter was 12. Of course I started playing with my dad & older brother when I was around 7 or 8 also...

Some simple math skills help, but aren't essential - I maintained my son's character sheet for the first year or so. Also, keeping game content age appropriate - that is, make them feel like superheros, monsters and encounters are rarely lethal and short sessions to match their short attention spans.

It wasn't long before my son started running very free-form games for us. A lot of it was improv story telling hugely influenced on the cartoons he was watching, and our characters were basically boiled down to 2 or 3 'stats' & 'skills' that he assigned us. A lot of Last-Airbender/Ninjago types stuff.
Its a typo

"Can" was supposed to be "cant"

I CANT wait. As in im excited.

HORRIBLE typo. Made the whole statement read like the opposite of what I meant.
 

akr71

Hero
@Son of the Serpent my eyes missed the typo. I assumed the "can't" and you were excited to teach your kids to game.

I was trying to say that the 'suggested age' is just that - a suggestion. You'll know when they're ready - and they'll blow you away with their creativity in-game.
 

@Son of the Serpent my eyes missed the typo. I assumed the "can't" and you were excited to teach your kids to game.

I was trying to say that the 'suggested age' is just that - a suggestion. You'll know when they're ready - and they'll blow you away with their creativity in-game.
wrings hands, head hunched forward and then I'll tell them immersive horror stories with demons they can fight.

I am very excite.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Given that these forums skew significantly older than the general player population, I would guess there are a lot of bits of anecdotal evidence supporting the idea that new players are being introduced by the previous generation. I doubt that's an actual significant trend. I think millenials and zoomers are discovering D&D by way of Critical Role and other media influences, and are buying books and teaching themselves to play. Which is a good thing. They will come in with fresh ideas and the game will benefit from it.

Bit of both: that 1 out of 9 crowd is going to draw in enough new people to be significant, but it is bigger than that.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I would guess there are a lot of bits of anecdotal evidence supporting the idea that new players are being introduced by the previous generation.

"Generation" is probably the wrong word here - I was introduced to RPGs by my brother, who is a few years older than me, but the same generation.

I doubt that's an actual significant trend.

History is not strictly a predictor of future behavior, and EN World is a self-selected population, but.. raise your hand if you didn't have someone bring you into the hobby and show you the ropes.

I think millenials and zoomers are discovering D&D by way of Critical Role and other media influences, and are buying books and teaching themselves to play. Which is a good thing. They will come in with fresh ideas and the game will benefit from it.

shrug Anecdote - my goddaughter wanted to learn how to play, so I ran a game for her. She then picked up Critical Role, and then taught her friends, two of whom now also run their own games. Definite chain of mentorship there.
 

Reynard

Legend
History is not strictly a predictor of future behavior, and EN World is a self-selected population, but.. raise your hand if you didn't have someone bring you into the hobby and show you the ropes.

::raises hand:: My dad bought it when I was 10 and he, my brothers and I all learned together. He only played 2 games before it became ours, but there was no mentorship for me in 1985.
 

Lem23

Adventurer
History is not strictly a predictor of future behavior, and EN World is a self-selected population, but.. raise your hand if you didn't have someone bring you into the hobby and show you the ropes.

raises hand.

Saw the D&D stuff in a local games shop (Back when Games Workshop sold mostly historical wargames fgures, boardgames, chess sets, wooden puzzles etc, and didn't have their own range of games or figures). D&D basic boxed set and AD&D were on the shelves and looked interesting, so I spent my pocket money on the basic set (it was cheaper than AD&D). Read it over the next couple of days, found it to my liking, mentioned it to a couple of friends, and we soon had a small group of half a dozen players. Had never even seen an advert for it before, never knew anyone else who'd played it, the nearest we came was a couple of people who'd enjoyed Warlock of Firetop Mountain, which hadn't been out that long.
 

Reynard

Legend
raises hand.

Saw the D&D stuff in a local games shop (Back when Games Workshop sold mostly historical wargames fgures, boardgames, chess sets, wooden puzzles etc, and didn't have their own range of games or figures). D&D basic boxed set and AD&D were on the shelves and looked interesting, so I spent my pocket money on the basic set (it was cheaper than AD&D). Read it over the next couple of days, found it to my liking, mentioned it to a couple of friends, and we soon had a small group of half a dozen players. Had never even seen an advert for it before, never knew anyone else who'd played it, the nearest we came was a couple of people who'd enjoyed Warlock of Firetop Mountain, which hadn't been out that long.
This underscores the importance of presence in stores, especially places like Target and Walmart (in the US). I would imagine you get a lot of relatively young first time players that way.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
History is not strictly a predictor of future behavior, and EN World is a self-selected population, but.. raise your hand if you didn't have someone bring you into the hobby and show you the ropes.
Raises hand.

I taught myself using the black box with the red dragon on the cover. Taught my sister and a few friends. It wasn't until years later that I actually met people who had prior experience with the game.
 

Lem23

Adventurer
This underscores the importance of presence in stores, especially places like Target and Walmart (in the US). I would imagine you get a lot of relatively young first time players that way.

For the time, maybe, but we're taling nearly 40 years ago now. Time's moved on, as have different media. The internet can reach a lot more people than any store can, for example. Podcasts and Twitch channels probably provide better access these days. Plus, when we started playing, there weren't that many older generations playing, now I would think a lot of people that get into it have older siblings, parents, grandparents who played where we didn't.
 

darjr

I crit!
My first session was the Moldvey box, and we had zero level characters cause numbers started at 0 right?

But my older Sister was so not happy about it she ran a game for us and nearly TPKd
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
This underscores the importance of presence in stores, especially places like Target and Walmart (in the US). I would imagine you get a lot of relatively young first time players that way.

Well, anecdotally.

I would be unsurprised to hear that the physical store channel is small these days, by comparison to what Amazon delivers. Is there going to be a large channel of "never heard about it before, saw it in Target" as opposed to the "My friend showed me this Critical Role thing, and I then bought it on Amazon" channel?
 

Reynard

Legend
Well, anecdotally.

I would be unsurprised to hear that the physical store channel is small these days, by comparison to what Amazon delivers. Is there going to be a large channel of "never heard about it before, saw it in Target" as opposed to the "My friend showed me this Critical Role thing, and I then bought it on Amazon" channel?
I mean, sure, I guess, but it's hard to tell from inside the internet using customer base already. The starter set getting back onto store shelves was a big deal at the time, so I imagine it was something WotC wanted to see. Who knows how it worked out for them, how many they sold, and how many new players came into the game that way. My kids (13 and 16) do buy stuff online but they also get gift cards and like to go to stores, and often come home with things that intrigued them there rather than things they knew they needed or wanted walking in. Never underestimate the power of money to burn a hole in the pocket of the young.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Well, anecdotally.

I would be unsurprised to hear that the physical store channel is small these days, by comparison to what Amazon delivers. Is there going to be a large channel of "never heard about it before, saw it in Target" as opposed to the "My friend showed me this Critical Role thing, and I then bought it on Amazon" channel?
I can’t speak for WotC, or similar companies, but the physical store channel for ENP is a fraction of the online channels. And that’s despite our efforts to get books into stores.

I guess it’s the opposite for WotC?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I mean, sure, I guess, but it's hard to tell from inside the internet using customer base already.

Is it?

The PBH is currently selling on Amazon.co for $18... and it is ranked #70 in books. Not in genre books. Not in gaming books. Just in books. At #70 five years and more after publication?

The Essentials Kit is #610 in Books. The Starter Set is #412 in Books. These things would need to be flying off the shelves of game stores - that are mostly closed at this moment - to support those kind of PHB sales, wouldn't they?
 

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