D&D Increases Its Lead In Orr Groups Q3 2015 Report

It's that time again! Every quarter or so, we get stats from The Orr Group, Fantasy Grounds, and ICv2. Usually, they all say the same thing - over the last year, they've all been saying that Dungeons & Dragons has retaken its #1 market position from Pathfinder. The Orr Group's Q3 2015 (that's July - September) stats just came in. The Orr Group maintains the Roll20 virtual tabletop app, which has over a million users. These stats indicate that D&D has held on to its overall lead, and that for the first time the player count is the highest, as opposed to just the number of games.

Below, as usual, I present the stats. D&D leads Pathfinder by 10% in terms of number of games, and by 3% in terms of number of players. I'm not sure how to interpret those two different figures - but I'm sure you will in the comments! Interestingly, D&D 4E is higher than any non-D&D-derived (by which I include Pathfinder) game - D&D and its derivatives have nearly 70% of the number of games played. As Monte Cook once observed in an interview I conducted with him and Shanna Germain, it's interesting that the top spots are being vied for by variations of Dungeons & Dragons by a BIG margin.


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Orr Group's previous report is here. In that report D&D had 25% of the number of games, and 31% of the number of players, and now it has 30% and 41% respectively. That's some growth. Pathfinder has dropped very slightly (and it is slight) to 20% and 37% from 21% and 40%.

Also see the ICv2 figures from the last few years (I expect new figures soon). They say much the same thing, especially the Spring 2015 ICv2 report, as, indeed, did Fantasy Grounds' latest report (although now they're officially licensed by WotC their stats are probably not as useful).
 
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Russ Morrissey

Comments

chibi graz'zt

Villager
LONG LIVE D&D (& 5e)!!
Congrats, more factual evidence that 5e is a resounding success and is actually being played, not just put on game shelves.
 

Cody C. Lewis

Villager
Ok I just looked up my account and I currently have spent 517 hours "on Roll20" (which really means actually logged into a game, not PLAYING a game ie GM prep work counts)

A couple of things to point out super quick.

1. The 1 million accounts - several people have made comments about how exaggerated this is. A.) That number does NOT count monthly subs; free players are counted, B.) Additionally it counts anyone who has ever created an account even if they are not active or ever were very active, C.) while someone CAN create multiple accounts, I do not know a single person who has nor would I see a reason for someone to do so as even those free players who would try and get more storage space on their account wouldn't really need a second account unless they have uploaded a metric ton of images (I'm 500+ hours in and I wouldn't have passed my limit if I were f2p). So I would imagine while it may not be truly 1 million unique users, I 100% believe it is still a good gauge to get an idea of how many people were interested enough to create an account.

2. The Players count you see on the report counts everyone who has simply 'tagged' their own user page with games they are interested in / and could play. I myself have the tags 3.5, PF, 5e. But I have not played a single 3.5 game over the last 2 years on Roll20. One of the guys in my group still had his profile tagged with 4e last time I checked and we have only played 4e literally one time since we started on Roll20. If you are trying to understand who is playing what game, counting someone like him for 4e or me for 3.5 is not really going to give you a true representation of what people are playing.

3. Game counts are a touch wonky too. Because any account can create several games. Additionally I do not believe you HAVE to tag your game with what system you are playing when you create a new game. I currently have 6 games I am in right now on Roll20. 1 my group uses the forums on to schedule our 'league', 1 PF game I am currently GMing, 1 5e game I am building the player's handbook into, 1 5e game my friend runs (we do 2 weeks of me and 2 weeks of him), 1 PF Way of the Wicked game I have joined that we will start when my game finishes in 3 weeks, and 1 PF module -Crypt of the Everflame- I built into a game so I can run it with strangers if I ever am bored.

So as a 500+ hour Roll20 user my advice on how to use this data is game count is probably more telling than player count as a snapshot of what people are playing right now. Player count is most likely a more accurate description of what people could be playing in the future if they lose interest in 5e (maybe move back to 3.5/pf).

EDIT: A good example of what I am saying is the Munchkin numbers. Only a handful of games actually being played but they have a lot of players who have tagged their profiles with Munchkin. Which means not many people are playing Munchkin; but quite a few people would be able to play Munchkin if they were bored with their current game. Also, that is a fun word. Munchkin.

Finally Roll20 is awesome. Without Roll20, I would not have been able to start gaming again. Period.

If you have never tried it out, seriously go check it out. If for any reason you are not getting your RPG fix, you can easily get a group up and running over there.
 
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Agamon

Adventurer
And how many of these 'games' are actually games that are being played, versus some signed up for for and never really went anywhere.

I'd much rather see stats on 'completed' games, if someone can arrive at a definition for what is completed.
You could look at number of times players have logged into any one game, but otherwise, it'd be like asking your table (not the people at the table, the actual table) in your face-to-face game if you're done your game yet. Roll20 is just a tool.
 

Cody C. Lewis

Villager
You could look at number of times players have logged into any one game, but otherwise, it'd be like asking your table (not the people at the table, the actual table) in your face-to-face game if you're done your game yet. Roll20 is just a tool.
I wonder if they could try and better define "create games" vs let's call it "actively played games" vs "gaming sessions"

Like Created games = created games tagged by system
Gaming Sessions = 3 or more people logged into a game simultaneously for one hour or more; this would eliminate GMs logging into their games for prep work.
Actively played games = any game that has had at least one 'gaming session' during the quarter

I'm not sure they could track a gaming session like that, but I think that would be the info we all would want to see.

Though I bet they would not want to show this data anyway as it would make their numbers look significantly smaller as a whole.
 

jaycrockett

Explorer
I definitely have to question the validity of these stats. Looking through the list I noticed 'Simple System' on there, a game that doesn't exist. I know because I backed the kickstarter. The author published support for roll20 but then cancelled the project later.

The stats list 60 games of Simple System. I checked my account and sure enough I had created a game, to check out the tool support in roll20. I never played the game, no one did, the full rules never came out. That was probably just the 60 people who backed the kickstarter and wanted to check out the tool support.

Also I checked out my profile, I never said 'enjoys playing' Simple system. So I'm pretty sure the player numbers are coming from players in created games.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
I find it interesting that almost the same number of people playing Pathfinder stuck with D&D 3.5. I personally would go with the supported variation of the ruleset (i.e. Pathfinder) but it seems that a significnt number of people see value in the base 3.5 ruleset.
If 5E hadn't come out and I'd wanted to "play D&D", I probably would have used 3.5 rather than Pathfinder. I had so much stuff for 3.5 that I was pretty much done spending money on d20, anyway. Very hypothetical, though, since I was playing other games.
 

LexStarwalker

Villager
There are a lot of problems with these statistics, many of which have been already mentioned. When your "Others" category is so high up, that's a clear sign you need to split that category up. Others is meaningless in data interpretation. There's also way too much bias in the categories--how many categories for D&D, and yet all Star Wars systems get lumped together? Come on.
 

Dire Bare

Adventurer
There are a lot of problems with these statistics, many of which have been already mentioned. When your "Others" category is so high up, that's a clear sign you need to split that category up. Others is meaningless in data interpretation. There's also way too much bias in the categories--how many categories for D&D, and yet all Star Wars systems get lumped together? Come on.
The stats given aren't meaningless or invalid, and they don't have any problems.

They are, certainly, limited and can only tell us so much.

The ORR group isn't a RPG research institute doing scientific studies of RPG usage for the benefit of mankind (wouldn't that be cool). They are a game company simply sharing data with us becdause they think we might find it interesting. And they're right!

The stats certainly can't be used (or, well, shouldn't) to "prove" anything other than the obvious, that the 5th edition of D&D is the most popular game being played right now on Roll20. It's one data point, along with other data points like the IcV2 rankings, that give us an incomplete picture of what's hot right now.

Some of us find this sort of analysis, limited as it is, interesting. Others don't. Either way, that's fine. But I tire of the back-and-forth complaining so many of us do in these types of threads. Ah, well.

The specific categories listed make sense to what the ORR group wants to track for Roll20. D&D is separated out because D&D as a whole is a wildly popular game system. Stars Wars is lumped together, despite the huge variances in rule systems, because (as cool as Star Wars is) the total number of folks playing isn't that large. The categories wouldn't make sense if this were some sort of objective research project being reported on, but that's isn't what this is.
 

doctheweasel

Explorer
Why is Dungeon World separated from "Apocalypse World System" Games? It seems like an arbitrary split that puts both entries further down the list.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Why is Dungeon World separated from "Apocalypse World System" Games? It seems like an arbitrary split that puts both entries further down the list.
It's what gamers self selected, I assume. You can add the numbers together if you want. The data is there for you to do what you want with.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Just weird that they would offer two categories like that when they bundle up other games.
Does it matter?

Anywhere they subdivide is better, as that provides more detail. Those two categories are much more informative than the one giant smooshed Star Wars category is. Or one giant smooshed D&D category would be. You can add subdivisions together, but you can't split up combined categories.

Subdivision FTW!
 

Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
I think we underestimate the number of players out there who don't buy new books. I mean, good grief, even though there hasn't been a new 3.5 book out in years, there's still hundreds, if not thousands (if you count 3pp) titles for the line. There's enough modules for 3.5 to essentially play forever and never have to write a single adventure. Dozens of settings and whatnot. And, because of the Hypertext SRD, you can play 3.5 with very little buy in.

Yes, I know Pathfinder has an online srd as well, but, those who started and stayed with 3e have no real reason to change, and the Pathfinder books are so darn thick, and you still only have a single setting with a solid wall of adventures deeply buried in that single setting, I think it becomes somewhat impenetrable for new players.

What blows my mind is you have one MILLION players on Roll20. Holy CRAP! Online play has landed and it's here to stay.
I've been running (and now playing) in a fortnightly 3.5E campaign since 2006. We've had 4 campaigns in that time, with the shortest one still going from 3rd level to about 10th-11th level.

I've discovered that running high-level 3.5E D&D isn't as much fun as it sounds, but the lower levels are still a lot of fun. I own all of the 3.5E "Complete" books, along with a number of other WotC 3.5E sourcebooks such as MIC, RC, SC as well as the various MM's, Heroes of X, Races of X, etc.

There's that much crunch in all of those books that my group hasn't even got close to trying out all of base classes, let alone all the extra feats, spells, PrC and magic items. Plus I've got that many 3.5E adventures that I could easily run another dozen campaigns and still have a heap of adventures still to run.

The only reason we're going to switch to 5E after our current campaign ends is because we've started to see the "cracks" in the system and are looking for something that's a little less work to run.

At least now I feel like I've gotten a bit more value for money from all of those 3.XE books sitting on my shelf.
 

Hussar

Legend
Even if the numbers are wonky, even if we take 10% of those numbers, that still means there's a 100, 000 players on Roll20. That's FANTASTIC. That's HUGE.

I've been saying it for years that I could never, ever understand why none of the game publishers would stand up and create a VTT for their game. It still absolutely baffles me why no one is doing this. Heck, WOTC still outsources to Fantasy Grounds to license the VTT. It's a huge, growing market that is not going to go away.

It must be a lot harder to create a VTT that I think it is, because this can't be that huge of an investment.
 

Nylanfs

Explorer
Hussar, PCGen has had continuous development for 16 years, with a team of generally 2-6 code monkeys the entire time. There is AFAIK (I'm going to check with the code guys) more than 100k lines of code in JUST the engine, not including the data. That is JUST for a character generator, which a VTT will have to understand a good chunk of that info. Then pile the graphical overlay into it, networking, etc. And then add in the fact that any RPG is an exception based system. The very next book that comes out might break your entire code base because it includes something that can't be handled by the current codebase.

The reason you are seeing a rise of VTT's in the last few years is because of the rise of game engine's like Unity. Everything doesn't have to be built in-house anymore. Just the custom things you need to hook into the stable game engine.


edit: Proves I'm not in code, I had wildly over estimated the lines of code.
 
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Denys

Villager
For me, I'm kind of shocked how terrible the Iron Kingdoms is doing on this chart. I know Roll20 isn't representative of the entire rpg community at all but it's not an entirely invalid look at what's popular.

Given how little support the game is given by the publisher nowadays, I guess IK has really tanked for Privateer Press.
 

smiteworks

Explorer
It must be a lot harder to create a VTT that I think it is, because this can't be that huge of an investment.
I will second what has already been said. The two top RPG companies both invested in making their own VTT. In both cases, they got fairly far along in the very beginning and it looked like they were much farther along than they actually were. After an initial investment, both projects were canceled or just stalled indefinitely.

Fantasy Grounds was written in 2004 originally and then was updated continuously until I bought the company in 2009. It has been continuously updated since that time again. Each of our rulesets is like a separate VTT project build, as well, but we are at least able to build upon a common core of functionality. We have several full-time, highly skilled professional developers working on it and around 30 or so community developers who work on anything from content to pure programming. We recently added Carl Pinder, who wrote Tabletop Connect from the ground up in Unity. He is another highly skilled, professional video game developer and he spent an unknown amount of time developing something for a Kickstarter that he launched in August 2008 and then spent the last two years continuing to develop it.

I also know the stories of several other VTT companies, because we often talk with each other and I know that they have similarly invested years (or decades) worth of coding. It's a challenging problem to solve and the expectations by consumers are very high. When you combine that with constantly changing requirements (i.e. new editions or RPG product releases), it just becomes untenable to expect even a big RPG publisher to build their own system and also continue to produce their existing content.
 

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