D&D General D&D's Utter Dominance Is Good or Bad Because...

Reynard

Legend
D&D, especially 5E D&D, is utterly dominant in the marketplace and the fandom. This creates problems, but also has benefits. So, in your opinions, what are those problems and benefits. Why is D&D's dominance bad? Why is it good?

For me (and the reason i started this thread): D&D's dominance is bad because any time you try and find out how to doa thing in RPGs or with a RPG adjacent tool, you inevitably get D&D answers, which probably isn't particularly relevant if you aren't running D&D. Just trying to google how to do thing on various VTTs, for example, you will inevitably get a D&D specific answer for the question and have a hard time finding a generic answer.

In addition, since D&D is constantly drawing in new players, the vast majority of the discussion online, including youtube etc, is beginner stuff. it is very hard to find videos that talk about advanced topics or lean toward the interests and issues of those who have been playing for decades.

On the upside, D&D dominance keeps game stores afloat, which is good, since we need game stores.
 

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ezo

Hero
Great post!

D&D dominance is good because it helps keep the industry thriving. It encourages new people to join in, and for many of them D&D might not be quite what they want. We have a player who, through D&D initially, has learned about and is now running a Vampire game--for other new players who've never been into RPGs. Although when I get a new game going, he'll play D&D, I can tell from our discussions Vampire is his favorite between the two.

It's dominance also sets a basline for other RPG designs that, because many people have played D&D, they can be familar with. The game our other DM is working on is loosely based on 5E in the sense of terminology and mechanics, so anyone who's used to D&D can easily transition into his game (if he ever finishes it LOL!).

However, that can also be seen as a bad thing, because in some ways it stiffles creativity in developing and trying new things. D&D's dominance has also created a "comfort-zone" for many players, and they aren't keen on trying other RPGs--which is a pity because they might find something they enjoy even more, and if they don't it only reinforces their enjoyment in playing D&D.
 

TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
I think if there wasn't a dominant RPG (be it D&D or something else) that was used in a majority (or large plurality) of games, then we would see less overall campaigns being played across the TTRPG space, with a smaller overall TTRPG player base. But the played base for the games that are currently popular but aren't D&D would probably increase.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I think if there wasn't a dominant RPG (be it D&D or something else) that was used in a majority (or large plurality) of games, then we would see less overall campaigns being played across the TTRPG space, with a smaller overall TTRPG player base. But the played base for the games that are currently popular but aren't D&D would probably increase.
That to me sounds like nothing but a good thing. If we could get more variety in the community, but sacrifice some popularity in exchange I would consider that a fair trade.
 

SlyFlourish

SlyFlourish.com
Supporter
I'm not sure how we define utter dominance. Significantly more popular? Sure. Orders of magnitude even.

Why is it good? I don't know that the dominance part of it is good. It does help many or even most players coalesce around a single game – sharing the same knowledge of how it's played and that sort of thing. There's a shared experience that we might miss if everyone was spread thin across a lot of different RPGs. The massive popularity of D&D also means Hasbo can market to areas no one else can – in-school programs, movies, AAA video games, and so on.

Why is it bad? As long as there's no true monopoly on the game, and right now there isn't, I don't think it matters. Nothing stops a group from deciding to play a different RPG. Sure, sometimes you have players who only know D&D and only want to play D&D but is that D&D's fault? I think a good group of open-minded players are willing to try other RPGs if the GM is willing to run them. From the surveys and polls I ran, that was the case. Players are willing to run other RPGs with GMs they trust.

I worried that D&D's dominance would draw more players towards their own digital tools – D&D Beyond in particular. I feared that would lead to a platform lock-in in which players don't want to leave or try other systems, variants, or material for 5e that wasn't published by WOTC or their favorite selected partners. So far, though, that doesn't seem to be the case from the polls I've conducted. More than half of surveyed players use non-WOTC character options for their 5e games. That's a pretty good number given D&D's dominance.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I'm not sure how we define utter dominance. Significantly more popular? Sure. Orders of magnitude even.

Why is it good? I don't know that the dominance part of it is good. It does help many or even most players coalesce around a single game – sharing the same knowledge of how it's played and that sort of thing. There's a shared experience that we might miss if everyone was spread thin across a lot of different RPGs. The massive popularity of D&D also means Hasbo can market to areas no one else can – in-school programs, movies, AAA video games, and so on.

Why is it bad? As long as there's no true monopoly on the game, and right now there isn't, I don't think it matters. Nothing stops a group from deciding to play a different RPG. Sure, sometimes you have players who only know D&D and only want to play D&D but is that D&D's fault? I think a good group of open-minded players are willing to try other RPGs if the GM is willing to run them. From the surveys and polls I ran, that was the case. Players are willing to run other RPGs with GMs they trust.

I worried that D&D's dominance would draw more players towards their own digital tools – D&D Beyond in particular. I feared that would lead to a platform lock-in in which players don't want to leave or try other systems, variants, or material for 5e that wasn't published by WOTC or their favorite selected partners. So far, though, that doesn't seem to be the case from the polls I've conducted. More than half of surveyed players use non-WOTC character options for their 5e games. That's a pretty good number given D&D's dominance.
I really hope your poll is representative, because that gives me hope.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Positive first! There's been a huge destigmatization of RPGs over the years. There are multiple factors there, but I credit WotC's recent D&D push and partnerships as a significant part of that. I'm really grateful that – at least so far – my nephew isn't getting bullied for playing, or told he's going to hell by misguided relatives, or any of the crap some of us have experienced. I think using the D&D platform for destigmatization, creating community, more diversity – that's terrific.

Downside? I think D&D, like the brand of many large corporations, has become slow to pivot/adapt to the way its game is actually being played. It's sort of like watching a heavily laden train trying to take a turn – it needs a lot of space and time to make that turn safely. Gaming culture seems 3-7 years (guesstimating) ahead of where D&D is at these days. Without extraordinarily visionary leadership, I don't see corporate D&D being able to catch up.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
D&D's dominance means:
  • There's a gateway to the RPGing hobby that is generally very easy to find and access. The vast majority of gamers I know started with it and that's true over several decades.
  • It's easy to find games, players, and other materials.
  • Whenever the wingnuts start targeting games for any culture war controversy, it invariably lands on D&D. And D&D can take it.

But it also means:
  • It can be harder to find people willing to take a step beyond the gateway since they can be very comfortable playing just D&D.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
That to me sounds like nothing but a good thing. If we could get more variety in the community, but sacrifice some popularity in exchange I would consider that a fair trade.
Fewer players is included in your "nothing but a good thing?" Seriously, your own personal gratification in an increase in different games is so important that you think nothing at all of those people who enjoy gaming right now who wouldn't be playing at all anymore?
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I don't think its dominance is a bad thing. It's good game that has plenty of appeal to folks for good reasons. I do think the cultural expectation that other games should conform to its structure is not great. Like in the board gaming space Monopoly is utterly dominant, but no one expects Ticket to Ride or Diplomacy to function and play like Monopoly.
 

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