15 million! That’s an impressive 4.5% of Americans. Or nearly one in twenty Americans are D&D players.
Americans are less than 2/3rds of the population of North America (Canada & Mexico being most of the rest), 12-15 mil is 2.1-2.7% of North Americans.
Which is staggering compared to what it's been like for most of the last 30 years....
[sblock="bit of negativity over a pet peeve"]In the article, they say 5e was "...designed to be more accessible to new players by streamlining play, simplifying the rules and putting renewed focus on the story."
That's not all quite true, nor the whole story. 5e was /also/ designed to be familiar (and acceptable) to the divided fan-based, from OSR grognards to 3.5 system masters, and doing that has definitely made the game /less/ accessible to new players. Play isn't really streamlined nor rules simplified, unless you compare it to the high watermark of end-of-edition 3.5, and, even then, it's mostly the volume of rules, not their simplicity or sleek lines, that's at issue.
What they actually did was a more impressive feat: they threaded the needle, walked the tightrope, between fans who demanded paleo-D&D, fans who demanded system-mastery-rewarding RAW, fans who wanted this class or that class or those options or don't you dare - and potential new fans who couldn't even cope with listening to the afore-mentioned fans argue all that stuff.
That they hit the magic balance between acceptability and accessibility, when, at each previous attempt, they hadn't even been able to split the difference in acceptability among the factionalized fanbase, is /amazing/. Lightning in a bottle, seriously.
But 5e ain't simple. Sorry. Natural language, complicated 'Vancian' magic-users, hit points, AC, genre-bending, clerics, beatstick fighters, and goofy monsters may be comfortingly familiar to us old-schoolers, but they're as frustrating as ever to new players.
Two things make 5e welcoming to new players: (1) the scaled-back shelf presence of just the Player's Handbook sitting there as the one obvious book you have to buy: no 'advanced' or PH2-17 or anything, just the one book, everything else is clearly for the DM, and the few things that aren't, like SCAG or Xanathar's or whatever, just don't look /obligatory/ the way a PHII does - it's just plain less intimidating at a glance.
And, (2), the legion of experienced DMs who make playing the game actually fun.
12 to 15 million is in North America alone. Not the total number of gamers. The remainder would make up the 44%
I think what he meant was from 12, to 15 is 25% growth.
Morrus misread the article:
"He declined to disclose sales numbers but noted that in 2017, the D&D brand had a 44 percent sales growth over 2016, and the most number of players in its history — 12 million to 15 million in North America alone."
44% is /sales/ growth (but they're not telling you sales).
12 to 15 mill is the number of players in North America, in 2017, the range is indicating uncertainty about the number of players, not growth.
If growth in players corresponded to neatly to growth in sales (might, might not), 12 to 15 million players, now, would mean 8-10 mill the year before. Of course, we don't know if that's active players or 'have ever played' or 'have played in the last year' (seems plausible) or what, nor how the number was arrived at. It could be off by a lot more than 3 mill - /in either direction/.
"Lies, damn lies, and statistics" aside, it's still an encouraging collection of factoids and buzz in the article.
....but, it does sound like - units or $s - D&D has a huge freeloader problem. Just say'n.