WotC Estimating D&D’s Revenue, Teos Abadia crunches the numbers.

darjr

I crit!
Teos stresses this is an estimate. I do have a few quibbles but I think it’s a good estimate.

The interesting thing is that it looks like we do have full sales numbers for the starter set. That helped out many other numbers into perspective.


Fortunately, in an interview with Stan! about the Pokemon game on the official D&D podcast, Stan! said that there had been around 800k sales in 2017 for the PHB. I have separately heard that the number could be as high as 1M sales in 2017.

On the Roll for Combat video, the hosts showed the image below, which provides us a rough estimate of the BookScan PH sales in 2017, somewhere around 200-250k in sales. This suggests BookScan data may be roughly a quarter of all sales for D&D.


Starter set numbers shared in a Forbes article, I think that may deserve its own thread.

Jan 12, 2015, when the Starter had 44,665. Extrapolating from the weekly sales around that time, the end of 2014 has roughly 42,915 sales for the Starter Set. This is 34% of the amount shared on Forbes.
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
Hoooooly Moooooley.

Teos makes a solid case here, st least for ballpark figures. I was taking rhe book scan figures with a grain of salt, thinking it might be more 60% than 75% in this case, maybe 50%. But I think he is right, they might be more like a quarter.

A little more supporting evidence: the ratios of DMG and PHB sales in bookscan suggest a given table might have 2 PHBs per DM, which fits my experience. So if we assume that the Bookscan PHB sales are a quarter of all PHB sales, and that about half that number is the number of 5E groups...then multiply by 5-6 people...we come to around 12 million total. Which just ao happens to be the neighborhood of claimed Beyond accounts per WotC. So, I think he is right about the size of the audience, though the actual moneynprt may be rougher.
 


Alphastream

Adventurer
Teos is on fire with posts this week. He posts irregularly so I don't check his blog frequently, so thanks for highlighting the posts here. I only discovered him through posts about the creator summit.
Thanks! Please do consider the mailing list so you don’t miss any. I appreciate the kind words. This series was a lot of work, made possible by the kind folks supporting my efforts.
 

Some quotes

Forbes in 2022 estimated that D&D was responsible for between $100M and $150M in annual revenue, out of the $1.3B total WotC revenue. Is it plausible that books make up around $56-76M of that amount, with the rest made up from non-book products, D&D Beyond, and licenses (WizKids, video games, t-shirts, etc.)? It’s really hard to say. Forbes could be wrong. Or I could be off on my estimates. Or maybe D&D really is making a lot of money on non-print-book sources. As you can tell, there are many variables involved, so estimating the total revenue is not easy.
...
Even with the uncertainty, all of the BookScan data and estimates show D&D operating at levels never seen in the history of RPGs. And yet, for all of 5E’s growth, it is a good question whether WotC is content enough with these numbers to celebrate D&D’s success and allow it to continue to be the kind of RPG it always has been. For all of D&D’s success, the RPG continues much to be like other RPGs.
 


dave2008

Legend
From the article:
"So, from both the PH reported sales and the Starter Sets on Forbes, we might estimate BookScan is between 23-34% of actual sales. This is, of course, a fallible estimate in the absence of more data."

So the PHB has likely sold between 4.5-6 million copies. Well that is a lot!
 

Clint_L

Hero
I appreciate the effort that went into the article - it's an interesting read. As the author acknowledges, these numbers have to be taken with a HUGE grain of salt, because we really have no idea how much WotC is making on digital book sales, except that it is a lot, and growing quickly (case in point, I own almost every WotC 5e book. I have physical copies for only five, seven including Critical Role).
 

dave2008

Legend
I appreciate the effort that went into the article - it's an interesting read. As the author acknowledges, these numbers have to be taken with a HUGE grain of salt, because we really have no idea how much WotC is making on digital book sales, except that it is a lot, and growing quickly (case in point, I own almost every WotC 5e book. I have physical copies for only five, seven including Critical Role).
I am less interested in the revenue and more interested in the total book sales projection. If the bookscan numbers are only 25%-34% of the total that is huge. Of course it was unclear to me if that figure included DnDBeyond sales or not. @Alphastream can you clarify that?
 

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