How Do We Measure A Game's Success?

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
This came up in another thread and I am curious what folks feel about this broadly.

In terms of a TTRPG, by what metric do we try and determine whether it is or was a success?

The first and most obvious way is monetary. Did it fund really strongly crowdsourcing? Does it sell well, both as a core system and supplements? That sort of thing.

There is also the question of support. Does a game have to have ongoing support to be a "success"? Does ongoing support automatically mean it is a success?

What about actual play? How many people should be playing a game regularly for it to be a success? If there are lots of games at convention or on VTT platforms, does that mean it is a success? How many home groups need to be playing it?

What do you think? In your opinion, what makes a TTRPG a success and how do you measure that?
 

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pemerton

Legend
In your opinion, what makes a TTRPG a success and how do you measure that?
Measurement is hard - but I think success for a RPG is like success for any other artistic/creative endeavour. Does it capture and convey what it set out to? Is it enjoyable for its audience (ie those who use it to play games), and does it lead them to think of things or have experiences that otherwise they wouldn't have thought of or had? Is it innovative and impactful?

Commercial success is important for those who are trying to make a living from their work, but for me as an audience member it is not a very significant metric.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Measurement is hard - but I think success for a RPG is like success for any other artistic/creative endeavour. Does it capture and convey what it set out to? Is it enjoyable for its audience (ie those who use it to play games), and does it lead them to think of things or have experiences that otherwise they wouldn't have thought of or had? Is it innovative and impactful?

Commercial success is important for those who are trying to make a living from their work, but for me as an audience member it is not a very significant metric.
Yeah, just for clarity, I am not asking from the perspective of someone who published that game and asking if it was a success. The publisher will have some definition that is certainly at least tied to economics.

I am asking what it means when we point at a game and call it "successful" from our individual perspectives.

For my part, I agree that part of success is "is it good at what the creator intended" but that is only a measure of design success. For me as a consumer and member of the RPG community, i think i mostly consider whether I see anyone at cons running it, and less important but still a metric is whether it is supported by new material (official or otherwise).

In today's crowdfunding age, driven by influencers etc, I don't think a successful Kickstarter is sufficient to call the game broadly a success.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Being played, for a game, and enjoyed over a length of time.

Chess is a very successful game, that people continue to buy sets and invest a lot of play time across centuries.

Call of Cthulu is still one of the best selling and widely played RPGs even after 40 years, so it is a huge success.
 

pemerton

Legend
I agree that part of success is "is it good at what the creator intended" but that is only a measure of design success. For me as a consumer and member of the RPG community, i think i mostly consider whether I see anyone at cons running it, and less important but still a metric is whether it is supported by new material (official or otherwise).

In today's crowdfunding age, driven by influencers etc, I don't think a successful Kickstarter is sufficient to call the game broadly a success.
For me, the issue of widespread uptake (eg conventions etc) and also support are less important than for you, I think. Impact may be more important for me than you?

On Kickstarter, I don't think a successful Kickstarter tells us much beyond commercial success. It's not a measure of cultural longevity, for instance. So I think our views are fairly close here.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
For me, the issue of widespread uptake (eg conventions etc) and also support are less important than for you, I think. Impact may be more important for me than you?
I think it can be a measure, especially if I can include "influence" in "impact." Do other games that follow this one try and use or emulate some of the things in that game? If so, it can probably be called a success, even if it did not have the player base of a more widely embraced game.
 

mamba

Legend
In your opinion, what makes a TTRPG a success and how do you measure that?
most of the data I would need for this is not available

To me success ultimately is more about ongoing support than KS amount. If your game gets products released some years after it came out, esp. if it gains some third party support, I consider it a success.

If you sold 50k copies via your KS and I never hear from it again, I do not, despite that being a huge KS. If that had translated into players, I would expect products for it to continue to be released, so the fact that they are not implies that it fizzled out.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
Critical response and personal experience is all I care about. Do folks like it and does it do what its supposed to?

I dont really care about monetary levels in anything but D&D. However, thats just out of curiosity amongst editions and how they performed. D&D is its own animal, and thus an outlier.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Measurement is hard - but I think success for a RPG is like success for any other artistic/creative endeavour. Does it capture and convey what it set out to? Is it enjoyable for its audience (ie those who use it to play games), and does it lead them to think of things or have experiences that otherwise they wouldn't have thought of or had? Is it innovative and impactful?

Commercial success is important for those who are trying to make a living from their work, but for me as an audience member it is not a very significant metric.
Agreed. Success in general is, IMO, based on whether or not the game accomplishes it's intended goals for it's intended audience (although accomplishes other goals for other people is certainly nice). From a personal standpoint, a game just needs to be accessible to me on top of that for me to consider it a success.
 

MGibster

Legend
What do you think? In your opinion, what makes a TTRPG a success and how do you measure that?
I borrow a page from Roger Ebert who judged movies based on what the creators were trying to accomplish. He was willing to give an action movie a thumbs up if it was a good action movie even if it wasn't exactly Casablanca. Thirsty Sword Lesbians is a game I have absolutely zero interest in playing. An RPG made to tell "queer stories with friends" is just not my bag and it would be unfair to ding the game for that. Does TSL provide a good experience for telling queer stories with friends? Then it's susccessful.

Let's contrast this with Cyberpunk Red where the three most important things to keep in mind for your PC are as follows:

1. Style over substance. It matters more how cool you look doing something than it does how well you did it.
2. Attitude is everything. Think dangerous; be dangerous.
3. Live on the edge. You've got to be willing to risk it all to make it big.

Right out of the box, Red fails at #1. Because of the way the economy works, my cyberpunk doesn't have a car. If a starting character isn't a Nomad, he'll have to call a friend to get a ride or take public transportation to his next gig. You know how hard it is to look cool when you show up to a job in the equivalent of a Yugo that you don't even own? Red fails at what it says is one of the three most important things about characters in the game.
 

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