How Do We Measure A Game's Success?

For me there's only one measure: Do I enjoy it.

Everything else is external factors that don't impact my enjoyment (well, except for continual support, that actually negatively impacts my enjoyment of most RPGs - I'd prefer that everything be already published for a game instead of running on the supplement treadmill).

log in or register to remove this ad


"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
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.
For sure. I don't think a game like Apocalypse World, as an example, was a giant commercial success (not on the level of D&D, Pathfinder, CoC, etc., surely), but it made an enormous impact on the development of a lot of future games.


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

I don't think we measure success. I don't think we use metrics to make a reasoned decision on whether a game has succeeded or not. We don't have shared ideas on what it means to succeed in this space.

Our talk about the success of games is on the level of narratives, not measurements.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Okay, "success" without any qualifiers is about as subjective as "best". But let me give it a try.

If the game continues to grow [it's fanbase] after it's initial debut, be it through word of mouth, continued supplements, or whatever, that is a measure of success.

Again, my subjective opinion - success for an RPG is more about gaining a critical mass and being interesting enough to grow it, rather than a financial success.
Last edited:


B/X Known World
I’d split financial success and design success.

Financial is obvious. Design decidedly less so.

For design success it’s a question of the designer’s intent and how well they pull that off with the game’s design. Are you going for fast and cinematic play but use a tedious and slow-moving combat system? That’s clearly a failure of design. Are you going for collaborative storytelling but forgot to include anything about collaborative storytelling? That’s clearly a failure of design. Are you going for rules light abstract gaming but include hyper-detailed charts that try to emulate real-world physics? That’s clearly a failure of design.

And, of course, these two are not linked. It can be successful financially without being successful design and vice versa.

aramis erak

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.
Since crowdfunding, irrelevant, as most games crowdfunded are done so before design finality. Thus sold on the hopes of being a good game, not on the realities of reception.
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?
Automatically? no. But it is a component.
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?
if 10% of core sales are played, that's probably a good sign.
What do you think? In your opinion, what makes a TTRPG a success and how do you measure that?
For me, it's needing to go to a second printing without needing a second edition, coupled with ongoing support, and a vibrant community around it the game.


There are a few games like Call of Cthulhu d20 and Orkworld which were specifically designed as very limited lines. Orkworld by John Wick was always supposed to be a single book and d20 Cthulhu was a single book and Keeper's screen (I think). Were they successful from a financial point of view? I don't really know but I would think so as they both sold out. I'm guessing d20 CoC was produced, in part, to entice D&D players to give Chaosium's flagship RPG a try but I haven't the foggiest notion if it was successful. (I will say d20 CoC was one of the few d20 adaptations during the glut years I thought was worth a darn.) I don't think it's necessary for a game to have continued support to be considered a success. Some games aren't designed to have continued support.

Elvish Lore

How I measure success of an rpg:

Does it have a community?

Are people playing it? Do I see players engaging in conversation about it?

This is why 7th Sea 2e is such a colossal disappointment - a huge KS but I see few people playing it or talking about it. I think it's not a success.

Compare it to Blades in the Dark. Almost got to $180k in its KS. But folks buzz about it all the time and some genuine community has blossomed that game into a real milestone in modern day rpgs. A total success.

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads