How Do We Measure A Game's Success?

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
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.
I can think of other reasons why I don't consider 7th Sea 2e a success...and they have nothing to with the chief designer's problems with Kickstarter fulfillment.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Aldarc

Legend
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?
Sometimes there is also a more pragmatic level of sufficient success: "Can the designer quit their day job to make a living on their game full-time?"
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I agree that there are a lot of different factors that may be considered here. And of course, there are different kinds of success.

Sometimes, it’ll be how widespread the game becomes… how much material is produced by the publishers and/or third parties. A good example here is Mothership. They builtup a solid following by releasing the basic rules for free and publishing some modules for sale, then channeling all that into a massively successful Kickstarter, and also allowing third parties to produce material for it as well. Huge success financially, bit also a game with a lot of influence and an active community.

We can look also at design influence. I think one of the big ones here is Apocalypse World. Hugely influential to designers, leading to dozens, if not hundreds, of variants. It spawned an entire branch of RPGs, and inspired others.

Longevity can also be an indicator. Look at Call of Cthulhu. A perennial game, currently on its 7th edition. It continues to sell and continues to hold a significant spot in the industry. Supplements and adventure scenarios continue to be published. It’s also a game that has spawned its own variants… even if it’s more the source material that’s being copied rather than the mechanics. Trail of Cthulhu and Achtung Cthulhu and all manner of other versions are published, and all have some potential appeal to anyone who plays one version. Just tons of material for the setting, and CoC is the one that started it all.

By contrast, you can also have a game that proves successful even without supplements. Blades in the Darkhas been mentioned, and it’s a great example. Yes, it’s also inspired its own design ethos and led to Forged in the Dark games, but so far, no actual supplements have been produced for Blades itself. A couple of playtests and scenarios have been made, but they’ve all been given away fro free. Andthe game continues to sell well (from what we can see), is mentioned often in discussion, is a popular topic of online videos, and has even been optioned for a TV series. All just based on one core book.

I’ll stop there, but I could probably continue with other examples that are unique in some way. Lots of paths to success, I’d say.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I agree that there are a lot of different factors that may be considered here. And of course, there are different kinds of success.

Sometimes, it’ll be how widespread the game becomes… how much material is produced by the publishers and/or third parties. A good example here is Mothership. They builtup a solid following by releasing the basic rules for free and publishing some modules for sale, then channeling all that into a massively successful Kickstarter, and also allowing third parties to produce material for it as well. Huge success financially, bit also a game with a lot of influence and an active community.

We can look also at design influence. I think one of the big ones here is Apocalypse World. Hugely influential to designers, leading to dozens, if not hundreds, of variants. It spawned an entire branch of RPGs, and inspired others.

Longevity can also be an indicator. Look at Call of Cthulhu. A perennial game, currently on its 7th edition. It continues to sell and continues to hold a significant spot in the industry. Supplements and adventure scenarios continue to be published. It’s also a game that has spawned its own variants… even if it’s more the source material that’s being copied rather than the mechanics. Trail of Cthulhu and Achtung Cthulhu and all manner of other versions are published, and all have some potential appeal to anyone who plays one version. Just tons of material for the setting, and CoC is the one that started it all.

By contrast, you can also have a game that proves successful even without supplements. Blades in the Darkhas been mentioned, and it’s a great example. Yes, it’s also inspired its own design ethos and led to Forged in the Dark games, but so far, no actual supplements have been produced for Blades itself. A couple of playtests and scenarios have been made, but they’ve all been given away fro free. Andthe game continues to sell well (from what we can see), is mentioned often in discussion, is a popular topic of online videos, and has even been optioned for a TV series. All just based on one core book.

I’ll stop there, but I could probably continue with other examples that are unique in some way. Lots of paths to success, I’d say.
No official supplements isn't the same as unsupported. Lots and lots of fan and 3PP exist for Blades.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
No official supplements isn't the same as unsupported. Lots and lots of fan and 3PP exist for Blades.

Not a ton, really. Most of what’s out there is entirely new FitD games. There are some supplements… but the official ones like the Vigilante crewsheet or the Bluecoats playset, are free. There are fan made things like new playbooks and crew types, sure, but I don’t know how much that matters.

What I mean by this is that the author of the game wrote the one book and put it out and that’s it. No more setting expansions, no splatbooks, and so on. Those are often viewed as signs of a game’s success and yet they are absent in the case of Blades. But the game is clearly successful.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Not a ton, really. Most of what’s out there is entirely new FitD games. There are some supplements… but the official ones like the Vigilante crewsheet or the Bluecoats playset, are free. There are fan made things like new playbooks and crew types, sure, but I don’t know how much that matters.

What I mean by this is that the author of the game wrote the one book and put it out and that’s it. No more setting expansions, no splatbooks, and so on. Those are often viewed as signs of a game’s success and yet they are absent in the case of Blades. But the game is clearly successful.
Right, because people play it and produce material for it. I'm not sure why you are fighting on this.
 



Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Who’s fighting?

I clarified my initial statement. The game is a standalone product by its author and publisher. You don’t seem to think that matters, but I do.
A game that has a fanbase and community that creates additional material for it absolutely isn't "a standalone product by its author and publisher." Quite obviously so, in fact.
 


Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top