How many people subscribe to D&D stuff?

Scribble

First Post
Mike Mearls and Lisa Stevens should have an arranged marriage like they did back in the day to settle feuds between royal houses.

I know Mearls is already married but hey... Harem!
 

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Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
And even if Wotc did point out the numbers that would not mean that they were lying. Lisa Stevens and Mike Mearls (has he?) have made posts to boast about the height of their numbers in the past, but this does not mean that if they do not do this then it aint happening.
Ha! I have it figured out, xechnao is clearly a pseudonym of Carl Smith, who wrote the classic N2: The Forest Oracle.

The Forest Oracle: "A group of seven men approaches. They are neither tarrying nor running. Their faces are expressionless. It is plain that they are not soldiers by their haphazard way of walking. They do not seem to be joking loudly or singing as they advance."

Compared to: "WotC are neither making claims about their DDI stats, nor can we be sure they are not lying about them. It is plain that they could be fixing the numbers by the fact that we can't be sure they aren't fixing the numbers. WotC do not seem to be using the numbers for marketing purposes as they increase."

:p
 

Jack99

Adventurer
It is not the first time we question ethics regarding what we know behind various announcements or methods or practices of Wotc or Paizo or what have you. They are companies after all, and companies are known to behave in whatever way it may help their bottom line. OTOH you are making it personal. You involve people into the argument. That is not fair. I would say that is not an ethical way to guide the discussion. Beyond saying that, I can see your point regarding introducing skepticism for the sake of it. Yet, as I said, it remains a possibility to keep in the back of our mind. Why do I say that? Well, did you expect to see so many current events that paint 4e in a desperate fashion? I guess not. Why do I say desperate? Well, many fans think right now, why do we see a Wotc that is in a hurry to change course? Why is their production plan so poor?

And regarding your question about my motives being unanswered. You did not answer my question first: why the hell do you care? What does it matter? I told you, you seem like a counter-propaganda agent. ;)

I think we just disagree on a fundamental level on just about everything. When you say WotC is lieing, it is, considering many of them are fellow posters, just as personal as my examples where I made up ridiculous stuff about Monte and Mearls. I also don't think your theory has anything to do with WotC being desperate. Or rather, even if I agreed that they were, it would be more than a stretch for me to go from discussing their changes to discussing the possibility of them cheating with some numbers that you attribute way too much significance. I also believe I have answered your question (marked 2 in a previous post).

With that said, I don't think we are getting anywhere, so lets just agree to disagree - once again.

Cheers, I am off to bed.
 

xechnao

First Post
Ha! I have it figured out, xechnao is clearly a pseudonym of Carl Smith, who wrote the classic N2: The Forest Oracle.

The Forest Oracle: "A group of seven men approaches. They are neither tarrying nor running. Their faces are expressionless. It is plain that they are not soldiers by their haphazard way of walking. They do not seem to be joking loudly or singing as they advance."

Compared to: "WotC are neither making claims about their DDI stats, nor can we be sure they are not lying about them. It is plain that they could be fixing the numbers by the fact that we can't be sure they aren't fixing the numbers. WotC do not seem to be using the numbers for marketing purposes as they increase."

:p

HA, good!
 

Hussar

Legend
See, Xechnao, there's a significant difference in how the data is being questioned.

The ICV2 numbers, by their own admission don't include a significant segment of the hobby. The only thing we can determine by those numbers is the print versions of Pathfinder are doing better than the print elements of WOTC D&D during a quarter. That's it. That's all we can determine.

Now, the Subscriber numbers on the WOTC site only tell us one thing - how many subscribers have also signed into the forum. Again, these are total voodoo numbers. About the only thing we can tell is that the number is growing.

You are right that WOTC potentially could be inflating the sub numbers. However, it's not exactly likely. For one, you can actually view the members. Now, of course WOTC staffers have memberships, and that's easily visible. If the memberships were being spawned by some sort of bot, you'd get all sorts of names that would be pretty obvious that they were being faked.

And, again, what would be the point? They'd have to spawn thousands of memberships to make any appreciable difference and that sort of thing gets caught pretty easily.
 

See, Xechnao, there's a significant difference in how the data is being questioned.

The ICV2 numbers, by their own admission don't include a significant segment of the hobby. The only thing we can determine by those numbers is the print versions of Pathfinder are doing better than the print elements of WOTC D&D during a quarter. That's it. That's all we can determine.

Now, the Subscriber numbers on the WOTC site only tell us one thing - how many subscribers have also signed into the forum. Again, these are total voodoo numbers. About the only thing we can tell is that the number is growing.

You are right that WOTC potentially could be inflating the sub numbers. However, it's not exactly likely. For one, you can actually view the members. Now, of course WOTC staffers have memberships, and that's easily visible. If the memberships were being spawned by some sort of bot, you'd get all sorts of names that would be pretty obvious that they were being faked.

And, again, what would be the point? They'd have to spawn thousands of memberships to make any appreciable difference and that sort of thing gets caught pretty easily.

Oh, it wouldn't be technically hard to make up any old number you want, but why 62k? It is just not THAT exciting a number. Why, if you are going to do it at all, not make it 150k or 250k? Would any of us be the slightest bit the wiser? Of course not.

As for the number, its size actually is fairly important in terms of gauging success overall with 4e. This is because cashflow adds up rather fast. 62k x$7/mo is what, around $450k, which is a pretty darn big bunch of change. Doubtless a decent part of that is taken up by the cost of the service, but it is a LOT of cash for a game company, around $5m a year. Now, suppose the REAL number of subscribers was more like 100k, now you're starting to talk about a service that is starting to reach a scale where it can bring in M:tG kind of money. Sure, nobody knows what Paizo is doing either, but you'd be hard pressed to find a $450k (or $700k!!!) chunk of cashflow lying around in their operations.

Honestly, I actually find it hard to believe that the number is a LOT bigger than 62k simply because if it was they'd have poured a HECK of a lot more resources into DDI than they obviously have (or else the whole rest of the game is really utterly dead in the market, which ic2 and Amazon numbers at the very least belie). Still, as a sanity check typically payroll is something like 40% of gross in these kinds of operations (take it from me, been there). So, you're talking a good $150k a month payroll. Even if WotC pays their IT people a LOT that's still 10-15 people on staff. So even at the low number it would seem like DDI can pay for itself and more reasonably. Again, that does kind of point to the real number not being a lot larger, there's just no way they've got 40 people working on DDI at high salary. Even with DR's cut and acquisition, etc...

So, 62k really does pass a pretty good smell test. It also seems like a pretty good number from other directions. I mean even if 4e is not THAT popular there are still bound to be 100's of 1000s of people that have played it and play it with some regularity. If 1 in 5 (basically all the DMs) are getting DDI, then you're in a reasonable territory there.
 

Scribble

First Post
Also if you're willing to believe (without any evidence) that one company is inflating numbers then either you're being biased, or you're willing to believe ALL companies are doing so.

In which case then it's meaningless.
 

keterys

First Post
Now, suppose the REAL number of subscribers was more like 100k, now you're starting to talk about a service that is starting to reach a scale where it can bring in M:tG kind of money.
I believe M:tG makes far more money than that.

That said, online and subscription services are a very serious deal. There's a reason that WotC has sunk millions into trying to create an online game table. Millions, mind you, that have all turned up no profit to date.

Honestly, I actually find it hard to believe that the number is a LOT bigger than 62k
Depends on your scale - I can't imagine they have less than, say, 100k subscribers given how many people don't register, but I'd be surprised if they have more than, say, 300k subscribers.

Still, as a sanity check typically payroll is something like 40% of gross in these kinds of operations (take it from me, been there). So, you're talking a good $150k a month payroll. Even if WotC pays their IT people a LOT that's still 10-15 people on staff.
Plus game designers/developers, editors, artists, community managers... plus health benefits and office space in some cases. Every DDI article has at least, what, 7 names on it?

Plus all of the money they've spent on developing the character and monster builders, nevermind research that isn't fruitful yet like the virtual table. Given they've gone through at least two different companies/teams, I'm pretty sure that all added up.

That said, I do think DDI is profitable. I'm not sure how much of a hole their attempts at an online table have set them back, though. I expect _at least_ a year's worth of that profit. Which totally might pay off, if they can deliver a quality product.

Big If.
 

I believe M:tG makes far more money than that.

That said, online and subscription services are a very serious deal. There's a reason that WotC has sunk millions into trying to create an online game table. Millions, mind you, that have all turned up no profit to date.

I'm skeptical they put millions into it. Software is expensive, but given that they've had a pretty clear roadmap for the past couple of years on VTT what I see is more a low but ongoing commitment to eventually getting there. I'd expect since their DDI strategy is WORKING they aren't really in a giant rush to get a product going that they don't even have a business strategy for yet.

Depends on your scale - I can't imagine they have less than, say, 100k subscribers given how many people don't register, but I'd be surprised if they have more than, say, 300k subscribers.

300k subscribers WOULD be bigger that M:tG. That would be well over $25m a year, which is likely bigger than all other RPG products in existence anywhere combined. I think at that point there would be a very different kind of noise coming out of WotC. Even 100k doesn't really jibe to me with what we see them up to.
Plus game designers/developers, editors, artists, community managers... plus health benefits and office space in some cases. Every DDI article has at least, what, 7 names on it?

Sure, but you don't think 7 people spent their entire month on each article do you? The author gets a couple grand, the other six people spend some amount of time on it, but even assuming that amounted to a whole full-time person for the month, that's something like $15k all told to produce an article. Now x10 significant articles per month, that's far from nothing, but it isn't eating up anything like all the cashflow. I could easily see 62k subscribers being a very modest net return, but 100k? That would be $700k a month. Given I have direct experience with putting together large scale web apps I can pretty well guesstimate the IT side (hosting and some modest development like we actually see) is probably on the order of $100k a month. You have a couple sysops, a couple developers, a group manager, and some business ops, could even run to $150k. So I look at it this way, running DDI and producing content for it? That could easily run you into the $300k a month range.

Again, the smell test, WotC doesn't seem overly excited by what they're making on D&D. It certainly isn't enough to show up in any Hasborg statements. Thus it can't be vastly beyond costs. They could be making a couple million bucks a year off it, but I'd be a lot less surprised to find out they have 70k users and it nets them a little money, which they may well be plowing entirely back into product development. That explains the slow pace of development and all the soul searching going on over there. Especially if the 5 years ago 4e business plan painted it as a giant cash cow and reality is it makes a few bucks.

Plus all of the money they've spent on developing the character and monster builders, nevermind research that isn't fruitful yet like the virtual table. Given they've gone through at least two different companies/teams, I'm pretty sure that all added up.

We really have little way of knowing what they actually spent on these things. I can say that if I were asked to bid on MB as a product the cost would be in the low 100's of K $, but it is hard to say what they've actually spent. The old MB was similar (probably less, stand-alone .NET apps are not that expensive to write). I imagine they reused a fair amount of the infrastructure from the old apps too. CB is a bigger nut to crack, given the complexity of PCs. I can easily imagine they've spent a couple million in 3 years on software, but if they've averaged 40k subscribers over the last 3 years, that's something like $9m gross, so it was a significant expense, but probably not the critical one (and also one you can scale up or down based on cashflow, unlike infrastructure).

That said, I do think DDI is profitable. I'm not sure how much of a hole their attempts at an online table have set them back, though. I expect _at least_ a year's worth of that profit. Which totally might pay off, if they can deliver a quality product.

Big If.

Eh, yeah, something like that. I just doubt they'd have been set back that much with 100k users. It is hard to say though. Frankly I don't think they're aiming at having the best VTT ever, at least not in the near term. They're looking to have a VTT that is good enough to be a selling point for DDI. They can afford to take the long view and go slow with it, keep their outlays down, build the whole DDI thing incrementally over time. I think they put a bit into a new thing like VTT, see how it looks, evaluate, go forward a bit more, see how that goes, etc.
 

keterys

First Post
I'm skeptical they put millions into it.
Yeah... none of us know the specifics, but remember that they had another software company contracted to provide the VTT - and they were demo-ing a totally different 3D-ish implementation at DDXP almost four years ago. Then, after years of problems, they had to drop it and turn to a new project which they started from scratch (sigh). Granted, I may be associating some of the costs of the Gleemax disaster with it, since it was lumped together at the time. I wouldn't be surprised if that particular bit of red ink was kept around though.

A team working on a project for 4 years is about 2 million dollars. Maybe they managed to recoup some of the losses on the legal end, though, because they weren't delivered what they contracted for. Don't know.

300k subscribers WOULD be bigger that M:tG. That would be well over $25m a year, which is likely bigger than all other RPG products in existence anywhere combined. I think at that point there would be a very different kind of noise coming out of WotC. Even 100k doesn't really jibe to me with what we see them up to.
For clarity, I was citing 300k as a maximum... and it would not be bigger than MtG with those numbers afaik. I also suspect a lot of people on DDI are on the $5/$6 plan, but I am surprised it's been growing at that rate since they hiked the price.

Again, the smell test, WotC doesn't seem overly excited by what they're making on D&D. It certainly isn't enough to show up in any Hasborg statements. Thus it can't be vastly beyond costs. They could be making a couple million bucks a year off it
And with 100k users, that's all they'd be making on it... and presumably putting a bunch back into it for the continuing development of monster builder, character builder, virtual table and whatever the unannounced stuff is. Plus repaying the investment already put in. It's very easy for the gross and net to be nothing alike - Hasbro's gross is something like 4 billion while their net is 400 million.
 

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