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How much of the pay-for-download tabletop RPG market share does DriveThruRPG have?

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Several years ago there was a discussion of how DriveThruRPG dominated the market for small press RPG publishers whose products were primarily digital. While I can't remember if anyone spoke with any certainty as to precisely how big they were (I distinctly recall that one publisher estimated that they had between 80% and 85% of the total market, but I can't find the quote now) the consensus seemed to be that no other store (such as Paizo, Warehouse 23, the Open Gaming Store, etc.) got anywhere near as much traffic.

Given how big remote gaming has gotten in the last year or so, does this still hold true? Has the pandemic increased demand for PDF products in general? What about the rise of virtual tabletops with marketplaces for plug-in adventures (e.g. buying D&D 5th Edition adventures on Roll20)? Does DriveThruRPG seem to have even more of a market presence now? Less? The same?
 

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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Well, there's alao itch.io that does a bunch of business, and kickstarter does and another bunch of business. Ao I guess the answer might be a lot, but not as much as one might think?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
i can’t speak for anybody else, but for us it’s Kickstarter > Patreon >> own store > DTRPG > Amazon >>> everywhere else. Where the > symbols mean something. We haven’t tried itch.io.

For other online storefronts, Paizo was always about 5% of DTRPG, and the Open Gaming Store was about 10% of that. So yeah, DTRPG was the whole market until Kickstarter. Now products are doing $1M on Kickstarter regularly. DTRPG’s competition isn’t another storefront, it’s Kickstarter and Patreon.

For those who use DMsG I’ve been told more than once by DTRPG reps how much more DMsG creators are making than the rest of us on that platform. But that makes sense — the rest of us are making money on Kickstarter and Patreon these days, which DMsG creators are forbidden from doing.

I think it would be interesting to see DTRPG evolve crowdfunding functionality and take some of that money back from KS and Patreon. They have the publisher base and the customer base, which other crowdfunding platforms don’t have. The products are all there. i feel like they could carve out a niche there. So I’m excited to think about what secret plans they may have, because whatever I’ve thought of, I’m sure they’re already ahead.

And the pledge manager functionality that Backerkit has — DTRPG could easily take a big portion of the TTRPG market of that if they developed the infrastructure, again leveraging the fact that they have the products there already.
 

GameWyrd

Explorer
I think also virtual tabletop marketplaces are growing players. One More Multiverse didn't raise $17m just to be a fancy VTT with Twitch integration. It's about the lock-in.

Then there are the bundle sites like Humble Bundle and the Bundle of Holding with (and I know people disagree with me) Fandom/DnD's Cortex marketplace + Fanatical lurking in the wings.
 

I suspect DTRPG is the #1 site overall, but isn't for anyone big enough to have their own multi-content-producer PoS site.

Places I've bought game ebooks from...
Hyperbooks Online (gone now)
Politically Incorrect Games (new name, same company - Precis Intermedia Games, IIRC)
RPGNow (Merged with DTRPG)
Drive Thru RPG (AKA DTRPG)
Warehouse 23/e23
Indie Press Revolution
Amazon Kindle Store
Bundle of Holding (delivery through DTRPG)
Humble Bundle (delivery through DTRPG IIRC)
Bits-N-Mortar
Paizo Webstore
Fiery Dragon Webstore (seems to be in "i'm a hobbyist now" mode)
direct from various publishers, including Far Future Enterprises, Goblinoid Games, and BTRC.
Kickstarter (delivery via DTRPG, dropbox, or Google Drive)

DriveThru merged with two companies, but I don't remember the second one.

Crimson Cutlass is available in ePub on Amazon. That's the only one I knowingly bought via Amazon. I think a couple of odd things got delivered via Amazon's servers, too, but those went into either my Drive or Dropbox.
 


RPGNow? I don't recall it merging with another one.
Mongoose's Wargaming Online, 2008. Became Wargames Vault shortly after. If one wasn't into either Mongoose's games nor wargames prior to 2008, one would have been unlikely to notice. I had some items through WGO that I got notified moved to WGV, but noticed in my DTRPG inventory...

I also forgot that I have a couple items that were via Lulu.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
What I do like about DTRPG is that I know for sure my purchases are "remembered" and if I lose the pdf (I almost never do but it's an irrational fear) I can go there and download it again. If I buy a hardcopy it's probably Amazon >>> the rest. Though I wouldn't rule out print on demand. I have bought direct before, Paizo for example, but I generally don't.
 

John Dallman

Adventurer
DTRPG has both a big market share, and a significant number of customers who won't buy from anywhere else. Reports of the latter were why Steve Jackson Games started offering much of their PDF inventory on DTRPG as well as Warehouse 23.
 

What I do like about DTRPG is that I know for sure my purchases are "remembered" and if I lose the pdf (I almost never do but it's an irrational fear) I can go there and download it again. If I buy a hardcopy it's probably Amazon >>> the rest. Though I wouldn't rule out print on demand. I have bought direct before, Paizo for example, but I generally don't.
Not always true - several PDFs were pulled from the database and cannot be redownloaded. (Given the thousand-plus items in my listing, only a few were pulled - 8 TSR titles - but they've been restored to downloadability. A couple others are GONE. Pulled by creator, who then went out of business.)
 

You basically have to be on Drivethru. It is essentially the Amazon of RPGs. Its importance to publishers cannot be understated.

Some people can do other things. I just use Drivethru for our PDFs, I don't use them for print (we go through another company for that). However one big downside I've noticed is people often assume our books are not available in print because they go to Drivethru and just see PDFs.
 

babi_gog

Villager
I'd also say that most of the Kickstarters I've backed have been delivered through Drivethru (where they then are for sale). Which again gives it more traffic.
 

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