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ICv2's Top 5 RPGs for Spring 2020 - D&D 3PPs In The Chart!

ICv2's latest set of figures are in (I compile them all here) and, while there's little surprise about D&D followed by Pathfinder coming in the top two places, and Starfinder also featuring, there's a new entry -- "5E-Compatible". These are for Spring 2020.

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The 5E-Compatible category, according to ICv2's online magazine, shows that collectively third-party D&D products are doing well, although none individually make the top five chart. Goodman Games was called out in particular, as were Kobold Press and Nord Games. RPGs as a whole, however, took a (small) dip for the first time in years, likely due to COVID.

One retailer commented on WotC's D&D releases, noting that while sales of recent books have been 'OK', it's been a while since a really big hit like the Volo and Xanathar Guides.

1Dungeons & DragonsWizards of the Coast
2PathfinderPaizo
35E-CompatibleVarious
4StarfinderPaizo
5CyberpunkR. Talsorian
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Mercador

Explorer
I'm still fed up at Paizo for the 2E but I would be sad for them if the 2E was a financial nightmare. I guess I'll come back for 3E.
 

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Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I feel like there are a number of discussions about PF2 on these boards. Maybe not as much as 5E - but 5E really is a juggernaut.

I was comparing it to the discussion of PF1, not 5e. It's not being discussed even as much as PF1. Not before (though it's not being discussed as much as PF1 was being discussed when it began either), I mean right this moment PF1 is still being discussed more than PF2. At first I thought it was just "PF1 games need time to come to an end" but it's over a year now and STILL PF2 rate of discussion is lower than PF1.

Objectively speaking? PaizoCon had over 1100 game sessions between 1e, 2e, SFS, and PACS.

That isn't the comparison. I am not talking about "Paizo" as a game company. I am talking specifically about PF2. Which means lumping all their other games in makes that stat not helpful.

Paizo had over one-sixth of all Gen Con Online games ran for the convention. Go to Warhorn and see how many 2e games are on it vs. the number of 5e games. At this very moment there are 1293 2e campaigns vs. 421 Adventurer's League campaigns.

I don't know what Warhorn is, and have never heard of it. I can say that AL games shouldn't be a metric of...anything. It's less than 5% of D&D games played. Regardless, my focus is more on whether PF2 is catching on WITH PF1 FANS. And I am not sure it is.
 


dave2008

Legend
Do I have more on this? Yes. I am in the OPO Discord server running games for new 2e players constantly. We have a steady stream of new-to-2e players coming in. The online cons are generating more interest in Org Play and we see that show up in the player base on a daily basis.
That is good to here. I tired to find a group to play PF2e for about 6 months and couldn't find one before I gave up (and my 5e group wouldn't try it). Maybe I need to try looking again.

PS - I don't play on line, only in person.
 

dave2008

Legend
Regardless, my focus is more on whether PF2 is catching on WITH PF1 FANS. And I am not sure it is.
From what I have heard it has definitely fractured the fan base. I don't think as badly as 4e for D&D, but it is a thing. There is even a compnay (legendary games maybe), which planning to make a PF1 clone.

Regardless, simply comparing it to PF1 is not enough to determine if it is successful or not. Right now it does scratch a crunchier itch for some 5e groups and gets some people that way as well. My fear is that it is a tough system for new players and less likely to attract players that way. We just don't really know how well it is doing. Fans say it is doing great, but there is evidence to suggest it is not doing as well as some hoped it would.
 

I think Paizo doing the Humble Bundle with a physical rulebook wasn't the greatest sign as far as people playing and sales numbers but what do I know. Hopefully that coupled with the recent APG release makes it catch on. I think their biggest hope as a brand lies with the Kingmaker PC game coming out on consoles this week.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I think Paizo doing the Humble Bundle with a physical rulebook wasn't the greatest sign as far as people playing and sales numbers but what do I know. Hopefully that coupled with the recent APG release makes it catch on. I think their biggest hope as a brand lies with the Kingmaker PC game coming out on consoles this week.

I did see that. $30 for the core book in hardcopy AND almost everything else they've published for PF2 in PDF format. I mean, there has to be something behind making it such a bargain basement price. But that again doesn't necessarily mean it's doing poorly.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I think Paizo doing the Humble Bundle with a physical rulebook wasn't the greatest sign as far as people playing and sales numbers but what do I know. Hopefully that coupled with the recent APG release makes it catch on. I think their biggest hope as a brand lies with the Kingmaker PC game coming out on consoles this week.
Humble Bundles are a great opportunity for anybody. They made a million dollars.
 

Jimmy Dick

Explorer
The main rulebook is not what really drives profitability for a company. Game companies like WotC and Paizo make far more money on selling accessories, additional rulebooks, expansions, and adventures. I am far more excited by the upcoming Pathfinder 2e Beginner Box and how that is going to reach out to more people beyond the existing player base.

2e is easy to learn. I've conducted seminars and even built a video for new players on constructing characters. Players pick it up fast.

As for fracturing the player base, I don't think there was any way around it. The first edition was slowing down in overall sales. A company has to sell the product if it expects to continue to exist. Plus, 1e's existing math, based on the 3.5 system's math was not conducive to expansion. The growth of the game had caused a major problem with some rather silly power issues for characters. 2e was built using different math which will handle expansion better. Paizo really needed to create a new edition. What fractured the base was the decision not to make 2e backwards compatible. There was no way to do that with the need to change the underlying math.

My experience with players is that those who don't like 2e have never played it beyond the playtest. If one judges 2e by the playtest, one does not know what they are talking about. Quite a lot from the playtest was discarded or altered including the math. I ran a 8 sessions of PFS2 at Gen Con in 2019 and saw pallets of CRBs sold over 4 days. I also had people sit down to try out the game who during a break went to the kiosk outside the Sagamore Ballroom and bought the CRB. Paizo chose not to continue to make new content for 1e and rightfully so. To do that, they would have had three major product lines going, one of which was generating fewer sales every year. They made a business decision that would sustain the company for the future.

The single biggest problem Paizo has with 2e is a lack of content produced by the company for non-Organized Play customers. They are now selling the third Adventure Path and finally put out a second module, but that's not that much content in my opinion. Part of the reason for that is the pandemic and tariff issues. They originally were going to put out Dead God's Hand, but that got delayed much to my anguish because I really want to run that adventure! But they've got it scheduled for 1Q 2021 along with a few more adventures. The new changes to how Adventure Path's are produced should help that out too (going from 6 books to 3 per AP).

2e is really a great edition. So was 1e and so is 5e. They're all good. That's the nice thing about what is going on. There are plenty of good games to play out there. My point is that Paizo's release of 2e has been successful. There's too much evidence out there that it has been and very little suggesting otherwise. Let me put it this way. Paizo has not laid off any employees and is still putting out new content for 2e and Starfinder in a pandemic that saw FLGs close down across the US for pretty much 2 months. They're embraced virtual table tops and even moved their flagship convention online which was very successful for them. Most of their workforce is now working from home and will do so through the end of the year. I really expect the 2e Beginner Box to open up the game to a much larger player base over the next year and ramp up more sales. I wish they were traded publicly. I'd be buying stock in Paizo.
 

darjr

I crit!
I dunno. The 5e PHB has been the number one book on Amazon at least twice, years apart. Even now it’s in the top 200 out of all books on Amazon. I’m pretty sure it’s made WotC a few gold pieces.
 

BryonD

Hero
As for fracturing the player base, I don't think there was any way around it.
I don't think this is an unavoidable truth.

There are STILL a Lot of people PLAYING 1E. And bringing them over with a new game that stuck to the same appeal would have been easy. Yes, there is ALWAYS complaint about a new edition and THAT would have happened. But as numerous games (including 3E and massively 5E) have shown, a good game that brings a wide appeal will overcome that in a short period of time. Certainly well less than the one year which has now passed for 2E.

The big complaints are well known regarding 1E. And there is no point in debating them because they are clearly very true to a lot of people. Certainly a lot of people who still play 1E agree that the issues exist. But they still love the game as am overall system and either avoid, accept or mitigate the issues. I am certainly in that camp with all three responses in place at various times. And I even had a recent session where, despite my best efforts, a big fight bogged down into a stand a trade blows affair. But this does NOT routinely happen for me and my group and taken as a whole it is still the game of choice.

But, the game was ten years old and the people happily playing were doing that: happily playing. In the mean time, Paizo got to deal with the same complaints over and over and over. And they were forced to write around those same complaint over and over, only to still hear them anyway.
And so it seems clear (to me) that they lost perspective on their fanbase.
And they, by design, went with a clean, balanced gamist system that got rid of the depth of connection between mechanics and narrative elements that created appeal for so many. [[[ and yes, I know, this is where the fans come out of the woodwork to proclaim that THEY get every bit of connection they ever did in 1E. I don't doubt it. I'm glad you are having a great experience. I am certain without the slightest doubt that you are having a great experience and see no difference. I assure you that if your 1E experience and fun came in the the same form as mine, you would not be playing PF2E today. different strokes for different folks is great and I've got nothing at all bad to say about your awesome sessions.. I'm just saying that PF2E could have been a game that supported more diverse strokes.]]]

Bottom line, Paizo had a lot of fans that they could have retained and didn't adequately consider.

The first edition was slowing down in overall sales. A company has to sell the product if it expects to continue to exist. Plus, 1e's existing math, based on the 3.5 system's math was not conducive to expansion.
Absolutely true. PF is (now) 11 years old. (11 years and 2 days as I type this) And the base engine has another decade on that. It is OLD. And a lot of great ideas have emerged. The game of PF I run certainly is different from my old 3X and even early era PF games in a lot of small ways that reflect new evolutions in TTRPGs. And I was hopefully excited to see a new game that retained the core ideals of PF while including new mechanical advances built in from the ground up. That did not happen.

And, ultimately, that game that was stalling out is STILL doing better (by all appearances) than PF2E in terms of play. Yes, it isn't selling and that is everything to a company. But it WAS #2 right up until SF came out and then PF2E was announced as SF slipped away. So we really can't say how PF's #2 slot compared to PF2Es #2 slot. I'm sure PF2E had a really nice release spike. (despite leading the way in not selling out at GenCon). But now? Who knows? They are not touching 5E. (And nobody ever held that as a standard anyway.) But being #2 seems to be mostly due to lack of another contender for the slot.

My experience with players is that those who don't like 2e have never played it beyond the playtest. If one judges 2e by the playtest, one does not know what they are talking about
Meh, we've been down this road before. It isn't a true or fair complaint that you put forward here.
And, regardless, blaming the customer is not a winning approach.

2e is really a great edition.
Define "great". If the definition is based on your personal joy of play then clearly it is true.
If "great" is defined by its capacity to deliver fun to as many people as possible then that seems much less clear.
 

Zarithar

Adventurer
I wish the Goodman conversions were available as PDFs. That is my sole complaint. Otherwise, I love them. For the past 6 months now all of my games have been online (Roll20) and not having at least a PDF version of Goodman's Keep on the Borderlands for example is enough to dissuade me from running it online.
I don't fully understand why PDFs are not available. I'd purchase them in a heartbeat.
 

jerryrice4949

Adventurer
I wish the Goodman conversions were available as PDFs. That is my sole complaint. Otherwise, I love them. For the past 6 months now all of my games have been online (Roll20) and not having at least a PDF version of Goodman's Keep on the Borderlands for example is enough to dissuade me from running it online.
I don't fully understand why PDFs are not available. I'd purchase them in a heartbeat.

Goodman Games’ agreement with WoTC does not include the right to produce and sell PDFs. Though I do not like this agreement, it is consistent with how WoTC manages their own books as well.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I wish the Goodman conversions were available as PDFs. That is my sole complaint. Otherwise, I love them. For the past 6 months now all of my games have been online (Roll20) and not having at least a PDF version of Goodman's Keep on the Borderlands for example is enough to dissuade me from running it online.
I don't fully understand why PDFs are not available. I'd purchase them in a heartbeat.

Rights issues with WotC contract with the DMsGuild, most likely. Making a PDF of the essential sections of your own book is pretty painless these days.
 

Jimmy Dick

Explorer
It comes down to whether or not you've played 2e. There is great balance in the system. There are plenty of options available, and even more with the addition of the APG to the system.

"My experience with players is that those who don't like 2e have never played it beyond the playtest. If one judges 2e by the playtest, one does not know what they are talking about."
Meh, we've been down this road before. It isn't a true or fair complaint that you put forward here.
And, regardless, blaming the customer is not a winning approach.

I'll stand by what I said.

Have you played 2e? Not the playtest but 2e itself. If not, we can set up a time so you can play it with us on Roll20 and you can see how it works.
 

BryonD

Hero
I'll stand by what I said.

Have you played 2e? Not the playtest but 2e itself. If not, we can set up a time so you can play it with us on Roll20 and you can see how it works.
Have you made any effort to understand what I want out of an RPG? Have you made any effort to recognize what I do and don't like about PF2E?
I know very well how it works. I've been gaming for decades and your simplistic assumption that I need to waste waste hours and hours doing something I don't like before I can obtain your permission to do what I do like is not well thought through.

As I said already, it works GREAT, IF you want the type of gaming experience PF2E provides.
I know what I want and I know with complete clarity that PF2E doesn't provide the same quality of experience that other games do.
I respect that the qualities which I favor are not as appealing to you as they are for me and you are happy that you have a game that caters to your preference.
It is amusing that you, as stated here, are flat out incapable of sharing that same respect for others.

I know how it works. If I had never heard of TTRPGs I'd probably be in love with PF2E if you showed it to me. But I'd quickly discover games that offer a superior take on what I want and I'd move on to them.

But, feel free to keep blaming the customer.
 

lud

Explorer
And they, by design, went with a clean, balanced gamist system that got rid of the depth of connection between mechanics and narrative elements that created appeal for so many

Could you give an example of what elements you are talking about?

I'll give an example: In the Earthdawn RPG (any of the 4+ editions), there is a direct connection between the game mechanics and the narrative element. A "fifth circle elementalist" is something you would use both in and out of character.

The way you write your sentence, it is easy to read out of it: They made a clean and balanced system and broke my "gamist" optimized build. Thus I am unhappy that any one playing a fighter would do the same damage as I do.

And if this is what you want to say, just say it. One of my player is quite unhappy that there is almost no room to over-optimize a build in PF2E.

And for him it is killing part of the fun of building is character and playing it. The joy of finding a mix of feats, spells or magic items that would push him above the expected limit is gone. He says things such as "I found a nice combo to use against single target but THEY made it so it doesn't work against targets that are higher level than you!" The "THEY" in the sentence is not full of love... Me as I GM, I'll can do is very very quietly say, "But me, it makes me happy, that's the type of changes I wanted in the game system..."
 
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Retreater

Legend
Am I strange in that I like PF2 for some games, 4E for others, sometimes I want OSR or Dungeon World, 5E for still others? None of them are "the best system" to me, because there isn't a best system. It all depends on my mood, the desires of the players, and the feel of the campaign.
 

Have you made any effort to understand what I want out of an RPG? Have you made any effort to recognize what I do and don't like about PF2E?
I know very well how it works. I've been gaming for decades and your simplistic assumption that I need to waste waste hours and hours doing something I don't like before I can obtain your permission to do what I do like is not well thought through.

As I said already, it works GREAT, IF you want the type of gaming experience PF2E provides.
I know what I want and I know with complete clarity that PF2E doesn't provide the same quality of experience that other games do.
I respect that the qualities which I favor are not as appealing to you as they are for me and you are happy that you have a game that caters to your preference.
It is amusing that you, as stated here, are flat out incapable of sharing that same respect for others.

I know how it works. If I had never heard of TTRPGs I'd probably be in love with PF2E if you showed it to me. But I'd quickly discover games that offer a superior take on what I want and I'd move on to them.

But, feel free to keep blaming the customer.

What game do you recommend that is better to you than PF2?
 

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