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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


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Jimmy Dick

Explorer
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.

So what you are saying is that you haven't played Pathfinder Second Edition.

I started playing and running AD&D back in 1979. I enjoyed the role play aspect of the game and the tremendous amount of fun I had for years. It is quite obvious that what Gygax and Arneson started has evolved over time into a complete industry with a lot of different rules systems. You may not like 2e, but unless you have actually played it, you don't know what you are talking about.

My offer to run a PFS2 scenarios stands.
 

So what you are saying is that you haven't played Pathfinder Second Edition.

I started playing and running AD&D back in 1979. I enjoyed the role play aspect of the game and the tremendous amount of fun I had for years. It is quite obvious that what Gygax and Arneson started has evolved over time into a complete industry with a lot of different rules systems. You may not like 2e, but unless you have actually played it, you don't know what you are talking about.

My offer to run a PFS2 scenarios stands.

Yeah I feel like most people who aren't on the 2E train just haven't spent any time with it or just are not having an open mind to enjoying it.
 

Jimmy Dick

Explorer
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..."

I think that's probably the main group that hates 2e. That group craves overpowered characters. In a homebrew setting, that's perfectly fine. The GM can easily add some more levels to the monsters to compensate for the power level in order to make challenging encounters. I run Pathfinder Society games and it just got ridiculously stupid because as a GM I couldn't do that. Combats were over in many situations before the monsters had a turn. I blame part of that on the writing and editing but then again, not all PFS players were building overpowered characters. Those characters would get wiped out if they played in a scenario built for the overpowered ones. The balance needed in a game system was not there.

Again, for those who want to do it and have a GM willing to put in the effort to make up challenging encounters that go beyond the rules, more power to them...literally. That's great and I'm all for it. I am enjoying the Second Edition because so far it is balanced. GMing is fun again. Playing is fun. There is a chance for characters to die in every scenario. There is a chance they could fail to complete the mission. Building characters is entertaining. I can build my concept characters quite well and enjoy running them. It put the role back into role playing. Oddly enough, there is quite a bit of power in the game, but the monsters have it as well. That makes for some really enjoyable combats that last 5 or 6 rounds. I call combat tactical chess in 2e. The increased mobility and actions give everyone a lot of choices to choose from in every turn. Teamwork is critical to a successful group's outcomes.

To me, 2e brings back the magic of AD&D 1e. That's a wonderful thing!
 

Jimmy Dick

Explorer
Yeah I feel like most people who aren't on the 2E train just haven't spent any time with it or just are not having an open mind to enjoying it.

Just before 2e released I told the players at my lodge that I would start running 2e for them so they could try it out. At that time we were able to run a total 3 to 4 tables at our monthly Saturday event in two slots. We had about 12 dedicated players who made at least one of the slots and about 10 more that fluctuated over a period of time. Roughly half of them were interested in going to 2e completely and the other half were skeptical about it. But they did agree to try it out. I got back from Gen Con and ran 1-01 The Absalom Initiation in both sessions. There was one person who was pretty adamant that he was going to hate the edition, but was willing to give it a chance because as he said, "It is not right for me to reject it without at least trying it."

After the first game, he said he wasn't sure. He was going to give it another session the following month. I think we ran 1-03 Escaping the Grave that time. He bought the CRB after the session and hasn't played 1e since. He was going to start GMing in March, but the pandemic has put a stop to our live events for now. I can't schedule a 1e game that will make a table at that lodge. The last time we tried, no one signed up for it. Instead, we had to add another table of 2e to the event which had reached 9 tables for the two slots on Saturday. I really hope we can get everyone back when we resume live play, but I don't expect to be able to do that until March or April of 2021.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Yeah I feel like most people who aren't on the 2E train just haven't spent any time with it or just are not having an open mind to enjoying it.

I mean, you could say that about hundreds of other games too right? We just had a half dozen or more games win ENNIES which I just don't have the time to learn to play, even though they are probably good games. It's not necessarily an "open mind" but more often I think "time to learn a new system". Time becomes a more important commodity as we age. If you already know how to play PF1 and are having fun with it, why risk all that time to learn a new system?
 

I mean, you could say that about hundreds of other games too right? We just had a half dozen or more games win ENNIES which I just don't have the time to learn to play, even though they are probably good games. It's not necessarily an "open mind" but more often I think "time to learn a new system". Time becomes a more important commodity as we age. If you already know how to play PF1 and are having fun with it, why risk all that time to learn a new system?

Thats fair but it also a not a steep learning curve to go from a d20 game to another d20 game. PF2 is pretty easy to learn the basics but it does have some serious crunch to it as well.

I did check out some of the Ennie winners and other than the Alien RPG I wasn't really impressed with the other games at all.
 

jerryrice4949

Adventurer
I mean, you could say that about hundreds of other games too right? We just had a half dozen or more games win ENNIES which I just don't have the time to learn to play, even though they are probably good games. It's not necessarily an "open mind" but more often I think "time to learn a new system". Time becomes a more important commodity as we age. If you already know how to play PF1 and are having fun with it, why risk all that time to learn a new system?

This x10. I played ODD, BECMI, 1st Edition and 2nd edition and then went off to college and stopped playing. I briefly looked into 3.5 but the barrier to entry, specifically the time to learn and prepare for a game seemed too great. I also looked at PF and thought the same thing. I followed the development of 4th edition but ultimately decided I did not like what I saw. I thought about going back to 2nd edition but in the end I just did not start playing again.

Then came 5E. While not perfect it was close to what I was looking for. It leaves a lot of room for house rules with a focus story telling. I jumped right in and overall I love it.

Though my group loves 5E, we have always hoped just a little more customization would be added (not optimization), so we decided to dabble with PF2. Ultimately we found it was not for us. Again it came down to the time we had to learn a new system. We found there was too much more to track, too many more decision points and we just did not have the time.

My group is happily back running a 5E game but interested to see what happens with Level Up. I am surprised that WoTC has not dabbled with a set of advanced rules.
 

Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
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.

Interesting, I believe this is a change from how it has worked traditionally, where the core rules were the money makers and the other stuff drove the sales of the rules. At least it was one of the cornerstones of the strategy for the launch of 3e.

Any idea on how and why this has changed?

Cheers

/Magnus
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Interesting, I believe this is a change from how it has worked traditionally, where the core rules were the money makers and the other stuff drove the sales of the rules. At least it was one of the cornerstones of the strategy for the launch of 3e.

Any idea on how and why this has changed?

Cheers

/Magnus

FWIW, that's not the case with 5E: the PHB is a major profit center.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Interesting, I believe this is a change from how it has worked traditionally, where the core rules were the money makers and the other stuff drove the sales of the rules. At least it was one of the cornerstones of the strategy for the launch of 3e.

Any idea on how and why this has changed?

Cheers

/Magnus

I mean, given Paizo is literally giving away almost everything they've published for PF2 in PDF format along wit the hardcopy core book in the humble bundle, it's hard to imagine that is currently the case for PF2. And it doesn't seem to be the case with 5e either, as their core books continue to be the best sellers 6 years in.
 

macd21

Adventurer
Interesting, I believe this is a change from how it has worked traditionally, where the core rules were the money makers and the other stuff drove the sales of the rules. At least it was one of the cornerstones of the strategy for the launch of 3e.

Any idea on how and why this has changed?

Cheers

/Magnus

I don’t think it has changed. The biggest seller for most RPGs is the core book, most have only a few follow-up supplements. PF may be an exception, as I think they made more money from their APs than most games made from adventures.
 
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macd21

Adventurer
Thats fair but it also a not a steep learning curve to go from a d20 game to another d20 game. PF2 is pretty easy to learn the basics but it does have some serious crunch to it as well.

Sure, but so what? ‘Easy to learn’ is still a steeper learning curve than ‘stick with what you know,’ which also has the benefit of being cheaper, and doesn’t come with a risk of turning out to be something you hate. Plus you have all those supplements for the old edition...

A lot of people ‘aren’t on the 2E train’ because the 1E train is comfortable, takes them where they want to go and (very important) they’ve already paid for the tickets.
 

Sure, but so what? ‘Easy to learn’ is still a steeper learning curve than ‘stick with what you know,’ which also has the benefit of being cheaper, and doesn’t come with a risk of turning out to be something you hate. Plus you have all those supplements for the old edition...

A lot of people ‘aren’t on the 2E train’ because the 1E train is comfortable, takes them where they want to go and (very important) they’ve already paid for the tickets.

I did play 1E for years then started with Starfinder and have no moved on 2E. My only opinion on the matter is that people should try before they outright dismiss it.
 

macd21

Adventurer
I did play 1E for years then started with Starfinder and have no moved on 2E. My only opinion on the matter is that people should try before they outright dismiss it.

Or they could keep playing the game they love. Like Mistwell said, there’s plenty of games out there, nobody has time to play them all, why should PF2 be special?

I don’t like PF1. I think it’s a terrible game, one of the few that I will neither play nor run. But plenty of people clearly love it. The fact that they don’t want to move on doesn’t mean they ‘are not having an open mind,’ it just means they’re happy with the game they already have on their shelves, and probably have enough PF1 material to last them the rest of their lives.
 

Jimmy Dick

Explorer
I mean, given Paizo is literally giving away almost everything they've published for PF2 in PDF format along wit the hardcopy core book in the humble bundle, it's hard to imagine that is currently the case for PF2. And it doesn't seem to be the case with 5e either, as their core books continue to be the best sellers 6 years in.

Paizo didn't give away anything. They made over a million dollars in sales. Consider the only physical property involved in that bundle was the CRB, and while that was a great price, it wasn't the main seller. Everything else sold was digital. The only costs involved were the actual development and design of the product, not its printing cost, or transportation to the store. They sold 47, 954 units for a total of $1,124,470.53 which averages $23.45 per unit. I do not know how much went to the three charities involved, the Carl Brandon Society, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Urban League, so I cannot say how that affects the final outcome. What they are doing is priming the pump for the second season of Pathfinder Second Edition. For all I know, they mat their production costs of all of those products via they physical print version. Any pdf sales would be profit on top of that.

This is where the pdf versions of products really boost product sales and company profitability. Eventually everything appears online in pdf form sooner or later. I don't know if Paizo took advantage of the time window to boost sales and profitability. I do not have a line into their marketing department. Then again, maybe they just wanted to raise money for three really good charities.

Last year they ran a Humble Bundle for Pathfinder First Edition. I do not recall what the final amounts were, but I know quite a few people who bought pdfs of everything they offered which was pretty much 90% of the rulebooks.

I can tell you this though. A million dollars worth of pdf products is a lot more profitable than a million dollars worth of print products for practically all companies.
 

Stacie GmrGrl

Adventurer
No way should 5E Compatible take a spot on list like this. It's a list for the top 5 single biggest selling products. Having a group of compatible to 5e take a spot is just wrong.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
No way should 5E Compatible take a spot on list like this. It's a list for the top 5 single biggest selling products. Having a group of compatible to 5e take a spot is just wrong.

Based on "5E Compatible" coming in at #3 overall, ICv2 probably thought it wouldn't represent the state of the market to their trade audience to not include that as pertinent business information.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Paizo didn't give away anything. They made over a million dollars in sales

The price of the core book alone is more than $30 normally. So yeah, the rest is all being thrown in free. And by doing that, they loose any chance people will buy that same product in the future - given they already have it for free. Plus they gave away more of their small amount of profit to charity with this one. I do not think they "made" much money at all in this deal. You know, given the cost of that big print book and all the rest is fairly high, and is NOT "printing costs" but is in fact the price of all their overhead for the business. As someone who has run a manufacturing business exclusively for 15 years now in addition to advising other businesses, I know well that the primary cost of all products is the overhead, and not the raw manufacturing cost. Raw manufacturing costs are a fraction of the total cost. Usually I can multiple the raw cost by 4 to get to break-even.

What they are doing is priming the pump for the second season of Pathfinder Second Edition.

Could be. But usually it's a bad sign to sell your entire product line for drastically less than it's MSRP this early in the product line. It usually means their going for quick cash at the expense of long term profit when a company does something like that. But, it doesn't HAVE to mean that. It could be what you're saying, it's just that all the other signs about PF2 that I've mentioned don't point to this being what you're saying.

I can tell you this though. A million dollars worth of pdf products is a lot more profitable than a million dollars worth of print products for practically all companies.

Again, it includes the full size hardback core rulebook. The physical copy. And, it includes all the overhead from the company for all those products. It's funny that you mention their marketing department and then discount the cost of the marketing department to zero in your assessment of it being all "profit". My guess is almost none of this was profit. They may have even lost money in the long term with this.
 

macd21

Adventurer
Based on "5E Compatible" coming in at #3 overall, ICv2 probably thought it wouldn't represent the state of the market to their trade audience to not include that as pertinent business information.

Yeah, this. Odds are whatever came in 6th this time round had sales that are dwarfed by the sheer number of 5E Compatible products. Having Star Wars or Shadowrun or whatever in the list wouldn’t provide an accurate picture of the market, because the truth is people are buying loads of DnD (both WotC and 3PP) and PF books, and everything else is an also-ran.
 

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