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Is Pathfinder outselling D&D?


Well, that was fun
Staff member
Lisa Stevens, CEO of Paizo, has made a couple of interesting posts recently on the Paizo messageboards.
Pathfinder has surpassed D&D in most of the markets that I check.

At this time in history, that [Pathfinder brand has a higher sales volume than the D&D brand] is what I have been told by people in the hobby distribution trade, the book trade, and other avenues that both games sell their products into. If you talk to the various retailers, it is a mixed bag, with one telling you one thing and another a different story. But when you talk to the folks who sell those retailers the product that they sell, then you get a clearer picture.

And I am just talking table-top RPG business. I am not talking about board games or card games or video games or whatnot. Just books and digital copies of those books for use in playing a table-top RPG.

This picture is somewhat reinforced by a quick glance at Amazon's bestseller list in fantasy gaming. Of course, it in no way includes WotC's D&D Insider subscriptions, which seems to be their preferred distribution model for content at present, and guesses at the number of subscribers seem to vary wildly.

This Free RPG Day report from ICv2 also seems to corroborate this:
In past years, the D&D offering has proved the strongest of the books offered, with customers snapping them all up. Last year, Pathfinder gained strength with the Pathfinder and D&D modules vanishing in about equal numbers. This year Pathfinder surpassed D&D. We ran out of the Pathfinder module three quarters of the way through the day but still had a few of the D&D sourcebook at the end. While still strong, D&D is not selling nearly as well as Pathfinder and this reflected in our customers' choices in the free offering. Of those customers not taking both, D&D was the book they chose to forgo. Unlike what happened with the two previous edition changes of D&D, this time, customers are voting with their dollars (and Free RPG Day choices) for Pathfinder.

In other Paizo news, they've also just released a couple of iPhone apps:
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A veeery interesting bit of info. Of course, there may be quite a few mitigating factors, including the fact that D&D's RPG release schedule has been quite anemic lately, and that WotC's business model has moved substantially away from the standard book-format product about which Lisa seems to be talking. Still, definitely an interesting trend. . . .


This is no small feat. Although most of the success should rest in the excellency of Paizo's creators and editors, I wonder how much was not WotC fault in managing a smooth transition.


I am a great fan of Paizo and their products and I am very happy for their success. In fact, I switched from 3.5 to PFRPG when it was released, snd I play it regularly.

However, you have to put things into perspective, WotC is barely releasing any D&D products at this time, that has to be a big factor in this equation.
I think its a serious statement on how in chaos WotC is right now involving D&D.

Their best bet is to get a 5e to print soon, and hope they can reverse the failure 4e has been.


I like Paizo's stuff alot, Carrion Crown has been awesome so far, but it's hardly fair to compare the two directly right now. Wizard's has had only a few books this year where as Pathfinder has Ultimate Magic, Revised Campaign Book, monthly Pathfinder adventure paths, a few of the Chronicles and Companion books and map sets out this year.

I'm one of the few that like both games it seems. I think Pathfinder was a great update to the 3.5 system, but I also like to play 4e (and essentials).

And if we're comparing Free rpg day books, White Wolf blew them both out of the water with their 64 page quick start and adventure!


I'm one who was definitely tired of 3.5 and didn't feel Pathfinder fixed much that needed fixing. Good on them, but when WotC is barely producing any physical books (esp when compared to early 4E or the 3.x era), that certainly makes them less of a challenger. Paizo is judging their success on a) hearsay, b) physical and e-books, one category of which WotC does not compete at ALL, c) no accounting for the subscription revenue for DDI or their own adventure subscribers.

This all seems like much ado about nothing really. In the end, this is still WotC and the next closest in the industry is still well behind. There are still plenty of people out there who will probably never even look at Pathfinder b/c when they think of RPGs they think of D&D and don't have an interest in anything else. I think 5E would be too much right now and given the production cycle, a new edition takes at least 3 years. They basically would have been having to work on a new edition from launch day.

I won't be surprised at all to see some sort of merging of original 4E and Essentials. Every class will have 2 or 3 Essentials style builds, but there will also be the builds from the original version. The math will be fixed, allowing for the removal of the Expertise and Imp Defenses feat taxes. Maybe they'll come up w/valid reasons to keep things like classes like Vampire and Seeker around, but I could see them culling a few classes along the way.


I'm not sure the Amazon list supports the statement that PF is outselling 4e. In fact it could be interpreted to indicate the exact opposite.

Just had a look at the Top 20 products and found the following:

D&D 4e : 9 Products
Pathfinder : 4 Products
D&D 3.5 : 1 Product (!)
D&D Boardgame : 1 Product
Shadowrun : 1 Product
Non-RPG Stuff: 4 Products

Surprised not to see any Warhammer 40K books on that list...
This is the same argument made to predict that White Wolf is doomed, when people are only looking at one metric at a time when the company has shifted to a digital distribution model, in large part.

If Lisa has access to info on DDI, then the comparison can be more accurate. As it is, it's interesting, but hardly conclusive.
I have called this when 4E was announced and once again when Paizo made their announcement with what they were planning for Pathfinder RPG. I knew D&D would slowly tank and Pathfinder would rise.

This is because WotC has alienated the original D&D fanbase and has been on this fruitless quest to appease a younger crowd, particularly the MMO crowd. This has rubbed both of their demographics the wrong way, and the butchering of beloved campaign settings such as Forgotten Realms and Ravenloft only did 4E worse. The introduction of a system of 4E that dumbed down 4E even further than how 4E dumbed down D&D entirely, called "Essentials", was just icing on the cake. I won't even bother going into how further down the "juvenile hole" D&D has become with the release of board and card games for it.

The old guard that knew how to design a great D&D game have all quit or were laid off and have been replaced by "noobs" in suits that know not what they're doing at all. Ironically, a number of the "old guard" are writing for Pathfinder. Just goes to show you the sham 4E has become. I sense a 5E being announced at next GenCon.

Now to wait for WotC to sell off D&D to Paizo so we can get the original game many of us have come to love and enjoy


4e didn't so much as jump the shark, as the shark now appears to have jumped it.

4e's a great RPG, it just isn't DnD. Pathfinder is DnD - or at least feels like it.

[MENTION=88106]Erdrick Dragin[/MENTION]: 3.0 was a wonderful creature in that it did not too far alienate the DnD faithful, while at the same time bringing many people 'back' to DnD who had left it during 1E or 2E for other RPGs. It had just enough 'different stuff inspired by the competition' and yet -not- too far from 'the road well traveled' to get people all sitting at the same table again.

4e made the mistake of assuming -only- the people who had left DnD 'back in the day' were worth holding onto. And while I was in that crowd - we were always the minority and split across many different games due to a variety of incompatible tastes. 4e also tried to get WoW's players to sit down to a table for 8 hours every Tuesday night... and well... there's a reason WoW players don't do that...
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Erdrick Dragon - You do know D&D board games are not exlusive to 4E?

Same with card games.

Also, they never released the Ravenloft game they talked about. Sure there are elements from Ravenloft within the core D&D world a la the Shadowfell, but it is not Ravenloft. There was the board game for Ravenloft, but it is certainly not part of the RPG line.

I personally love 4e (and Ive been playing all forms of D&D since 2nd edition - I even enjoy a good Pathfinder game from time to time), but I would not call it a "dumbing down". They have just made it more streamlined, although it certainly isnt without its issues. Ive found with 4e Ive had a much easier time getting non-RPG folk in to play and enjoy than I had with previous editions. In my experience it has been good for the hobby in this day and age where it gets harder and harder to compete with video games and the like.

However, I understand your thoughts/feelings about this, and Im not trying to call you out or say you are wrong, just wanted to point out that some of your argument above ignored that board/card games were not exclusive to 4e.


I think it's an important note that we don't actually have very much data. For example we only have relative rankings on amazon. At this point 4E has basically 3 PHB1's, 2 DMG1's etc. not to mention box sets. So it's not really a comparison at all to say PHB1 has a worse ranking then the pathfinder core book. Next the mane argument is the subjective feeling of book store that sell both 4E and Pathfinder. WE have no clue about the majority of stores that sell 4E but not pathfinder, nor do we have actual numbers of from the stores that sell both, just that the store that responded had employees and or manager that had a feeling that Pathfinder sold more.

What does this all mean in the end? Not much. Both games are selling well and expanding the hobby for everyone. And you know what, I'm happy if it means there are more people who graduate from the entry level games and support the more obscure and in my opinion interesting games.

Before I get hate mail, I'm not bashing D20 It's just the system most people get started with and not my favorite.