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D&D General Lasting Impacts of the Pandemic on D&D

Reynard

Legend
I want to spin this out of another thread so it doesn't get lost.

What do you think the lasting impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will be on D&D (and gaming in general). We have seen a significant increase in new players. The numbers were already on the rise, thanks to 5E, Critical Role and other pop culture, but the pandemic had lots of people looking for entertainment and D&D delivered. Of course, it mostly delivered online. That isn't to say that people weren't play on VTTs or via Skype/Zoom/Discord/whatever, but it exploded during lockdowns. Lockdown also pushed a lot of fan creation and semi-pro work. You can find pretty much any kind of thing for D&D you want, whether for free, a nominal fee, or for professional prices. Interest drove creativity drove sales drove interest etc... And one more really important thing to note: a whole lot of these new people are young. Their "fantasy" is rooted in Harry Potter and Avatar moreso than Conan or Lord of the Rings. They are also more diverse in almost every category. The shape, tone, aesthetic and feel of D&D is changing because of what they bring to the community.

So, all that said, what does D&D look like 2 or 4 or 10 years after Covid? Do we still play primarily online? Is D&D still big? Do the Zoomers follow the Millenials into the game as we GenXers and Boomers die off? How does the marriage of technology and tabletop evolve? What do in-person conventions look like? Do we play D&D in bars again? Does the D&D movie become a blockbuster, spawning an MCU level franchise?

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HJFudge

Explorer
I don't think that it will have, in the long term, a significant lasting impact. Assuming of course that the Pandemic winds down in the near(?) future, there is a very real possibility we will be dealing with it for a lot longer.

In the short term, once the pandemic winds down I think we'll see a huge drop in online games but that will not translate to a drop overall in D&D. People are gonna wanna go to the table and SEE their friends.

Long term, the trends you mentioned were exacerbated by the pandemic not caused by them. People have been transitioning to online play more and more for the last decade or so. Young people entering the game has been happening for equally as long.
 

I think the biggest lasting impact will be growth of the VTT & digital market. Overall growth will benefit long term, but not to the extent that folks who now know about digital and VTT possibilities. Think of how often in even the last few years folks in this community were not familiar with VTTs or had never used them or were just simple opposed to anything but face to face. Now, because they had little choice, many have learned, have adapted, have changed their minds etc.
 

ART!

Hero
The pandemic pushed more people into the VTT milieu for sure. Some of those were people who didn't know VTTs existed, would have never tried VTTs before the pandemic, or maybe tried them but didn't care for them, and some of those people will now see VTTs as an acceptable or even preferred way to play. So more people have more ways to play.

I think the digital content supply and demand, and the resultant entrepeneurship, is exciting. I'd love to know what success the smaller/lesser-known VTTs have had, including those that were still new just before the pandemic and those that appeared during the pandemic.

All that new traffic has probably forced the VTTs to improve their UIs, services, reliability, etc.
 

Reynard

Legend
The pandemic pushed more people into the VTT milieu for sure. Some of those were people who didn't know VTTs existed, would have never tried VTTs before the pandemic, or maybe tried them but didn't care for them, and some of those people will now see VTTs as an acceptable or even preferred way to play. So more people have more ways to play.

I think the digital content supply and demand, and the resultant entrepeneurship, is exciting. I'd love to know what success the smaller/lesser-known VTTs have had, including those that were still new just before the pandemic and those that appeared during the pandemic.

All that new traffic has probably forced the VTTs to improve their UIs, services, reliability, etc.
My favorite thing about playing online has been not having to lose half the evening to a commute. I miss sitting around the table, for sure, but it is really nice not having to pack everything up or worry about not being able to have a second stout while playing.
 


Scribe

Hero
So, all that said, what does D&D look like 2 or 4 or 10 years after Covid? Do we still play primarily online? Is D&D still big? Do the Zoomers follow the Millenials into the game as we GenXers and Boomers die off? How does the marriage of technology and tabletop evolve? What do in-person conventions look like? Do we play D&D in bars again?
Answer this correctly and you have money to be made.

I think (guessing time) we still see a lot of online play, we see a push forward cosmopolitan settings, and way less FR type stuff. I think there could be space for a rebuilt Sword and Sorcery setting, but that's probably just my black and grey morality preference showing, Wizards won't push that through D&D officially.

Expect more Critical Roll, less Dragonlance.
 

That is why being the DM is great - everyone comes to my house!
Exactly, thats why I play at my house. If youre really lucky they also leave whatever beer they dont drink.

The one possible lasting effect of the pandemic might be local gaming stores going out of business due to reduced foot traffic and lack of regulars due to lockdowns. Alot of small businesses are struggling so I can imagine it might be the same for the game industry. Its been years since I frequented any local games stores so this is just me speculating more than seeing it first hand.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I see at least some of the gain staying around, although it's hard to tell how much. A lot of people (including my sister!) whom I never thought would play the game have had exposure to it. Some will drop off once things go back to "normal" but not all.

Playing virtually is here to stay for a lot of people. Personally I hope to go back to in person gaming, but if I had had this technology several years ago I might have kept one of my old groups going after we moved. I'm sure there were people that "got the old gang back together".

So expect some flatter growth, probably not negative. VTT will have a slight dip but not significant. Maybe.
 

Retreater

Legend
Not to sound doom and gloom, but I think the hobby has been changed significantly in the long term. While these are my experiences, I feel they likely mimic those of others as well.
1) VTTs. Not only has my group accepted online gaming, we've made it the standard. Due to adding players from other locations to our groups, we simply cannot play in-person anymore without excluding others. More than likely the rare in-person game will be to just hang out more than actually play a game.
2) Simple games. Transitioning to online play, we wanted to find easier to play games. These have been a great boon and very enjoyable. I don't see us going back to crunchy games.
3) Shorter sessions, more frequent. Partly because of playing online, we are able to game more frequently and at regular times (not having to worry about babysitters, travel, etc). Whereas we were only able to come together for one 6-hour session on a Saturday once a month, we're now able to regularly play for 2.5 hours on a weeknight. This has changed the pacing of my games to try to move along more quickly to feel that "something" has happened each session.
4) Greater conversation outside of the game. We have less time to discuss tangential issues during our shortened sessions, so we handle side quests, shopping, character backstory, and general "what do we do next' conversations via email.
5) Convention attendance. I've heard panels of industry insiders and convention organizers, and they seem to agree that massive conventions like GenCon are likely going to change forever. I've been able to attend a variety of online cons I could never have attended in person, tried out new systems, taken part in organized play events, etc. All I am missing are dinners with friends and the vendor hall. So I order online (at a discount). I usually spend thousands of dollars every year with travel, food, event registration, etc. I think that for me, those types of conventions are not coming back.
6) Small presses. I have really been delving into Kickstarters, IndieGogo projects, and small publishers. Partly this is because I'm doing all my gaming online (so PDFs are as valuable as in-print - if not moreso). Also I am playing "smaller" games. I haven't purchased a WotC book in a long time and so long as I am not playing 5e, I don't see a reason to do so. But I'll support the heck out of small publishers.
7) I haven't rolled a physical die in months. All of the accoutrements I used to think I needed to play are no longer necessary. Minis, battlemaps, terrain, dice, etc., I do all that through the VTT. I can put that stuff in deep storage.
8) I am playing more than ever. I can find a game any day of the week, any time of day. I am running 3+ games a week. VTT play has opened up endless possibilities.
9) My FLGS doesn't matter anymore. I hate to say it, but I no longer have a reason to go to my FLGS. I'm not going to play there. They don't have a good selection of books, and I don't need the physical products anyway. (They are far less useful than getting a PDF when you're playing online.)
I think most all the growth in gaming is on the digital front, and it's been astronomical. I don't think it can be translated into a physical space due to the limitations. I think that this is the future of gaming, and it's okay. I will still look back on in-person gaming with some fondness and even do it occasionally for the fun of it, but otherwise, I'm all online now.
 

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