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Roll20 RPG Usage Stats: Growth Everywhere During Pandemic!

Roll20 has posted its latest Industry Report, revealing that the first quarter of 2020 shows growth for almost every game on its platform during the pandemic. D&D, of course, remains by far the most popular (up from 50% to 53% after a dip last year), with Call of Cthulhu and Pathfinder coming in behind. Call of Cthulhu has seen a bit of a drop from 12% to 8.5%, while Pathfinder is...

Roll20 has posted its latest Industry Report, revealing that the first quarter of 2020 shows growth for almost every game on its platform during the pandemic. D&D, of course, remains by far the most popular (up from 50% to 53% after a dip last year), with Call of Cthulhu and Pathfinder coming in behind. Call of Cthulhu has seen a bit of a drop from 12% to 8.5%, while Pathfinder is approximately steady.

(See the Quarter 1 2020 report here).

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Cyberpunk Red saw high growth of over 100%, as did Tormenta, City of Mist, and the Year Zero Engine.


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Here's the full list!

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Guest 7025638

Guest
Yeah after reading the rest of the conversation regarding this, i have to be in 100% agreement. Now that does not mean that D&D is a bad game, but in my personal preference its my absolute least fav game. And its a shame that so many other games are not even tried because people just get D&D first and foremost in terms of visibility. I also think all the youtube actual play channles which more or less mostly just express a certain style of play have new players coming to the table only expecting that style of play - which further lessens the appeals of other great games because those styles of play just dont work with every game. Just my opinion.
This is 100 percent true, thank you. All these actual plays promote a certain style, leading to false expectations so in the end, "everyone" would be disappointed, then conclude that "RPGs suck". Doesn't do any good.
 

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macd21

Adventurer
As you said, it’s a lot of work, but also it’s questionable whether the pay off would be worth it. If you’re a small publisher, then you have a small fan base. Of that small fan base, only a fraction will be interested in VTT. Of those, some will be people who were going to play anyway, they just prefer online to face-to-face. And then of the rest, most are people who would have bought your books anyway. More people actually playing your game doesn’t necessarily translate into more people buying your books.

So couple more people playing on VTTs doesn’t necessarily translate to much more sales. You’re probably better off putting the time and effort into a new book, which your existing fans will buy (whether they’re playing or not).
 

macd21

Adventurer
This is 100 percent true, thank you. All these actual plays promote a certain style, leading to false expectations so in the end, "everyone" would be disappointed, then conclude that "RPGs suck". Doesn't do any good.

This is clearly not the case for a lot of people. DnD is bringing more people into the hobby. Sure, some of them might find they don’t actually like it when the dice start rolling, but I think that would be true no matter what game they ended up playing. Meanwhile, many are loving it, driving up RPG sales. And that in turn helps the hobby as a whole.

A few years ago, my FLGS was the only place still selling RPGs, and they’d reduced their selection to a handful of PF and SW books (and some old DnD4 supplements). Then 5ed came out. As sales went up, the RPG space increased - but not just for DnD. And then RPGs started appearing in comic and book stores. Sure, just DnD at first, but then they added PF, and then Star Wars, and then Star Trek, Dr Who, and others. When DnD is doing well, interest in and visibility of other games increases.
 


Hussar

Legend
I think this is only true if we say that most people would play with a VTT, anyway. But I, for one, really don't like and require them, we wouldn't use maps and such either way (we usually don't play published modules, and it's been tha case in the more than 20 years I've been playing), so basically all I need is a voice platform (and a big chunk of imagination, like when we started playing), which is usually Discord (no video). So for me, a VTT is rather a minus, an unnecessary overhead.

Well, something like Discord or Zoom is a VTT of sorts. You get my point though. For example, I was playing the new Star Trek game on Discord, and there was a Discord app for generating technobabble on the fly. Little things like that can really add to the game.

As you said, it’s a lot of work, but also it’s questionable whether the pay off would be worth it. If you’re a small publisher, then you have a small fan base. Of that small fan base, only a fraction will be interested in VTT. Of those, some will be people who were going to play anyway, they just prefer online to face-to-face. And then of the rest, most are people who would have bought your books anyway. More people actually playing your game doesn’t necessarily translate into more people buying your books.

So couple more people playing on VTTs doesn’t necessarily translate to much more sales. You’re probably better off putting the time and effort into a new book, which your existing fans will buy (whether they’re playing or not).

My point is, you need to build that community. It doesn't happen on its own. As a small publisher, it would be worth so much to have a solid user base that is actually playing your game rather than simply throwing these games out into the wild and hoping someone will buy them. I'm not talking " a couple more people". I'm talking about doing what Critical Role has done - build an entire business off of the virtual play. Now, to be fair, I never in a million years would have thought that watching live play would be as popular as it is, but, the entire point though is to get people playing.

If you can reach that critical mass online where pretty much anyone who wants to play your game can play whenever they want, I have to think that that's far preferable to the current model of "design a game, put it up on Kickstarter or whatever, and hope like hell that it sells". Doesn't seem very sustainable to me.
 

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Guest 7025638

Guest
Well, something like Discord or Zoom is a VTT of sorts. You get my point though. For example, I was playing the new Star Trek game on Discord, and there was a Discord app for generating technobabble on the fly. Little things like that can really add to the game.



My point is, you need to build that community. It doesn't happen on its own. As a small publisher, it would be worth so much to have a solid user base that is actually playing your game rather than simply throwing these games out into the wild and hoping someone will buy them. I'm not talking " a couple more people". I'm talking about doing what Critical Role has done - build an entire business off of the virtual play. Now, to be fair, I never in a million years would have thought that watching live play would be as popular as it is, but, the entire point though is to get people playing.

If you can reach that critical mass online where pretty much anyone who wants to play your game can play whenever they want, I have to think that that's far preferable to the current model of "design a game, put it up on Kickstarter or whatever, and hope like hell that it sells". Doesn't seem very sustainable to me.
I do get your point, however, I don't consider Discord a VTT, not by a long shot. :) The way we use it, we could use Skype, Zoom, Jitsi or whatever else, really, it would make no difference at all in most cases. It's just a voice channel for us.
 

macd21

Adventurer
My point is, you need to build that community. It doesn't happen on its own. As a small publisher, it would be worth so much to have a solid user base that is actually playing your game rather than simply throwing these games out into the wild and hoping someone will buy them. I'm not talking " a couple more people". I'm talking about doing what Critical Role has done - build an entire business off of the virtual play. Now, to be fair, I never in a million years would have thought that watching live play would be as popular as it is, but, the entire point though is to get people playing.

If you can reach that critical mass online where pretty much anyone who wants to play your game can play whenever they want, I have to think that that's far preferable to the current model of "design a game, put it up on Kickstarter or whatever, and hope like hell that it sells". Doesn't seem very sustainable to me.

Problem is that simply creating a better VTT option won’t create that community. It’ll barely make a dent. The time spent on VTT support is better spent on producing more books, which will do better to increase your community than having a tiny number of people playing VTT. And VTT just isn’t that important when it comes to getting people to play your game - releasing good products is.
 

Hussar

Legend
Problem is that simply creating a better VTT option won’t create that community. It’ll barely make a dent. The time spent on VTT support is better spent on producing more books, which will do better to increase your community than having a tiny number of people playing VTT. And VTT just isn’t that important when it comes to getting people to play your game - releasing good products is.

I disagree and, again, I have to point to the things like Critical Role and whatnot have proven that creating an online community can be a massive kick. It's not really an accident that the largest Kickstarters are from Critical Role. Banging out some sourcebook for your game, where no one actually plays it because it's too small to gain enough traction geographically is the death knell of so many RPG's.

The hobby is littered with literally hundreds of RPG games that have come and died. An online community can (I'm not saying will, but can) be a possible way to keep your game being played. Because, frankly, sure, the game comes, maybe it wins an Ennie, it gets played for a while, then it fades and dies. Whens the last time you saw an Ars Magica game being played? There was a game with MASSIVE support. Lasted, what, ten years maybe? Then faded away. And the hobby is littered with far more failures than success stories.

My point is, no, you don't get a "tiny" number of people playing. You, the designer, run online conventions, online games, recruit a dozen or so GM's and make sure they are pushing the game into the general sphere, train new GM's for your online games, make sure that the online games have some cool widgets and whatnot. If you can reach that critical mass level of about 1000 players, then it will just run itself. But, that's the goal. Chucking the book into the wild and hope that people play it is a very fast way to lose a lot of money.
 

macd21

Adventurer
Game designers aren't just 'chucking the book into the wild.' They're setting up kickstarter campaigns, drumming up support, putting up pages with previews of upcoming books etc. They all have an 'online community.' But that's not the same thing as having a VTT community. And lacking 'geographic traction' is not really the death knell of small games. Ars Magica didn't die because there wasn't enough traction geographically. It died because most games die after a few years, because there's only so many supplements people want. After a while, you either release a new edition, or move on to something else. VTT support doesn't change that. The oWoD was one of the biggest RPG franchises, with loads of 'geographical traction,' but WW still let it die because it had been done to death. See also: every edition of DnD. For small RPGs, the problem isn't that no one is playing the game, it's that not that many people are interested in it. Adding VTT support doesn't really help with that, as it won't add that much interest. And adding VTT support won't change the fact that RPGs die, because the VTT players aren't going to be more interested in buying an endless treadmill of supplements anymore than face-to-face players are.

Sure, if you have access to professional voice actors, skilled editors etc you can set up a podcast that will boost your online community. Nothing to do with VTT. That's just more marketing. Nice if you can get it, but not every RPG company can.

We're eventually going to get to a point when we'll expect every RPG to have VTT support, and will consider it weird if it doesn't. But we're not there yet. And right now, VTT support just isn't important to the success or failure of an RPG. It just doesn't make much of a difference.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I disagree and, again, I have to point to the things like Critical Role and whatnot have proven that creating an online community can be a massive kick. It's not really an accident that the largest Kickstarters are from Critical Role.

EH? Critical Role hasn't done any gaming Kickstarters. The only KS they've done was one for an animated show.
 

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