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Roll20's Latest Report Shows Growth Everywhere!

Roll20 has released its latest usage stats. These are from Quarter 1 2020, and while there isn't much change in the relative ranks of different games since 2019, they report that nearly everything has doubled during these pandemic times when a lot of gaming has shifted online to virtual tabletops like this.

Since Q4 2019, D&D has climbed back up (from a previous drop) from 47.54% to 50.4% of campaigns. Call of Cthulhu has dropped from 15.35% to 12.15%. Pathfinder has dropped from 4.97% to 4.49% (but Pathfinder 2E has climbed from 1.13% to 1.23%), and Warhammer has dropped from 1.48% to 1.3%. World of Darkness and Star Wars both also show drops. Note these are relative shares, not absolute figures -- in most cases the actual number of games has increased. Notably, Call of Cthulhu remains the second most popular game on Roll20 by a large margin.

The first chart below shows the campaigns run for each system, and the second shows the players. Roll20 says that only games with at least one hour of playtime are counted in these results.

campaigns.jpg

players.jpg


Those with the biggest growth are HeroQuest (4000%!), Old School Essentiants, Blades in the Dark, and L5R.

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Here's the full chart. One of these days I'll put all this data (and the Fantasy Grounds data) on a combined chart like the one I do for ICv2 stats.

full-report.jpg

t2.jpg

t3.jpg

t4.jpg
t5.jpg

t6.jpg

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
, but 2E double the number of games on Roll20 this quarter. (that is in the full report)

But everything did. That's the same as 5e, which has a much, much higher base to need doubling. FATE grew more than PF2.

In other words, PF2 really should have been exceeding that; that's just treading water.

Again, I want it to do well, but based on the metrics I've seen, relative to how Paizo would likely want it to perform, it looks like it is underperforming. Hope I am incorrect, and/or things change.
 

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But everything did. That's the same as 5e, which has a much, much higher base to need doubling. FATE grew more than PF2.

In other words, PF2 really should have been exceeding that; that's just treading water.

Again, I want it to do well, but based on the metrics I've seen, relative to how Paizo would likely want it to perform, it looks like it is underperforming. Hope I am incorrect, and/or things change.
They actually grew 20% faster than the platform, well it was exploding. That is actually hard to do. Thus why PF1 grew as well, but shrunk percentage wise.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
They actually grew 20% faster than the platform, well it was exploding. That is actually hard to do. Thus why PF1 grew as well, but shrunk percentage wise.

....I'm not entirely sure what point you're trying to make. It's like fun with statistics. HeroQuest grew 4066%! That's a lot more impressive.

PF2, a system which is brand-new and should be experiencing massive growth (replacing PF1), had approximately the same growth as six-year old 5e (199% - 192%).

I apologize if I'm not making my point very clearly, but I will try one more time:

1. Yes, they grew.

2. They barely outperformed the overall average.

3. They are basically tied with 5e.

4. Usually, you see people moving on to a new system in the first six months.

5. As such, this is not a great sign. It does not appear that PF2 is either converting all of PF1 and D&D3 holdouts, nor does it appear to be attracting non-PF players (given that the decline in PF1 > the increase in PF2).

6. Again, lies, damn lies, and statistics, and it's not like the companies are telling us what is going on. But this has to be very disappointing. I hope I'm wrong, but we will see.

That is my point. I don't think I can explain it any better.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
4. Usually, you see people moving on to a new system in the first six months.
People, yes, but not all interested people.

Campaigns almost never end at exactly the right time to start up something you're interested in that just came out, and lots of folks don't like to convert an ongoing campaign to a new edition - especially when there are significant differences like in the case of the PF1 to PF2 change.

Heck, I've personally waited 2 or 3 years before finally starting up my first campaign of a game that I bought on release day just because of finishing up other campaigns I already had going or had already lined up to run.
 

....I'm not entirely sure what point you're trying to make. It's like fun with statistics. HeroQuest grew 4066%! That's a lot more impressive.

PF2, a system which is brand-new and should be experiencing massive growth (replacing PF1), had approximately the same growth as six-year old 5e (199% - 192%).

I apologize if I'm not making my point very clearly, but I will try one more time:

1. Yes, they grew.

2. They barely outperformed the overall average.

3. They are basically tied with 5e.

4. Usually, you see people moving on to a new system in the first six months.

5. As such, this is not a great sign. It does not appear that PF2 is either converting all of PF1 and D&D3 holdouts, nor does it appear to be attracting non-PF players (given that the decline in PF1 > the increase in PF2).

6. Again, lies, damn lies, and statistics, and it's not like the companies are telling us what is going on. But this has to be very disappointing. I hope I'm wrong, but we will see.

That is my point. I don't think I can explain it any better.
I think the only point I disagree with is #4 other than 2 recent exceptions that kind of cheated (Pathfinder and 5e*) new system adoption often takes quite awhile, so growth is always what you are looking for.

Well that and that PF didn't decline it grew slower than the site. If there were 10,000 games last quarter and 18,000 games this quarter (made up numbers but the announced growth percentage of the site). Pathfinder 1 would have had 497 games last quarter and 808 games this quarter. Growing 175ish%. PF 2 would have had 113 games last quarter and 221 games this quarter, 5 games short of doubling.
PF cheated by having all of 3rd edition already out to use, and 5e cheated by killing off D&D for several years to create demand.
 



That is bull crap, All games come around because the companies finances demand it.
Companies financial teams may demand but it is the playing and paying public that finances those demands.

Truly shocking to see that D&D 4th is so terrible that it was abandoned at the first sign of D&D 5th.

Though, to confess, I was one of the holdouts that stayed behind on D&D3.5 then skipped straight to 5th edition, only keeping the core books of 4th as a collector's item.

Pathfinder 2nd edition may be much better than D&D 4th but suffering a similar problem with not enough Pathfinder 1st players upgrading and also not enough new players adopting it over or alongside D&D 5th.
 
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Thanks for all the stats -- very helpful!

I find it interesting that Rolemaster is doing better on Roll20 than Fantasy Grounds during the pandemic, given that support for Rolemaster is considerably better on Fantasy Grounds (which has a character sheet and tables) than on Roll20 (which IIRC only has a character sheet for the RMSS edition of the rules).

I've considered trying Rolemaster, but I am unsure which edition is current (or how to even acquire the books needed to play).
 

Hurin88

Adventurer
I've considered trying Rolemaster, but I am unsure which edition is current (or how to even acquire the books needed to play).

There is a new edition (RMU or 'Rolemaster Unified') that is coming out soon (they are aiming for later this year). You can download the beta rules for free by signing in to their website and agreeing to the NDA... or at least you could, but their website is down right now. It has been down for a while as they try to shift to a new host without losing any of the content (this has been a long running issue). When the site is up, you will be able to access it here:
http://www.ironcrown.com/ICEforums/index.php

There are also two main older editions. The older one is commonly called RM2, and that is the edition of the system in its heyday. This edition was revised slightly as 'Rolemaster Classic' in I think 2007, for which some online tools were released. This edition is supported in Fantasy Grounds (in fact I think a new version of the character sheet was just released).

The other older edition is RMSS/FRP (Standard System/Fantasy Role Playing). It is better supported on Roll20, with a useful character sheet.

My friend Peter started the Rolemaster Blog, where we post about the new and the old editions. You can check it out here: The Rolemaster Blog – Articles and discussion on Roleplaying including Shadow World, Forgotten Realms.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
There has to be an issues with 3 times as many players sticking with the old edition of pathfinder than play the second. Where do they put their resources?

Stop producing 1st Ed materials and miss out in a huge part of their market. Fail to focus on 2nd ed though and people will never switch. I don’t envy them.

Glad to see more people on Warhammer though than Pathfinder 2nd Ed.
 

Aldarc

Legend
D&D 3, PF1, and D&D5 came about because the players demanded these games. 4E and PF2 came out because the companies that made them demanded better financials (IMO).
So WotC and Hasbro not demanding better financials was not responsible for 5e? Hmmm... I think that I smell a propagandist with an anti-4e and anti-PF2 agenda to sell. :unsure:
 

dave2008

Legend
Like I said earlier it is hard to tell right now with the ridiculous growth of the VTTs due to the pandemic, but 2E double the number of games on Roll20 this quarter. (that is in the full report). Doesn't mean it will be a factor forever, but it is definitely still growing and less than a year old.
EDIT - already covered.
 

DaveMage

Slumbering in Tsar
So WotC and Hasbro not demanding better financials was not responsible for 5e? Hmmm... I think that I smell a propagandist with an anti-4e and anti-PF2 agenda to sell. :unsure:

No agenda - observation. 2E was bleeding players (or really, had bled players) thus 3E was a welcome refreshing of D&D and players came back. 3.5 was quite popular, but per Ryan Dancey, 4E was made in part due to financial ultimatums at WotC/Hasbro. 4E was also designed to encourage more buying of product (e.g. spreading out "standard" races and classes over PHB1 and PHB2.) Players (in significant numbers - not every individual one, of course) rejected 4E and thus, since there were significant numbers of 3.5 players that loved the system, embraced PF1. Many of those players welcomed 5E (again, as a refreshing of D&D). I think many of us that started with D&D want to love the current version of D&D, and thus 5E (especially with its embracing of past editions) is popular. (Although, I do admit, I was skeptical that WotC could pull it off. But they certainly did.) Pathfinder 1E still has lots of fans, and I didn't see any significant evidence of demand for a new edition by players. Obviously, WotC and Paizo must do what's best for their bottom lines, but the perceived lack of interest in PF2, likely has to do with the fact that players were not demanding a new edition, Paizo did.

None of this is to say that those designing 4E or PF2 were intending to make a game that didn't appeal - only that these new editions were not perceived as needed by the ones playing the current editions (3.5 or PF1) of the time.
 

dave2008

Legend
None of this is to say that those designing 4E or PF2 were intending to make a game that didn't appeal - only that these new editions were not perceived as needed by the ones playing the current editions (3.5 or PF1) of the time.
I don't know the numbers, but personally I completely skipped 3e/3.5e. I didn't come back to D&D until 4e came out, which is much closer to the D&D this fan was asking for. Now I'm playing basically as blend of 4e and 5e.
 

No agenda - observation. 2E was bleeding players (or really, had bled players) thus 3E was a welcome refreshing of D&D and players came back. 3.5 was quite popular, but per Ryan Dancey, 4E was made in part due to financial ultimatums at WotC/Hasbro. 4E was also designed to encourage more buying of product (e.g. spreading out "standard" races and classes over PHB1 and PHB2.) Players (in significant numbers - not every individual one, of course) rejected 4E and thus, since there were significant numbers of 3.5 players that loved the system, embraced PF1. Many of those players welcomed 5E (again, as a refreshing of D&D). I think many of us that started with D&D want to love the current version of D&D, and thus 5E (especially with its embracing of past editions) is popular. (Although, I do admit, I was skeptical that WotC could pull it off. But they certainly did.) Pathfinder 1E still has lots of fans, and I didn't see any significant evidence of demand for a new edition by players. Obviously, WotC and Paizo must do what's best for their bottom lines, but the perceived lack of interest in PF2, likely has to do with the fact that players were not demanding a new edition, Paizo did.

None of this is to say that those designing 4E or PF2 were intending to make a game that didn't appeal - only that these new editions were not perceived as needed by the ones playing the current editions (3.5 or PF1) of the time.

This is all really proving the point, 2e was bleeding players so a new edition was done to try to stop the hemorrhaging (financial decision). 4e was a financial decision, and at this point I think we can say a bad one. 5e was again a financial decision to bring people back to D&D. PF1 was hemorrhaging player's as well and most of the 3PP publishers had moved to making 5e products. So a financial decision was made to make a new edition. It is definitely too early to tell if this was a bad decision or not, 9 months and the first major player supplement isn't even out yet.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
This is all really proving the point, 2e was bleeding players so a new edition was done to try to stop the hemorrhaging (financial decision).

The creation of 3E was a lot more complex than that. TSR had collapsed for a wide variety of reasons (and none of those were "2E is unpopular"), and WotC acquired it and started anew with their own iteration. There's tons to read on the internet about that, and the origins of 3E.
 

Retreater

Legend
I'm going to defend Paizo's decision to release Pathfinder 2e a bit, even though I'm not a massive fan of the (and honestly, still prefer 5e). While we can only guess about their financials, they have mentioned their reasoning to create PF2, and it doesn't seem purely financially motivated. They mentioned being restrained by the design of 3.5 D&D - since they were building PF1 to be largely compatible with 3.5 they couldn't really change the game, make it their own, or give it their identity. PF2 seems to be the game that the designers wanted, and they hoped that their fans (and other gamers) would also like it. As it turns out, many do not like their vision of the game, choosing to play PF1, D&D 5e, or other game systems.
Personally, I don't care for 13th Age or Numenera, and neither of them rival the success of D&D 5e. But the community doesn't respond with "these are failures of systems whose creators were blinded by greed to give us bad products." PF2 provides a crunchy, rules-dense alternative to D&D 5e. It is sort of like a hybrid of 4e and 3.5/PF1 - so we can consider it a natural progression of the 3.5 family of games. In my opinion, PF2 is a natural progression of PF1, staying closer to the spirit of D&D than 4E did (which I have also enjoyed).
 

Jimmy Dick

Explorer
The first thing to realize is this report is trash. It is not an accurate picture of what is being played. The data collection system doesn't come close to addressing what is actually being played. It seems to use character sheets made for an account. It doesn't bring time played with those sheets into the report and it even acknowledges that. If an account has sheets used for multiple game systems, then they all show up.

Here's another thing. A lot of PF2 games are Society play. Many GMs build tables with multiple scenarios on them and use them over and over again. They don't count correctly. I've got a table with 14 scenarios on it that I've used to run over 40 sessions. This report doesn't count each session ran. It seems to go by accounts and character sheets. That's not in any way an accurate measuring system.

Another issue that the report doesn't tell us is what character sheets does it count. Does it only count official Roll20 sheets? What if there is no character sheet? What about hours played on an account? Why does it not factor that in? I typically average 50 to 100 hours a month in Roll20. There is no way you can give equal weight to a someone who only puts in 5 hours a month.

This is just bad data.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
...these new editions were not perceived as needed by the ones playing the current editions (3.5 or PF1) of the time.
Except me.

I was elated to hear that 4th edition D&D was coming and the claims it was going to fix all the issues I had with the then current edition. It turned out not to actually do what I wanted it to in the end for various reasons, but I definitely perceived 4th edition as needed.

Pathfinder 2nd didn't get as much of a reaction out of me because I have forced myself to temper my excitement of new games since 4th edition so that I don't have the same feeling of getting a bait and switch, but it was still announced at a point when I was finished wither Pathfinder 1st and definitely wasn't going to play it ever again despite that it had given me a way to satisfy my D&D cravings after putting 4th edition on the shelf for good. And it released at just the point when I'd gotten worn out by the way D&D 5th edition plays over long campaigns, so again I perceived a need for the new game.
 

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