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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.

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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.

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t2.jpg

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
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).

Very well said, and I think those are great points. That's why I think it's unfortunate that it's not doing so well (or not doing as well as Paizo would like, or maybe it is doing well and just cloaking that success from my perception).

Then again, maybe it's more that PF1 happened to take advantage of a very specific set of circumstances, and it would be crazy to think that such would repeat again.
 

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Very well said, and I think those are great points. That's why I think it's unfortunate that it's not doing so well (or not doing as well as Paizo would like, or maybe it is doing well and just cloaking that success from my perception).

Then again, maybe it's more that PF1 happened to take advantage of a very specific set of circumstances, and it would be crazy to think that such would repeat again.
Yep I think there is a misconception that most games explode quickly now thanks to both PF1 and 5e. And PF1 didn't explode as fast as we remember the APG was really the turning point. Most games when they release a new edition adopt slowly as people are able to make the characters that they want to or wrap up the existing campaigns that they are playing.
 

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.

Thank you for the information.
 

I'm eager to try PF2, but I also get the impression that what Paizo did was as if Steve Jackson Games decided to release a new edition of GURPS that alienated like 70-80% of people's previous purchases. When you have a huge library of heavy-crunch material like that and a heavily invested fanbase, I think you should be more cautious about evolving the system, trying to keep some backward compatibility.

While I wish 5e had more in the way of new crunch (here we have the opposite situation: I believe they're evolving the game too slowly), I also feel somehow relieved that when WotC decides to release 6e, I'll probably carry most of my 5e library with me, should I decide to migrate. It's mainly setting stuff and modules that don't appear hard to convert at first glance.
 

Jimmy Dick

Explorer
I'm eager to try PF2, but I also get the impression that what Paizo did was as if Steve Jackson Games decided to release a new edition of GURPS that alienated like 70-80% of people's previous purchases. When you have a huge library of heavy-crunch material like that and a heavily invested fanbase, I think you should be more cautious about evolving the system, trying to keep some backward compatibility.

While I wish 5e had more in the way of new crunch (here we have the opposite situation: I believe they're evolving the game too slowly), I also feel somehow relieved that when WotC decides to release 6e, I'll probably carry most of my 5e library with me, should I decide to migrate. It's mainly setting stuff and modules that don't appear hard to convert at first glance.

Backward compatibility was not possible for PF2. The new edition uses different math because the 1e math did not support game expansions very well which resulted in a broken system that catered to powergaming way too much. Also, the majority of the 1e base went to 2e. There are some who outright refuse to cross over, but that's not indicative of the majority of the players. Finally, we're growing more players who were not part of the 1e experience continually. There is just a overly loud misconception out there generated by a small number of people regarding 2e not being successful. It is very successful. I say that based on online players, players at the game stores I run Organized Play events at, the large volume of sales through the game stores according to the owners, and the number of PF2 products I watched get sold at Gen Con. It's a big hit.
 


There is just a overly loud misconception out there generated by a small number of people regarding 2e not being successful. It is very successful.
This is one of those finicky distinctions. PF2 is probably the second best selling RPG on the market and well above the 3rd and 4th best selling... but it's still below Pathfinder1 in terms of popularity.

Which really says more about the #3+ RPGs being sold... Because while Warhammer and Call of Cthulhu have more players, that's combining many editions.
 


Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
Roll20's data is not worth much in my opinion. I already discussed this earlier in a post. I said what I based it on.
Right. So what is your statement (that most PF1 players switched to PF2) based on? Since you take issue with Roll20's methodology, I imagine your own data and methodology must adhere to very high standards. Why not share it with us?
 

Jimmy Dick

Explorer
I already stated it, but if you really want me to say it again, I will.

I run and play Pathfinder Society. I organize live and online events. The online region is growing a lot of players and more of them are coming to PFS2. Also, PaizoCon GM signups are underway and PFS2 is getting the larger share of GM signups. We'll see more when the players sign up. Keep in mind that many are playing both systems, but only a small minority refused to play PFS2.
 

I already stated it, but if you really want me to say it again, I will.

I run and play Pathfinder Society. I organize live and online events. The online region is growing a lot of players and more of them are coming to PFS2. Also, PaizoCon GM signups are underway and PFS2 is getting the larger share of GM signups. We'll see more when the players sign up. Keep in mind that many are playing both systems, but only a small minority refused to play PFS2.
...
So... Roll20 collects data from 40,00 games and Fantasy Grounds collects data from 50,000 games but you have an accurate reflection on the industry because you manage a dozen games?

I'm sure PaizoCon is doing well. It's a great opportunity for curious people to test the system. But it's also free and a low cost way for people to test the game. Whether or not it translates to increased regular games and sales is another issue.
 

DaveMage

Slumbering in Tsar
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.

What wore you out? (I haven't played much 5E, but while I've heard that people lament the lack of options (compared to 3.x, 4E, and PF1), I haven't heard anyone worn out by it.) What caused you to lose enthusiasm?
 

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.
Your argument is that it's bad because it doesn't count each individual session being played separately?

Also, wouldn't this apply equally to Adventurer's League, greatly increasing the number of D&D sessions?
 

Retreater

Legend
As long as we're giving anecdotal evidence (and this is coming from someone who's actually invested in the system in hard copy, VTT, and running a campaign), my view is that the Roll20 stats are pretty accurate. Even before the pandemic, there was zero PF presence in my tristate area. Game stores don't carry it. There are no events.
The fans may have rushed to buy PF2 at GenCon (like they do every Paizo release there), but there were pallets of unsold games and literal stacks of them being sold at discount at secondary sellers. There were so many no shows and unsold tickets at their official PF2 events that tables were cancelled at Origins.
As much as I like the system, I still have to cede that it's not a runaway success. To compare it to 4E's reception isn't inaccurate, except that it doesn't have to live up to D&D's numbers.
 


Jimmy Dick

Explorer
As long as we're giving anecdotal evidence (and this is coming from someone who's actually invested in the system in hard copy, VTT, and running a campaign), my view is that the Roll20 stats are pretty accurate. Even before the pandemic, there was zero PF presence in my tristate area. Game stores don't carry it. There are no events.
The fans may have rushed to buy PF2 at GenCon (like they do every Paizo release there), but there were pallets of unsold games and literal stacks of them being sold at discount at secondary sellers. There were so many no shows and unsold tickets at their official PF2 events that tables were cancelled at Origins.
As much as I like the system, I still have to cede that it's not a runaway success. To compare it to 4E's reception isn't inaccurate, except that it doesn't have to live up to D&D's numbers.

Let's see, PF2 debuted at Gen Con with was a month AFTER Origins. It was not ran at Origins in 2019. Hard to cancel a table that didn't exist.

In my area all the game stores carry PF2. All of the Org Play lodges are seeing growth in my region and in the adjoining regions. There are some places where the sales have been sabotaged by some people who have badmouthed the game without ever playing a single session of it. There are also many instances of game stores getting burned by the PLAYTEST who then chose not to stock PF2. Their loss.
 

Retreater

Legend
Let's see, PF2 debuted at Gen Con with was a month AFTER Origins. It was not ran at Origins in 2019. Hard to cancel a table that didn't exist.

In my area all the game stores carry PF2. All of the Org Play lodges are seeing growth in my region and in the adjoining regions. There are some places where the sales have been sabotaged by some people who have badmouthed the game without ever playing a single session of it. There are also many instances of game stores getting burned by the PLAYTEST who then chose not to stock PF2. Their loss.
I was at Origins 2019. I can promise you that PF2 (playtest) events were definitely going on. My fiancee and I walked up to a table with generic tickets, no one else showed up. We were the only people at a table for that 2 hour window. To fill the table they got other GMs whose events were cancelled to play with us.
 

Jimmy Dick

Explorer
I was at Origins 2019. I can promise you that PF2 (playtest) events were definitely going on. My fiancee and I walked up to a table with generic tickets, no one else showed up. We were the only people at a table for that 2 hour window. To fill the table they got other GMs whose events were cancelled to play with us.

I can promise you that PF2 was not at Origins because the Playtest is not Second Edition. There were quite a few substantial changes made before PF2 was finally released. The sessions that were at Origins were Playtest rules sessions, not Pathfinder Second Edition sessions. I think they were the latest Goblin release for Free RPG Day. Please do not confuse the two because that's what a lot of people have done.

To make you feel better though, I'm going to confirm that with the organizer of the Org Play for the Premier Cons. I also know there were no PF2 CRBs, Bestiaries, or any other PF2 books for sale at Origins.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
What do you base that on? Roll20's data suggests that there are still 4x as many PF1 players as PF2.
roll20 having more PF1 games than PF2 games could come down to the current difference in support level, PF1 having the whole PRD free and ready to use in drag-and-drop fashion while PF2 has to be manually inputed by users or purchased. Either way, it's important to remember that Roll20 reports only tell us what they tell us - which isn't how well PF2 has been picked up by the hobby community in general.

I, for example, have been playing PF2 since it launched but my own Roll20 stats would not say that because I'm not using their platform to do it.

What wore you out? (I haven't played much 5E, but while I've heard that people lament the lack of options (compared to 3.x, 4E, and PF1), I haven't heard anyone worn out by it.) What caused you to lose enthusiasm?
It came down to three major factors that I kept encountering slowly sucking the fun out of the game. In no particular order:

I was running published adventures, and they weren't holding up to my expectations of professionally published material. Adventure hooks would dead end without any warning, encounters didn't even remotely follow encounter building guidelines, and there were far too many moments like this: 2 books were sold as being meant to be used together to create a full-length campaign. The tie between them? Nothing. The characters would be the right level to start the second book at the end of the first, and they'd get what seemed like a lead to draw them in, but there was no pay off - but the players wouldn't know that, so they'd probably play the second book long enough to forget that lead entirely, and keep on for no reason other than "well, we got this far already."

Then I went to read Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus because the premise sounded amazing, and what I read sounded exactly like someone's recounting of a terrible campaign that happened when they were 12 and playing with a DM that hadn't learned better practices than beat-down enforced rail-roading.

Also, I watched my players not be excited by gaining levels. The campaign reached high enough level that all the important choices had already been made levels ago so now each level was just an increase in HP and the occasional other increase here or there. But when I said "time to level up" and more players let out sighs than not, and the rest basically didn't react at all, it sucked - as a GM most of my enjoyment of running a game is seeing the players having a good time.

And that leaves combat. With the particulars of attack bonus vs. AC values, and damage vs. HP totals, combat started to feel very odd to me. Everyone was almost always succeeding, but those successes didn't have much effect. This was especially exaggerated in my second to last campaign I ran because many of the foes faced were of the big & tough variety (giants, dragons, etc.) so their HP totals were especially high. My players didn't much seem to mind it, but when I'd get to the 4th or 5th time taking a turn for a monster and having very little for it to do that couldn't be phrased "It keeps at it" I'd start to convince myself that maybe the players were bored too but were hiding it because they thought I'd be offended.
 

Retreater

Legend
I can promise you that PF2 was not at Origins because the Playtest is not Second Edition. There were quite a few substantial changes made before PF2 was finally released. The sessions that were at Origins were Playtest rules sessions, not Pathfinder Second Edition sessions. I think they were the latest Goblin release for Free RPG Day. Please do not confuse the two because that's what a lot of people have done.

To make you feel better though, I'm going to confirm that with the organizer of the Org Play for the Premier Cons. I also know there were no PF2 CRBs, Bestiaries, or any other PF2 books for sale at Origins.
The book discounts were at GenCon (I attended both Cons in 2019). And I did say that the "playtest" events at Origins were sparsely attended, which I think speaks a bit about overall enthusiasm for an upcoming edition that the preview events were virtually empty. (No need to confirm with anyone there. I know they weren't full-on Pathfinder 2. I even said so in my original post. Also, it wasn't one of the Goblins adventures.)
However, I think the empty playtest tables indicated that there was little interest at Origins for Pathfinder (whether it was the Playtest or the upcoming 2E). One would think fans would be chomping at the bit to see it in action. I'm currently running PF2 myself (probably the only person running it within a 50 mile radius of my town), so I know pretty well the differences between the actual game and the Playtest (which I also bought and ran).
So in my experience. In my area. From what I'm seeing on my VTT service - all these caveats - PF2 isn't getting the attention it deserves. If you think it's a great system, you shouldn't be disagreeing with me. Is it surviving? Maybe. Is it a huge success? No way.
 

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