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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

t7.jpg
 
Last edited:

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
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.
The issue with treating data the way you are treating it is that your anecdote vs. my anecdote has no clear answer which one is in line with more anecdotes than the other, so we don't actually have enough evidence between us (even among this whole forum with the roll20 reports to boot) to accurately answer the question "Is it a huge success?" one way or the other.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
The issue with treating data the way you are treating it is that your anecdote vs. my anecdote has no clear answer which one is in line with more anecdotes than the other, so we don't actually have enough evidence between us (even among this whole forum with the roll20 reports to boot) to accurately answer the question "Is it a huge success?" one way or the other.
There are other metrics, though, such as Amazon sales data. Combined, these various data can paint a fairly accurate picture.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
There are other metrics, though, such as Amazon sales data. Combined, these various data can paint a fairly accurate picture.
Clearly that's not the case, since this thread contains people convinced of the opposite conclusion from what Amazon sales data suggests.

Plus, we don't even know if Amazon is a larger or smaller portion of Pathfinder sales than those done directly, so even trying to treat that data as indicating anything except how well the game is selling specifically on Amazon is likely to be inaccurate and guaranteed to be speculation.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
Clearly that's not the case, since this thread contains people convinced of the opposite conclusion from what Amazon sales data suggests.
To be frank, I don't think such people can be taken seriously, unless they have equally valid data (i.e. not anecdotal evidence) to support their claims.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
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.
Anecdotes, anecdotes. At UK Games Expo in 2019 all the playtest tables were packed for the whole three days, with a waiting list. Everybody has their anecdotes, and everybody thinks their own anecdote extrapolates to the whole world, but when anecdotes directly contradict each other, where does that leave us?
 

DaveMage

Slumbering in Tsar
Anecdotes, anecdotes. At UK Games Expo in 2019 all the playtest tables were packed for the whole three days, with a waiting list. Everybody has their anecdotes, and everybody thinks their own anecdote extrapolates to the whole world, but when anecdotes directly contradict each other, where does that leave us?

That the truth is likely somewhere in the middle. :)
 

Porridge

Explorer
Since Fantasy Grounds does a much better job of supporting PF (both editions) than Roll20, I think their quarterly release information (which Morrus helpfully posted here) is probably a more accurate guide to PF trends.

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.

One interesting thing regarding the Fantasy Grounds data is that it suggests #5 is only half true.

It does look like the release of PF2 didn't do much to decrease PF1 game sessions -- they only decreased by about 20%*. So that's a point in favor of thinking that a lot of PF1 players haven't converted to PF2, as #5 says.

That said, the total PF pie (PF1+PF2 combined) grew a fair bit with the release of PF2 -- the total pie increased by about 40%*. That suggests that PF2 drew in a bunch of players from somewhere. And if they didn't come from PF1 (as the first bit of data suggests), then they must have come from other TTRPGs and people new to TTRPGs.

(These estimates exclude the month of PF2's release, which gave PF2 a non-representative "new game" bump, and exclude the crazy March bump, which would throw off all the numbers.)

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.

Is that right? If so, that's good to know (and somewhat disappointing). I would think total hours played is the most interesting statistic. And it's a shame they're not tracking that.

(It looks like the Fantasy Grounds data is counting "number of game sessions", which is better.)
 

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.
Not really...
There were changes, but they were hardly substantial. Removing resonance and small balance tweaks didn't make it into a different game. Rebalancing of spells, revisions of classes, etc.

There were arguably as more changes made between 3.0 and 3.5 or 3.5 (or even 3.5 to PF1) but I wouldn't say "substantial changes", let alone enough changes to make it more appealing to people who disliked the previous version.

Clearly that's not the case, since this thread contains people convinced of the opposite conclusion from what Amazon sales data suggests.

Plus, we don't even know if Amazon is a larger or smaller portion of Pathfinder sales than those done directly, so even trying to treat that data as indicating anything except how well the game is selling specifically on Amazon is likely to be inaccurate and guaranteed to be speculation.
Paizo has said many times that their direct sales are significantly less than what is sold over Amazon. Because the lower price of books, faster delivery, and much, much, MUCH lower shipping prices attract buyers.

Another metric: Kickstarter. What's the biggest Kickstarter for a 3rd Party Pathfinder 2nd Edition product?


Honestly, the PF2 situation really reminds me a lot of 4th Edition and discussing it vs Pathfinder over on the WotC boards. All these people coming in and saying how 4e was dead in their town, how PF was doing better on Amazon, and the like. And the 4e fans being "nuh-uh, 4e is doing fine. WotC said it sold better than 3e and launch. And the CEO of WotC is talking about how happy they are with sales."

PF2 was always going to have an uphill battle to compete against PF1 and the players that didn't want change or were invested in the libraries of books they bought. And replacing holdovers with new players is hard when 5e has become a juggernaut and is attracting all the attention.
It's not really a suprise that it had an initial surge that slowed down.

The question isn't "is PF1 more popular than PF2" but "is the smaller sales of PF2 still enough to sustain Paizo?" And really, the answer is "probably". If they keep their staff restrained and are wise with their money. Because even selling far less than PF1 numbers still makes PF2 more successful that most other RPGs on the market.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
Paizo has said many times that their direct sales are significantly less than what is sold over Amazon. Because the lower price of books, faster delivery, and much, much, MUCH lower shipping prices attract buyers.
Interesting, given how folks seem dead set on the whole "I buy the hardcopy and I get the PDF too" thing, including it constantly being brought up as a negative point against WOTC that they don't offer that like Paizo does, if most folks buy Pathfinder don't actually get that either.
 

Retreater

Legend
Interesting, given how folks seem dead set on the whole "I buy the hardcopy and I get the PDF too" thing, including it constantly being brought up as a negative point against WOTC that they don't offer that like Paizo does, if most folks buy Pathfinder don't actually get that either.
True, but at least we get a free character builder app, online rules of everything, etc. The tools available for Pathfinder online (with the exception of Roll20) far exceeds D&D.
 

Interesting, given how folks seem dead set on the whole "I buy the hardcopy and I get the PDF too" thing, including it constantly being brought up as a negative point against WOTC that they don't offer that like Paizo does, if most folks buy Pathfinder don't actually get that either.
It’s almost like the people arguing about those points on forums are a minority and non-representative of gamers as a whole.

Also, free PDFs only applies to subscribers. You need to buy separately otherwise, so you might as well get it off Amazon.
 

Retreater

Legend
The issue with treating data the way you are treating it is that your anecdote vs. my anecdote has no clear answer which one is in line with more anecdotes than the other, so we don't actually have enough evidence between us (even among this whole forum with the roll20 reports to boot) to accurately answer the question "Is it a huge success?" one way or the other.
Very true. My anecdote is only one of many and should not be taken larger than anyone else's. And anecdotes are only one measure and give an incomplete picture of how widely the system is being adopted. For example, in Morrus's area it seems to be going pretty well. And it might have been that I went to an Origins event at an unpopular time and maybe most other Pathfinder Playtest events were packed.
I am not an industry insider. I am a fan, and my anecdotes are more like those of trained weather spotters who see cloud rotation and report storms in their immediate area. I can say PF2 isn't doing great at being widely adopted in these parts (which I would classify as the American Midwest).
My group, so far, is having a mixed reaction. I get a little frustrated running it, partially because I get confused because of the similarities and differences between PF1, D&D5, and PF2, and also due to the lack of integration into Roll20 (which I am using solely for play these days). Out of my current 4 player group, I would say two are really enjoying it, one sees potential in it once she learns the system (and thinks she'll prefer it to D&D5), and one guy who dislikes learning new systems and prefers PF1.
 



Retreater

Legend
It’s almost like the people arguing about those points on forums are a minority and non-representative of gamers as a whole.

Also, free PDFs only applies to subscribers. You need to buy separately otherwise, so you might as well get it off Amazon.
I think you get a small discount on Roll20 if you buy Paizo products and have your Roll20 account linked to your Paizo account, so that's something. Not the same as getting a free PDF, but it helps.
Thought I'd add this since I'm complaining so much about PF2 on Roll20.
 

Mournblade94

Adventurer
....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 know personally the only reason I played PF was because it was 3.5. When they switched to a new system there was no reason for me to switch to the system. If I wanted a new system I'd just stick with 5th edition. The change to PF2 makes sense from a business perspective, but I wasn't about to switch because I have a full library of 3rd edition books, and AD&D book that I can't use with PF2.
 

I will say it is probably too early to know where this edition will end up. 9 months is really not that much time to get an idea of where the system will end up. 4e for example was still ahead of PF, 9 months after it was released. PF1's big explosion started after the APG was released. Not that PF2 will do the same this time around with 5e on the market, but I think we are really a year or two away from really knowing how this will shake out. Most game systems to hit there stride in a short time (5e and PF being 2 recent exceptions).
 

Jimmy Dick

Explorer
I'd say a lot of people have drawn erroneous conclusions based on what they want the results to be and are ignoring the reality of the world around them. But I can't change your minds. All I can do is to continue running and playing PFS2 sessions with the growing audience of players, the players who switched over from 1e totally, the players who play both editions, and then run sessions at the cons where 2e continues to overtake and pass 1e table counts.

We saw an extremely large and enthusiastic crowd at Gen Con last year. We saw the books practically sell out. We continue to see the online region grow for PFS2. If you can't handle those facts, then I'm not going to argue when your position is not based on facts, but rather on what you want to believe.

Have a nice day.
 

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