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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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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

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Reynard

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.
Or do both. I prefer to support my FLGS, but either way you can buy a dead tree version from whatever place meets your needs and then buy the PDF from Paizo. And in you want to use FG, the price of that PDF comes off the price of the FG module, which is super generous of them.
 

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macd21

Adventurer
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.

I think it’s more likely that the increase is due to PF1 players who weren’t running a campaign when PF2 came out deciding to start one with the new system. They may have been ‘lapsed’ PF1 players, or people who just held off on starting a campaign because they were waiting for the new edition to come out.

And it’s those kind of factors that make the Roll20 stats a dubious way to draw conclusions about the overall hobby.
 

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.
It could also be from people who want to play PF2 but whose in person games are still PF1 or 5e. Or who can't find a game in real life.

I know I went to Roll20 to play Star Trek Adventures because I wanted to play that game but finding a meat space group was unlikely.

Or it could easily have come from 5e fans who were lapsed PF1 fans returning to Paizo. A 40% increase in PF numbers wouldn't even offset the new 5e players added in that time period.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
I know I went to Roll20 to play Star Trek Adventures because I wanted to play that game but finding a meat space group was unlikely.
This is kinda what I use Roll20 for: finding games for RPGs that I can't easily find a group for in order to test a game out and see if I'd like it.
 

LotsOfLore

Villager
Wow... I'll add my anecdotal evidence to the pool, even though it's just that: me (mostly GM) and my players (friends from Italy and Spain) went from PF1 to PF2. It took us one session to realise how incredibly better the new edition is with respect to the previous.
We have never felt the need to go back to PF1. In fact if someone asks me to play or run a 1st ed adventure I reply that I would gladly convert it to PF2 first . I personally wouldn't go back to PF1 even if they paid me.
Some of my friends still play D&D 5e, but they are mostly switching to pf2.
I also play Starfinder with different friends. I love it to bits even though I suffer its unrefined still 1e burdened system
 

Caliburn101

Explorer
D&D is becoming the Amazon of ttrpgs - hoovering up the competition by forcing them to make their unique games '5e Compatible' Even Trudvangr is doing it now. If you don't use 5e you cannot sell your products... If this goes on for much longer there won't be much left by way of system originality with anything remotely close to higher levels of ongoing support as all the oxygen in the market will have been snaffled by WoTC. I don't see this as healthy at all...
 

darjr

I crit!
That's kinda always been true. Almost.

But see Call of Cthulhu on the rise. Other companies seem to be doing great too. And if the rising tide makes for succesfull other 5e companies, that is good in the long run.
 

embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
D&D is becoming the Amazon of ttrpgs - hoovering up the competition by forcing them to make their unique games '5e Compatible' Even Trudvangr is doing it now. If you don't use 5e you cannot sell your products... If this goes on for much longer there won't be much left by way of system originality with anything remotely close to higher levels of ongoing support as all the oxygen in the market will have been snaffled by WoTC. I don't see this as healthy at all...
On the other hand, World of Darkness was a real thing. It succeeded and thrived at a time when "role-playing game" meant Dungeons & Dragons. Same with Call of Cthulhu.

Consider D&D's sister title - Magic: The Gathering. MTG was, and still is, the 800 lb. gorilla of CCGs. But there was a huge variety of other CCGs available right in the middle of MTG's heyday. And just as the 90s had White Wolf and Chaosium, look at Modiphius' ever growing portfolio of games. They're not hurting. They're doing well enough to keep being able to buy rights to IP.

No RPG will ever have what D&D had - notoriety. The media and Congress gave D&D free advertising through the 80s. The Satanic Panic made D&D a cultural touchstone. That is an invaluable asset. However, what does exist now is POD, crowdsourcing, and the ability to self-publish.

Also, let's not forget quite possibly the greatest thing that WOTC did: the OGL. That was WOTC's doing.
 

Superchunk77

Explorer
D&D is becoming the Amazon of ttrpgs - hoovering up the competition by forcing them to make their unique games '5e Compatible' Even Trudvangr is doing it now. If you don't use 5e you cannot sell your products... If this goes on for much longer there won't be much left by way of system originality with anything remotely close to higher levels of ongoing support as all the oxygen in the market will have been snaffled by WoTC. I don't see this as healthy at all...
That's interesting to note as I tend to avoid 5e stuff and spend my money on other more intuitive games, especially ones where the rules mesh well with the setting. When a company converts their game over to 5e they lose some of that uniqueness in favor of more generic fantasy rules in the hopes of higher profit margins.
 

darjr

I crit!
D&D has benefited from a lot of marketing and advertising through the years too. There was a time if you ran D&D for WotC you got special paints of mini's and dice and terrain and printed adventures you couldn't get anywhere else. Those games ran in stores all over the world on a regular Wednesday night. No other RPG company could even begin to consider such a thing.

The longest running and most successful RPG periodical was Dragon Magazine, compounding the support for D&D, other rpg companies could maybe get an article every once in a while. Sure there was White Dwarf but I don't think it was an RPG magazine for very long at least over it's lifetime.

Even when D&D is in the dumps it's famous for being so, i.e. vs Vampire, people who never touch D&D or would never touch it knew what it was. Or it's main competitor is ANOTHER VERSION of D&D, Pathfinder, or all those older version books STILL being put to good use by players. I mean if you can't get a vast number of players to move from AD&D are you really going to get them to move to different RPG?

Then there is the Satanic Panic. Not many things get that kind of publicity. What did? Rock n Roll? OK then, my point proven.

Then there is the OGL, Hasbro and Magic allowing D&D to survive despite events or whatever.

And we haven't even begun to talk about the on line play, starting with PAX and then Critical Role.

And then WotC catching lighting in a bottle with 5e. They didn't expect it to be a once in a lifetime kind of hit. Don't get me wrong, they were proud of what they built and with good reason. But when that first print of the PHB sold out in mere days and Amazon was practically screaming for more copies it was clear they had no idea what they'd done. Shock at WotC. They were stunned, and are still a wonder at how well it continues to do. And that was well BEFORE Critical Role, but after PAX.

I think 5e is the closest to an UR version of D&D than any other version of D&D.
 

macd21

Adventurer
D&D is becoming the Amazon of ttrpgs - hoovering up the competition by forcing them to make their unique games '5e Compatible' Even Trudvangr is doing it now. If you don't use 5e you cannot sell your products... If this goes on for much longer there won't be much left by way of system originality with anything remotely close to higher levels of ongoing support as all the oxygen in the market will have been snaffled by WoTC. I don't see this as healthy at all...
Not really. There are plenty of non-5e games out there. There are some that are increasing their player base by releasing 5e versions - this can give a new lease of life to a game that would otherwise be dying off. But I’ve also seen the same done using Savage Worlds. And there are still plenty of new RPGs coming out with different systems. The current trend of 5e compatible games is nothing compared to the D20 glut.

I also think it’s great for the hobby overall, as it gets people playing RPGs that aren’t DnD. Sure, it’s 5e compatible, but getting someone to play a 5e compatible Cyberpunk game opens them up to the RPG world beyond DnD (and beyond WotC). It exposes them to the greater potential of RPGs. And if that game has a non-5e version, it may be a stepping stone to other systems.
 

In re 4e and it's popularity...
4e wasn't actually a flop overall - but it was largely unpopular with 3.x fans. I recall seeing a survey which found that about 1/10 of 3.x players switched to 4e... and that they comprised roughly 1/3 of 4E players. Which, as an edition switch, was semi-painful, it was still enough to keep making a profit. That's the ultimate measure of a new edition: it brought in new blood, and it made a profit. (Traveller had a similar result in the switch from CT and MT to TNE... most TNE players hadn't played CT nor MT, and most CT or MT players didn't switch.)

Given that, I suspect the PF1 to PF2 transition is going to shake out to be similar. Most of the PF1 crowd will stick with it, but those who switch will largely be bringing fresh blood in as well.

Anecdotally, most of the pathfinder fans I know like 2e. Some like it, but not as well as PF1... others prefer PF2 (including at least 2 of the FLGS ownership {at least three, I think it may be four, owners} for my local one...). Most of them are willing to play either, but run one or the other. I know one guy who does indeed like PF1 and hate PF2... but he's not gaming at present. (Brain tumor, going downhill fast.)

I've considered trying Rolemaster, but I am unsure which edition is current (or how to even acquire the books needed to play).
The following 4 are the core for the "Classic" version. If you don't want magic, you can start with just arms law and character law. Critters and treasures is for opponents and magic items. Spell Law is the core magic.
Arms Law: Rolemaster Classic Arms Law - Iron Crown Enterprises | Rolemaster Classic | DriveThruRPG.com
Character Law: Rolemaster Classic Character Law - Iron Crown Enterprises | Rolemaster Classic | DriveThruRPG.com
Spell Law: Rolemaster Classic Spell Law - Iron Crown Enterprises | Rolemaster Classic | DriveThruRPG.com
Creatures and Treasures Rolemaster Classic: Creatures & Treasures - Iron Crown Enterprises | Rolemaster Classic | DriveThruRPG.com
 
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Caliburn101

Explorer
Not really. There are plenty of non-5e games out there. There are some that are increasing their player base by releasing 5e versions - this can give a new lease of life to a game that would otherwise be dying off. But I’ve also seen the same done using Savage Worlds. And there are still plenty of new RPGs coming out with different systems. The current trend of 5e compatible games is nothing compared to the D20 glut.

I also think it’s great for the hobby overall, as it gets people playing RPGs that aren’t DnD. Sure, it’s 5e compatible, but getting someone to play a 5e compatible Cyberpunk game opens them up to the RPG world beyond DnD (and beyond WotC). It exposes them to the greater potential of RPGs. And if that game has a non-5e version, it may be a stepping stone to other systems.
I was referring to the volume of reported play in different systems. Sure, other platforms sell good online, but Amazon takes nearly all the oxygen and the point is sound.

Your point about people playing other rpg's that aren't DnD is not born out by the figures I am afraid, and the sheer number of 5e conversions reflects this - the d20 mechanic, which is by no means the most elegant or interesting out there is becoming dominant due to market forces and streaming media and the name of D&D.

If you think that sort of hegemonic monopoly is healthy then I guess we differ drastically in our points of view.
 

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