RPGs in Japan, one store's perspective

Iosue

Hero
So, bopping around the internet, looking up some stuff for my Sword World thread, I came across this very interesting page. It's the website of a gaming cafe in Tokyo, and it has a ranking by year of the TRPGs selected for play in the cafe, going back to 2010. It's a wonderful snapshot of the Japanese RPG market through the years. Here are some selected stats:

2010
1. D&D 4e, 232 sessions
2. D&D 3.5, 113 sessions
3. Arianrhod (domestic fantasy), 89 sessions
4. Sword World 2.0, 48 sessions
5. Double Cross (domestic supers), 44 sessions

At this point, Call of Cthulhu is ranked 13th, with only 10 sessions played.

2011
1. D&D 4e, 203
2. Arianrhod, 138
3. D&D 3.5, 61
4. Call of Cthulhu, 50
5. Parasite Blood (domestic horror/supers), 33

2012
1. D&D 4e, 171
2. Sword World 2.0, 119
3. Arianrhod, 84
4. Call of Cthulhu, 81
5. Pathfinder, 43
5. D&D 3.5, 43

2013
1. Sword World 2.0, 188
2. D&D 4e, 171
3. Call of Cthulhu, 98
4. Arianrhod, 60
5. Metallic Guardian (domestic mecha), 58
6. D&D 3.5, 54
7. Pathfinder, 43

2014
1. Sword World 2.0, 165
2. Metallic Guardian, 125
3. D&D 4e, 116
4. Call of Cthulhu, 61
5. D&D 3.5, 60
6. D&D 5e, 53

Note that 5e did not even have an official release in Japan in 2014.

2015
1. D&D 4e, 221
2. Sword World 2.0, 165
3. Call of Cthulhu, 152
4. Metallic Guardian, 108
5. Ryuutama (domestic fantasy), 69
6. D&D 3.5, 42
7. Pathfinder, 40
8. D&D 5e, 37

2016 - Cthulhu suddenly becomes a juggernaut.
1. Call of Cthulhu, 313
2. Sword World 2.0, 215
3. D&D 4e, 180
4. Metallic Guardian, 122
5. Ryuutama, 88

5e ties for 7th with 55 sessions, Pathfinder is at 9th with 44, and 3.5 falls all the way to 16th with only 19. It should be noted, the Cthulhu tide lifts all boats, in that previously only 25 or so TRPGs had been played in the cafe. In 2016, that doubled to 56 different games.

2017 - Cthulhu fad gains steam
1. Call of Cthulhu, 468
2. Sword World, 219
3. D&D 4e, 136
4. Insane (domestic horror), 134
5. D&D 5e 127

This marked the year that official translations for 5e were released. This year's ranking holds 76 games.

2018 - Cthulhu, appropriately enough, goes insane
1. Call of Cthulhu, 714
2. D&D 5e, 236
3. Insane, 221
4. Sword World 2.0, 167
5. Double Cross, 89

4e falls to 10th, Pathfinder to 12th, and 3.5 to 28th. Sword World 2.5 debuts at 9th, with 64 sessions. 86 different TRPGs were played.

2019 - Cthulhu continues to rule
1. Call of Cthulhu (not 7e), 769
2. D&D 5e, 395
3. Insane, 330
4. Double Cross, 217
5. Sword World 2.5, 164
6. Shinobigami (domestic modern ninja), 137
7. Pathfinder, 115

Sword World 2.0 is still at 10th. The 7th edition of Cthulhu debuts at 30, with 22 sessions. 94 different TRPGs played.

2020 - Cthulhu fad starts to abate
1. Cthulhu (all editions), 498
2. D&D 5e, 273
3. Goblin Slayer (domestic fantasy; anime tie-in), 160
4. Double Cross, 147
5. Sword World 2.5, 125
6. Insane, 111
7. Shinobigami, 100
8. Pathfinder, 85

4e is 13th with 49 sessions played, and 3.5 24th with 16 sessions. 107 different TRPGs were played.

2021 - Things calm down a bit
1. D&D (all editions), 324 - Most of this is 5e.
2. Cthulhu (all editions), 228
3. Sword World (all editions), 135
4. Double Cross, 118
5. Shadowrun (all editions), 90
6. Pathfinder, 61

After the explosion at the end of the 2010s, only 62 different TRPGs were played this year. It seems as though the influx of the Cthulhu fad brought in a bunch of new gamers who tried a lot of different games, but by now the new participants have settled into their preferred games.

Of course, this is just one cafe, in one city, so the numbers have to be taken with a few grains of salt. But highly interesting, nonetheless.

Edit: I should also note that 2020 and 2021 are COVID years, and while Japan never went full lock-down, that certainly affected the numbers.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad







Iosue

Hero
Is there any distinction made between Pathfinder 1E and (as of 2019) Pathfinder 2E?
No, Pathfinder 2E does not show up on the lists, so either it hadn't been played there, or they just lumped it in with 1E. 1E didn't get an official Japanese release until 2018, which seemed to invigorate Pathfinder's session numbers: 54 in 2018 to 115 in 2019. Prior to the official release, Japanese Pathfinder players relied on a collection of enthusiasts fan-translating the supplements and adventures. (It helped that Pathfinder was so close to 3.5, which was already translated into Japanese.) From what I can see the fan resources for 2E are somewhat scattered at the moment. I would guess that not many people are ready to move on.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top