D&D General Some Interesting Stats About D&D Players!


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GeekWire has reported on the recent D&D press event (which I've covered elsewhere). Along with all the upcoming product information we've all been devouring over the last day or two, there were some interesting tidbits regarding D&D player demographics.
  • 60% of D&D players are male, 39% are female, and 1% identify otherwise
  • 60% are “hybrid” players, who switch between playing the game physically or online
  • 58% play D&D on a weekly basis
  • 48% identify as millennials, 19% from Generation X and 33% from Generation Z
  • The majority of current D&D players started with 5th Edition

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Which seems odd, in that if the biggest cohort of players in - let's say 1983, during the 1e heyday - was in the 15-30 age range at that time, those same people would be in the 55-70 range now. Yet that age range doesn't even register on today's survey(s).

So where'd they all go?
Other games and hobbies, college, grad school, work, marriage, family, and--unfortunately, but in this age group, a good number would have died.

I have no data other than anecdotal and personal observation, but I would expect to be a drop-off starting in the mid to late 20s and 30s. As folks start careers and families, responsibilities pile on and finding 3-6 hours a week or even a month, becomes more difficult.

In general, if over the years the peak age range among the player base is always in that 15-30 area, that just tells me they've consistently done a good job of marketing to teens and young adults and a consistently poor job of keeping them in for the long haul.
Not sure that this can be solved by marketing. I would expect that 5e did a pretty go job of bringing older players back into the game. I would expect, however, that most have been people like me who were ex-gamers who got back into TTRPGs with 5e after a long time not playing TTRPGs, rather than people who were in their 40s+ who had never played a TTRPG before in their lives.

Were I WotC, I'd see an opportunity there.
I think they see the opportunity and are trying to capture it by making D&D a lifestyle brand. Movies, video games, streaming, etc.

In terms of keeping people playing the actual game throughout their lives, that's tough. The VTT can help with that as well as making it easier to find one shots, paid DMs, etc. But I suspect that they will have to focus on bringing in younger gamers knowing that most will move away from the game as they age. But if they can keep the sense of nostalgia strong, many of those who moved away will eventually introduce their kids into the hobby.

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I think the moat interesting admission from WotC has nothing to so with generations, but the admission that 2E AD&D remained the dominant "I started playing" version until well into 5E. That speaks volumes about the problems 3E, 3.5, and 4E experienced in actually growing the brand.
I do not understand that statement at all however, given that they sold around half as many 2e core books as 1e, and that sold slightly less than BX/BECMI for a while.

So I cannot get to that point at all
I think we cleared up the first bit, it is about the edition current players started with. Not sure why 2e had more staying power, but apparently it did.
This probably does explain things a bit. Lots of people who played a lot of 1e actually started with oD&D, B, BX, or BECMI/RC/Intro Boxes. That so many of them eventually went to AD&D explains how 1e could be such a good performer core-book-wise, but the people still not count in the analysis*. There is also probably quite a bit of drop-off effect/staying power issues that contribute, but I don't have what I think about that completely formulated in my mind.
*Should probably check to see how well Metzer/RC/Intro Boxes did during '89+ to see if 2e had a similar effect.
While I played 1st edition a little, I consider 2nd edition to be the one I started with because in 1989 that's when I had enough funds to start buying my own books. I would have expected more people to have started with 3.0 or 3.5. This is surprising to me.
<anecdotal> I know a lot of people who came back to D&D with 3e -- usually after a hiatus where they explored other games like GURPS or White Wolf WoD or some other game that had their heyday in the 80s-90s. I know some people who came back to D&D with 3e after a long break from playing TRPGs in general (often that break between having kids and the kids being old enough to leave alone without a sitter). I only know a significantly smaller number of people who started with 3e or 4e. Throw in that some are still playing those editions or Pathfinder (and thus less likely to answer WotC surveys), and I can believe that they aren't well-represented.
I don't expect they care. That would be mighty arrogant of me. But they are misrepresenting themselves and I won't let it go unchallenged.
These numbers were from a press summit discussing plans for the current edition. Even if you are right that they somehow "misrepresented" what people are playing, something you have no evidence for, it doesn't matter. We're getting secondhand information about a PR event discussing the current edition. The demographics barely register as a footnote in their overall presentation.
Why would they care if people are playing variants they don't publish or older versions of D&D? How would it have been at all relevant?
As far as I am concerned, we still do not have any actual statements from WotC (representing anything one way or another). We have one report from a gaming journalist* reporting back what WotC presented. Did WotC indicate that they were discussing 'D&D players' or 5e players (or even just survey respondents)? I suspect that nuance was wiped away by the journalists word choice. I bet the WotC representative at the time was a little more careful in identifying the actual population about which summary statements were made, but if they were a marketing person, they may well have not/gotten it wrong**. Regardless of what they actually said, it was probably obvious from the preceding and subsequent sentences spoken which clearly identified who they were trying to talk about, and we simply don't have access to that.
*who probably had no idea we would be parsing every phrase they used for ammo in an online tempest in a teapot -- and hopefully also wouldn't care
**and I think 'the marketing person wasn't perfectly scientific accurate to the technical definition of words at least somewhat distinct from 'they are misrepresenting themselves,' at least in terms of implied intent (the difference between 'being wrong' and 'lying').

It was a big conference, and they didn't just invite Geekwire. Does anyone have any resources or know any other places we should be looking or other people at those presentations where we could get any clarification?

I'm all for further discussion about the implications of the case if Geekwire communicated perfectly exactly what was stated, I just have near little trust that it is accurate (and near zero trust that we have reason to believe it is). Something wasn't brought through the game of telephone -- the Gen X category was listed as 'Gen X or older,' the population was stated to be 'of respondents' or 'current 5e players' or the like, or similar.

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