Prophet of the profane (She/Her)
Approximately 99% of 5E games I had, didn't use XP, so... I don't know.
Because it has not only marketing, WotC money and all that jazz, but also cultural cachet. "Dungeons and Dragons" is basically a normie way of saying "tabletop RPGs".So the assertion that all other games will be less popular* than D&D because they aren't D&D is both trivially true based on historical fact, but also raises the question- why has that been the case for 50 years?
Indeed. Why are McDonald's burgers or chicken nuggets some of the most eaten foods on Earth? Why is Budweiser the most consumed beer in America (producing some 90 million barrels per year in the United States alone in 2020)?Because it has not only marketing, WotC money and all that jazz, but also cultural cachet. "Dungeons and Dragons" is basically a normie way of saying "tabletop RPGs".
In some ways, it's like Coca-Cola. Coke can screw up all they want, their product may be bad for your health or tasting worse than stuff you can make at home for dirt-cheap, Coca-Cola is the beverage, and it's not likely to ever change.
Adding to this o5e itself make significant steps away from the whole "d&d-like" construct. By tuning the system & all of its math to a spherical cow of no feats no magic items while shifting the power from those things directly onto the base pc itself under bounded accuracy, the GM is left with no room for growth and a goodie ie bag they cant actually draw from without rebuilding the system into something that once again becomes "d&d-like". O5e sidesteps sun sized spotlight by having the name of "dungeons and dragons".I...personally think you're just wrong on this then.
Plenty of games assume a campaign, or at least something much longer than a one-shot. Even some legit actual board games, like Kingdom Death, straight-up expect multiple sessions of play. Call of Cthulhu, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying, the various World of Darkness games, various Star Wars games, the nigh-innumerable systems Powered by the Apocalypse, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, Das Schwarze Auge, I'm sure I could list more if I went out and dug them up. And plenty of these, while either listening to, inspired by, or defying D&D convetion, definitely are not D&D games.
Tons of systems, with different genres, implied settings, or perspectives pull off exactly the same reward loop as D&D. Your "(and similar systems)" sweeps under the rug easily dozens of unrelated things. D&D retains its lofty position primarily through familiarity, marketing, and having been the top dog. Much like, for example, EverQuest retained its position as top dog for several years, before its aging mechanics and antiquated (often, very specifically D&D-derived) player experience got trumped by the hot new thing, World of Warcraft, which became enough of a juggernaut that it took some pretty serious controversy and missteps before it began to fumble--and it's still not clear that it's truly lost its way yet.
Okay so...how exactly can one even do that?
You seem to be saying, essentially, "anything that uses these things is D&D-like," which makes the argument circular: nothing can use these structures without being D&D-like, and anything D&D-like doesn't count as a different system using these structures, no matter how unrelated it might be.
Like, if we applied this exact same logic to fantasy topics, you're basically saying that absolutely everything which includes elves that are human-sized and at least used to have an ancient and powerful society is 100% "Tolkien-like," and thus it's impossible to tell a fantasy story with elves in it that isn't Tolkien-like. Except...that we generally recognize that it's totally possible to have a high-fantasy story that learns from Tolkien without merely being Tolkien with a fresh coat of paint. Elves in Dragon Age, for example, are not (as OSP puts it) "gorgeous, elegant relics of a better time, ancient, wise, and more than a little alien." They're almost all either (a) slaves or at least a racially-oppressed minority within human cities ("Alienage" elves) or (b) "savage" wild folk who live in the forests and conduct guerilla campaigns against humans for current atrocities and past wickedness.
So: Is it even possible for a game to include structures like experience, levels, etc. and not be, by whatever definition you're using, "D&D-like"? Because if not, then your argument is circular as I've said. You've defined the term so that it can't happen. If, on the other hand, there is some way in which a game could use these things without being "D&D-like," then we can actually have a conversation about how such things could occur.
I've heard these arguments too often, especially with the advent of 3e and later 4e calling them "video games" (each previous generation saw it that way). The problem with this argument is it misses the point: video games are the great imitator. All activities came first, and then video games copied them. Ping pong? That's a video game. Boxing? That's a video game. RPGs? That too is a video game. The D&D structure was imitated because it works, but that's what video games do: imitation.I think it is easy to see, now, especially with video games having aped the model, that the play model of D&D is crucial to the success.
Minor quibble: Star Wars: A New Hope didn't get the subtitle "A New Hope" until the theatrical re-release in 1981. I think that until then it was just "Star Wars."These confounding variables make it really difficult to discuss the success of a thing in isolation, separate from utterly unrelated external factors. E.g., I think Star Wars Episode IV is an excellent (if very tropey) film, but a big part of its success in 1977 was that it offered an aspirational, positive message in a time when cinema had kinda ground down pretty deep in dark and brooding stuff (consider Dirty Harry or The Godfather I and II). The Vietnam War had only ended two years previously, and the Watergate scandal was still quite fresh in the public consciousness (72-74). A New Hope was, in a very real sense, exactly what it said on the tin--and while it probably would have been successful no matter what due to its timeless-classic elements (as stated, it's very tropey), the context in which it occurred was critical to its success, and Lucas' own success was him hitting on the notion that merchandising was the future of money in cinema, an idea that has since become almost comically overwrought today.
Civilisation (the videogame) and Minecraft have in a way similar stories. The developers recognised (or at least, adopted) the crucial innovations in a design that predated them (Francis Tresham's Civilisation boardgame, and Zach Barth's Infiniminer, respectively) and were able to supply a level of quality that made them more broadly appealing.Nothing that succeeds does so in a vacuum, and sometimes, the winner really does win purely because they coincidentally got there first.
Edit: Consider strategy games like Civilization. If you succeed early, that means you're stronger in the mid-game, which makes you more likely to succeed again. And each time you succeed again, you make it even more likely that you'll succeed another time. The "snowball" can be an incredibly powerful force, where even if you make a bunch of mistakes all throughout the game, getting really lucky right at the start can make a huge difference across the entire rest of the game. (It's a thorny and serious design problem with such games: how do you make the early game matter, but not matter so much that the late game just becomes cleanup?)