5.5E The future of edition changes and revisions

Mercurius

Legend
@Mercurius here are the numbers from nearly a year ago, it will be interesting to see if we get another update soon:

"The infographic breaks down stats about the Dungeons and Dragons player base, revealing that the game has achieved more than 50 million players to date. This makes it the seventh year in a row that Dungeons and Dragons has seen growth, with the TRPG boasting 33% year-over-year increases, globally."

View attachment 157075
Yes, of course - I remember that now. For some reason I remembered it as 30 million.
 

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3. The OP mentioned how there wasn't much kerfuffle when 3e rolled out. Umm, there's a pretty large community over at Thunderfoot that might disagree with you there. Never minding an entire OSR community that rejects 3e completely. Might not be as large as the Paizo community but, it isn't small.

Oh, good gods yes. The USENET D&D group was a wave of outraged edition warring at the time. People called it a powergamer's dream, hated feats, claimed skills were an unnecessary complication--you name it.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I mean, it was in 2018 or so. Crazy few years.
Yeah, crazy indeed. I think as @Ruin Explorer said, the bubble will inevitably burst, but as I said, it is one thing bursting from the 20 million (or whatever) in 1984, white another from the hypothetical 70-100 million it might be in a few years. If 20 million contracted back to 5 million, then 80 million might contract back to 20 million.

(Or whatever - the exactly numbers aren't the point).
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Yeah, crazy indeed. I think as @Ruin Explorer said, the bubble will inevitably burst, but as I said, it is one thing bursting from the 20 million (or whatever) in 1984, white another from the hypothetical 70-100 million it might be in a few years. If 20 million contracted back to 5 million, then 80 million might contract back to 20 million.

(Or whatever - the exactly numbers aren't the point).
I don't think we are looking at a bubble: growth will slow, but eventually a new even keel replacement rate will emerge, I reckon.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Re: the 3E kerfuffle to @Hussar and @Thomas Shey. My main connecting point with the larger D&D community in 2000 was here and rpg.net, so it is a very different context than Usenet.

Anyhow, it may be that the kerfuffle that did exist was not only smaller (at least compared to 2008), but more contained within specific venues.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I don't think we are looking at a bubble: growth will slow, but eventually a new even keel replacement rate will emerge, I reckon.
We shall see. I don't really buy the pragmatism of the idea of endless growth to begin with, and tend to see things move more in cycles - whether circular or spiral. So I can buy that we are "spiraling upward," but there's an inevitable a down turn. But my point is that when things plateau out, that plateau--no matter how far the drop from whatever peak it reaches--will be much higher than its ever been.

That said, the world of 2022 is quite different than it was even a decade ago. And in terms of the internet, I read that in 1995 there 16 million users worldwide, about 0.4% of the population, then 350 million five years later (6%) and over 5 billion today (about two-thirds of the world population). So this also has an impact, in terms of how many people have access to stuff like D&D, not to mention global distribution and such.

I was thinking about how I lived in the UK for a couple years in the late 80s, and completely fell out of touch with my beloved baseball. Back then, you really only had access to world events and news through TV, the radio, and print media, and the UK didn't really cover baseball back in 1986-87. This specific fact isn't relevant in and of itself, but I think the interconnectivity and access to information that the internet provides changes everything - and now, in 2022, two-thirds of the world population has internet access. I mean, how would someone in, say, Kinshasa in 1985 have any way to even know about the existence of D&D? So it could be that perpetual growth is at least theoretically possible now in a way that it wasn't 30-40 years ago, even just 10-20 years ago, due to the ubiquity of the internet.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Without even finishing the post, much less the thread:

2e was not embraced that warmly. Anecdotally I knew of more groups not playing then did. Sales of core books also never got to where they were in the 1980s.

Forget not T$R.
 

Raith5

Adventurer
I am torn on this because on a general level I think they should go through the 5.1e (minor change) route because it has been so successful for so many but at a personal level I would like 6e (major change) because while I like 5e, I have played so much 5e during the pandemic that I am sick of the some issues in 5e and have done it to death - Id love something new.

So I think a 5.5 option is the best thing - feats as core (more character customisation options but be careful of the maths), tweak concentration, more equipment choices, more interesting monsters, a few more classes, more attention to high level play.

I also think than the revised edition will be made with the VTT at forefront of any changes.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Without even finishing the post, much less the thread:

2e was not embraced that warmly. Anecdotally I knew of more groups not playing then did. Sales of core books also never got to where they were in the 1980s.

Forget not T$R.
1652496009566.png

Couldn't resist, TerraDave ;)
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
We shall see. I don't really buy the pragmatism of the idea of endless growth to begin with, and tend to see things move more in cycles - whether circular or spiral. So I can buy that we are "spiraling upward," but there's an inevitable a down turn. But my point is that when things plateau out, that plateau--no matter how far the drop from whatever peak it reaches--will be much higher than its ever been.

That said, the world of 2022 is quite different than it was even a decade ago. And in terms of the internet, I read that in 1995 there 16 million users worldwide, about 0.4% of the population, then 350 million five years later (6%) and over 5 billion today (about two-thirds of the world population). So this also has an impact, in terms of how many people have access to stuff like D&D, not to mention global distribution and such.

I was thinking about how I lived in the UK for a couple years in the late 80s, and completely fell out of touch with my beloved baseball. Back then, you really only had access to world events and news through TV, the radio, and print media, and the UK didn't really cover baseball back in 1986-87. This specific fact isn't relevant in and of itself, but I think the interconnectivity and access to information that the internet provides changes everything - and now, in 2022, two-thirds of the world population has internet access. I mean, how would someone in, say, Kinshasa in 1985 have any way to even know about the existence of D&D? So it could be that perpetual growth is at least theoretically possible now in a way that it wasn't 30-40 years ago, even just 10-20 years ago, due to the ubiquity of the internet.
bailutsly agreed, I don't believe perpetual growth is possible, let alone likely. However, the game will eventually start ilize at it's natural audience size. And the natural audience size now may in fact be way, way more than 50 million people.
 

payn

Legend
We shall see. I don't really buy the pragmatism of the idea of endless growth to begin with, and tend to see things move more in cycles - whether circular or spiral. So I can buy that we are "spiraling upward," but there's an inevitable a down turn. But my point is that when things plateau out, that plateau--no matter how far the drop from whatever peak it reaches--will be much higher than its ever been.

That said, the world of 2022 is quite different than it was even a decade ago. And in terms of the internet, I read that in 1995 there 16 million users worldwide, about 0.4% of the population, then 350 million five years later (6%) and over 5 billion today (about two-thirds of the world population). So this also has an impact, in terms of how many people have access to stuff like D&D, not to mention global distribution and such.
Some really good food for thought here. I was thinking in terms of generational change on the impact of the growth and contraction of hobbies. Im about to jump into my own personal observations so take the rest with a grain of salt. No studies here folks just pure anecdotal experience coming your way.

I'm Gen X and remember my old man not really getting the whole video game thing when I was a kid. I have younger brothers (much younger 12 and 16 years so millennials) who grew up with some pretty sophisticated gaming in comparison. My brothers think its crazy that I only play one or two video games a year now. My old man thinks its nuts I still play them at all.

I dont know why but I recall a conversation with my grandfather when I was a kid. My old man is huge into sports and still plays competitive fast pitch softball today. My grandfather thought it was crazy that he still played as an adult instead of working and taking care of his family as a grown man.

I think about animated media and how for a long time in America it was considered kids stuff. Now anime is pretty popular with younger folks and isnt quite the thing you should leave behind it once was. I think I like that. There is too much emphasis on "growing up" and being serious. It always seemed to make people seem so old to me. Tired and joyless and living only vicariously through the young. I kinda like the trend I have been experiencing.

Anyhow, I think many first gen D&D gamers likely stopped playing as it may have been seen as kids stuff. The second and third gen will likely not be held up by these notions. I think this is a common trait amongst hobbies but I have no research to really claim its a thing beyond my own experience. YMMV.
I was thinking about how I lived in the UK for a couple years in the late 80s, and completely fell out of touch with my beloved baseball. Back then, you really only had access to world events and news through TV, the radio, and print media, and the UK didn't really cover baseball back in 1986-87.
What? You missed the Twins winning the '87 world series!!!
 


Mercurius

Legend
Some really good food for thought here. I was thinking in terms of generational change on the impact of the growth and contraction of hobbies. Im about to jump into my own personal observations so take the rest with a grain of salt. No studies here folks just pure anecdotal experience coming your way.

I'm Gen X and remember my old man not really getting the whole video game thing when I was a kid. I have younger brothers (much younger 12 and 16 years so millennials) who grew up with some pretty sophisticated gaming in comparison. My brothers think its crazy that I only play one or two video games a year now. My old man thinks its nuts I still play them at all.

I dont know why but I recall a conversation with my grandfather when I was a kid. My old man is huge into sports and still plays competitive fast pitch softball today. My grandfather thought it was crazy that he still played as an adult instead of working and taking care of his family as a grown man.

I think about animated media and how for a long time in America it was considered kids stuff. Now anime is pretty popular with younger folks and isnt quite the thing you should leave behind it once was. I think I like that. There is too much emphasis on "growing up" and being serious. It always seemed to make people seem so old to me. Tired and joyless and living only vicariously through the young. I kinda like the trend I have been experiencing.

Anyhow, I think many first gen D&D gamers likely stopped playing as it may have been seen as kids stuff. The second and third gen will likely not be held up by these notions. I think this is a common trait amongst hobbies but I have no research to really claim its a thing beyond my own experience. YMMV.
Yeah, I hear you - and think this is a relevant thread that plays a major part: the fact that "childish things" are no longer considered only the purview of children (and not even necessarily "childish," at least in a pejorative way).

An anecdote that sheds a slightly different light: I played in a pretty consistent group from 2008-15 (4E, then converting to Next, then 5E). Everyone in the group was Gen X, and most hadn't played D&D since 2E era - high school or college; I think only one other player had played since then, and it was a variety of games.

My point being, this was a group of Gen Xers who mostly hadn't played since the early 90s, and then found themselves playing...4E? I suppose that is unusual, but it is one anecdote, so I imagine that there are a wide variety of configurations. The point I wanted to highlight is that even thought these other folks had left playing when they were 20ish, they all found their way back in their mid-30s to 40s.

So I think there's really several demographics at play:
  1. Long-term/regular players - like most people reading this. These are the folks that are "serious" or "diehard," who might take hiatuses but are always involved in some way or another. These are mostly folks who kept playing after the usual "exist ramp" after college ended and "real life" began.
  2. Long-term/occasional players - these are folks like those I mentioned. They might have played in the usual middle school to college range, then stopped as they focused on "adulting" and never had the intention of playing again, but then found themselves taking the opportunity when it arose sometime later in life, and might do so again, given the opportunity.
  3. New/active players - These are folks new to the game, who started and haven't stopped (yet). The vast majority of these folks are in the middle school-to-college age range (or approximately 10ish to 25ish). It is still TBD which of the other three groups they end up in.
  4. Former/retired players - These are folks who played at some point, and never played again. Like most of those I mentioned if I hadn't started up that group. Conceivable there are many of these folks, especially when you consider the 80s boom, and then all the folks who played since.
My guess is that there are maybe one to several million folks in the first group, a few million more in the second, tens of millions in the third group (assuming that WotC's 50 million only includes groups 1-3), and also tens of millions in the fourth group,

And to @Parmandur , I suppose any contraction D&D experiences will come when the new/active players--as a group--leave the "high activity range" of age 10-25ish, (or middle school through college). So that might be a trickle for a few years, and then grow more steadily in five or so years from now, but also be offset by growth along the way, and presumably WotC's goal is to keep folks coming in and turn as many of group 3 into 1-2 and not 4 as possible.

All just speculative, of course.
What? You missed the Twins winning the '87 world series!!!
I was actually back for that! I remember that team well - Puckett, Hrbek, Gaetti, Blyleven, etc. I was gone summer of '85 to spring of '87. 1987 was the year I got seriously into baseball, even though I was a fan from around 1980ish. But I was (and am) an Angels fan, so missing '86 isn't such a bad thing.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
My guess is that there are maybe one to several million folks in the first group, a few million more in the second, tens of millions in the third group (assuming that WotC's 50 million only includes groups 1-3), and also tens of millions in the fourth group,

And to @Parmandur , I suppose any contraction D&D experiences will come when the new/active players--as a group--leave the "high activity range" of age 10-25ish, (or middle school through college). So that might be a trickle for a few years, and then grow more steadily in five or so years from now, but also be offset by growth along the way, and presumably WotC's goal is to keep folks coming in and turn as many of group 3 into 1-2 and not 4 as possible.
I think WotC has invested so much time and energy into children's and young adults media for a reason: they want to get nostalgia parents in on raising up their children as D&D customers.

Seems to be working for my munchkins...
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
New D&D players: "It will be perfectly backwards compatible! All these old books will still see use!"

Old D&D players: "My sweet summer child" stares over at dusty 3.0 books that become mostly redundant as soon as 3.5 came out runs hands lovingly over old 1E/2E books Whispers "Ill never let you go."
From 3.0 to 3.5 there was a strong financial incentive to obsolete the 3.0 books and sell the whole line back again to the same audience. The lack of market growth and revenue stream from the splat mill required it.

Now there is significant revenue from licence arrangements with Roll20 and FantasyGrounds, they are getting subscription revenue from D&D beyond and some very sweet player data. They are dropping an edition change in to a much larger and expanding market. That amounts to a very strong incentive to not upset the apple cart.
That is why I would expect additive changes with little direct replacement of older content. Power creep but to be honest in my opinion there is less power creep so far than introduced in the average splat in the 3.5 era.
 

Jahydin

Explorer
Pretty sure it will be changes on the scale of what we saw with Monsters of the Multiverse.

The dream for me though? A "Core" ruleset for beginners, streamers, and narration-focused gamers. Then a giant, crunchy supplementary rules tome on the level of 3.5.

Which reminds me, I really need to check out Level Up: Advanced 5E...
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Re: the 3E kerfuffle to @Hussar and @Thomas Shey. My main connecting point with the larger D&D community in 2000 was here and rpg.net, so it is a very different context than Usenet.

Anyhow, it may be that the kerfuffle that did exist was not only smaller (at least compared to 2008), but more contained within specific venues.
Or the kerfuffle was just contained within thousands of isolated pockets of game groups, since discussing stuff online was still fairly novel in 2000. I definitely knew people personally that were not on board with a lot of the 3.0 changes.
 

Man, I am sure I am in the minority on this, but with a couple minor changes I could stick with 5e way past 2024.

I was really ready for a new edition after 3.0 and 3.5. We enjoyed the game, but it was time for something new.

I'm not new edition resistant, but I'm not sure I'm close to done with 5e.
I am not being a negative Nelly when I say: why change when some of my books are yet to be used?

I have untapped adventures since we often do homebrew. We have yet to get far in avernus, saltmarsh or frankly even yawning portal.

I don’t have major rules gripes with 5e.

They did too well. I like being “current” to an extent but only so far. We Played AD&D skipped 2e, 3.5 and played one session of 4!

But 5e has kept our interest…

I think the switch will matter little for casual players who are loose with the rules anyway. I will just be skipping it barring very compelling surprises.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Or the kerfuffle was just contained within thousands of isolated pockets of game groups, since discussing stuff online was still fairly novel in 2000. I definitely knew people personally that were not on board with a lot of the 3.0 changes.
Indeed. 2000-2002 was probably one of the the best time to do an edition change after 2016-2018. As there was no real way to spread negative opinion.

The magazine was more or less unused for hard community discussion. D&D was too niche for TV. And online conversation was fragmented and mostly used by the young adults due to it being new and novel.
 

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