D&D 5E The Overwhelming Dominance of D&D is Bad for Everyone...

MGibster

Legend
Okay, maybe it's not bad for WotC or Hasbro. I think we're all in agreement here the role playing game industry, insofar as we can call it an industry, is overwhelmingly dominated by Dungeons & Dragons. It's the oldest, most recognizable property whose very name is synonomous with RPGs for much of the public. Telling a coworker I'm playing Pathfinder this weekend will elicit questions about what that is, whereas telling them I'm playing D&D will only elicit questions like, "Aren't you a little old for that?" I've been gaming for about 35 years now, and D&D is the only game I can think of where I could easily find players for no matter my location. And why is that? Because D&D, pretty much all versions, have been good games.

The recent leak of the alleged new OGL from WotC prompted me to question whether it was harmful for D&D to so utterly dominate the market. Yeah, I think it is. It's just not healthy for such a significant chunk of an industry to be so strongly affected by the actions of one company. It's not just a problem that WotC seems to want to change the OGL, it's a problem that it affects so many other publishers, some very seriously. I'm not really sure what, if anything can be done about this, but surly other people see D&D's overwhelming dominance as a bad thing, right? Or am I way off base here?
 

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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
There is a lot of value in a "standard". Like the USB stick, or Facebook. They are sticking around due to inertia, because it's what people are used to.

But most gamers eventually try other systems. A lot of the 5e crowd are new, or new-ish. This could give them the incentive to try other systems. And there are many good choices.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
It's definitely not most. Nevertheless, it'd be interesting if anyone could compile accurate statistics regarding what percentage of people who started on D&D have switched to other games, for how long, etc.

Well I've been lectured by try hard hipsters since about 1996 about why D&D sucks.

Their pet system is dead and buried for the most part while D&D endures.
 

Indeed, the dominance of D&D in the RPG market has been a known problem since the 80s at least. But it's a "what can we do about it?" thing. People are sheep, they always go where they see the other sheep going. I've played a good number of great RPGs since I started playing in the 80s.

And it is a problem for WotC too. Competition is needed to keep you sharp. And get too big and the sharks start to gather.


Personally, I'm planning on running Traveller when I finish Call of the Netherdeep. All my players are up for it, and I'm bored with fantasy.
 
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FitzTheRuke

Legend
I sell orders of magnitude more 5e D&D books than all other RPGs put together. Even including Pathfinder.

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE for other RPGs to sell. It would absolutely be healthier for everyone (including my business) for other RPGs to sell well.

Even a DC to D&D's Marvel would be welcome (this only happened with 4e D&D and Pathfinder - though to be fair, the industry was NOT healthy then, so... hmm.)
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I sell orders of magnitude more 5e D&D books than all other RPGs put together. Even including Pathfinder.

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE for other RPGs to sell. It would absolutely be healthier for everyone (including my business) for other RPGs to sell well.

Even a DC to D&D's Marvel would be welcome (this only happened with 4e D&D and Pathfinder - though to be fair, the industry was NOT healthy then, so... hmm.)

Yup. Here other RPGs may as well not exist. You'll have to run it yourself and find the players for the most part.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
There is a lot of value in a "standard". Like the USB stick, or Facebook. They are sticking around due to inertia, because it's what people are used to.

But most gamers eventually try other systems. A lot of the 5e crowd are new, or new-ish. This could give them the incentive to try other systems. And there are many good choices.
If 5e disappeared off the planet, I have no doubt many people, especially people on this board, would move on to other games. But that mass of new 5e fans would, IMO, be far more likely to move on to another hobby altogether. Those other games simply don't have any strong visibility to a casual gamer who's new to TTRPGs and has only played 5e. You need real motivation to learn a new system, to find enough players, etc.
 

Now that RPGs are a large market, having a dominant monopoly can be a problem. But when the RPG market was a niche hobby, having a centralized dominant presence was a benefit to to fandom. When players are fewer and farther between, a player base fractured over a number of small games makes it that much harder to find a table.

It's only in the past decade (less, really) that the RPG market has grown enough for this to be an issue. I don't have the numbers available easily, but I'm pretty sure the time between TSR falling apart in the 90s and WotC publishing 3e was the lowest point of the RPG market since D&D's inception. During that time we had a large number of third part games fighting for market space. But without D&D to unite the fandom, it really was the darkest time in RPG history.

So, sure, I'll agree that what WotC is doing with D&D now is a problem for the industry. But over the decades that I've been playing, I can't honestly claim that D&D's overwhelming dominance has been a universally bad thing. For a long time, it was the glue that that held the hobby together.
 

Shiroiken

Legend
Despite the current idiocy of WotC/Hasbro, I disagree. If not for the dominance of D&D, TTRPGs would most likely remain a niche hobby for geeks and nerds. While there are numerous other game systems out there, many better at what they do than D&D, nobody really starts on a non-D&D system (Pathfinder being a D&D system derivative). Most of those other games wouldn't ever exist if it wasn't for D&D's dominance and popularity getting people into TTRPGs in the first place.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Despite the current idiocy of WotC/Hasbro, I disagree. If not for the dominance of D&D, TTRPGs would most likely remain a niche hobby for geeks and nerds. While there are numerous other game systems out there, many better at what they do than D&D, nobody really starts on a non-D&D system (Pathfinder being a D&D system derivative). Most of those other games wouldn't ever exist if it wasn't for D&D's dominance and popularity getting people into TTRPGs in the first place.

Yeah we have had almost 59 years for that well of potential RPG players to come forth and play a better game.

Hasn't happened yet.

Non D&D RPGs are very niche. Wasn't that long ago the entire hoppy was worth less than $15 million.

Some rpgs only have a few hundred players. I suspect a few don't even have that.
 


Yeah we have had almost 59 years for that well of potential RPG players to come forth and play a better game.

Hasn't happened yet.

Non D&D RPGs are very niche. Wasn't that long ago the entire hoppy was worth less than $15 million.

Some rpgs only have a few hundred players. I suspect a few don't even have that.
Is your stance that other RPGs shouldn't exist since DND is so successful?
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
TTRPGs are still too niche for another big player to buy/invest in a RPG company or for one to get huge on its own.

It's the curse of most niche hobbies whose fans weren't seen in a favorable light for long. You get 1 maybe 2 big companies and that it.
 

dave2008

Legend
For me, or maybe more for @FitzTheRuke, I would just call PF (1 & 2) D&D.

When I visited my flags back in the PF1/4e days they had PF stuff right next to D&D (almost co-mingled). I was there when a father asked the clerk to show him a D&D starter set as he wanted to get it for his son. The clerk took him to the Pathfinder starter set (the shop was not 4e fans) and sold that to him as D&D. The father was non-the-wiser.

So just put PF under the D&D banner and people could flock to it!
 

Bagpuss

Legend
It's definitely not most.

While I believe this is true it always surprises me.

I've never met a gamer in person that just plays D&D, or a DM that just runs D&D, yet it seems a common thing on the internet. I guess because when I meet gamers outside my own groups (which play all sorts of RPGs), it tends to be at conventions and conventions (at least in the UK) tend not to be D&D focused, they are a multitude of different systems often with people demonstrating the latest releases or indie game they have discovered.
 

Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
Shallow analysis. There are many reasons why it hasn't been displaced.
Add to that the fact that is has been displaced in some different markets than the US.

Drakar och Demoner in Sweden.
Das Schwarze Auge in Germany.

First mover advantage is a big reason for any RPG to be the dominant in a country. Or rather, first mover when it comes to distribution. :)
 

As a pretty eclectic player interested in trying and playing all sorts of systems, I do think D&D (especially 5.0e--RIP) has a certain magic to it.

The rules have some rough edges, but the relative efficiency provided by the interaction of complexity with design goal is pretty high. In other words, if you like the level of complexity, the 5.0e D&D provides its intended experience efficiently. If you prefer more (or less) complexity, or you don't like the intended experience (like my friend who hates how much he feels they nerfed casters), or you just don't like class/level systems (like me, despite my liking 5e), you may not care for it, but other than some rough edges I think that is more about preference than quality.

D&D IP is also distinctive, expansive, and to me--wondrous. The reason I had a hard time staying away from D&D permanently when I gave up over the (actually) clumsy system back in 2e, is because of the Quasi-elemental Plane of Lightning, the City of Brass, the triad of Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, and Dragonlance, the Phlogiston, 3rd level spells, beholders and displacer beasts. No one has/had all of that, because it's real IP, and I love it as much as any Star Wars expanded universe or Marvel fan.

I agree with the original premise that it's not good for the market (or for D&D!) for it to have such a stranglehold on the industry. I agree that some of major reasons for its popularity are unrelated to its quality. I do not agree that its popularity is in spite of low quality.
 

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