Critical Role To Critical Role or not...That is the question

Did Critical Role influence D&D and how do you feel about CR?

  • Critical Role is the biggest reason for 5e's popularity and I love CR

    Votes: 2 1.3%
  • Critical Role is the biggest reason for 5e's popularity and I like CR

    Votes: 5 3.2%
  • Critical Role is the biggest reason for 5e's popularity and I'm neutral to CR

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • Critical Role is the biggest reason for 5e's popularity but I dislike CR

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • Critical Role is the biggest reason for 5e's popularity but I hate CR

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Critical Role is a factor in 5e's popularity and I love CR

    Votes: 15 9.5%
  • Critical Role is a factor in 5e's popularity and I like CR

    Votes: 46 29.1%
  • Critical Role is a factor in 5e's popularity but I'm neutral to CR

    Votes: 54 34.2%
  • Critical Role is a factor in 5e's popularity but I dislike CR

    Votes: 10 6.3%
  • Critical Role is a factor in 5e's popularity but I hate CR

    Votes: 6 3.8%
  • Critical Role isn't a factor towards 5e's popularity but I love CR

    Votes: 2 1.3%
  • Critical Role isn't a factor towards 5e's popularity but I like CR

    Votes: 2 1.3%
  • Critical Role isn't a factor towards 5e's popularity but I'm neutral to CR

    Votes: 8 5.1%
  • Critical Role isn't a factor towards 5e's popularity and I dislike CR

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • Critical Role isn't a factor towards 5e's popularity and I hate CR

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • Critical Role...what's that...oh, and I think Matt Mercer is hot

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Critical Role...no idea what that is, but Matt Mercer needs a haircut

    Votes: 2 1.3%
  • Critical Role...don't ask...but I eat puppies and kittens for lunch

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Critical Role...Yes...yes...I'm critical to RPGs...why do you ask

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Critical Role...go for the eyes boo...go for the eyes!!!

    Votes: 2 1.3%


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Parmandur

Book-Friend
The estimates I can find are that Critical Role gets one to one and a half million people watching every episode. While I know not all of them will be playing D&D, it may be that the number of folks who watch CR are a significant fraction (in that space between majority and "small fraction") of the people who play right now.
Well, 1.5-2 million (to put a bigger reqd on fan numbers) is still a pretty small fraction of 50+ million, which is the last number WotC supplied for the D&D fanbase: though maybe that's a quibble over "significance." I'm sure WotC is thrilled with an actively engaged 2-4% of their fanbase...but the overwhelming majority of D&D people are not Critters.

I'm a Critter, myself, and CR is the leading actual play show...but 5E is a much, much larger phenomenon than Critters.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Well, 1.5-2 million (to put a bigger reqd on fan numbers) is still a pretty small fraction of 50+ million, which is the last number WotC supplied for the D&D fanbase: though maybe that's a quibble over "significance." I'm sure WotC is thrilled with an actively engaged 2-4% of their fanbase...but the overwhelming majority of D&D people are not Critters.

I'm a Critter, myself, and CR is the leading actual play show...but 5E is a much, much larger phenomenon than Critters.
But if those 2 million CR fans put together D&D games for themselves and bring in 4 friends who didn't/don't watch CR... you now have 10 million players who are all playing as a result of the show. And if any of those players start their own games too and bring in others to play... then the circle expands and expands and expands, all off of CR as a foundation. So it's really impossible to calculate just how many current players of D&D are due to Critical Role and other Actual Play. But it's probably bigger than we even could guesstimate.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
When I do a search for how many players are out there, I get numbers more like 13 million. Can you give a link to that WotC-supplied number?
After edit: Here's the right page, might be kind of a sketchy website for a source, though:

 
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Oofta

Legend
The only downside to CR I've had to deal with is the number of fully-played out shopping scenes every time you want to buy something. Not every shopkeeper needs to be quirky.

I occasionally make the mistake of narrating shopkeepers and shopping trips, mostly if it's for unusual magical items. But, since I like to ham it up even for something I find intrinsically boring like shopping, next thing I know everybody wants to go shopping. I'm beginning to think I should go out of my way to make the shopping trips the equivalent of going to the DMV. :mad:
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
But if those 2 million CR fans put together D&D games for themselves and bring in 4 friends who didn't/don't watch CR... you now have 10 million players who are all playing as a result of the show. And if any of those players start their own games too and bring in others to play... then the circle expands and expands and expands, all off of CR as a foundation. So it's really impossible to calculate just how many current players of D&D are due to Critical Role and other Actual Play. But it's probably bigger than we even could guesstimate.
There is probably some force magnification there: but I think it's more likely for Critters to group together. And it's still not the "main" factor for D&D's current run.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
Ah, okay, check the actual quote: "The company claims that over 50 million people have played Dungeons & Dragons to date..."

That's not people currently engaged with the game, that's cumulative number of people over all time who have played.
Yeah, but the biggest chunk of players is under 24, 36% of 50 million. Those are going to be primarily 5E players, and they outnumber Critters as such by a significant margin (probably a healthy Benn overlap...but the chunk is way bigger than Critters).

I'm not trying to poo-poo CR, but let's keep it real: it's just a portion of the picture.
 

Oofta

Legend
But if those 2 million CR fans put together D&D games for themselves and bring in 4 friends who didn't/don't watch CR... you now have 10 million players who are all playing as a result of the show. And if any of those players start their own games too and bring in others to play... then the circle expands and expands and expands, all off of CR as a foundation. So it's really impossible to calculate just how many current players of D&D are due to Critical Role and other Actual Play. But it's probably bigger than we even could guesstimate.
That assumes that people that follow CR DM, if they play D&D at all and that a significant percentage of them wouldn't already be playing the game anyway. I don't think any of those assumptions have much basis.

There are a lot of factors to 5E's success. In no particular order, my guesses would be:
  • A ruleset that supports a wide variety of playstyles and campaign themes
  • An easy to grasp system that's doesn't overly rely on gamer speak.
  • Better marketing and production schedule and not flooding the market, especially early on.
  • Streaming shows people what it's like to play.
  • The acceptance of "geek culture" thanks to superhero movies.
  • Celebrities acknowledging that they have, and many continue to, play D&D
  • The desire for people to interact with others on a more personal level instead of just electronically
If I had to guess? I suspect one of the biggest reasons for 5E's success would be a decent ruleset combined with a backlash against the isolation a lot of people feel. D&D is a good way to meet people and actually connect over a shared hobby instead of just spending more time watching Tik Tok videos.

But it's anybody's guess. I don't think anybody really knows. It certainly took WOTC by surprise.
 

IvyDragons

Explorer
Ah, okay, check the actual quote: "The company claims that over 50 million people have played Dungeons & Dragons to date..."

That's not people currently engaged with the game, that's cumulative number of people over all time who have ever played.
Still seems high. Numbers break down that about 1/2 the dnd user population is in the USA. So you telling me 1 in 13 people in the US have played D&D... no way. Ok some are dead now, but in 1 in 15, still no.
 


J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Still seems high. Numbers break down that about 1/2 the dnd user population is in the USA. So you telling me 1 in 13 people in the US have played D&D... no way. Ok some are dead now, but in 1 in 15, still no.
I don't think it's too inconceivable, especially if you include all the "I played sometimes with my boyfriend in highschool" or "we'd play at summer camp" or "me and the bros played when we visited cousin alvin that one time" and so forth.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yeah, but the biggest chunk of players is under 24, 36% of 50 million.

I think you are misreading this.

There's 50 million total people who have played at least once, over all recorded human history.

There's another number of current players - which is probably defined as "people who currently play at least once a month" or some such. It will be much less than 50 million. WotC does not tell us that number. I've seen estimates of 10 to 13 million, but cannot speak to the accuracy of those estimates.

The "players under 24" is 36% of current players, current active community, not of players across history.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I think you are misreading this.

There's 50 million total people who have played at least once, over all recorded human history.

There's another number of current players - which is probably defined as "people who currently play at least once a month" or some such. It will be much less than 50 million. WotC does not tell us that number. I've seen estimates of 10 to 13 million, but cannot speak to the accuracy of those estimates.

The "players under 24" is 36% of current players, current active community, not of players across history.
I'll grant all that...but the point still remains, Critters are still a fraction of D&D fans no matter which way you slice it. An active and engaged segment enthusiastically embraced by WotC? Yes, but not the "main factor" in 5E success as posited in the OP.
 

Oofta

Legend
I think you are misreading this.

There's 50 million total people who have played at least once, over all recorded human history.

There's another number of current players - which is probably defined as "people who currently play at least once a month" or some such. It will be much less than 50 million. WotC does not tell us that number. I've seen estimates of 10 to 13 million, but cannot speak to the accuracy of those estimates.

The "players under 24" is 36% of current players, current active community, not of players across history.
If true, and I'm not certain anyone knows, the estimate we're given of how many people watch CR (not just the live stream) is still around 10% of that total.

I am curious, where do you get your numbers of how many people currently play D&D? Because I've tried to find that number to no avail.

EDIT: the number was set at 40 million "fans" in 2019, that number was increased to 50 million in 2020, we've seen double digit growth since then. In addition, on Roll20 alone the estimate is 3 million. I couldn't find number of unique visitors to Fantasy Grounds, but D&D accounts for 70% of the players there.

So 10-13 million seems low. 🤷‍♂️
 
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Azzy

KMF DM
I'm mostly neutral towords the show—I don't watch it (having the same or similar issue to watching/listening to it as I do listenng to audio books), but I'm happy it exists and is bringing people to the game. As others have said earlier, 5e was already a rousing success before CR became a big thing, but I do belive that it's certainly helped push 5e's popularity.
 

I'll grant all that...but the point still remains, Critters are still a fraction of D&D fans no matter which way you slice it. An active and engaged segment enthusiastically embraced by WotC? Yes, but not the "main factor" in 5E success as posited in the OP.
Yes, but a fraction like 1/10 is a heck of a lot more important than a fraction like 1/200.

And OP indicated they strongly disagree with the idea that CR is the main driving factor, but posted a poll to get others' opinions.
 

and not representative of most D&D games IME
Has anyone said it is representative of most D&D games?

I have no clue why people would watch others play D&D when they could play themselves. 🤷‍♂️
Possibly similar reasons why people watch televised sports or gaming streams. Plus, of course, in this case you also have the possibility of people being fans of particular actors who are on the show and want to watch them. There are many reasons why people might want to do something that you personally don't want to do, after all.

INSHO if you have time to watch CR, you have time to play D&D instead. Yeah, I know, people are busy, they can't find players, etc. Crap IMO. You think it is hard to find and organize a game now?
There are so many assumptions built into this, both about how people play D&D and about how people watch CR. Someone had already pointed out before your post that they like to put CR on when doing some other activity, such as exercising. You can't play D&D "in the background" like you can put a show on in the background while doing something else. Meanwhile many people strongly prefer to play D&D with their friends. If their friends are not available, they prefer to do something else rather than play with strangers. Again, people often have different preferences than you do.

Try it in the 80's before gaming, video games, anime, comics, and such things were NOT mainstream in any way, shape, or form. To be clear I am not saying finding a game or group is easy, but you can do it if you really want to IME.
Plenty of people who watch CR do have an active D&D group. That doesn`t mean they can all drop everything and play D&D whenever. So here`s another tidbit: you can both be playing in an active D&D group and also watch CR when not actually gaming. Two of the players in my group watch CR, the other five (myself included) do not, for example.
 

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