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Top 5 Tabletop RPGs Spring 2021: Cyberpunk Gains!

ICv2 has released its periodic bestseller list of tabletop roleplaying games in the US and Canada for spring 2021. Dungeons & Dragons takes the top spot as it has done every quarter since Summer 2014, R. Talsorian's Cyberpunk displaces Pathfinder as it continues its climb to 2nd place since it first appeared in the chart a year ago, and for the second time ever '5E Compatible' has appeared on the chart, while Alien maintains its position.

Cyberpunk_large.jpg


Position​
Game (Publisher)​
1​
Dungeons & Dragons (WotC)
2​
Cyberpunk (R. Talsorian)
3​
Pathfinder (Paizo)
4​
Alien (Free League)
5​
5E Compatible (Various)

As always I keep a historical record of these charts here.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Right, but where would, say, Savage Worlds be if you included KS? They are constantly very successful.
Found this breakdown from past year of the 39 TTRPG Kickstarters that went over 2000 backers:

 

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billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
But that applies to 5E, too, which is OGL
..?
It would still be linking their fortunes to a game under someone else's ultimate control. By developing Pathfinder (edition 1 and 2), they're the ones in charge of when things get added to the game system and when they will ultimately shelve the edition in favor of the next one. While it may seem inconceivable that WotC will kill their golden goose, many of the decisions made in the run-up to 4e were not really predictable as well - from ending the license for Dragon and Dungeon magazines to restricting the license of the 4e rules - both of which struck right at the heart of Paizo and their business model at the time. There are a lot of people who will say that Paizo wasn't individually and deliberately targeted since these were internally-driven decisions, but I am skeptical that killing Paizo wasn't on someone's Pro/Con list in the Pro column as a side-benefit of these decisions. 5e being OGL will buffer that somewhat, but possibly not enough for Paizo to devote a lot of resources.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
It would still be linking their fortunes to a game under someone else's ultimate control. By developing Pathfinder (edition 1 and 2), they're the ones in charge of when things get added to the game system and when they will ultimately shelve the edition in favor of the next one. While it may seem inconceivable that WotC will kill their golden goose, many of the decisions made in the run-up to 4e were not really predictable as well - from ending the license for Dragon and Dungeon magazines to restricting the license of the 4e rules - both of which struck right at the heart of Paizo and their business model at the time. There are a lot of people who will say that Paizo wasn't individually and deliberately targeted since these were internally-driven decisions, but I am skeptical that killing Paizo wasn't on someone's Pro/Con list in the Pro column as a side-benefit of these decisions. 5e being OGL will buffer that somewhat, but possibly not enough for Paizo to devote a lot of resources.
I mean, it's the same as what they did with Pathfinder...? If WotC did abandon 5E

The real reason I doubt they'd do it is that PF2E is the style of game the Paizo folks want to play.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I mean, it's the same as what they did with Pathfinder...? If WotC did abandon 5E

Sure, but the question is - why would they want to put themselves through something like that again? Being burned once, for most people, is sufficient lesson to keep their distance.

The real reason I doubt they'd do it is that PF2E is the style of game the Paizo folks want to play.

That's a factor, I'm sure. PF1 development got increasingly fiddly and I think 5e avoids a lot of that or at least makes keeps it to relatively manageable levels.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Sure, but the question is - why would they want to put themselves through something like that again? Being burned once, for most people, is sufficient lesson to keep their distance.



That's a factor, I'm sure. PF1 development got increasingly fiddly and I think 5e avoids a lot of that or at least makes keeps it to relatively manageable levels.
My point is, it doesn't expose them to being burned to put out OGL material. If WotC burned bridges with 5E, that would be a major business opportunity. The OGL isn't what burned Paizo, Dungeon & Dragon were.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Found this breakdown from past year of the 39 TTRPG Kickstarters that went over 2000 backers:

There was an interesting quote in that article that you linked, about the abundance of Kickstarter projects that are compatible with the 5th Edition D&D game:

From the article above said:
The question at the back of our minds is to what extent the rise of the 5e OGL will end up mirroring the 3rd edition boom and bust. The glut of 3e materials that were released by third-party publishers in the 2000s led to a massive collapse in the industry and shuttered many publishers, distributors and retailers.

The current boom is different in one crucial respect: the bulk of the risk is being passed onto the consumer, with relatively few companies in the middle of the chain who might end up left with unwanted stock. We are optimistic that it will cause fewer problems, beyond some people’s bookshelves collapsing.
This is an unprecedented business model for Wizards of the Coast. I imagine they are wary about repeating past mistakes, and are taking steps to avoid the boom-and-bust. But how much of it can they really control, and how?
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
There was an interesting quote in that article that you linked, about the abundance of Kickstarter projects that are compatible with the 5th Edition D&D game:


This is an unprecedented business model for Wizards of the Coast. I imagine they are wary about repeating past mistakes, and are taking steps to avoid the boom-and-bust. But how much of it can they really control, and how?
The benefit to WotC is in creating a feedback loop: the more of the competition that's making 5E compatible material, more customers are directed back to WotC because that's the standard. 5E is almost as old as 3E and 3.5 combined now: past results are nit always indicative of future performance.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
@Parmandur Yeah, I agree. Say what you will about Wizards of the Coast and the Dungeons & Dragons brand, but they are the industry standard for tabletop RPGs. Games that are not 5E compatible just won't perform as well as they could otherwise (maybe by as much as an order of magnitude)--so they can't really compete with WotC. And games that are 5E compatible are much more successful, and amount to free advertising and free brand promotion even if the backers have already purchased the 5E books. They might not amount to direct sales of 5E books at 1:1, but they reinforce 5E's position as the industry standard even more, if only by reputation. It really is a bit of a feedback loop, like you say.

So yeah, I think 5E is going to be around for a good, long while. I think it would take something really big, something outside of their control to make them even consider changing things. (Perhaps a major influencer like Critical Role switching to a non-5E game system would shake them enough? But I don't see that happening.)
 
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darjr

I crit!
The 3rd edition OGL bust was triggered by to much bad physical stock in stores when 3.5 launched.

WotC is trying to avoid this in two ways. Encourage digital stock, but without angering overmuch the physical stores and not doing a 5.5 or 6e, or if they do, they’ll do it in a way that doesn’t break the perception of backwards compatibility nor actually break backwards compatibility.

at least I think so. Maybe hope so?
 

Jimmy Dick

Explorer
There's also the matter that Paizo basically didn't release anything for that quarter, because their adventure path stuff (and many other things, though not everything) was held up in customs. Most of their April, May, and June releases were released to the hobby trade in July, with subscribers (who I don't think ICv2 counts) getting theirs in late June.

Since so much 2e stuff from the last quarter has now been released in July and continuing into August, let's see what happens with the next quarter's report. This is also a reminder that shipping issues are causing problems in the industry right now which could be affecting the sales that drive these rankings.
 

darjr

I crit!
And by bad stock I don’t mean quality. Though there were some, as always. I mean bad as in much harder to sell after a new version of the core dropped with the perception that it wouldn’t be forward compatible.
 

There are a lot of people who will say that Paizo wasn't individually and deliberately targeted since these were internally-driven decisions, but I am skeptical that killing Paizo wasn't on someone's Pro/Con list in the Pro column as a side-benefit of these decisions.
That's not likely. Lisa Stevens is on record as saying that Wizards handled themselves well, and told Paizo about things well in advance which was what allowed them to shift gears to the Pathfinder adventure path route and eventually the Pathfinder RPG. Remember that at that time, Paizo was a valued partner of Wizards of the Coast, not a competitor.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
That's not likely. Lisa Stevens is on record as saying that Wizards handled themselves well, and told Paizo about things well in advance which was what allowed them to shift gears to the Pathfinder adventure path route and eventually the Pathfinder RPG. Remember that at that time, Paizo was a valued partner of Wizards of the Coast, not a competitor.

They may have been gracious about the magazine licenses, but partners that are truly valued usually aren't subjected to multiple decisions that will undermine or destroy their business model.
And WotC definitely did NOT handle themselves well with the GSL license. The license was late and Paizo (specifically Erik Mona) complained about lack of information about the license and the inability to have material available for the new version launch, one of the major aspects of Paizo's decision to stick to the OGL and go with Pathfinder.
 


billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Well… the GSL was a failure for everyone. Even other close partners.
Indeed. But Paizo felt the one-two punch on that stuff. Kind of a perfect storm, particularly for a company that was started specifically to publish WotC's magazines.
 


macd21

Adventurer
My point is, it doesn't expose them to being burned to put out OGL material. If WotC burned bridges with 5E, that would be a major business opportunity. The OGL isn't what burned Paizo, Dungeon & Dragon were.
No, the OGL burned Paizo, they just came out of it stronger.

WotC dropping 3.5 was a huge problem for Paizo. It threatened to kill their business model. But they took a huge gamble and published Pathfinder. The gamble paid off, and they came out ahead, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a huge risk.

If WotC burned bridges with 5ed, Paizo could make that gamble again, but would they want to? Just because it worked last time doesn’t mean it would work again. The 5ed customer base could just happily move on to 6ed, leaving Paizo pumping money into a product nobody wants.
 


CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
@mad

I think you are completely wrong. The OGL helped save them, and maybe D&D.
I agree. Love it or hate it, the OGL kicked off the "D&D Renaissance." Almost overnight, new publishing companies started coming out of the woodwork to create tons (TONS!) of fresh content, on a scale that was never seen before. If it weren't for the OGL, D&D could very well have faded into obsolescence and we'd all be playing Warhammer right now.

If anyone got hurt by the OGL in the later days, it was Wizards of the Coast. The OGL might have saved the D&D game, but it also gave other companies (like Paizo) the tools they needed to compete directly against WotC. I think they released the 4th Edition in order to lure players and publishers away from it, and it didn't go as well as they hoped.
 
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