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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...

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.


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

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

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I crit!
And as a point of rough, and I mean rough, comparison there is a D&D core set bundle with a Magic set on the Toys and Games ranking. It’s 99, it’s in the top 100 pages.

The fact it’s a core set and bundled with a Magic set makes the comparison even more muddied, except to highlight how out of scale D&D is compared to everyone else.


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Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
Pretty unusual set of circumstances. D&D always dominates, it is just that at that time, Paizo was making the more popular version of it. Pretty sure 2e, 3e, and 3.5e were all developed while D&D was the top seller. Even if sales had come down substantially in each case.

You never know...except that some newish edition is coming in 2024.
3rd Edition was developed after WotC acquired the brand from TSR in 1999 (and was released in 2000). The brand was in tatters, and they had to do something to get people excited about D&D again...so they released a new edition of the game. The link that Morrus posted doesn't have data before 2004, so I don't know what the market looked like at that time. But what we do know is that D&D was the #1 selling TTRPG at least as early as 2004, and it remained so until Pathfinder was released in 2009.

But Pathfinder wouldn't have even been published if WotC hadn't released the 4th Edition of D&D.

Pathfinder was a strange product...I don't think there had ever been anything like it. It wasn't a new game system like FATE or Shadowrun, it was a D&D campaign setting that still used the D20 Game System and the D20 Open Gaming License. And it was released in response to pushback from players who didn't care for the new 4th Edition game, and from third-party publishers who wanted to continue publishing material under the OGL. It was a viable option for players and publishers who didn't want to switch to the new edition.

WotC took a pretty big gamble on 4E, betting that most players and third-party publishers would want to abandon the older system and switch to the new. They lost that bet.

D&D fell in the rankings continually afterward, quarter after quarter. They had to do something to get people excited about D&D again, so they released a new edition of the game. Three months later, 5E D&D jumped from No. 4 to No. 1, and has remained there ever since.

So I think that until their sales begin to slip again, Wizards of the Coast will remember the lesson they learned in 2008 and not tamper with a good thing. At least I hope they do.

But then again, Wizards of the Coast is more than just D&D. They are also Magic: the Gathering, and collectable card games are selling far better than all other tabletop RPG games combined at the moment. They could decide to do whatever they want with D&D completely on a lark, and they would financially survive it. (shrug) Time will tell, I guess.

But I've gotta ask: why 2024? Do you know something I don't? Did I miss a press release or something?
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I’d definitely be interested in those, but they seem to not want to do that. I’m guessing Paizo are worried it would potentially lead their customer base back to 5E instead of Pathfinder, rather than widening their customer base to also include people like myself, 5E players that don’t play Pathfinder.
I would bet there are numerous factors at work, including the fact that the company whose business was put in jeopardy during the 4e shift might be gunshy about tying their fortunes to somebody else's gaming line again.

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
This table does not tell us as much as many people in this thread seem to believe, unless you really care about market share.

It only tells us each title's sales relative to each other - but gives no indication of increases or decreases of sales for each individual title.

For example, if all of those titles (first of all, 5e compatible? bleh) experienced a 30% increase in sales, but Cyberpunk experienced a 50% increase, then Cyberpunk would be higher - but I don't think Pathfinder folks would care too much about that, as a 30% increase in sales is AWESOME. So this data does NOT tell us if anyone of those titles is experiencing a dip or increase in sales. Just that their sales have changed in relationship to each other.


That someone better
Very interesting development. Pathfinder dipping is surprising, I didn't think Cyberpunk would make that big an impact. Or is it Pathfinder having a slow spell? Anyways, happy to see Alien up there still.

I am very curious to see if CPRed has the legs to maintain the #2 spot. That would be very good for the hobby.

IMHO having both the number one and two RPG's out there taking up shelf space both being D&D, while good for D&D games, is not the best thing for the rest of the hobby.

We had a wider variety of systems that were more readily visible to casual gamers coming in through the D&D gateway drug when Vampire was a solid #2.

Now we have D&D. D&D's clone. Two flavors of the quarter, and D&D games that collectively outsell everything else. That is not a healthy variety of top 5 game systems...

Ryan Dancy's OGL has accomplished its goal.

I'm glad that Alien seems to have actual legs as it has been out since 2019.

CPRed seems to have legs, as it has been out since Spring of 2020, so lets hope that players are starting to find more variety in RPG systems, and that it becomes a reinforcing loop.

'5e compatible' is a weird category and shouldn't exist.

They should publish a Top 10 list instead of Top 5.

It would be nice; seeing what games rise and fall in a top ten ranking would give us a better perspective on which sales bumps are blips and which RPG's have real sets of legs.

An yes '5e compatible' is silly lazy. Give us the top 5 games, not the sales of 6 titles bundled together.

If people like their adventure paths, then I would have thought that they would want to give the game that underpins them a go, rather than just making everything 5e compatible.

The problem with the game that underpins them is that PF 1+2e are both more complex than 5e.

I am very curious to see how Savage Worlds Pathfinder does.

Showing that 'other systems can do fantasy too' is a good thing because it gives Established fanbases a reason to try out a non-d20 system in a context that is acceptable within the prevailing IP centric nature of the RPG hobby.

If Hasbro wanted Paizo because this publishes ones of the best sourcebooks for crunch, then they should offer a good deal or Paizo will prefer an adquisition by some media company (Disney, Netflix, Warner..) to use the brand as multimedia franchise.

Cyberpunk is mainly "sci-fi crunch". This means the setting has got a lot of potential rivals from the movies, manga-anime or videogames.



Today the "neon-punk" from 80's is "vintage" or "retro", but even now the "cyberpunk fiction" can be affected too much for all conspirancy theories published in internet, although the authors didn't believe in these at all could be used for their plots.

The case of Cyberpunk overtaking Pathfinder can be attributed two ways of course.

The reason why Cyberpunk is successful currently is that it is an archetypal RPG - by which I mean it both encapsulates and has helped define a genre of game that is immediately recognized by the RPG-buying public - and it has returned to the retail shelves after having been off them for many years. It is also probably promoted by the big brand association of Cyberpunk 2077. It’s not that hard to see why it would be successful.

The reason why Pathfinder isn’t holding it’s number two spot could be just a matter of Cyberpunk spiking in the one given quarter, but that seems unlikely seeing as Cyberpunk was no.3 last quarter and has moved up again. I think Pathfinder has declined a bit.

The reason I suggest for that is more debatable, but I do think that there is a case that the people who bought Pathfinder 1st edition may have a conservative purchasing tendency to hold on to previous editions, in the same way they did when they chose Pathfinder over the development of D&D4. That is, they didn’t want to give up playing the 3/3.5 D&D (which they see Pathfinder as a continuation of) so they stuck with that. By extension, some fans may be sticking with Pathfinder 1st edition rather than moving on to 2nd edition too - they already have what they want, why buy another edition? I see it as diminishing returns.

On top of that, the whole D20/OGL brand has largely been replaced with ‘5E compatible’ as represented by the 5th entree on the list. In all, Pathfinder is holding some ground (Paizo still provides good community support), but I wouldn’t be surprised if the decline slowly continues as the years progress.
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