Why DO Other Games Sell Less?

Scribble

Villager
So, apparently D&D is a huge force in the RPG market. It's the big seller, and other games just sell less... Why is this? What gives D&D such a huge spot in the market? Is it just because it was first? Because of its history?

D&D is my favorite game, and always has been, but I'm not really sure why...

Anyone else have any idea?

Would the RPG "industry" exist if D&D stopped existing? (I'm not predicting doom, just a question.) Would it have died out altogether if WOTC had not purchased D&D back in 96, and TSR went under?
 

philreed

Explorer
Scribble said:
Would it have died out altogether if WOTC had not purchased D&D back in 96, and TSR went under?
I'm of the opinion that the industry, as it once existed, is already dead. We're in a transitional period and it's only a matter of time before all mid-sized RPG companies no longer exist (or, no longer produce RPG products).
 

JoeGKushner

Villager
Scribble said:
So, apparently D&D is a huge force in the RPG market. It's the big seller, and other games just sell less... Why is this? What gives D&D such a huge spot in the market? Is it just because it was first? Because of its history?
In my opinion, yeah. It's first, it's well known, it's official.

Scribble said:
Would the RPG "industry" exist if D&D stopped existing? (I'm not predicting doom, just a question.)
Outside of WoTC and perhaps White Wolf, I'm not sure there is an industry to begin with. It would certainly be a lot smaller if there was no D&D brand.

Scribble said:
Would it have died out altogether if WOTC had not purchased D&D back in 96, and TSR went under?
No, it'd just be a lot smaller. Pretty much the same question so same answer.

We'd still have D&D branded X-Box, computer games and fiction though. Way too much money there.
 
philreed said:
I'm of the opinion that the industry, as it once existed, is already dead. We're in a transitional period and it's only a matter of time before all mid-sized RPG companies no longer exist (or, no longer produce RPG products).
I want to hear more of this opinion. What do you think we're transitioning to?
 

Scribble

Villager
JoeGKushner said:
Outside of WoTC and perhaps White Wolf, I'm not sure there is an industry to begin with. It would certainly be a lot smaller if there was no D&D brand.
Don't forget Steve Jackson, and did Palladium actually go under? What about wizkids? (are they still doing shadowrun?)

JoeGKushner said:
No, it'd just be a lot smaller. Pretty much the same question so same answer.
Eh... I'm not sure I agree... Different market. Were the other "big name" companies doing poorly as well as TSR?

I guess the real question is, would people just switch to other games? Or without D&D would the market for games just die out?

JoeGKushner said:
We'd still have D&D branded X-Box, computer games and fiction though. Way too much money there.
Maybe...
 

Scribble

Villager
philreed said:
I'm of the opinion that the industry, as it once existed, is already dead. We're in a transitional period and it's only a matter of time before all mid-sized RPG companies no longer exist (or, no longer produce RPG products).
So do you think the "RPG Industry" pretty much = D&D?

That's the real question I guess I'm wondering. Why don't other companies sell in the market as well as D&D?

Take the video game industry... There are several different styles of games, and game makers, but is there one like dominant game maker, and the rest just follow along?

IS it just because of all the publicity D&D has had (good or bad) over the years, that makes it recognizable, so people start playing it more often then others? ("Hey, I've heard of that game... lemme check it out...")

that's what I mean with if D&D stopped existing... Would the other companies get enough new players to continue? Or without that "Hey I recognise the name D&D" name recognition would it turn into "WTF is a Role Playing Game... isn't that something dirty?"
 
I think the reasons for D&D selling alot are:
1) It was there first, thus it is a standard-setter AND has the longest time to get media and public exposure.
2) Its base assumption (about how the game-world works) are generic enough to appeal to a very wide variety of fantasy fans, and fantasy is quite a popular genre (Harry Potter, Hercules/Xena, LotR, ALOT of computer/console games). Vampire: The Mascarade, for example, appeals mainly to the fans of the vampire subgenre of fantasy/horror; D&D is built with "hooks" for a wide variety of tastes, both in terms of subgenres (wizards, hack-n'-slash, indiana jones exploration, politics, good-vs-evil, even horror/vampires and steampunk with the right sourcebooks) and in terms of flavour (homourus, serious, heroic, horror and so on).
3) Fantasy is, IMHO, more popular than sci-fi; so D&D gets better sales than, say, Traveller due to this fact.
4) Quality control. The basic books (atleast the 3.0E ones, I don't have 3.5E) have very few typos and a relatively very low level of errata, and were extensively playtested. Compare this to whole editions of Traveller (T4, for example) that died simply because severe errata problems and insufficient playtesting.
5) Marketing. I am no expert in this field but it seems to me that WotC have avoided several of the pitfalls in which many of the competitors have found their death (or, atleast, fall in sales), such as being overzealous with copyright enforcement (it killed TSR), bad quality control (it killed many games), writing yourself into a corner (i.e. focusing only one one niche market) or rule overcomplications. SRD is IMHO a VERY good starategy - it allows and even encourages other companies to publish their own compatible products for this system, which means that a vast wealth of material is available to players (and thus supporting a very wide variety of player tastes). SRD also allows fans to make their own material within a relatively fair legal fraimwork.
6) Playability. While D&D game mechanics aren't the easiest out there to use, they are definitely learnable and playable by most players, even new and/or young ones; rule overcomplexity was a major problem for other systems, as many players got scared or bored by overcomplex rules.
 

mcrow

Villager
Well, it's pretty simple IMO D&D:

Was the first

Has the most money to spend marketing,writting,editing, graphic design and such

Brand Name, it's like the the Nike of RPGs. Others may make game that are jsut as good but everyone knows D&D.
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
Scribble said:
D&D is my favorite game, and always has been, but I'm not really sure why...
Perhaps you should explore this. Have you bought other RPGs? Did you play them? Extensively? Why or why not?

Personally I think it has everything to do with being first to broad appeal. No other RPG has ever had the appeal D&D had in the 80s. And so D&D becomes that Faded Concert T-shirt that's 2 sizes too small for you now but you still wear it because it's your favorite shirt. It reminds you of a simpler time in your life. It is burned into your brain so deeply that even when you get together to play some other RPG, you call it playing D&D.

Also, I'd bet you could find 2 gaming groups where 1 has changed 50% of the rules one way and the other group has changed the other 50% of the rules some opposite way such that there are practically no rules in common between them. And if you asked them both what they were playing, they'd both respond D&D. Moreso, if one of them were to tell the other about their last game session, the other would agree that they were playing D&D.

D&D is more a state of mind than an RPG. And to provide correlary to Phil, I think so called RPG industry has always been perceived as larger than it is because it rides on D&D's coattails. Without D&D, shelf space for other RPGs would dwindle. After all, somehow, some way, somewhere out there, someone purchased the latest release of GURPS Space 4e for their "D&D" game.

RW, if Phil knew what we were transitioning to he wouldn't post it here. He'd invest in it quietly. :)
 
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Scribble

Villager
jmucchiello said:
Perhaps you should explore this. Have you bought other RPGs? Did you play them? Extensively? Why or why not?

Personally I think it has everything to do with being first to broad appeal. No other RPG has ever had the appeal D&D had in the 80s. And so D&D becomes that Faded Concert T-shirt that's 2 sizes too small for you now but you still wear it because it's your favorite shirt. It reminds you of a simpler time in your life. It is burned into your brain so deeply that even when you get together to play some other RPG, you call it playing D&D.
Yeah, I've been gaming for a pretty long time... Since early 90s... Not as long as some, but I've been around for a bit...

I own most of the "major" game systems... (at least the main rules for them)

I don't dislike other games... And I've played many... It's just D&D has always been my favorite, both to run and play. I like playing other games (and running them) but inveriably I always gravitate back to D&D... :p
 

bento

Villager
Scribble said:
That's the real question I guess I'm wondering. Why don't other companies sell in the market as well as D&D?
Access to the market through various distribution channels. The better your distribution channel, the better your exposure, the more likely your game will sell. Also having a product that's fairly open-ended and can appeal to a wide variety of people. You can play many different "stories" with D&D and still be playing D&D. Hence the large number of D&D books in the market.

Scribble said:
IS it just because of all the publicity D&D has had (good or bad) over the years, that makes it recognizable, so people start playing it more often then others? ("Hey, I've heard of that game... lemme check it out...")
Buzz is always important for market acceptance. Enough buzz and you're bound to get people tangentally interested to try it. How many people own a gaming console (XBox/PS2/GC) and aren't really HC gamers? Quite a few. And as you mention, most people try D&D first and either stay with it, get hooked on another system, or leave gaming.

If D&D disappeared next year, you'd still have a strong core of players, and products coming out from other companies because of the OGL. The biggest problem would be that the hobby would have to run on "word-of-mouth" and grass-roots marketing. No more corporate dollars spent on advertising or getting movies made or books written. There would be a dip, no doubt, but it would be interesting to see what direction RPing would go into.

I really think the direction is the one that RPing has gone for the last six or so years with MMORPGs. Like it or not, MMORPGs are the RPs most people today cut their teeth on. Today I play with a generation (18 to early 20s) who know all the concepts of D&D (HP, AC, etc.) from the computer games they play.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
D&D games I have both run and played in have lasted a lot longer than any other system I have tried to run or played in - and thus I have purchased more D&D stuff than any other game.

I don't know why that is. . .

Also, there is a lot more D&D stuff to buy - even Palladium or GURPs at their height never had as many books and accessories to be purchased as D&D.
 

DaveMage

Slumbering in Tsar
Reasons why other games don't match up?

1. Brand awareness/Marketing
2. Solid ruleset (with 3.0 - 2.0 drove people away).
 

Jdvn1

Villager
I think "it was the first" was the reason why it sold so much originally. There were just no other options.

Then, over time, people just stuck with it. They liked D&D, so they kept playing D&D. When other games came out, people looked at them and thought, "Well, everyone's playing D&D. I could play (new game) and rarely be able to play, or I could play D&D and play with my other friends that play D&D." People are slow to change.

Not an extremely tough choice.
 

Aus_Snow

Villager
Scribble said:
So, apparently D&D is a huge force in the RPG market. It's the big seller, and other games just sell less... Why is this? What gives D&D such a huge spot in the market? Is it just because it was first? Because of its history?
Yes.

Would the RPG "industry" exist if D&D stopped existing?
Yes.

Would it have died out altogether if WOTC had not purchased D&D back in 96, and TSR went under?
No.


:)
 

Jupp

Villager
philreed said:
I'm of the opinion that the industry, as it once existed, is already dead. We're in a transitional period and it's only a matter of time before all mid-sized RPG companies no longer exist (or, no longer produce RPG products).
Add this to your sentence: no longer exist....in the US market.

If you look at Europe, D&D and D20 are not the biggest players in the house. Depending on country they are sometimes perhaps third place or even less. Since we didn't have that huge exposure to D&D in the 80's and 90's, the European market is fragemented with dozens of different systems. And each country has its own big player in their own RPG market. Even if D&D should die one day there would still be enough alternatives to choose from over here. It would hurt a bit, but not too much.
 

Roger

Villager
In my opinion, the continuing popularity of D&D is a great example of Metcalfe's Law in action.

In this sense, I consider RPG systems as essentially specialized communication protocols, which I think is not as terribly outlandish as it first may seem.


Cheers,
Roger
 

Turjan

Villager
Jupp said:
If you look at Europe, D&D and D20 are not the biggest players in the house. Depending on country they are sometimes perhaps third place or even less.
Like in Germany, where The Dark Eye is number one and Shadowrun is number two. It's remarkable though that The Dark Eye was not the first RPG in Germany, but it's relatively similar to D&D in its tropes.

The main difference of The Dark Eye to other RPGs though was that a major board game company put quite a lot of funds in advertising the game upon its release. That gave the game a popularity headstart that no other game has been able to reach up to now.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Roger said:
In this sense, I consider RPG systems as essentially specialized communication protocols, which I think is not as terribly outlandish as it first may seem.
*nod*. Various folks have said as much, when noting that the success of D&D was partly based on "network externalities". But I think the communication protocol (or other standardization, like VHS/Betamax) analogy is somewhat more clear.

However, I think all that misses something - prior popularity probably is not the sole support of D&D's current popularity. Recall, the heyday of D&D was two decades ago. That's a long pair of coattails to try to ride.

Even if a lot of people use it, if a given protocol or standard really stinks compared to the alternatives, folks will leave. They'll start slowly, but once a certain minimum of adopters take on the technically better standard, folks will rush out of the old standard in droves. That has apparently never happened to D&D.

So, there's a second part to the story - it is actually a pretty good game. Much as we chew over it's faults a lot here, it also has a great deal of merit in and of itself, both in terms of current structure and long-term style.
 
Umbran said:
Even if a lot of people use it, if a given protocol or standard really stinks compared to the alternatives, folks will leave. They'll start slowly, but once a certain minimum of adopters take on the technically better standard, folks will rush out of the old standard in droves. That has apparently never happened to D&D.

So, there's a second part to the story - it is actually a pretty good game. Much as we chew over it's faults a lot here, it also has a great deal of merit in and of itself, both in terms of current structure and long-term style.
Yes. A product that is in some obvious way truly inadequate to the needs of the bulk of the market will inevitably get pushed out, in spite of externalities. That D&D has not been pushed out means that all editions were "pretty good" by some reasonable definition.
 

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