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Why Doesn't Star Wars Hold More Mind Share in the RPG Market?

Malkinban

The Torn
I was wondering about this the other day. I know that the RPG market has long been dominated by the Fantasy genre, but I can't help but wonder why Star Wars (being Science Fantasy) does not capture a larger part of the RPG market than it currently does.

One could argue that, like Middle Earth, many people feel like they could not play in the setting without playing second fiddle to the events of the books/movies, but in the case of Star Wars the GM has an entire galaxy to play with.

Regarding the current iteration of Star Wars RPG, do people shy away from the funny dice and mechanics? Personally, I think the system is great, but perhaps I am in the minority. Maybe it's just that they can never seem to find a copy at their FLGS? Because, let's be honest, FFG never produces enough copies of their products to meet demand.

What do you, my dear EN Worlders think?
 

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ART!

Adventurer
Yeah, FFG's game has been impressively successful - maybe moreso than any other SW rpg ever? I know the West End game was big in it's day, but we probably don't have the figures to compare games back then to games today.

I think there is a hurdle to get past with the dice system in FFG's game, but I also hear that's less of a problem for new gamers, so...?

There's also issues of licensing, and what a publisher has rights to. It might do better if for each new SW movie or show a publisher could release a new game book based on that new thing, when that new thing is still new. Dunno.
 

aco175

Hero
We never got into it since we were used to D&D and D&D in space was too far from the comfort level we are used to. I wonder if creating dungeons are harder when you have the whole galaxy to make or play in.

I suppose it would be something we would try if we were looking for something and had time to play more. I have heard of it and know some of the races and such, so that would be a plus over other games like one based off a book I never read. I guess if the system was close to D&D it may work. A d20 system and not a new system like MAGE or VAMPIRE.
 

macd21

Adventurer
Like Morrus said, it's one of the biggest RPGs right now.

Why isn't it even more of a contender, compared to DnD? I'd put it down to a number of things, but ultimately I'd say the main thing is variety. DnD isn't just one game, it's a multitude of different games, each with different themes and settings. Not only is there the Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Ravenloft and all the other official settings that have come out over the years, but there's also all the homebrew settings that GMs made for themselves. Star Wars is a very popular setting, obviously, but it's just one setting, and the game isn't designed to let you use the system for your own world. It's actually really impressive that it is such a popular RPG, given that drawback (though being amongst the most popular settings in media doesn't hurt!).
 


opacitizen

Explorer
Besides all the other points raised by others, is there a chance people are more careful about putting out actual plays and similar content based on Star Wars, for copyright reasons? D&D seems to openly support fan rpg content. I'm not familiar with FFG's (and Lucasfilm's) rpg fan policy, but I don't really see much SW content when randomly browsing rpg-related stuff on social media.
 

Star Wars has previously been a top-tier RPG.

In the late 90's, it was definitely doing VERY well before West End Games went bankrupt. WEG collapsed not because of their games not selling, but because the owner was diverting operating funds from WEG to cover expenses at another business he also ran, until paychecks started bouncing at WEG and they quickly went bankrupt in the Summer of '98.

The d20 versions released by WotC were also top-tier bestselling RPG's, but it's my understanding that WotC didn't renew the license in 2010 when it expired because Hasbro has unreasonably high expectations of every "brand" under their umbrella, and that simply put there is no RPG on the market besides D&D can make the sales that Hasbro wants to see from a WotC "brand", not even Star Wars.

I don't know about FFG's stuff, I actively avoided it because I already had several versions of Star Wars (all 3 d20 versions and the d6 version from WEG), and I really didn't need to buy yet another RPG to cover the same things that I'd already had with other games. Why buy yet another RPG book that covers the same things I already have?

If I run Star Wars, I'll probably pull out my d6 books, to be honest.
 

Malkinban

The Torn
Why isn't it even more of a contender, compared to DnD? I'd put it down to a number of things, but ultimately I'd say the main thing is variety. DnD isn't just one game, it's a multitude of different games, each with different themes and settings.
That's a fair point. I can certainly see the appeal of how free form D&D can be.

Besides all the other points raised by others, is there a chance people are more careful about putting out actual plays and similar content based on Star Wars, for copyright reasons? D&D seems to openly support fan rpg content. I'm not familiar with FFG's (and Lucasfilm's) rpg fan policy, but I don't really see much SW content when randomly browsing rpg-related stuff on social media.
I'm sure that contributes, to a degree, but RPG besides D&D (not counting Pathfinder) held a level of mind share in the RPG community that doesn't seem to exist anymore and those games didn't need the internet to get them into the spotlight. Vampire, Traveller, GURPS, and others. Sure, they were far FAR behind D&D in sales, but you still seemed to notice people playing them and their products were on shelves.

So, it just begs the questions why such a massive intellectual property like Star Wars doesn't have greater penetration in terms of actually being played.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Simple. Path dependency. It's like asking, "Why do so many people drink Coca Cola, when there are other sodas?" Well, Coke advertises. Coke is ubiquitous. Coke is the default. Everyone has, at a minimum, tried Coke. Any other product is defined in relation to Coke. There are parts of the United States where "Coke" is a generic term for soda (or pop).

D&D is practically "generic" roleplaying. It has always been the dominant game. Just do a quick mental survey- have you ever met a TTRPGer who didn't know how to play D&D? Who hadn't played it at some point? In fact, isn't it likely that the person was probably introduced to TTRPGs through D&D (or a D&D equivalent, like Pathfinder)? If you talk to someone who isn't familiar with TTRPGs, are they likely to think that "it's all Dungeons & Dragons"?

If you move to a new town, and you want to play a TTRPG, what game are you likely to find? That's right- a D&D game. D&D, and the terms from it, are the lingua franca of gamers.

Star Wars has done great. It's a popular "universe," like the Cthulhu mythos, or LoTR, in which to have RPGs. But it's like asking why "Marvel" or "Star Trek" or "Fast & Furious" or "James Bond" isn't the most popular. In the TTRPG world, D&D is the massive intellectual franchise. Everything else is just an alternative.
 

For me personally, the moving license is an issue.

I got really into the WEG SW RPG, and I have a nice collections of books. I was just starting to think about getting into d20 SW when they switched it to the "Saga edition", which changed the game. Then, 3 short years later, Saga edition was cancelled. Three years later, the FFG version came out. Then Lucasfilm got sold to Disney, and I assumed that Disney would pull the license.

Maybe the FFG version could be considered relatively "safe" now, but it's hard for me to have faith in any IP that's moved around so much. At this point I feel like collecting old WEG stuff would be a better long term investment.

Edit: typo
 
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Undrave

Hero
I was wondering about this the other day. I know that the RPG market has long been dominated by the Fantasy genre, but I can't help but wonder why Star Wars (being Science Fantasy) does not capture a larger part of the RPG market than it currently does.

One could argue that, like Middle Earth, many people feel like they could not play in the setting without playing second fiddle to the events of the books/movies, but in the case of Star Wars the GM has an entire galaxy to play with.

Regarding the current iteration of Star Wars RPG, do people shy away from the funny dice and mechanics? Personally, I think the system is great, but perhaps I am in the minority. Maybe it's just that they can never seem to find a copy at their FLGS? Because, let's be honest, FFG never produces enough copies of their products to meet demand.

What do you, my dear EN Worlders think?
I think the problem is the licence appears very difficult to hang onto and is very expensive, so they keep moving from one company to the other. This means there isn't a sense of continuity between editions the same way there is for D&D. Each publisher comes at it with its own set of expectations and design principles... It looks similar because it's Star Wars but as a game it always feels different.
 


Undrave

Hero
We never got into it since we were used to D&D and D&D in space was too far from the comfort level we are used to. I wonder if creating dungeons are harder when you have the whole galaxy to make or play in.

I suppose it would be something we would try if we were looking for something and had time to play more. I have heard of it and know some of the races and such, so that would be a plus over other games like one based off a book I never read. I guess if the system was close to D&D it may work. A d20 system and not a new system like MAGE or VAMPIRE.
You should try to find the SAGA edition books! It's d20 and sits somewhere between 3.5 and 4e in terms of designs. It can use some house-rule to really flesh out your characters (there's TONS of talents that have a very lacklustre 'once per day' use that only get one extra if you take it again, those are kind lame) but there's plenty of material.

One thing that bugged me about it was the lack of 'support' option in Force Powers. I wanted to make an Ewok Shaman as a sort of alternative Force tradition but there just wasn't enough meat there, sadly.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
For space games, I've preferred Traveller or GURPS over Star Wars. Partly because there just seems more room in the Traveller Imperium or in my own homebrew than in the Star Wars space.
Also this.

We are building a Space Fantasy! setting using D&D, and like, as few houserules and homebrew as possible, so wear literally playing 5e D&D with the setting being a spacefaring galaxy similar to Treasure Planet meets Star Wars.

We love Star Wars, but we’ve grown tired of playing two different systems, and frustrated with things we don’t like about Saga Edition, which is the only SW system we all like overall. So, we had some discussions about wheat we actually love about playing Star Wars, and built a galaxy about it.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You should try to find the SAGA edition books! It's d20 and sits somewhere between 3.5 and 4e in terms of designs. It can use some house-rule to really flesh out your characters (there's TONS of talents that have a very lacklustre 'once per day' use that only get one extra if you take it again, those are kind lame) but there's plenty of material.

One thing that bugged me about it was the lack of 'support' option in Force Powers. I wanted to make an Ewok Shaman as a sort of alternative Force tradition but there just wasn't enough meat there, sadly.
Talent and feat consolidation, along with relaxing of prerequisites, are the two main types of edits we considered making to Saga before giving up.

Still a very fun system to play, regardless.
 

Undrave

Hero
Talent and feat consolidation, along with relaxing of prerequisites, are the two main types of edits we considered making to Saga before giving up.

Still a very fun system to play, regardless.
We tried one feat and one talent per level and for a while it worked okay, but we started getting so ridiculously good that we were joking that our only challenge would be a Dooku-Cloning Machine :p

I'd say do that but only the first three level and keep going as normal afterward so your characters have a little more they can actually do and be interesting.
 


TheSword

Legend
Supporter
I’d say it’s a similar problem Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time. The strength of the source material is also its main problem.

Creating relevant characters and situations that feel like Star Wars / GOT / Middlearth / WOT seem to usually do this by referencing characters and events in the films/TV/Books. So how do you make it your own and not be overshadowed by the main storyline.

I think Star Wars does better than most with the huge body of spin off material. But to a lesser extent this suffers from the same problem.

Star Wars rpg products are something I love to read, but when it comes to running a campaign I find ideas become either totally derivative or so unlike Star Wars to make it pointless. 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

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