Wildemount: Most Pre-orders Since D&D Core Rulebooks

It seems that the most popular D&D setting in the 5E era is... Wildemount! Talking about the upcoming Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, WotC's Greg Tito said on a Twitch stream recently that "we're pretty sure that this book has seen the most pre-orders and pre-release excitement since any of the core rulebooks for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition were released".

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Here's the quote in full:

"...It was number 1, ranked number 1, for all books on Amazon. How many of you out there remember when Amazon was just selling books? Raise your hands. Yeah, that's me. So it's really cool, even though obviously I do a lot more other fun stuff right now, there is a ton out there that are excited for this book, and it isn't even out yet.

"We have little bit of an internal metrics, but we're pretty sure that this book has seen the most pre-orders and pre-release excitement since any of the core rulebooks for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition were released, and if you've been following along at home, Dungeons & Dragons has been selling like hotcakes since 5th Edition released in 2014."

It sounds like the Critical Role setting is proving more popular (at least right now) than traditional D&D settings like Ravenloft or Eberron, newer ones like Ravnica, or adventures set in the Forgotten Realms.

Explorer's Guide to Wildemount will hit game stores on March 17th.
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

dave2008

Legend
So, am I shocked by the popularity of the campaign book, nope.
Agreed, I frankly find it more shocking that WotC didn't have more faith in their product / brand ot make their own series. I think the world is primed for the return of Hank, Eric, Diana, Albert (Presto), Sheila, & Bobby (with Tiamat and Venger thrown in their too).
 

timbannock

Explorer
I'm not surprised by this news, but it makes me a bit sad and comes with a sense of foreboding.

I've read Matt Mercer's statement about this product not getting in the way of other publications/settings. I get that.

But if these sales #'s hold up, then they are going to likely put OTHER Exandria publications in place of older or more traditional setting publications because they are what is selling well.

Since I have very little tie to the CR worlds (I've watched a handful of episodes, but none of Campaign 2 so far), I care nothing for this product or other CR products.

I'm glad for the CR folks and for D&D that they're having something sell this well, but I'm bummed for what that probably means for the prospects of other settings I love.
If it's any consolation, so far WOTC seems largely uninterested in revisiting anything (campaign-setting related, at any rate) outside of the Realms, no matter how well it sells. D&D Stranger Things had tons of hype, Curse of Strahd is often cited as the "best" adventure so far on a great many lists, and yet they've followed those up with nada. I think at the end of the day WOTC knows campaign settings are a niche product, and no matter how well this book does, there's not a long, continuous business in that side of what they release. One offs and the occasional revisit sure, but it's not something that's going to change their entire business plan.

IMHO
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Agreed, I frankly find it more shocking that WotC didn't have more faith in their product / brand ot make their own series. I think the world is primed for the return of Hank, Eric, Diana, Albert (Presto), Sheila, & Bobby (with Tiamat and Venger thrown in their too).
Probably something to do with the complex mess that is D&D media rights. There’s that film being (slowly) made, remember?
 

lkj

Adventurer
Agreed, I frankly find it more shocking that WotC didn't have more faith in their product / brand ot make their own series. I think the world is primed for the return of Hank, Eric, Diana, Albert (Presto), Sheila, & Bobby (with Tiamat and Venger thrown in their too).
I think they've been trying to make things happen behind the scenes. Nathan Stewart occasionally makes vague comments to that effect. Things just move slow in that arena for them. Probably having a lot to do with lawyers and licensing.

AD
 

Von Ether

Adventurer
Humor my ignorance. So the Green Ronin book was CR's main continent/adventuring home? Or has the series cover both continents enough that this was going to eventually happen anyway once the first book was out?

Because to my limited understanding right now, this is like GR printed Faerûn but now WotC is printing up Kara-Tur and it's selling like crazy. Which would blow my mind thinking how much the first book is probably selling for.
 

MarkB

Legend
Well, for cash plus stock, naturally! Then they can go off and create another IP money generator, or simply sit back and count their money.

My point is: selling the IP could just mean someone else steers and cranks the handle, it doesn’t stop them benefiting from the success of the IP.
Critical Role, and Marisha Ray in particular, have an unpleasant history with not being fully in control of their own IP. They started on Youtube channel Geek & Sundry, which Legendary bought up as part of an attempt to launch their own video and streaming service, Alpha. The results were not welcomed by fans, and Critical Role was one of the few shows to disentangle themselves and escape intact from the resulting mess.

I daresay it would take a minor miracle to persuade them to ever place themselves at the mercy of another company again.
 

dave2008

Legend
Humor my ignorance. So the Green Ronin book was CR's main continent/adventuring home? Or has the series cover both continents enough that this was going to eventually happen anyway once the first book was out?

Because to my limited understanding right now, this is like GR printed Faerûn but now WotC is printing up Kara-Tur and it's selling like crazy. Which would blow my mind thinking how much the first book is probably selling for.
It is my understanding that the first season of CR spent most of, if not all, its time in Tal'Dorei , which the Green Ronin book covers. Wildemount is a different continent and I think season two of CR spends more time there.
 

dave2008

Legend
Critical Role, and Marisha Ray in particular, have an unpleasant history with not being fully in control of their own IP. They started on Youtube channel Geek & Sundry, which Legendary bought up as part of an attempt to launch their own video and streaming service, Alpha. The results were not welcomed by fans, and Critical Role was one of the few shows to disentangle themselves and escape intact from the resulting mess.

I daresay it would take a minor miracle to persuade them to ever place themselves at the mercy of another company again.
However, they could easily sell the IP if / when they no longer want to continue with the show / brand. I mean Lucas did that for Star Wars and I never he would sell that gold mine.
 
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bedir than

Adventurer
Let's see if I understand it. It started as an amateur project, but it become popular because there were good vibes.

Drangolance wasn't only a best-seller, but the most sold after Lord of the Rings. My theory is Dragonlance will come back after a media project, a videogame or a serie, the story is too long for a movie. The animated movie was too violent for preteen public, even for +7. I suggest like "pilot episode" the Dragonlance story "Wanna bet?" I was really fun, as a tricker DM trolling/teasing players.

I don't know Adventure Zone or Hammond-Quest to know if its background is compatible for a canon D&D sourcebook.

* Any popular D&D podcast has been set in neither FR nor homebred settin? It could be a clue for the future settins.

* Do you imagine Disney+ creating their own RPG podcast? Low-level cost and young promised to be promoted.

* When an Endless Quest dungeon-brawling board game for +10y? (now Hero-Quest is trademark by other company)
While Disney+ isn't embracing the RPG spirit yet, NBC's new streaming service Peacock is launching with an Adventure Zone series.

Plenty of D&D pods are set in Eberron. DragonLance has a popular one as well. Most are homebrew, because that's how the majority of people play D&D.
 

MarkB

Legend
It is my understanding that the first season of CR spent most of, if not all, its time in Tal'Dorei , which the Green Ronin book covers. Wildemount is a different continent and I think season two of CR spends more time there.
That's close enough. The season 1 adventurers did make it to Wildemount for a couple of jaunts, but mostly stuck to a single town and surrounding area, and never really got into the politics or wider geography of the region.

The season 2 group have spent almost all their time there, straying only as far as some of the islands around the Menagerie Coast.
 

Von Ether

Adventurer
We shouldn't discount the significance of Amazon in the increased popularity of D&D - it used to be unless you where in reach of a major city there was nowhere that sold the books.
Depends on your time period. The 1980s had Sears and Roebuck selling D&D out of their mail order and in the 90s, you had not only major book chains stores but also smaller regional media stores that were in large towns (or you could order it from them but no one would tell you that.)

But I also remember the joy of borrowing the family car for the freedom driving for almost an hour down to Tulsa (definitely not a big or major city by any means back then) to get anything NOT D&D.

But in the early aughts, the regional stores had died off and the Satanic Panic had scared off Sears years ago. Everything was consolidated into the big box stores. And back then I had to spend five hours to drive either to Wichita or Denver to get any gaming stuff.

But now in a world where everything even more consolidated, Amazon has been a big help. How huge online discounts have hurt local game stores, though, is another matter.
 
But I also remember the joy of borrowing the family car for the freedom driving for almost an hour down to Tulsa (definitely not a big or major city by any means back then) to get anything NOT D&D.
I don't live in the US. In the UK in the 80s you had to get to London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester or Newcastle, and different driving regs meant "borrowing the family car" wasn't really a viable option...
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Probably not. i think the valuation of D&D is something like $50 million, and that was a few years ago.
This is a digression, but what is the reference for that #? Given the sales success of the last 6 years I would think it would be much higher than $50M.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
It is my understanding that the first season of CR spent most of, if not all, its time in Tal'Dorei , which the Green Ronin book covers. Wildemount is a different continent and I think season two of CR spends more time there.
My understanding is that the show is currently in the middle of season 2, which is set in Wildemount. With that assumption, I bet at least a few sales are by fans looking for spoilers. :)
 

zhivik

Villager
So here are a few words why I believe Critical Role is so popular. Mostly, because it is a group of people who are genuine friends and who enjoy playing with each other. It also helps that they are an extremely welcoming group, and you will never see any negativity from them, which tends to draw people and make them stay. Add to this a compelling story and memorable characters and you may get an idea why this show is popular.

The word "show" is very appropriate here, because this is essentially what Critical Role is - a story taking place in a fantasy worlds and driven by D&D rules. It showcases very well what the D&D system is capable of, since as someone very aptly mentioned earlier in this thread, D&D is not a story by itself, it is a toolkit. Critical Role is a show created with that toolkit, and it is the final result that draws so many people, not so much D&D on its own.

Of course, it helps that D&D 5e is easy to pick up and friendly for steaming, which is why the Critical Role team picked D&D 5e rather than stick to Pathfinder, which they used in their original home game. So having an easy-to-understand game system, a very welcoming group to introduce you to how the game can be played, and an engaging story and characters is what makes the show special (at least to me). It also helps that the players are all professional actors (voice or otherwise) and it is their craft to create and play interesting characters. It is a sort of improvisational theatre, if you are looking for an exact definition.

Now, what Critical Role isn't is a way to teach you the game or give you a display of gaming prowess. It never had the goal to be a purely gaming show. Players on Critical Role do outright stupid things, make mistakes with spells and abilities, forget what they can do - but don't we all from time to time? What draws me is how genuine it all is and how no one makes a big deal when people do something wrong. The point of it all is to have fun, and the cast of Critical Role very much do, which shows. It is how they built a faithful community and their current success is more than deserved.

They are also very kind to their community, and they started to include fan art to their streams very early on, which drew even more people. I believe it is amazing that the Critical Role team gives so many people a chance to be creative. The musical theme that you can hear at the start and end of the current campaign was written by a fan, one Colm McGuinnes, an Irish musical student at the time and a fan of the show. They currently run a weekly competition for cosplay and fan art, and they already have two books with fan art published - and it is great art, I must say, especially when you consider the context, as you see the story coming to life. The cast also tries to promote as many independent artists as possible, and through them I've heard about products I would never otherwise see.

I see why some would be worried that too much attention towards Critical Role could divert resources from developing the game line further. Yet, I believe Critical Role gives you a very simple recipe of how to be successful - don't be an asshole, be genuine and offer an engaging adventure. I believe the current WotC team understands that, and I expect we are yet to see a lot more from them. Mind that they aren't so many people, so they cannot produce a lot of content fast.

About how much Critical Role can help D&D - I believe it can help a lot. I personally had absolutely no interest in D&D before coming upon Critical Role (by accident, by the way). I am not new to RPGs, but the games I was interested in fell into urban fantasy (like World of Darkness), cyberpunk (Shadowrun, Cyberpunk 2020) or some weird settings (Castle Falkenstein, for instance). I still don't find a lot of appeal from the current D&D settings except Eberron, which is right down my alley. The thing is, you never know what people are going to like, but the more are buying books, the more likely it is there will be people interested in something else than Critical Role.

I get it, a lot of you here are very passionate about the game and have settings you would like to receive some love first. I completely understand that and I am glad there are people who care so much about their hobby. Yet, don't be afraid if someone is doing things differently and being successful in it. The Critical Role community in general is one of the friendliest I've seen and their subReddit is one of the nicest I've visited, which speaks a lot about the people watching the show. I believe Critical Role can only have a positive effect on the entire D&D community and I hope that fewer people will see it as a threat.
 

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