The New Generation of Gamers


Gamer Life General Discussion


I am old. That's not unique when it comes to "paper and pen" role players. Anyone who is in the business of selling RPGs can tell you the demographic skews old and it gets older all the time.

Kind of like PBS, paper RPGs are always desperate to attract younger players, but also must continue to service their older, established clients.

It's not as easy a balancing act as you would think.

So, I thought I'd create a thread about the generations of gamers that are now out there.

Although Chainmail and the like was around in the 70's, it was really the 80's that launched paper & pen RPGs into a multimillion dollar business. It is no coincidence (in my opinion) that this was also the rise of home video gaming as well. Modern gaming culture truly took root with games like D&D, Zork, Wizardry, Traveler and the like.

What that means is, the generation that grew up with video games and RPGs are now having their own children and so we really have the first wave of second-generation gamers on our hands...in other words gamers who also have parents who game.

The old stereotype of the 20-something, frustrated academic, pursuing a hobby of relative obscurity is gone. Mega-brands like Warcraft are now mainstream, so mainstream they are used to advertise pickup trucks during NFL games, so mainstream they have more concurrent users during prime time than most television shows can only dream of.

Fantasy is bigger than ever. The amount of movies based on gamer culture or gamer-related property rises each year. Fantasy books, fantasy TV shows are everywhere, and even the vampire has become as mainstream as Wal-Mart. Comic books, which has always enjoyed a slice of the gaming demographic (and vice-versa) are so entirely mainstream, that it is often hard to find a blockbuster NOT based on a comic book.

Despite this, paper RPGs struggle (or at least have the potential to make far more money than they do). WOTC is no doubt losing sleep over how to maintain their D&D brand, if they aren't, they should be, for they have faltered of late. Paizo probably thinks of new tactics and strategies to capture more younger gamers.

That's not to say young paper gamers don't exist. Of course they do, I've been to gaming conventions, I see them. It's just that the proportion of younger gamers is far less than before. In the 80's, it was rare to see a gamer in their 40's and 50's. They existed, but they were always the exception and now they seem everywhere.

I also recently read a great article on Daily Beast about the growing number of women gaming on Facebook. Cityville boasts one of the largest and active gaming communities in the history of gaming and the majority of the players are women. The article attempted to dissect what it was that was attracting these women to play and Sid Meier offered his thoughts and was using his analysis to sculpt how Civilization would function on Facebook.

Are there lessons in his analysis for paper games as well?

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Our hobby needs fresh blood. It isn't in mortal peril, it isn't looking at extinction, but it has all the tell-tale signs of a business that needs younger customers in order to ensure a prosperous future. The time to cultivate the next generation of fans is now. They are out there, in fact they are out there in greater number than ever before. I wager Paizo and WOTC know this, I wager both fret over this issue weekly, so maybe our discussion here can help them?

I say this also, because this obsession with winning over younger players can create bad decisions if you are not careful. D&D 4th Edition was a poorly conceived product. It was, I am almost certain, an artifact of the Bill Slavisceks of this world reaching too quickly and clumsily for the MMO-playing youth out there. Now Bill is a very smart man, 30 points of IQ greater than me, easily, but WOTC did not succeed with 4th Edition.

Yes, I argue 4th Edition failed. That's an argument I doubt even WOTC has fully resolved (I wager many in WOTC blame the economy rather than their branding decisions for the poor sales). Now we can argue whether paper gaming is thriving or not, but it would be speculative. Neither you, nor I, likely have access to real data on this. But let's all agree that whatever the state of the paper gaming business, there is significant opportunity to grow and one of the keys to that growth is attracting more women and more younger players to the hobby.

If 4th Edition was a bad miscalculation to capture younger players (and I believe it was) and if we all agree younger players are needed to ensure the hobby thrives, what is the solution?

And what, if anything can paper gaming do to capture the growing number of women who are gaming? Yes of course, women gamers exist. I not only do not deny that, I live in a family that not breaks the gender gap, but also the generational one. My entire family games, that includes my wife and two daughters. Heck, my daughter practically runs the small gaming club at her high school.

But the hobby needs more, I don't think that can be denied.

And perhaps, just perhaps this thread can come up with viable solutions to this issue. I know I'll be very curious to read people's thoughts on this...


In before: "Git off mah lawn!"

Now, to read the OP. :)


DofC wrote:
If 4th Edition was a bad miscalculation to capture younger players (and I believe it was) and if we all agree younger players are needed to ensure the hobby thrives, what is the solution?

I reject your premises.

4e was a calculated effort to capture new players, many of whom were younger, just like every edition represented a calculated effort to catch new players. Like any other company, WotC sized up their potential market during development and made design and marketing decisions to match their potential market. We now have one of the tightest roleplaying game systems of all time, the most robust, complete set of official digital tools ever developed for a roleplaying game, and an entire line of products (Essentials) designed to give new players an easy avenue of access to the hobby. D&D Encounters is arguably the most successful organized play program in a decade in terms of introducing new or lapsed blood to the game.

I go to one of the PAX conventions yearly, a convention utterly dominated by the 18-35 crowd. This year I'll be dragging along with me two 19 year-olds and a 27 year-old who have never been before. WotC is one of the biggest sponsors (if not the single biggest sponsor) of PAX, and they've taken the opportunity to scoop up new customers by the thousands. Every year at PAX the official D&D organized play games result in lines around hallway corners to sign up, mostly by young gamers who have heard of D&D a lot through PA or elsewhere but have never had the chance to play themselves. Most of these new players are young video game enthusiasts who are already familiar with many of the concepts of roleplaying games, but who are also interested enough in the social and community aspects of gaming to have come out to the country's largest gaming convention - in other words, everything that you could want in a potential tabletop RPG customer.

I daresay WotC isn't losing sleep over new gamers. They're raking them in. WotC has lost a lot of older gamers, but of course the fact that WotC has lost them makes them more likely to perceive a problem that doesn't exist as far as new blood goes.


Scott Betts wrote:
I daresay WotC isn't losing sleep over new gamers. They're raking them in. WotC has lost a lot of older...

Out of curiosity, does anyone have access to any real numbers -- for example, number of 1st edition PHBs sold in 1980-1981, vs. number of 4th edition PHBs sold in 2010-2011? Or are all arguments anecdotal only?


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:
I daresay WotC isn't losing sleep over new gamers. They're raking them in. WotC has lost a lot of older...
Out of curiosity, does anyone have access to any real numbers -- for example, number of 1st edition PHBs sold in 1980-1981, vs. number of 4th edition PHBs sold in 2010-2011? Or are all arguments anecdotal only?

Good call Kirth, what signifies older as well?

My whole group 7-8 of us, are in the 30+ range and all long term gamers (15-25 yrs xperience each), and we all prefer 4E. So I don't think WOTC has lost a lot of the older from my perspective.

It's nice to hear it, but I too would like to see numbers on WOTC's success with 4th.

As for the OP, I do what I can. I introduced my wife and kids to it. It's is a game that has probably grown more over the years by word of mouth than by advertising.

The best we can do is continue to introduce new people to the community and the hobby.


Scott Betts wrote:
I reject your premises.

And I humbly reject your notion "all is well" with 4e, based on scanning a crowd a gaming convention, especially PAX which isn't wholly indicative of the paper gaming market.

Although, you've tapped into something much more interesting, which is the symbiotic relationship of PA and WOTC. I'll even go so far to say as the nature of PA is an interesting topic, which has often got a lot of corporate interest behind it, but still has a lot of established "independent" credibility. That's a neat trick. WOTC is thrilled with this, and probably tout this often as a "win", and therein (perhaps) lies one of the keys to paper games thriving. That's something worth exploring in this dialog, in my opinion.

The argument that over 4e's health isn't nearly as interesting. We can all speculate on this. You speculate because you saw a line at PAX. I speculate based on other factors. We can hash that out more, but it will go nowhere, it's all based on perception, not data.

It's moot anyway.

ALL business want to grow and ALL businesses know one of the keys to brand health is to continually expand and cultivate young customers.

This basic truth, is evident in advertising which you and I consume every day.

So back to the original question, how does paper RPGs attract more younger customers and attract more women to the game?

And yeah, I'd wager heavily these are still key concerns of both Paizo and WOTC, because it is simply good business to be concerned about it.


DofC wrote:
And I humbly reject your notion "all is well" with 4e, based on scanning a crowd a gaming convention, especially PAX which isn't wholly indicative of the paper gaming market.

PAX isn't indicative of the current tabletop gaming crowd. That's the whole point. PAX is indicative of what the current generation of gamers are like, where they're coming from, and what they're interested in. And, if you're a company looking to pick up customers for your tabletop game, PAX's attendees are your ideal customer base - passionate, loyal, plenty of disposable income, and probably the alpha-consumers of their personal gamer circles.

Quote:
Although, you've tapped into something much more interesting, which is the symbiotic relationship of PA and WOTC. I'll even go so far to say as the nature of PA is an interesting topic, which has often got a lot of corporate interest behind it, but still has a lot of established "independent" credibility. That's a neat trick. WOTC is thrilled with this, and probably tout this often as a "win", and therein (perhaps) lies one of the keys to paper games thriving. That's something worth exploring in this dialog, in my opinion.

I don't know that I'd say the PA guys have a lot of indy cred. That's not who they are, or who they want to be. They want to be (and largely succeed at being) the guys who the gaming community looks to as their accepted representatives. They have some indy cred, but more importantly they just have a generally high level of respect in gamer circles. This is in large part due to how they basically don't ever let anyone tell them what they should be endorsing or talking about, ever. Any advertising that appears on their site is vetted by them; they won't advertise anything they don't think is good. They have far more power than any individual publisher, and the publishers know it. Their relationship with WotC works because Jerry grew up playing tabletop games, Mike has been really into them in the last couple years, and they enjoy the heck out of 4e. WotC played this exactly the right way: they saw that they had these fans with a tremendous voice and a tremendous audience, and they asked them to do a few projects with them. And, of course, those projects (the D&D podcasts, Jim Darkmagic, etc.) ended up being all kinds of successful.

It's interesting, because despite them being primarily the voices of the video games community, their closest relationship is probably with WotC, a company whose focus is primarily on non-video game products.

It's also tough to discount the influence Wil Wheaton has. No one has more geek cred than Wil, and he's as big a proponent of D&D as the PA guys are. The fairly close-knit circles that these guys run in could reasonably be referred to as geek royalty, and WotC has managed to get them on board with their product because they genuinely like that product.

Quote:
So back to the original question, how does paper RPGs attract more younger customers and attract more women to the game?

Ease of access, solid word of mouth, and a fun experience. You do not need to try hard to attract women to the game. Make the game fun and a worthwhile social experience, and female players will trickle in. I daresay that the percentage of D&D's female players is significantly higher now than it was fifteen years ago.

In fact, I would argue that putting a lot of effort into specifically attracting women to the game instead of attracting ideal customers (women and otherwise) would do far more harm than good to the game in the long run.

If your goal is to attract more people to the hobby (and I wager it is, based on you starting this thread), the best way, bar-none, to accomplish this is to pick a few people you know personally who might find tabletop roleplaying interesting, and introduce them to the hobby. Personally bringing new blood into the hobby is the closest thing we as tabletop gamers have to a sacred duty. If you like Pathfinder, buy four copies of the upcoming Pathfinder Beginner Box and give them to friends (and maybe offer to run them through their first adventure). That is both the least and the best you (and here I mean all of us) can do.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:
I daresay WotC isn't losing sleep over new gamers. They're raking them in. WotC has lost a lot of older...
Out of curiosity, does anyone have access to any real numbers -- for example, number of 1st edition PHBs sold in 1980-1981, vs. number of 4th edition PHBs sold in 2010-2011? Or are all arguments anecdotal only?

We don't have sales numbers. Publishers almost always keep those close to the vest. We do have some data, or at least non-anecdotal indicators of strength. For instance, we do know that the D&D Insider group of the WotC forums has over 50,000 members, and that in order to be a member you have to be a D&D Insider subscriber and have registered your account on the forums. The actual number is, therefore, probably significantly higher. This means that WotC has a substantial and reliable income with relatively little overhead. We also know that their Encounters organized play program is doing well, and just started its fifth or sixth season (I lost track) yesterday. And we know that D&D has benefited a lot from the last decade's slow shift from tolerance to acceptance to praise to envy of the geek community.

Not all of our information is anecdotal. Just most of it.


Scott Betts wrote:
We don't have sales numbers. Publishers almost always keep those close to the vest. We do have some data, or at least non-anecdotal indicators of strength. For instance, we do know that the D&D Insider group of the WotC forums has over 50,000 members, and that in order to be a member you have to be a D&D Insider subscriber and have registered your account on the forums. The actual number is, therefore, probably significantly higher.

See, that's cool, but sadly it lacks context. If there were only 50,000 first edition PHBs printed, and not all of them sold, then we know 4e is a much stronger hobby today than its great-grandfather ever was. But if 50,000,000 1e PHBs were printed, and they were consistently sold out, then D&D is for all intents and purposes a dead hobby, and 4e hasn't changed that.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:
We don't have sales numbers. Publishers almost always keep those close to the vest. We do have some data, or at least non-anecdotal indicators of strength. For instance, we do know that the D&D Insider group of the WotC forums has over 50,000 members, and that in order to be a member you have to be a D&D Insider subscriber and have registered your account on the forums. The actual number is, therefore, probably significantly higher.
See, that's cool, but sadly it lacks context. If there were only 50,000 first edition PHBs printed, and not all of them sold, then we know 4e is a much stronger hobby today than its great-grandfather ever was. But if 50,000,000 1e PHBs were printed, and they were consistently sold out, then D&D is for all intents and purposes a dead hobby, and 4e hasn't changed that.

I don't think that judging modern D&D by the success of 80's D&D is a good way to go about it. 80's D&D was a fad with a huge spike in popularity and subsequent decline. The fact that the fad died off doesn't mean that the product is dead - in fact, a product that continues to survive despite the end of the fad phase is a good product. D&D is, quite obviously, far from dead. It sees production, it has spin-offs and imitators, it has thriving conventions, it has pop culture relevance, it even has mass media deals (SyFy movies, video games, etc.).

Bear in mind, as well, that I was talking about D&D Insider, the online digital tools subscription service. This did not exist before 4e, and it stands to reason that its subscribers are a fraction (perhaps a substantial fraction, but a fraction nonetheless) of all current D&D customers/players. The fact that the D&D brand can roll out a novel service for a niche hobby and hook 50,000 customers on it is impressive by itself.


Social media is mainstream and the benefits are instance access and communication, therefore an RPG should follow, and embrace the digital age. There is also a huge following in regards to cartoons and card games, so simple rules and dynamic content should be available as well. You don't have to copy online games per se, but having the ability to come and go as you please will help, which goes more along the lines of organized play. It also needs the capabilty to adapt quickly to take on the theme of the week, and support multiple genres. The last item is the difference between online play, versus offline, because a RPG can adapt quicker to multiple genres, otherwise I will just go play Warcraft.

I am sure it is not that simple, but those are some intial thoughts.


Your point about PAX is well taken and you are providing great discussion, thank you!

Although, I am still not convinced a line at PAX is indicative of much at all. I firmly believe, 4e is a big disappointment at WOTC, I further wager there is rumbling inside WOTC to do something about it, but of course that's just speculation.

Quote:
I don't know that I'd say the PA guys have a lot of indy cred

I disagree. I think much of their brand is built on "indy cred". In other words, I think much of what PA is built on, is the idea they are neutral, that they are advocates for things they genuinely like. Certainly, during their first years they touted this a lot.

But the thing is, they've become entangled in a lot of corporate interests, so the lines have started to blur. I think even Tycho had admitted this, but I think the "cred" PA has carries a lot of weight. It's something that publicly PA is uncomfortable with, but perhaps privately they exploit. I don't blame them if they do.

But with 4e, I think WOTC got lucky PA decided to hype 4e - a lot, or perhaps it wasn't luck, perhaps it was just a handshake. PA doesn't have to account for that, nobody questions it. If it is the latter, then it signals some backroom deal between PA and WOTC and frankly, I don't think WOTC is agile enough to pull it off. More likely, they got lucky Gabe tried out his free sample and liked it, and were smart enough to give him more free stuff afterward.

Certainly, if you read Gabe's fascination with 4e it was largely about being able to control the narrative. It was about content generation. And why not? It's half the fun of playing a paper RPG. If paper still has one aspect it can blow away digital, it is that content generation is still not that viable in most video games. It was ambitious, but ultimately a failure in NWN (a glorious failure though) and most MMOs still avoid it entirely. COH tried it, but failed to realize it would get exploited by power gamers and had to retreat. It still exists in COH, but it is a relatively marginal part of the game. Anyway, the point is, I didn't see anything that led me to believe it was 4e's system, it was simply Gabe had never really explored being a GM before and used the arrival of some free D&D stuff, to explore it. And to his discovery, paper provides an avenue to create your own narrative and to be creative in ways, the digital games still cannot touch.

So, the summation you should derive from the PA and D&D relationship is not "this proves D&D doesn't need more younger fans". It is, I believe that "it proves WOTC needs relationships it never bothered to foster or develop much before". And also, perhaps, that young kids like building stuff, (like their own fantasy worlds), which is an aspect that is sometimes underplayed when marketing paper games.

I think it also proves the way you market your game is changing. I think it proves that gaming in general is changing, and many companies (like WOTC) are still struggling to adapt. That's a large part of what I was hoping this thread could be about, discussing the changes and keeping paper gaming viable (and somewhat competitive) in an increasingly digital world.

I taken an earlier point about Encounters though. This is a good idea. If only because its own of the few bones WOTC has thrown the average retailer in a while. 4e crushed retailers, because AMAZON went nuts with its pricing, gouging out the average retailer.

Magic proved that your brand strength must be maintained by vigilant care of your average retailer...and providing mechanisms to lure players into their store to buy product. Encounters attempts to do that, my only gripe about Encounters is unlike Magic tournaments there's not a lot of product to buy to compete in the tournament. Magic has this nicely built in the incentive to buy more, to improve your chances is also there. It's an element I think RPGs has to elegantly model, in some capacity.

I think miniatures might be an answer here, but D&D botched minis badly, with an AWFUL skirmish game and having to constantly manage to disparate systems, but I digress, another topic for another thread!

On the topic of women...

I agree that overall your game must focus on quality first, to attract more women to play it. This is obvious. Also, you as you rightly say, you can't pander to women either. The awful products that WOTC came out with, that screamed "hey girls play this game", were utter failures for this reason.

But there are trends emerging from the platforms that ARE succeeding in getting more women to play.

One thing Sid Meier notes is a lot of women dislike destruction and direct competition in their games. In other words, if women build an asset in a game, they only want to see it grow, never get destroyed, especially at the hands of someone else playing the same game.

Women generally, detest griefing. They hate losing XP. They hate losing levels. (That is if this article is to be believed). My humble experience demonstrates that in MMOs, the RP community has a larger number of women than the PvE and PvP communities. And no, not female avatars, I mean actual women behind them. Certainly the women in my family gravitate to RP much more readily than PvP. Of course, I've also met women gamers who can kick my ass in PvP, but there seems to be some information that suggests women like collaborating in games.

That sounds horribly sexist, but some of that is coming from Sid Meier, who lets admit has a keen eye for gaming systems and what makes them work. If this is the case, then a paper RPG is a perfect vehicle to attract these kinds of gamers.

Because, if PF and D&D are about anything, they are about collaboration and growth. So this is something I would hope Paizo and WOTC are looking at...how can they tout that the primary feature of PF is that you work together with others to grow and expand your avatar?

One other thing the article noted was that women tend to game in short, daily spurts. This is what plays against the paper games. Paper games are rarely played daily and when they are played, the sessions are often long. The rules are often voluminous too, a game like Cityville teaches you the basics in seconds and does in a very fun, interactive way.

I don't know how you position your brand to offer, quick one-hour adventures that have a high amount of collaboration required for the group to succeed and a built-in reward for a character returning, (even after a long absence). I don't know if touting the creative aspect of content creation is really worth it (although in Gabe's example it appears that it is). I don't know how you offer (or tout) all that in your game without tainting it and annoying those already invested in the game.

I don't know these things, because I am not that bright and I can't design a game to save my puppy's life. But people like Lisa Stephens and Bill Slaviscek are smart. And I wonder what their next moves are, because I don't think the status-quo is healthy for any business.

And I think its these challenges that can really define the success of the PF and D&D brand in the years ahead.


Uchawi wrote:
Social media is mainstream and the benefits are instant access and communication, therefore an RPG should follow, and embrace the digital age. I am sure it is not that simple, but those are some intial thoughts.

This is spot on, if the article on the new CIV is to be believed, this is precisely the focus on CIV FB.

I wonder if there is a means by which people could play a simple version of PF on FB, which could then translate to greater rewards/chances or opportunities at a live store?

Could FB be used as an acquisition tool? A way to bridge people over into buying the books and entering events at a store?

Is there a way you could bring your D&D FB character to Encounters and somehow win something cool? Or at least be urged to buy product you would never normally buy?

Again, I am too thick to know if that is viable or intelligent, but I loved your comment and thought it was spot on.


Personal experience only so I cannot say how it is trending acroos the board.

The younger gamers I play with (mostly college age as I live in a college town and work at the university) regardless of introduction vector are moving away from level based systems into point buy.

A d20 game may be their first (not universal) but a good many don't stay there (or aren't system monogamous). Believe me I was shocked as this time last year I couldn't even scrape up enough players for PF now I am seeing a wealth of options locally.

Is anyone else seeing this so that it may be examined as a "trend" or is it a localized occurrence?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Actually, Scott was heavily involved in the university RPG club up until his recent graduation. So not only has he seen a lot of young people (18-25) gaming, he has helped recruit many new gamers over the years.

The gaming community has grown such that one game isn't enough for everyone. That's ok. The best thing to foster growth is to be welcoming to all. There's room enough fir everyone, if your favorite game is D&D or Pathfinder or Traveller or Dragon Age.


deinol wrote:

Actually, Scott was heavily involved in the university RPG club up until his recent graduation. So not only has he seen a lot of young people (18-25) gaming, he has helped recruit many new gamers over the years.

The gaming community has grown such that one game isn't enough for everyone. That's ok. The best thing to foster growth is to be welcoming to all. There's room enough fir everyone, if your favorite game is D&D or Pathfinder or Traveller or Dragon Age.

I cannot disagree that being welcoming is no doubt the way to go. I certainly wont be a jerk even if someone loves a system I don't care for. Just curious what others experiences have been so thanks for the feedback I hope to get some more.


About a year and ago, our group acquired a new player. She was a 22 year old avid WoW player. Our game was a Pathfinder powered Planescape campaign. She really enjoyed it. She played a ranger with a velociraptor animal companion, and she used speak with animals to talk to a cat. Sadly, she isn't gaming with us at the moment due to the childish actions of a forty year old drama-queen who threw a tantrum when things didn't go his way. She said she would return though, once all that BS is resolved. However, some of what attracted her to the game was the social interaction with other human beings, and the ability to do so much more. A player has infinitely more control over what his or her character does in a pen & paper RPG over any computer/console RPG. That strength is what I've always thought the pencil and paper RPG industry should tout.


DofC wrote:
I taken an earlier point about Encounters though. This is a good idea. If only because its own of the few bones WOTC has thrown the average retailer in a while. 4e crushed retailers, because AMAZON went nuts with its pricing, gouging out the average retailer.

4e is far from the only product that Amazon sells for less than local game stores. Almost every major roleplaying game supplement receives their "standard" 37% discount, Pathfinder included. It seems odd to have worded it in a way that makes it appear to have been 4e's fault. If anything, WotC appears to have gone out of its way to try and help out local game stores that were seeing less RPG revenue as a result of Amazon's pricing scheme - something WotC had little (if any) control over.


In regards to game store advents, I will listen to what people are having difficulties with in regards to gaming, and direct them to alternatives, even if it is not the one I currently play. However, I will correct them, if they are intentially passing on bad information. But I don't experiences those converstations very often, as most people know what they want to play. It is more about a positive gaming experience to help the industry. Most hard core players will try multiple systems, before settling on a preferred one, or will always play mulitple systems.

Another deciding factor is the availability of a DM, so it definitely helps to create a system that is easy for a DM to run; which also benefits the players.


Might be a regional thing, but here in Brasil what brings many young people to RPG is that we have a simple entryway RPG system, and a closeness to other geek cultures, mostly otakus. So much that the RPG tables are a stple in anime conventions, and cosplay contests happen in RPG conventions. The entryway game is called 3D&T or Defenders of Tokio 3rd Edition, it is a rules light rpg with a videogame-like mana system for magic, and the rules are generic enough that it can be used for most genres. The same team that created that system also wrote for the main RPG magazine around here, and when D&D 3.0 was launched, they used the magazine to start creating a D&D setting called Tormenta (translation: Storm), which also borrows a lot from anime and videogame rpgs, with nagas, goblins, fairy and minotaurs as character races, along with elves that can have weird hair colors like purple and pink and one iconic NPC having a broken giant robot as a home base. The setting has gone trough several changes and became more standard fantasy but it still is one of the most played on the country and is now using a OGL system, similar to pathfinder but ditching the vancian magic.

Can't say much about the whole "4th Edition attracts new players" thing, since a)I'm 23 and playing for since higschool, so I'm not a new player, b) my group is around my age and all have some 5+ years of gaming on their backs, so they aren't new players either, and c)we're playing Pathfinder because it's better than 4thEd. I can confirm though, that experienced players would rather have any OGL game, especially PF, than 4thEd.


Scott Betts wrote:
It seems odd to have worded it in a way that makes it appear to have been 4e's fault. If anything, WotC appears to have gone out of its way to try and help out local game stores that were seeing less RPG revenue as a result of Amazon's pricing scheme - something WotC had little (if any) control over.

Well, chalk that up to poor writing skills. The point is, the relationship between retailers and WOTC over 4e was rough, and Encounters is the first real bone retailers have been given from WOTC for 4e in a while.

I do think WOTC is very stupid in building relationships. I do think a lot of retailers are not happy with 4e and I do think Encounters was a great idea to repair that relationship.

What baffles me about Encounters is how there is no option to purchase product as part of the tournament. DCI excelled at coming up with that in a variety of games.

But then again, a lot of WOTC's moves with D&D have baffled me.

They had an opportunity to place a D&D sku in Wal-Mart and they whiffed on the opportunity, almost resentful of the opportunity. Hasbro hands them chances to build better brand equity and they seem to not only squander it, they resent it. I wager Paizo would kill for guaranteed placement in Wal-Mart of a new sku.

Yes, I am very critical of WOTC. I think Slaviscek's team needs a right kick in the arse. They had a lot of time and money and had a 14 million dollar business to build upon. They've gutted the brand, cut the revenue in half (maybe more) and then turned around and blamed everyone else (including Paizo) for the malaise.

But I am stunned many of you don't think tabletop games are on shaky ground right now. I think the industry is confronting some dangerous signs. I think, if Paizo or WOTC could speak frankly on this topic (which they can't), they'd tell you they were concerned. Their demographic is getting older, they still only appeal to a predominantly male audience and overall the market appears to be shrinking.

This, at a time when interest in role play and fantasy is at the highest I've ever seen it in my lifetime.

Clearly, I am in the minority on this thread that sees this as a serious concern, but it would seem to me that the potential for growth in tabletop gaming is much, much greater than the actual growth. In fact, I'd wager, and I'd wager heavily that D&D 4e had caused a serious dip in revenue for the RP group of WOTC. If I had to guess, I'd say D&D has gone from about a 14 million dollar brand to about a 7 million dollar brand.

And I think Paizo probably spends a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to expand their demographic appeal and how to cultivate more women as customers. I think that not only are both necessary to thrive, but also both can be done without losing your core "fanboi" customer base.


DofC wrote:
What baffles me about Encounters is how there is no option to purchase product as part of the tournament. DCI excelled at coming up with that in a variety of games.

I'm not sure what you mean here, exactly. Encounters is not a tournament by any stretch; it's an adventure laid out over multiple weeks, with a single encounter occurring each week.

Quote:

But then again, a lot of WOTC's moves with D&D have baffled me.

They had an opportunity to place a D&D sku in Wal-Mart and they whiffed on the opportunity, almost resentful of the opportunity. Hasbro hands them chances to build better brand equity and they seem to not only squander it, they resent it. I wager Paizo would kill for guaranteed placement in Wal-Mart of a new sku.

The D&D Starter Set is at retail in both Walmart and Target. I'm not sure where you're getting your information, but it's inaccurate - especially the idea that they're "resentful" of the opportunity. Walmart isn't exactly a shining beacon of humanity, but both it and Target are enormous outlets.

Quote:
Yes, I am very critical of WOTC. I think Slaviscek's team needs a right kick in the arse. They had a lot of time and money and had a 14 million dollar business to build upon. They've gutted the brand, cut the revenue in half (maybe more) and then turned around and blamed everyone else (including Paizo) for the malaise.

I haven't seen any of this, and I'm not sure you have either.

Calling a brand "gutted" - when it's putting out multiple new digital game titles, movies, novels, an entire line of board games, organized play programs, collectible cards, all while maintaining a rather extensive line of traditional book products and digital tools and content - strikes me as specious.

Cut revenue in half? You don't have that information, so don't pretend that you do. Whatever you think their revenue stream might look like is based on guesswork.

Finally, I have not seen them attempt to blame Paizo for any slump in sales. I have seen them blame the economy, which makes a lot of sense, given that there is a ton of information out there that points to games and hobby games taking a significant hit during the recession. Do you have a source for Slaviscek or his team blaming Paizo?

Quote:
But I am stunned many of you don't think tabletop games are on shaky ground right now.

We're surprised that you do.

Quote:
I think the industry is confronting some dangerous signs. I think, if Paizo or WOTC could speak frankly on this topic (which they can't), they'd tell you they were concerned.

I guarantee you that the tabletop gaming industry has been in far more dire straits than this, and more than once.

Quote:
Their demographic is getting older, they still only appeal to a predominantly male audience and overall the market appears to be shrinking.

Their existing customer base is trending older, but WotC is countering that by focusing heavily on new customers (see: earlier in this thread). And yes, their market remains predominantly male, but a) they have plenty of female customers too (and more than they have had at other points in their history), and b) having a predominantly male customer base isn't a bad thing.

Quote:
This, at a time when interest in role play and fantasy is at the highest I've ever seen it in my lifetime.

From my perspective, interest in tabletop roleplaying is at the highest I've ever seen it in my lifetime.

Quote:
And I think Paizo probably spends a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to expand their demographic appeal and how to cultivate more women as customers. I think that not only are both necessary to thrive, but also both can be done without losing your core "fanboi" customer base.

I have seen very little evidence of Paizo attempting to break out of its core, well-established market with its roleplaying products. The Beginner Box is the first product that one could argue fits that bill, and comes well on the heels of D&D's Starter Set. Meanwhile, the D&D brand has put out board games, has two video game titles in development, has an entire line of products aimed specifically at those new to the hobby, and a successful organized play program aimed at those who don't have the time or immediate social group necessary to run your "typical" weekly campaign. Oh, and is the largest corporate sponsor of a convention full of potential new customers - a convention that Paizo hasn't had a presence at in years.

This is not a dig at Paizo. Frankly, I don't think Paizo needs to focus on expanding its market to the same degree that WotC focuses on it. Paizo's customers are extremely loyal, and every new roleplayer WotC brings to the hobby is a potential Paizo customer that is suddenly much easier to bring to the Pathfinder brand than if Paizo had to do it from scratch.


Evil Lincoln wrote:

In before: "Git off mah lawn!"

Now, to read the OP. :)

G@!+&&n whippersnappers! Stop all that racket!

And GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN!!!


Dragonsong wrote:
deinol wrote:

Actually, Scott was heavily involved in the university RPG club up until his recent graduation. So not only has he seen a lot of young people (18-25) gaming, he has helped recruit many new gamers over the years.

The gaming community has grown such that one game isn't enough for everyone. That's ok. The best thing to foster growth is to be welcoming to all. There's room enough fir everyone, if your favorite game is D&D or Pathfinder or Traveller or Dragon Age.

I cannot disagree that being welcoming is no doubt the way to go. I certainly wont be a jerk even if someone loves a system I don't care for. Just curious what others experiences have been so thanks for the feedback I hope to get some more.

+1 to these sentiments. Edition/system wars are idiotic. I currently play both 4E and Pathfinder without any issues, and in the past I have played dozens of different systems. Just play what you want and leave the rest, and just accept that alot of people are not going to like the same game you like.


I also am young and think edition wars are kind of dumb. I do not think you can ever win an edition war as there will still be supporters on both sides. Let people buy what they want.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:
I daresay WotC isn't losing sleep over new gamers. They're raking them in. WotC has lost a lot of older...
Out of curiosity, does anyone have access to any real numbers -- for example, number of 1st edition PHBs sold in 1980-1981, vs. number of 4th edition PHBs sold in 2010-2011? Or are all arguments anecdotal only?

Everything is anecdotal, Paizo and WOTC are likely to release numbers when you pry them out of cold dead hands. From what I see convention wise around here, Pathfinder and 4e are comparable table wise with the edge going to RPGA 4e.

When Paizo first set out it's clear that thier main focus was old grognard gamers frustrated at WOTC's logical termination of 3.5, whereas WOTC was aiming at a newer crowd. And from personal observation the Paizo gamer does seem to be about 5-15 years older on average than the folks playing 4th edition. There are exceptions of course, some of the old timers did migrate to 4e and I see some young faces at a Pathfinder table as well.

I don't think there is a "solution" so to speak. Hobbies have their day in the sun and usually die out with the generation that spawned them. There was a time when chess in the park was the thing to do, but it mostly died out with the folks that played it.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DofC wrote:
They had an opportunity to place a D&D sku in Wal-Mart and they whiffed on the opportunity, almost resentful of the opportunity. Hasbro hands them chances to build better brand equity and they seem to not only squander it, they resent it. I wager Paizo would kill for guaranteed placement in Wal-Mart of a new sku.

It's not that simple. Wal-Mart is hell on it's vendors. There's at least one PBS special that focused on several companies trying to get shelf space at Wal-Mart. Suffice it to say that for Paizo it's a nonstarter unless they intend to screw every other vendor (including themselves that carries their product). And even then it has a high probability of being a suicide move.


LazarX wrote:
It's not that simple. Wal-Mart is hell on it's vendors. There's at least one PBS special that focused on several companies trying to get shelf space at Wal-Mart. Suffice it to say that for Paizo it's a nonstarter unless they intend to screw every other vendor (including themselves that carries their product). And even then it has a high probability of being a suicide move.

Let's not also forget that WotC did get a SKU in Wal-Mart. The red box was anything but a whiff.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Scott Betts wrote:
LazarX wrote:
It's not that simple. Wal-Mart is hell on it's vendors. There's at least one PBS special that focused on several companies trying to get shelf space at Wal-Mart. Suffice it to say that for Paizo it's a nonstarter unless they intend to screw every other vendor (including themselves that carries their product). And even then it has a high probability of being a suicide move.
Let's not also forget that WotC did get a SKU in Wal-Mart. The red box was anything but a whiff.

I can only imagine the hell they went through to get it. Wal-Mart is BRUTAL to it's vendors and getting on the SKU is only the start of the torment.


I imagine it was pretty easy, since Hasbro already has a presence with different products.


DofC, I think there may be more of us out there then you think.
I know alot of younger PnP players, and the Conventions you mentioned are probibly a bad sample to base the data on. After all, how many of us "young" players have the time and/or money to go to conventions? Especially if our parents weren't gamers, we can't just hitch a ride with mom and pop. And between work, school, and school bills I personally dont have time to visit any conventions dispite how much I really want to.
That said, I think there is more vitility in the PnP indistry then is evident, because of what I said above. Any spare cash I do have is spent on product, instead of travel.

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