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Author Topic: 5e and the state of the industry  (Read 885 times)

Dimitrios

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5e and the state of the industry
« on: February 10, 2021, 09:31:39 AM »
For as long as I've been paying attention to RPGs, the conventional wisdom has been "As D&D goes, so goes the industry". When D&D is thriving, the rest of the RPG sector does well, and when D&D slumps, so does everyone else.

So I'm wondering: has this held true in the 5e era? All the available evidence is the 5e has been as huge and sustained success. What about the rest of the industry? Are other companies getting a bump from 5e's popularity, or is D&D's success strictly a D&D thing this time?

Wicked Woodpecker of West

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2021, 10:45:08 AM »
Well many Kickstarter projects I observed - both new editions and new games can get their fee and target quite quickly according to my observations.
In Poland I notice more and more translations of English RPGs compared to previous decades (ironically it took quite long with 5e to get Polish version compared to previous).

Snark Knight

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2021, 11:00:04 AM »
Yes and No.

I think there's definitely an argument to be made that D&D being the gateway drug for the vast majority of people getting into RPGs results in it's 'runoff' finding other games. The more people there are getting into D&D, the more 'runoff' there inevitably is looking into other systems. Compared to something like say... Warhammer, the benefit RPGs have is they're a relatively low-cost hobby to explore different companies/systems - if you spend £40 on a new core rulebook and your group hates it, that's not a small investment wasted but it's not like spending £300 on a new tabletop wargame for a non-GW system.

The No comes into play wherein those who are already exploring non-D&D games are more likely to be committed RPG'ers who aren't going anywhere and now that they're actively open to non-D&D alternatives aren't really bound by the same ebb-and-flow of popularity as WotC's offerings may be. A bunch of people who only got into 5e because of Critical Roll might not stick around in the hobby long term, whilst somebody who's playing... I don't know, L5R or OSR, or something far nicher still can probably be relied upon to keep RPG'ing into the future.

There's probably an argument to be made that because 5e is such a roaring success there's more people/groups who won't be able to comprehend playing anything else, especially with things like D&DBeyond becoming a thing. Any time there's a Kickstarter for a 5e setting there's inevitably a slue of "if it's not on Beyond I won't back it." I vaguely recall seeing a bunch of people who loved the 5e Eberron book saying they won't be buying Exploring Eberron because it's not on Beyond. If WotC start really doubling down on that kind 'contained eco-system' somehow, at least in the longterm, we might see Games Workshop-esq issues arise but I doubt it'll come to that for a while, if at all.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2021, 11:05:43 AM by Snark Knight »

Steven Mitchell

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2021, 01:40:42 PM »
More or less agree with Snark Knight, except I would extend his reasoning to say that whatever "runoff" happens from D&D to other games happens on a delay.  This is a natural outgrowth of playing the game.  If 1,000 people in your area start D&D 5E tomorrow, then some subset will stick with it--say 500 for sake of example.  Out of those 500, some much smaller group will enjoy the idea of roleplaying but will eventually become dissatisfied with how 5E handles things.  A subset of those will go looking for something else.  Some will try other games but not find one they like more than D&D.  Others will not be able to talk a group into playing another game.  But there are two key aspects of how this works:

1. The GM's are a huge driver.  If I keep running 5E games, 20+ odd people are going to keep playing it. If I switch, most or all of them will switch with me.  Out of those players, at least three are also involved in other groups with a different GM.  If they like what I switch to enough, it may cascade.  But probably will not.

2. Dissatisfaction grows at a different rate for different players and there are a variety of reasons for it.  The switch tends to happen when a majority of the group are dissatisfied with the same aspects (or mostly the same).  Otherwise, you get the "everyone's second choice" thing, which is not merely 5E versus other versions of D&D but also 5E versus some other game. 

You also can't discount how much of a deal-breaker the particular dissatisfaction is.  If something just annoys you, but you like the group a lot, and none of them are bothered by the thing you don't like, then you'll probably put up with it.  The severity of the dissatisfaction has to rise to the point that it overcomes inertia.

Bottom line:  I think it is only recently that 5E has been around enough that we will start to see such migration, if we do.

pdboddy

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2021, 02:21:07 PM »
I think that the effects of D&D's surge in popularity will have a greater impact than previous iterations.  It's a sort of perfect storm.  New-ish edition, plus the popularity of Critical Role, and compounded with the whole COVID nonsense means you have loads of new people trying roleplaying games in general.

Also, many of us who grew up in the 80s and played D&D now have kids who're getting to be the age we were when we started playing D&D.  With so many more established fictional universes to play in, you can't help but try out new RPG systems.
 

TJS

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2021, 03:50:30 PM »
There's a few things keeping players in D&D that didn't exist in the past.

One of them is the hardcover adventures which give DMs more reason to stick with D&D.

The other which compounds this is VTTs.  VTTs try and sell people on fancy gimmicks like dynamic lighting and the like.  These take time to set up which reinforces the desire to buy published adventure paths that do it for you, and makes it seem like much more work to do your own thing.  It's also a case that VTTs don't support non D&D systems very much if at all.

Ratman_tf

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2021, 04:29:07 PM »
There's a few things keeping players in D&D that didn't exist in the past.

One of them is the hardcover adventures which give DMs more reason to stick with D&D.

The other which compounds this is VTTs.  VTTs try and sell people on fancy gimmicks like dynamic lighting and the like.  These take time to set up which reinforces the desire to buy published adventure paths that do it for you, and makes it seem like much more work to do your own thing.  It's also a case that VTTs don't support non D&D systems very much if at all.

Are there adventures being sold that include VTT integration?
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Snark Knight

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2021, 04:42:08 PM »
There's a few things keeping players in D&D that didn't exist in the past.

One of them is the hardcover adventures which give DMs more reason to stick with D&D.

The other which compounds this is VTTs.  VTTs try and sell people on fancy gimmicks like dynamic lighting and the like.  These take time to set up which reinforces the desire to buy published adventure paths that do it for you, and makes it seem like much more work to do your own thing.  It's also a case that VTTs don't support non D&D systems very much if at all.

Are there adventures being sold that include VTT integration?

If you buy an official adventure module on a VTT - usually Roll20 - pretty much all of the set up is done for you. Usually the VTT sites themselves sell it and tout Beyond integration as a thing. That's why 99% of the paid games you see are for pre-gens, as they do pretty much everything short of literally reading out the text and moving enemy tokens about. One of the main reasons I see listed for why people don't swap from Roll20 to Foundry (or other VTT platforms) is because they've spent a lot of money buying those modules on that platform.

It's why I mention Beyond eco-systems as potentially being something Wizard invest more into so as to keep more people within the D&D 'bubble' - don't play those other games because you've got everything you could possibly want right here, don't forget about how much money you've spent on Beyond! Everything so easy, just a few clicks away! Who wants to use those stinky, old fashioned systems where you have to do stuff like reading or have your DM install plugins?

Wicked Woodpecker of West

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2021, 06:19:42 PM »
Quote
It's also a case that VTTs don't support non D&D systems very much if at all.

Dunno. Both Roll20 and Foundry - seemed to have way more options than D&D included.

TJS

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2021, 07:22:15 PM »
Quote
It's also a case that VTTs don't support non D&D systems very much if at all.

Dunno. Both Roll20 and Foundry - seemed to have way more options than D&D included.

I haven't looked at Foundry.  But Roll20 mostly has "character sheets".  Whereas for 5e you get a character builder, you get monsters you can drag and drop, all of which have clickable macros etc.

Having a character builder is a big advantage online as it's a lot harder to help people create characters online.

Of course if you run a light system like OSR or Barbarians of Lemuria and use the VTT minimally then you will still have an easier time than running 5e.  But the point is that VTTs don't want you to use their platforms minimally they want to convince you to go all in - that  dynamic lighting and beautiful maps and the like will make your game so much better.  They're in the business of selling you dependency.

And to the extent that they succeed they make it harder to do other things.

Take something as basic as a map.  If you are running D&D then there are gazillions of battlemaps you can upload to move your little tokens around on.  But say you want to run a game set in Ancient India, or Tang Dynasty China, or even the Modern Day.  Suddenly there's a lot less maps to choose from and you will spend significantly more time searching (assuming you've bought into the assumption that you need them).

The playstyle that VTTs are selling makes things progressively more difficult the further you get from from D&D.

Edit: I've seen some of this spilling over into live games.  I've seen several GMs run 5e by printing out battlemap size maps of dungeons, cutting them up and progressively laying them out as the party move around with the miniatures never leaving the table.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2021, 07:24:11 PM by TJS »

Shawn Driscoll

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2021, 07:40:45 PM »
For as long as I've been paying attention to RPGs, the conventional wisdom has been "As D&D goes, so goes the industry". When D&D is thriving, the rest of the RPG sector does well, and when D&D slumps, so does everyone else.

So I'm wondering: has this held true in the 5e era? All the available evidence is the 5e has been as huge and sustained success. What about the rest of the industry? Are other companies getting a bump from 5e's popularity, or is D&D's success strictly a D&D thing this time?

Well... when an RPG goes into a slump, players look for other RPGs to get into.
The same goes for comic books.
The same goes for streamed media.

When an RPG succeeds at something, companies will copy the idea. Players will flame war each other on which RPG is best.

Ratman_tf

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2021, 07:52:44 PM »
There's a few things keeping players in D&D that didn't exist in the past.

One of them is the hardcover adventures which give DMs more reason to stick with D&D.

The other which compounds this is VTTs.  VTTs try and sell people on fancy gimmicks like dynamic lighting and the like.  These take time to set up which reinforces the desire to buy published adventure paths that do it for you, and makes it seem like much more work to do your own thing.  It's also a case that VTTs don't support non D&D systems very much if at all.

Are there adventures being sold that include VTT integration?

If you buy an official adventure module on a VTT - usually Roll20 - pretty much all of the set up is done for you. Usually the VTT sites themselves sell it and tout Beyond integration as a thing. That's why 99% of the paid games you see are for pre-gens, as they do pretty much everything short of literally reading out the text and moving enemy tokens about. One of the main reasons I see listed for why people don't swap from Roll20 to Foundry (or other VTT platforms) is because they've spent a lot of money buying those modules on that platform.

It's why I mention Beyond eco-systems as potentially being something Wizard invest more into so as to keep more people within the D&D 'bubble' - don't play those other games because you've got everything you could possibly want right here, don't forget about how much money you've spent on Beyond! Everything so easy, just a few clicks away! Who wants to use those stinky, old fashioned systems where you have to do stuff like reading or have your DM install plugins?

Interesting. That strikes me as the most useful online *thing* D&D has implemented. So far, their online efforts have been... inadequate to hilariously bad.
The notion of an exclusionary and hostile RPG community is a fever dream of zealots who view all social dynamics through a narrow keyhole of structural oppression.
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TJS

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2021, 08:01:24 PM »
There's a few things keeping players in D&D that didn't exist in the past.

One of them is the hardcover adventures which give DMs more reason to stick with D&D.

The other which compounds this is VTTs.  VTTs try and sell people on fancy gimmicks like dynamic lighting and the like.  These take time to set up which reinforces the desire to buy published adventure paths that do it for you, and makes it seem like much more work to do your own thing.  It's also a case that VTTs don't support non D&D systems very much if at all.

Are there adventures being sold that include VTT integration?

If you buy an official adventure module on a VTT - usually Roll20 - pretty much all of the set up is done for you. Usually the VTT sites themselves sell it and tout Beyond integration as a thing. That's why 99% of the paid games you see are for pre-gens, as they do pretty much everything short of literally reading out the text and moving enemy tokens about. One of the main reasons I see listed for why people don't swap from Roll20 to Foundry (or other VTT platforms) is because they've spent a lot of money buying those modules on that platform.

It's why I mention Beyond eco-systems as potentially being something Wizard invest more into so as to keep more people within the D&D 'bubble' - don't play those other games because you've got everything you could possibly want right here, don't forget about how much money you've spent on Beyond! Everything so easy, just a few clicks away! Who wants to use those stinky, old fashioned systems where you have to do stuff like reading or have your DM install plugins?

Interesting. That strikes me as the most useful online *thing* D&D has implemented. So far, their online efforts have been... inadequate to hilariously bad.
I don't think D&D implements it.  It's the VTT as far as I understand.  Of course if you also bought the hardback they get paid twice so it's in their interest to encourage it.

Wicked Woodpecker of West

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2021, 08:31:28 PM »
I'm quite sure I've seen at least Warhammer and Cthulhu games on Roll20 with implemented skills and challenges resolved, so I guess there is more to that.
Besides it's in best interest of any VTT to have more options than just D&D.

TJS

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Re: 5e and the state of the industry
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2021, 08:38:32 PM »
I'm quite sure I've seen at least Warhammer and Cthulhu games on Roll20 with implemented skills and challenges resolved, so I guess there is more to that.
Besides it's in best interest of any VTT to have more options than just D&D.
It's the same issue though.  VTTs greatly constrict the range of games that can make an impact, due to their level of support.

And it's a vicious circle because only games that have a large enough group of players will get significant support.