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RPG» Forums » General Discussion » General Role-Playing

Subject: How to be a Professional DM/Growth of RPG Industry rss

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Jamie Hardy
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I know over the past couple of years that the concept of being a paid gamemaster has come up before. Bloomberg just posted an article on it. It has some interesting ways people are making money on the side I thought people would be interested in. Bloomberg only allows 3 free reads a moth, but you can read it here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-07-08/how-to-be...

Part of the article is an interview with the VP of D&D. There are some interesting sales figures provided. Given that Hasboro is a publicly traded company and providing false info to the public (investors) would create problems, I think we can accept the rough truth of their sales figures.

Quote:
Wizards has been a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. since 1999. Stewart says sales of the fifth edition of the game, which was first published in 2014, were up 41 percent in 2017 from the year before, and soared another 52 percent in 2018, the game’s biggest sales year yet. According to Wizards, an estimated 40 million people play the game annually. While Dungeons & Dragons hasn’t dominated the e-sports world like, say Overwatch, D&D streams are a growing market—and a way to hook new gamers. In 2017, 9 million people watched others play D&D on Twitch, immersing themselves in the world of the game without ever having to pick up a die or cast a spell.


This does not tell us exact numbers, just the percent increase over the past couple of years. The 40 million players is an estimate, includes previous editions/clones, and likely is a world-wide figure.

The specific numbers posted deal with the D&D Starter Set. In 2014, the Starter Set sold 126,870 copies. It dipped down to 91K in 2015 like you would expect. However, it has taken off since then. 124k, 185k, and in 2018 306,670 copies sold. That is a 165% increase between 2017 and 2018 and nearly a 300% increase from its launch.

I know many people who buy the Starter Set who already have the core rules because they want the adventure, DM screen, complete their collection, etc. it seems odd that there has been a dramatic increase in sales. Given that, what I am inferring from the data is a significant growth in the PnP RPG industry.

The total starter sales from 2014-2018 is 834,300 copies. Even if we assume that only 10% are new to RPGs, that means 83,430 new players with 30,600 just last year. This is just based on the sales. If you assume that the average group size is 4, then that is 3,337,200 new players with 333,720 new players total. Obviously not everyone who tries RPGs will stick around to play, they might get bored and stop playing, or they buy it and never play.

I think it is fair to say that regardless of how many are new players, we are experiencing the largest increase in player population since White Wolf brought in a different audience. If other game companies can tap into just this new player population, they can do well. If you could get 30,000 of them to buy your game with a MSRP of $50 that would be $600,000 after the game store and distributors cut. You might end up taking in $300,000 after production costs.

My point is that things are looking a tiny bit better for game designers and publishers in today's economy than a couple years ago.
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Mark Wilson
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Re: How to be a Professional DM
I appreciate the direction you took this thread. These types of articles tend not to speak to trends very much. I think it was the NYT that had a similar article a couple years ago about a full-time DM. But "Professional DM" is going to be a curiosity for the foreseeable future. Any thinkpieces it spawns in the blogosphere or on social media will just be to generate clicks.

But your analysis of the figures involved does actually give us widespread trends to look at. And yes, it seems positive. Thanks again for the breakdown!
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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Good article. Thanks for the link.

D&D interacts with the culture-at-large in strange ways. It periodically exhibits upswings like this when the creative side of it interfaces with the larger culture (cf. Stranger Things). I always expect that it will swing back down, however.
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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By the way, the chart of race-class combinations they include down the page is fabulous. I have no idea where they got their data from, but the chart itself is terrific.
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Jamie Hardy
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robbbbbb wrote:
By the way, the chart of race-class combinations they include down the page is fabulous. I have no idea where they got their data from, but the chart itself is terrific.


Who knew that the boring old human fighter would be the most popular class?
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Mark Wilson
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robbbbbb wrote:
By the way, the chart of race-class combinations they include down the page is fabulous. I have no idea where they got their data from, but the chart itself is terrific.


I think it's based off of DnDBeyond data, which has released their player data on a handful of occasions. I actually did a video on it not too long ago. And FiveThirtyEight did an earlier article on this race/class data specifically, which showed human fighter at the top. The chart in the article looks similar. DnDBeyond is one of the few places with enough representation to approach accuracy.

Here's teh 538 article, but the chart is no longer showing for me:
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/is-your-dd-character-ra...
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William Hostman
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I've been Banished to Oregon... Gaming in Corvallis, living in Alsea... Need gamers willing to try new things...
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I've been paid to GM occasionally.

It was spending cash, not subsistence, and in one case, not worth it. (they hired a GM to have someone willing to put up with them. If you've read KODT, these guys managed to make Dave, Sara, Bob, and Brian look like a cooperative group of in-character actors...

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Jaime Lawrence
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As Brand Manager of a chain of 30+ FLGS', we advise our franchisees to pay GMs. Most do it in store credit, only some in cash, but recognition by giving them something for their time and effort is essential.

There's also definitely a market for it; our stores get people coming in daily who either don't want to learn the game (ie buy the starter), they just want to play it, or who have learned the game, but need someone to teach them to GM.

It kind of stuns me that a thing I've been doing for friends for 30 years is now a saleable skill, but that's our world.
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Alan, "Son of Hett"
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Last year I went to a "professional" D&D session GMed by someone who did it as a side job. A friend had won the event in a raffle at work. I think his prices were comparable to the woman in NC interviewed in the Bloomberg article. I am not sure how I feel about the concept.

I saw a similar chart a few years ago for the class-race pairings. It was one of those economic, block-style charts one usually sees for the production output of countries, the whole of the rectangle divided into smaller rectangles representing each item. Human Fighter was the primary one on it, too. I love (hate) the sterotypes or min-maxing that is revealed in these graphs.

Out of curiosity, for anyone who checks/follows these sorts of things, how often are other RPGs mentioned in the mass media?
 
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