Ok, when I said a few days ago that "tomorrow I'll put up the RPG chart" I forgot to take into account that
1) the weekend was coming up
2) I had a Warhammer Tournament to get ready
3) I had 2 sessions of Pathfinder to run for our Pathfinder Society group here on Sunday
4) IT'S CHRISTMAS season and I am in retail (which generally means that I do NOT get to control my own time, it controls me.)
But, I have a few minutes now, (aided by the fact that the order that I was expecting today didn't come in because of the storm in California a couple of days ago) so I promised myself I wouldn't get dinner until this post was up.
In my database, I have two ways of breaking RPG's down First of all, I break them down by basic genre; Fantasy, SciFi, Western and so on and so forth. I also break them down by product lines; D&D, Gurps, Traveller and such.
Let's take a quick gander at which genres are selling the most.
Now, this isn't much of a surprise. Fantasy RPG's are the market staple. (thank you Mr Tolkien, Mr, Howard, and Mr Lieber). In the store we have D&D and Pathfinder taking up much of the burden of fantasy RPG sales, but there are a few others contributing to that. Earthdawn, Exalted, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and a couple of the Indie games also added into that. SciFi games came in second with sales of Traveller, Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader and a few other minor ones.
Now for the chart that probably will be a big surprise. I know that it was for me.
Yep... not only was D&D NOT number one, it wasn't number two or three either. It came in at number 4 and from the looks of the chart, it sure wasn't too much higher than the number five, Savage Worlds. Traveller is the number one, and that's for one reason. We have a gaming group that's switching over to that game, and the person who's running it and one of the other players have been picking up the line. Here's the sad fact. This will be an abberation on these sales figures, and I highly suspect that next month, Traveller will fade farther back down on the list. It's position this month, is really not something that can be counted on, but the fact that ONE group, was able to bump it to the top spot speaks volumes. What it says to me, is that the RPG market, at least for me is in a horrid decline. When one group can come in and overshadow D&D like that, there is a problem.
Now, WFRP had one special thing on it's side which gave it the number two slot. It costs 100 bucks for the main boxed set. Sell a few of those and it would be hard to keep it out of a top slot.
Pathfinder is number three, and more importantly it's eclipsing it's parent D&D. There's a lot of grousing about 4th ed amongst veteran gamers, and many of them have sworn off of playing. To me, this is a bit of tragedy, as basically it's saying "im so stodgy that I really don't want to hang out with my friends anymore and socialize with them because of some silly game rules". To me, the game was always secondary to the real reason of getting together with my friends. I'm sad that feeling isn't more widely held. Pathfinder, however is picking up SOME of those disaffected players who aren't interested in converting to the 4th ED rules. In fact, i'm running games for their organized play campaign, The Pathfinder Chronicles, here at the store on the first Sunday of the month. I'm happy that it's doing well, but that it's doing better than D&D proper, is telling.
All of that aside, these charts tell me that D&D is no longer king of the heap, and I can no longer afford to just bring in several copies of each new release as they come out, and expect them to move. D&D will now be subject to the same scrutiny that the other RPG's get. If I don't reasonably know of someone who will buy a copy of a particular book, I'm not likely to order it. D&D books were usually immune to any kind of process like that, but no longer.
By looking at sales, and seeing what the trends are, I don't carry a lot of hope for RPG's in general, at least here in the store. I love RPG's and I will continue to carry them, but it would be irresponsible of me to keep carrying them in the ways that i've done in past years. A good business is one that's flexible enough to adapt to changing markets and make decisions based off of that.