Monday, September 25, 2017

Counter Culture: Selling DnD vs Pathfinder

Counter Culture is, possibly, a new series where I relate my experiences as the Gaming Manager at Comic Book World, Inc., my family's two stores in Kentucky.

I've been doing my job there for almost 18 years, so I've watched the end of ADnD 2nd Edition, the rise of DnD 3, 4, and 5 and the rise of Pathfinder.

Today, I'm going to talk about my experiences selling both of them.

Many people talk about Pathfinder beating DnD, but for my stores that only occurred after Wizards of the Coast pulled the plug on DnD 4E and the period they didn't release very much.

While Pathfinder has always been a Top 3 Seller for me, it's never sold like any edition of DnD for me. I don't attribute this to not being popular, however, I attribute this to the phenomenal job Paizo has done selling directly to customers. In my experience their Subscription program has sustained them through the years and will continue to do so. While I understand how important the program is for their success, for us, it comes at the cost of numerous sales. In fact, I doubt that they could sustain the large number of supplements each year without the program.

Meanwhile, DnD 5E has been an amazing launch. I can't say that it eclipsed 3E's launch (but that was hard to do, after the death of 2E and the $20 books), but it has come close. Additionally, unlike 3.X and 4.X (I consider Essentials 4.5), the sales are growing and while we enter a period in the product's history around the time that we would previously see a ".5" edition, I'm seeing incredible sales growth as new and still returning players discover this edition. It's a real treat to see how the current DnD Team is treating the brand and making, to me, very intelligent decisions, the slower release schedule has galvanized fans and allowed them to better keep up with the product line.

Understand, while I might a preference between the two games as a player and gamemaster, I want to see both games succeed as a retailer. It's always good to have multiple choices to give to your customers.

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