Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Most Played RPG System

I'm a backer of Privateer Press' Iron Kingdoms setting for DnD 5th Edition. I've loved the setting since it was released for DnD 3.0 back in the day and am looking forward to running it under 5E.

Matt Wilson of Privateer Press made this statement in response to a question about why they stopped supporting the Iron Kingdoms RPG with its own unique system, "5e is the most played RPG system in the history of RPGs, and so if we're going to keep exploring and expanding on the Iron Kingdoms."

Do you think that statement is true?

I know 5E is huge, I mean H-U-G-E, but B/X DnD and ADnD 1E were pretty successful too and they've had the benefit of being played since the 70s and been reinvigorated with the OSR in the last decade.

Let me be clear here, I'm not taking Mr. Wilson to task for his statement it simply made me think about the life cycle of various versions of DnD and the inventory numbers. His statement could be completely spot on and I'm sure he has a better chance of having insight from WotC than I do.

I'd love to hear what you think on the subject.


Jonathan Linneman said...

Whatever solid numbers are available, I'd imagine it'll take some serious estimation and extrapolation to make a comparison for the lifetime play of the games. I'm guessing the numbers COULD argue that those earlier systems beat 5E...or the opposite if you take the approach that a "split" D&D cut both of their numbers significantly, plus OSR gamers are largely playing restated or reimagined games rather than the proper systems, and so on.

I bet you could come reasonably close to comparing the maximum known active players for each of those games at any single point in time, though...which is MAYBE one way his statement could be interpreted...maybe at least the only one that could really be supported with available data.

I suggest putting Nate Silver on this... :)

WQRobb said...

It sounds accurate, or at least accurate enough to justify the change. A lot of new players have been drawn to 5E thanks to social media and the gaming culture being more open.

Ruprecht said...

Maybe he meant played as written.

Nobody played just D&D, or just AD&D it was typically a weird grab-bag of the best from each. Something which I think planted the seeds of the OSR DIY mindset.

Xaosseed said...

I have been taking a look at this but if you will bear with me I put the pieces of the puzzle on 2 different blog posts.

First - there has been a trend breaking ramp up in people joining such that of players today ~80% seem to be part of this new wave of folk joining

Second - of D&D players today, it looks like most (~85%) of them are playing 5e based on Roll20 and surveys from 2013/14 and 2019/20.

Together I think it does back up the Iron Kingdoms decision - if they want to launch something at the market now, the majority of people today are playing 5e to receive it. Whatever happens over the long run, it looks like the right call for today.

Doctor Futurity said...

I don't know if he's right nor not (there's no way to easily compare today's player base against the pre-internet, pre-tracked era of D&D) but I do know that I would buy Iron Kingdoms 5E over IK in some other unique system. For me, IK was born a 3rd edition setting and the separate ruleset ended up losing me as a player, and honestly their books were both harder to find for the new game and also harder to sell players on. Returning to the D&D fold is a smart move as I see it.

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