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Author Topic: Size of the RPG Market?  (Read 1307 times)
ace pilot
Member

Posts: 20


« on: March 10, 2003, 11:13:18 AM »

Hey All,

Does anyone have any idea about the size of the RPG market?  Guessing conservatively, I would say based on my own experience that RPG players constitute about 0.1% of the general population (predominantly male, predominantly middle, upper-middle, or upper class, predominantly between the ages of 13-25) in advanced industrial countries.  Thus, if there are 281,421,906 people in the US (according to the 2000 census), I should think there would be about 280,000 gamers in the US.  Does anyone have more substantial figures?

Cheers
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2003, 11:33:40 AM »

Define Market and Gamer.

Are these people who have purchased RPGs before (and are therefore theoretically likely to purchase again)? Anyone who's played? Anyone who might play?

Even if you do, I think that hard figures are difficult to come by.

But looking at sales figures where a run of 3,000 is pretty damn good in the indie side of things, that means that, only 1% of your indicated "Market" is likely to purchase your game.

Does that sound right?

Or, better, what's your goal? Why do you need the info?

Mike
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ace pilot
Member

Posts: 20


« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2003, 11:45:49 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Define Market and Gamer.

Are these people who have purchased RPGs before (and are therefore theoretically likely to purchase again)? Anyone who's played? Anyone who might play?

Even if you do, I think that hard figures are difficult to come by.

But looking at sales figures where a run of 3,000 is pretty damn good in the indie side of things, that means that, only 1% of your indicated "Market" is likely to purchase your game.

Does that sound right?

Or, better, what's your goal? Why do you need the info?

Mike


Hmmm... I would define "market" as the universe of individuals who would purchase an RPG.  I would define "gamer" as an individual who plays an RPG more than three times a year or otherwise exhibits a strong interest in RPGs.

Hmmm... given the geographical size of the United States, the extremely small density of gamers compared to the general population, the very disorganized nature of most gamers, and the general lack of business planning by most RPG publishers, especially indie publishers, I would think that 3000 units sold being a very high number and representing 1% of the "market" is fair.  

But, like I said, I don't have any hard figures- which is the point of my post in the first place.  LOL.
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Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
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Posts: 16490


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« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2003, 02:00:57 PM »

Hi there,

The Wizards of the Coast did an enormous amount of market research prior to the release of D&D3E, and I think some of their results are available at their website.

However, bear in mind that they were oriented very much toward distributor-based, retailer-based outlets, and that no one to this day is certain just what "customer base" means regarding the internet. Most market research is valid insofar as the means of advertising, distribution, and sales-release schedules are locked in solid, which at this point in history are definitely squishy.

To give you some idea of customer/sales scope, though, Sorcerer's first print run was about 1200 books. About half of them were sold (or rather, moved to the retail shelves) in the first three months. After about ten or eleven months, the warehouse was empty - they were all in distribution or retail. I printed another round based on the strength of direct sales, which began strong and have continued slowly to grow throughout the game's history, and on the strength of explicit retailer support.

I've heard about the same from many people who publish more-or-less at the same level of promo and production as I do. Some have slightly higher numbers, some have slightly less. I think that most self-published RPGs, with appropriate promotion and if they don't shoot themselves in the foot in a variety of ways, can be expected to move between 800 and 1500 copies within a year through the three-tier system. The real questions then are whether the company has turned a profit and whether it seems reasonable to print more copies.

I'm not sure what that information means about the market, but I think that whatever I'd want to know from the market would include that information.

Best,
Ron
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Pramas
Member

Posts: 53


WWW
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2003, 12:54:18 AM »

Quote from: ace pilot
Hey All,

Does anyone have any idea about the size of the RPG market?  Guessing conservatively, I would say based on my own experience that RPG players constitute about 0.1% of the general population (predominantly male, predominantly middle, upper-middle, or upper class, predominantly between the ages of 13-25) in advanced industrial countries.  Thus, if there are 281,421,906 people in the US (according to the 2000 census), I should think there would be about 280,000 gamers in the US.  Does anyone have more substantial figures?


If I remember correctly, the WotC data claimed that 2.5 million people played an RPG at least one a month and of that group 1.5 played D&D (any edition) in particular.

I still don't know that I believe those numbers. Even if you accept them, it becomes painfully clear that the number of players that actually purchase RPG products on a regular basis is much, much smaller that.
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Chris Pramas
Green Ronin Publishing
www.greenronin.com
ace pilot
Member

Posts: 20


« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2003, 08:29:28 AM »

Quote from: Pramas

If I remember correctly, the WotC data claimed that 2.5 million people played an RPG at least one a month and of that group 1.5 played D&D (any edition) in particular.

I still don't know that I believe those numbers. Even if you accept them, it becomes painfully clear that the number of players that actually purchase RPG products on a regular basis is much, much smaller that.


Hey Ron and Chris,

I think that I found the survey from WotC that you guys were talking about at http://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/br/br20010323a. (If I'm wrong, please correct me).  Regarding the Size of the RPG market, as of 1999, it states that there are 2.8 million gamers (playing at least once a month) b/w the ages of 12 and 35.  That number just seems too large to me.  I'd like to take a look at their research methodology.

In any event, the "RPG Market" (i.e., people who are actually buying stuff) is probably smaller, at least to explain the much smaller sales numbers.
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b_bankhead
Member

Posts: 259


« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2003, 10:34:34 PM »

Quote from: Pramas


If I remember correctly, the WotC data claimed that 2.5 million people played an RPG at least one a month and of that group 1.5 played D&D (any edition) in particular.

I still don't know that I believe those numbers. Even if you accept them, it becomes painfully clear that the number of players that actually purchase RPG products on a regular basis is much, much smaller that.


  I find these figures hard to believe. My town, Columbus ,OH is widely used as a test market city becasue it is 'average' in so many ways.

  According to these figures there would have to be about 10,000 gamers playing once a month in the greater Columbus area (just over a million). From what I know of the local gaming shops and clubs I would say the figure here is WELL under a twentieth of that( ie, a few hundred.

What were the sales of the primary D&D books? Something like 350K each? By WOTC estimates then only about one seventh of gamers bought the 3EAD&D set, hard to believe ,for the game that dominates the field so...

I hate to burst bubbles but I must here deliver the Jerimaid that I have been delivering for five years...but there exists NO actaully useful source for information about the overall state or nature of the rpg hobby. Nobody is collecting or has collected fundamental data.  Many of the most vituperative debates about the hobby rest firmly on a foundation of bluff,guesswork,and extrapolation from their own corner game shop. For example ,it is not possible from any reliable data souce to say overall whether D20 increased,decreased or had no effectt on the spending of rpg buyers, no matter what you may have heard, the data just isnt there.
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