Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The D&D Pie

I was chatting with a customer yesterday who was wondering how D&D 4 was doing at our store compared to Pathfinder. You know, I said, I think it's all good and Pathfinder may have even increased the size of the overall D&D community. That statement may or may not be true, but I wondered if my sales reflected that. I didn't feel they were bigger.  I knew Pathfinder was getting huge, since we now carry every Pathfinder product, host Pathfinder Society organized play and have most of our staff loving and playing the game. What I got was a bit unexpected:

The 2010 numbers are extrapolated. As usual, remember this is one store, not some grand industry trend, as far as we know. The size of the pie remains the same, but the distribution is evening out. Again, a near impossibility in traditional marketing theory, but not unlikely in the age of open licensing.

I'm predicting D&D sales will grow as the new Essentials line is released. Still, I don't think I can continue the argument that the pie is getting bigger. I hope the pie gets bigger and I think that needs to be the focus of these two companies for the future. Essentials does this and as we were told here, Paizo is planning some sort of introductory product as well. 

D&D Essentials should not only bring in new players, but it promises to liven up the line. As Mike Mearls told retailers recently, Essentials should add a lot more flavor to the player books. The DM books for D&D 4th Edition are very well done with some of the best written ideas in D&D for some time. The player books are just dull in comparison. I used to buy them in 3.5, just because they were fun to read. The new books aren't fun. They're a list of powers for the most part, like reading a Magic deck in a book. I think this dullness is reflected in our sales of D&D, where once player books outsold DM books by quite a bit, now they're at parity. Many have realized it's just easier to subscribe to DDI.

As usual, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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