Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Fractured Player Base

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There was interesting post earlier in the week over at theRPGsite (thanks Gamedaddy) on the Saturday D&D lineup at this year's Origins Game Convention. It breaks down roughly as follows:

BD&D/Oldschool Includes basic D&D & Clones
Four (4)

1st Edition
One (1) specifically listed (maybe one or two of these above?)

2nd Edition
Two (2)

3rd Edition / 3.5 / OGL
Thirty-Nine (39)

Eighteen (18)

Living Arcanis (Technically 3.5 variant/d20...)
Two (2)

4th Edition
Thirty-Seven (37)

Unknown (Host deliberately omitted D&D version and couldn't ID version based on game host/sponsor)
Six (6)

Now, as you can see Wizards of the Coast is again not on the Origins vendor map, and that might bend things a little than what they otherwise would be. Still, as a snapshot, it's interesting that things remain not only so fragmented amongst the player base, but so darn close to even. With Gen Con being the premiere RPGA event of the year, I imagine 4e will see a healthy swing the other way there. But I wonder what the split is at smaller conventions?


Jason said...

I think what you're seeing here is always going to be typical when emphasis on mechanics begin to supersede the importance of producing good source material. It's evidence that you'll never please everyone, and ANY time you make sweeping changes, you're going to leave some fans behind, alienate others, or just cause a flare in tempers in general.

I'm not saying that you should never look to improve the mechanics; I'm an engineer after all, and love a concise and workable recreation of life through statistics. However, it doesn't seem prudent to throw out the old game and replace it with a new one every few years.

Gleichman said...

I'm not so sure you can extend what's happening at Origins to the player base as a whole. After all who's running what game there is to a significant degree self-selected.

For example, I counted (rather quickly so I may be off one or two) 32 Hero System games there, making it nearlly the equal of 3.5 or 4E.

And I doubt that's actually true in terms of player base.

Zachary The First said...

@Gleichman: There's no doubt the particulars of this convention skew the numbers a bit. I guess I'm just a little surprised it's so close, and that this in particular seems to be near to the split we see at places online. But like I said, I imagine it'll be a different set come Gen Con.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it would be interesting for you that D&D 4E is literally dead in Germany because of the high expectations about the sales of WotC in Europe/Germany - which could never be fulfilled - the company making the translation and printing of the German 4E had the license taken away from them.

Because of this in the conventions here in Germany - which have from 50 to 100 visitors - the people play the 3.0/3.5 editions.

But also as the 4E German Edition got eliminated directly by WotC Europe
Labyrinth Lord got a fresh German translation by fans.
So I expect in the coming months that more and more people will play LL in the conventions.

chris said...

Having been a former Origins regular, while I lived in Ohio, I can tell you a couple of things about Origins that might make those numbers make more sense.

1. Origins is an older crowd. A lot of people who have been gaming a long time.
2. Origins is a *game* convention. No media guests and usually not a lot of splashy debuts either. People go to Origins to play games, either ones that they don't normally get to play or with people they don't normally get to play with. There's a lot of gaming going on, and not just RPGs - board games and minatures as well. Nearly all hours.

I think these factors combine into something that's different from what you are going to see at GenCon, which is definitely much more of a gaming event than Origins ever was or will be.

There are less frills and more emphasis on play.

Olman Feelyus said...

WotC never spends a lot of money on gaming opportunities that they don't control. Other than GenCon, they have a policy to not sponsor any local cons. They put all their play budget into GameDays and the RPGA. So the effect you see is a lot less 4e at conventions.

kaeosdad... said...

I wonder when the first physical fight will break out between 3rd and 4th edition players? If real life interaction between gamers is anything like the forums and blogs, I dunno man, I'm just saying...

Zachary The First said...

I wonder if it hasn't already, in some dark FLGS somewhere...

Steve V. said...

At a local convention this year, in Western NY, the sponsors typically have a D&D tournie that goes for 3 days to determine the overall winner. I figured that this year it would be the 4e rules, but instead they decided to go with Savage World. But overall. the split between 4e and 3.5 was about even for games offered.

I typically go to the con to play games I don't get a chance to, so I ususally don't play D&D anyway. (I'll get in the Munchkin tournie, the WoD LARP, or I'll run an old school - Moldvay or Rules Cyclopedia - game just for the heck of it.

Some day I'll have to go to Origins or Gencon to see for myself. (If I can con the wife into hanging with game geeks for a few days...)