[MUD-Dev] Role-Playing Games Are Not Dead

Dave Rickey daver at mythicentertainment.com
Tue Nov 20 10:29:07 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Tresca <talien at toast.net>

> Ryan Dancey (Wizards of the Coast VP, Dungeons & Dragons brand
> manager) was so kind as to provide some statistics
>   http://www.rpg.net/pf/read.php?f=61&i=25462&t=25402
> I'll paraphrase:

>   * He estimates that Baldur's Gate sold to 1 million individuals.

And ignores that Diablo II sold to 2.7 million.

>   * He estimates that EverQuest's aggregated monthly players is
>   300,000.

Picking nits: EQ has 400,000+ subscriptions.  Some unknown number of
those (estimates range from 30K to 100K) represent the extra
accounts of individual players.  He seems to be using the high end
of that estimate to reach his "aggregate" number, but he should
state that openly.

>   * He guesses that total Ultima Online, DAoC, and other online
>   games amounts to 400,000 to 500,000 that "would enjoy a
>   subscription-based RPG experience."

I assume he's leaving out Lineage?

>   * Assuming every statistic for those online games are unique
>   individuals, he estimates a total online gaming populace of 1.4
>   to 1.5 million.

My own (informal, non-scientific) data indicates that DAoC
subscribers are 60-70% playing only DAoC, with another 20% saying
that they will make a decision at some point to commit to one game
or another and let the other lapse.  DAoC being new, I'd expect the
overlap to be much higher than in a mature game.

>   * WOTC's market research found "more than 2 million people,
>   between the ages of 12 and 35 in the US playing at least one
>   tabletop RPG monthly, and nearly 5 million who reported playing
>   at least once sometime in the past year."

They use an extremely elastic definition of "Tabletop RPG", that
includes CCG's and LARP.

> The claim: there are more tabletop RPGers than online gamers.
> Note that he did not say this means the role-playing game industry
> makes more money than CRPGs.

It's all proceeding from a false (as least questionable) assumption,
apparently the statement of which triggered the thread: That OLRPG's
are competing with table-top games.  They don't, in any meaningful
sense beyond the idea that all forms of entertainment are chasing
the same consumer dollar.  I don't think that idea has any merit,
we're not competing for dollars with anything, we're competing for
*attention*, and in that arena we're squared off against TV, not P&P
RPG's.  The current poll at the Camelot Vault has 60% of respondents
claiming to play between 11 and 40 hours a week, with another 20%
playing more than that.  When was the last time you played a P&P
campaign for 20 hours a week, week-in, week-out for months on end?

The only other entertainment activity that eats up so much time on
any scale is watching TV.  For most of our players, OLRPG's
represent an alternative to vegetating in front of the tube,
watching reruns.  Most of them have *never* played a traditional P&P

--Dave Rickey

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