Saturday, July 18, 2009

Minute Sales of Role-Playing Games

The popularity of pen and paper role-playing games like "Dungeons & Dragons" has fallen dramatically from the mid-1980s peak. I didn't realize how far they'd fallen until now, however.

Today, most publishers (other than Wizards of the Coast and a few others) are lucky to sell even 1,000 copies of anything they produce, according to James Mishler, a former editor of "Comics and Games Retailer," in a post on his blog at this link below:

If that's true, the photo above, taken at Gen Con 2007, may be of every living "gamer." (Notice how every person in that picture is male, caucasian, and over 30?)


  1. Who in the gaming group is most likely to purchase a new book? Especially if from a smaller publisher.

    The GM.

    1000 sales reflects ±1000 GMs not 1000 gamers, except with systems like D&D4e where core books are pretty much required for every player.

    Not to mention, 1000 sales for a small or start up company represents reasonably good business. After all, Chainmail couldn't have sold that many copies when it was released.

  2. You make good points.

    But Mr. Mishler's central thesis is that selling just 1,000 copies of anything is not actually good business (and he goes on to do the math to illustrate that). He also asserts that in the heyday of the D&D 3rd edition OGL, small publishers were selling tens of thousands of copies of what they made.