RPG Evolution – 2014 Q4

A little late, but here we are.  Let’s discuss what the RPG sales at Games and Stuff looked like for the last three months of 2014.

DungeonMastersGuide5ENo surprises for the top three spots, as they’ve look pretty much the same since July.  The D&D machine is plugging along a a great clip, with the release of the Dungeon Master’s Guide at the end of November driving sales.  Star Wars is only growing, and with the release of Force and Destiny next year, it’s gonna narrow the gap separating it from Pathfinder.  (It certainly doesn’t hurt that we’ve got a Star Wars RPG contributor on staff.)

  1. Dungeons and Dragons (Q3 Rank #1)
  2. Pathfinder (Q3 Rank #2)
  3. Star Wars (Q3 Rank #3)
  4. Through the Breach
  5. Shadowrun (Q3 Rank #4)
  6. The One Ring (Q3 Rank #5)
  7. White Wolf
  8. Trail of Cthulhu
  9. Warhammer 40,000 (Q3 Rank #6)
  10. 13th Age (Q3 Rank #12)
  11. Fate (Q3 Rank #15)
  12. Legend of the Five Rings (Q3 Rank #13)
  13. Call of Cthulhu  (Q3 Rank #19)
  14. The Strange (Q3 Rank #10)
  15. Doctor Who (Q3 Rank #9)
  16. A Song of Ice and Fire
  17. Firefly
  18. The End of the World
  19. Adventure Maximus! (Q3 Rank #8)
  20. Dread

throughthebreachplayersSo what else is interesting?  The big one of course is Through the Breach.  The RPG based on the world of the Malifaux miniatures game made its debut at #4 on our list, outselling Shadowrun and recent best-seller One Ring.  While I personally listed Through the Breach as my RPG of the year, I don’t really have any thoughts about longevity for this title.  Right now I think it’s in the “I’m checking this out” phase, and any actual table play that develops is going to seriously inform future sales.  I’m sure a lot of volume came from curious Malifaux miniatures players.

White Wolf (which is to say, Onyx Path) has reared its head again, once again proving that it deserves the space it gets on my shelf as part of their POD retailer program. But it’s becoming more and more apparent that the lion’s share of these numbers belong to core rulebooks, the 20th Anniversary editions in particular.   These purchases are largely motivated by nostalgia so aren’t really providing the basis for deeper catalog sales.  We won’t be stocking the supplements or newer games going forward.

Warhammer 40K continues its slide down the chart, with a much decreased release schedule and FFG clearly putting more effort into Star Wars.  It’s just about at the point where I’m considering scaling back on the line and not carrying every single title.  Space for three Star Wars lines isn’t going to come out of thin air after all.

13th age13th Age continues it’s climb to sales glory, finally cracking the top ten.  With five titles plus some third party stuff now in the line, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the game is here to stay, and it has a great deal of appeal to old school D&D players whose tastes swing more toward the narrative end of the spectrum.  And it’s a personal favorite of a few staff members  (My assistant manager and I are now three sessions deep into a 13th Age Dark Sun campaign.)

EndOfTheWorldZombieApocThe first game in the new End of the World RPG series (Zombie Apocalypse) from FFG has  a strong showing at #18 (it was my #9 game for December, the month it debuted.)  Maybe zombies have been beaten to death in the board gaming realm, but this game proves it’s still got some life in it.  Me? I’m waiting for the next volume – “Wrath of the Gods”.

One other thing I’d like to point out.  “The World’s Greatest GM Screen” from Hammer Dog Games.  If this were listed here as a game line, it would rank at #13.  That’s a lot of happy gamemasters out there, and a perfect poster child for how a strong RPG department can generate ancillary sales through RPG accessories.  I plan on talking at length about RPG accessory sales in a future column.

My total RPG sales were up 46% vs 2013.  We’re in a boom time for RPGs right now folks.  Take advantage of it, and use the influx of interest to build a foundation for those lean years.  We won’t always have a shiny new D&D to do all the work for us.

And I’ll leave you there.
We’ll talk again in April, when we see what 2015 has done for us in its first few months, and I’ll be fresh from the GAMA Trade Show, where I’m sure I’ll get some cool scuttlebutt on forthcoming releases.

-Paul Alexander Butler is the Store Manager of Games and Stuff.  He’s been playing RPGs since the late 1970’s and managing specialty retail stores since the early 1990’s.  He likes to think this gives him the authority to talk about stuff like he knows what he’s doing.

-RPG Evolution is Paul’s quarterly column wherein he talks about the business of selling Roleplaying Games.