RPG Evolution – 2015 Q1

Hello to all the retailers just joining us after we spoke at the GAMA Trade Show in March.  I hope you find this little ramble of mine useful.

So, what’s there to talk about? Well, let’s start with the list.  Here’s the Top 20 RPGs by sales volume at Games and Stuff for the period of January 1 through March 31.  (With last quarter’s ranking where appropriate)

  1. Dungeons & Dragons (Q4 Rank #1)
  2. Pathfinder (Q4 Rank #2)
  3. Star Wars (Q4 Rank #3)
  4. Shadowrun (Q4 Rank #5)
  5. Warhammer 40,000 (Q4 Rank #9)
  6. The One Ring (Q4 Rank #6)
  7. Fate (Q4 Rank #11)
  8. 13th Age (Q4 Rank #10)
  9. Mutants & Masterminds
  10. Numenera 
  11. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 
  12. The End of the World (Q4 Rank #18)
  13. The Strange (Q4 Rank #14)
  14. Trail of Cthulhu (Q4 Rank #8)
  15. Mutant Year Zero
  16. Yggdrasil
  17. Iron Kingdoms
  18. Dungeon World 
  19. Monster of the Week
  20. A Song of Ice and Fire (Q4 Rank #16)

I actually have a lot of thoughts about Pathfinder and D&D these days, but it’s enough that I’m going to write a separate article about it.  Keep your eyes open for a RPG Evolution Supplemental in a week or so.

So with that being said, what else is interesting this time around?

dark_heresy_second_edition_frontA huge surprise to me, the Warhammer 40,000 RPGs have climbed back up to their usual perch in the Top 5, largely thanks to increased interest in the second edition Dark Heresy stuff. Though we also did a bit of remerchandising, moving the games to their own endcap display to allow FFG’s Star Wars stuff to spread out.  I was just talking about scaling back on this line in January! Funny how that works- we pulled 40K from a primo position on the FFG wall due to declining sales, and boom! sales go up in its new home.  If you haven’t learned this counter-intuitive merchandising lesson by now, take it to heart.  Move stuff around, and do it frequently.

Shadowrun continues to gain steam, now firmly ensconced in our Top 5, with new hardback releases typically selling as many as 15-20 copies in the first week of release.  We’ll see periodic dips during slow release months, but viewed over time, it’s an incredibly important line for us.  Sales of second-hand product is also great (and as a reminder, no second-hand sales are included in our sales rankings for the purposes of RPG Evolution.)

13th Age is also gaining traction. I love the crap out of this game and as I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently playing in a Dark Sun campaign using this system. (Nothing will increase your RPG sales like you talking about your home campaign at your store.) I’d like to think this game deserves a regular spot in the Top 10.


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay‘s appearance on this list is a complete anomaly. FFG has ceased publication of new material for this game, and I’d long ago stopped restocking it. But I have a lot of love for the game, and even wrote a memorial article about it. As stock levels on my shelves began to dip, I think fans of the game started worrying that it was going to disappear so snapped it all up. It’s all gone now, and at $49.99 and more apiece, that added up quickly.

There’s also a number of games on the list that have shown up in the Top 20 previously, but have skipped a quarter or two.  It just goes to show how cyclical some of these games are, with sales spiking with new releases or when an alpha gamer or two starts a campaign in the store.  These games include (for my store) Mutants & Masterminds, Numenera, Iron Kingdoms and Dungeon World. On a monthly or even quarterly basis, these games don’t seem that important, but given the long view, their impact on the bottom line reveals itself.  Further evidence that a broad selection of RPGs contributes to the health of the department in unexpected ways.  Think beyond your Top 5!

Finally, some games to watch:
The End of the World – this game continues to truck along and sell copy after copy. It’s a perfect pickup game, and the three additional titles forthcoming, we’re gonna see some volume out of this.

MutantYearZeroMutant Year Zero – The newest offering from Modiphius (publishers of Achtung! Cthulhu and the forthcoming Conan and Infinity RPGs) seems to have caught the eye of a lot of gamers. My first batch sold out immediately, and with a hefty restock coming in and the seal of approval from my Assistant Manager, I wouldn’t be surprised if this title threatens to break the Top 10 when we’re back here talking numbers in early July.

-Paul Alexander Butler is the Store Manager of Games and Stuff.  He likes to go to trade shows and loudly pontificate about how retailers could be selling more RPGs than they are.

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