Hm, this is interesting. ENWorld have a regularly updated chart of the hottest RPGs based on what’s being actively discussed on as wide a pool of internet fora and blogs as they can find RSS feeds for. It’s an interesting approach, and I suspect a broader sample than is offered by, say the ICv2 sales charts (which are based only on the reporting of game store owners served by a particular distributor, when they can be bothered to provide the data in the first place), or the sales charts on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow (which of course can be distorted by people downloading free PDFs they never actually intend to use en mass).
On the other hand, there’s some quirks to the presentation which make me lift an eyebrow. D&D and related games are segregated out, except for 13th Age for some reason, and the overall scores each game is currently hitting is only visible if you mouseover the relevant listing. So, I thought it would be interesting to consolidate the chart here, put back the numbers, and see what conclusions could be reached. So, here’s the current standings (not including the percentage of all discussion figures because, of course, the segregation of D&D wrecks that) as of 3rd December 2013:
RANK GAME SCORE 1 D&D Next (5E) 3326.4 2 Pathfinder RPG 2408.5 3 D&D 3rd Edition/3.5 1646.9 4 D&D 4th Edition 829 5 FATE 398.2 6 13th Age 225.8 7 Numenera 210.6 8 Old School Revival (OSR) 182.9 9 World of Darkness 177 10 Shadowrun 98.9 11 Savage Worlds 84.6 12 OD&D 69.4 13 Exalted 63.7 14 AD&D 1st Edition 60.2 15 Traveller 60 16 Warhammer 40K 57.5 17 Call of Cthulhu 52.3 18 Star Wars: Edge of the Empire 51.4 19 GURPS 44.7 20 AD&D 2nd Edition 43.6 21 Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures 43.2 22 Star Wars (SAGA/d20) 36.8 23 Dungeon World 34.9 24 Gumshoe 30 25 Stars Without Number 28.6 26 Castles & Crusades 26.6 27 ICONS 26 28 Warhammer FRP 25.3 29 Star Trek 23.8 30 d20 Modern 22.7 31 Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space 22.1 32 Marvel Heroic Roleplaying 21.1 33 Dungeon Crawl Classics 20.8 34 Deadlands 19.5 35 The One Ring 19 36 Eclipse Phase 18.2 37 CORTEX System 15.6 38 RIFTS 14.3 39 The Strange 14.2 40 Gamma World 11.7 41 A Song of Ice & Fire 10.8 42 Dread 9.7 43 True20 9.6 44 Feng Shui 9.1 44 Firefly 9.1 46 d20 Future 7.9 47 Iron Kingdoms 7.8 48 Hackmaster 7.3 49 Alternity 6.5 50 Dragon Age 6.1 51 BESM 5.2 51 Runequest 5.2 51 HERO System / Champions 5.2 54 Godlike / Wild Talents / NEMESIS 3.9 54 Star Wars (d6) 3.9 54 Paranoia 3.9 54 Rotted Capes 3.9 54 Fading Suns 3.9 59 Marvel SAGA 2.6 59 Brave New World 2.6 59 Earthdawn 2.6 62 DC Heroes 1.3 62 Smallville 1.3
- Some wacky (and, I feel, mildly manipulative) decisions here. Why are all the Gumshoe or CORTEX-powered games lumped together, whilst, (say) the BRP or SAGA games are listed separately? Why are only three of the One Roll Engine games bundled together but not Reign? Why isn’t Dungeon Crawl Classics considered with the other OSR games? Why is “OSR” even a category, for that matter, when the OSR isn’t an actual game and some discussion of games like OD&D or AD&D 1E/2E could qualify as OSR discussions too?
- Still, some interesting trends. It appears that there are a whole bunch of people who talk almost exclusively about versions of Dungeons & Dragons; the numbers may be exacerbated by the fact that some forums out there are exclusively Dungeons & Dragons-based, on the other hand the fanbases of other games can (and have) produced forums exclusively focused on them too so it’s still a measure of how much D&D dominates our hobby.
- It’s also not surprising that Dungeons & Dragons Next is generating more discussion than any other version; after all, Wizards are producing about as much teaser material for Next as they are actual gaming material for 4E at this point.
- Even so, it must be humiliating for 4E to be lagging as far behind its predecessor and Pathfinder as it is. Clearly 4E is a huge deal as far as the rest of the gaming scene goes, but it’s a miserable shower of shit when it comes to the performance you’d expect from the currently in-print version of D&D.
- If you combine the scores for OD&D, the two editions of AD&D, and the Old School Revival score (since that’s going to be dominated by clones of pre-3E D&D editions and systems derived from those games) for an overall “TSR-era D&D” category, it would come to 356.1, sat just under FATE. Though I don’t know if direct addition of these scores is legit based on how the algorithms work, so take that with a pinch of salt.
- Holy fuck, people still remember and talk about Alternity?
- For that matter, how badly is the Dragon Age RPG underperforming when people are less excited about it than they are about Alternity? Then again, the toxic reaction to Dragon Age II and the general souring of Bioware’s reputation lately might have turned people off it.
- FATE‘s high performance may be down to it being the present RPG.net darling – it’s currently the game people recommend whenever someone says “I’d like a game that does (X)” over there, just as Savage Worlds before it and Wushu before that.
- It’s worth remembering that this just tracks discussion of a game and, so far as I can tell, ENWorld’s algorithm isn’t smartypants enough to tell whether the conversation is positive or negative. An enormous hate campaign could drive you up the rankings just as nicely as happy praise would.