ENWorld’s Hot Roleplaying Games – December 2013

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:

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.

4 thoughts on “ENWorld’s Hot Roleplaying Games – December 2013

  1. For that matter, how badly is the Dragon Age RPG underperforming when people are less excited about it than they are about Alternity?

    To be fair, it’s not like video game tie-in RPGs are generally that well received.

    1. True, RPGs based on licensed properties tend to be a hit and miss proposal, though equally a bunch of very major RPGs were based on licenses – Call of Cthulhu (before Lovecraft went public domain) is a cornerstone of the hobby, D6 Star Wars was a huge deal in its prime, and so on.

      And if you’d said 10 years ago that Bioware’s three most recent major RPG releases (one of which was a KOTOR followup) were critically roasted and they put out a tabletop RPG that had sunk like a stone it’d be shocking. Oh the mighty, lookit how they’ve fallen…

    1. I actually think CoC is doing alright – it’s been bobbing along at around 16-19 for the months I’ve been tracking this, which strikes me as being very healthy for a reasonably elderly RPG about which there’s a fair amount of regular discussion but which isn’t presently subject to either outrageous hype or a firestorm of criticism.

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