ENWorld’s Hot Roleplaying Games – February 2014: What the Fuck Is Going On?

I’ve been keeping track here of ENWorld’s chart of the “hottest RPGs” – hotness, in this case, being based on what’s being actively discussed on as wide a pool of internet fora and blogs as they can find RSS feeds for. Remember: this isn’t tracking sales, and it isn’t even tracking popularity (because conceivably a game could get onto the chart if there were a sufficiently virulent negative reaction to it).

I’ve been going month-by-month compiling this stuff to see how things change; even though the chart samples the last 90 days of discussion to my understanding, because the chart seems to be a work in progress and I want to see how it evolves and only checking in on it every 90 days would mean I missed a lot of updates. This month, I find myself glad I made that decision.

Note that I’m presenting here the scores assigned to each game, not the percentages (which vary depending on which chart on the page you’re looking at due to the way you have a chart of non-D&D RPGs, a chart of D&D-based games, and a combined chart (new this month).

RANK	GAME					SCORE
1	Pathfinder RPG				288
2	D&D Next (5E)				164
2	D&D 3rd Edition/3.5			164
4	FATE					114
5	D&D 4th Edition				104
6	World of Darkness			 73
7	Old School Revival (OSR)		 56
8	13th Age				 51
9	Shadowrun				 39
10	Savage Worlds				 38
11	OD&D					 35
12	Numenera				 31
13	Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures	 30
14	Warhammer 40K				 27
15	Star Wars (SAGA/d20)			 24
16	Traveller				 23
16	Call of Cthulhu				 23
18	Exalted					 22
19	Dungeon World				 21
20	GURPS					 20
21	AD&D 2nd Edition			 19
22	CORTEX System				 16
22	Dnd/Pathfinder				 16
24	AD&D 1st Edition			 14
25	Star Trek				 12
25	Dungeon Crawl Classics			 12
27	Gumshoe					 10
27	Star Wars: Edge of the Empire		 10
27	ICONS					 10
30	The One Ring				  9
30	Earthdawn				  9
32	Eclipse Phase				  8
32	Castles & Crusades			  8
32	Dread					  8
35	Dragon Age				  7
35	Deadlands				  7
37	Warhammer FRP				  6
37	Ars Magica				  6
37	Chainmail				  6
40	RIFTS					  5
40	Apocalypse World			  5
40	HERO System / Champions			  5
41	Stars Without Number			  4
41	Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space	  4
41	Gamma World				  4
41	Alternity				  4
41	Mutant Chronicles			  4
46	The Strange				  3
46	Marvel Heroic Roleplaying		  3
46	Iron Kingdoms				  3
46	Feng Shui				  3
46	Firefly					  3
50	d20 Modern				  2
50	d20 Future				  2
50	True20					  2
50	Hackmaster				  2
50	BESM					  2
50	Smallville				  2
50	Colonial Gothic				  2
50	All Flesh Must Be Eaten			  2
50	Hobomancer				  2
50	Stage					  2
50	Other Superhero RPGs			  2
61	Rotted Capes				  1
61	A Song of Ice & Fire			  1
61	Godlike / Wild Talents / NEMESIS	  1
61	Fading Suns				  1
61	Aberrant				  1
61	DC Heroes				  1
67	Brave New World				  0
67	Marvel SAGA				  0
67	Star Wars (d6)				  0
67	Runequest				  0
67	Paranoia				  0

Note that according to the chart page a 0 score doesn’t mean nobody’s mentioned a particular game –  a statistically significant sample has shown up but no more than that. For sanity’s sake I’m only tracking zero-scores which previously scored.

Here’s the chart showing how games’ relative positions have changed since last time.

RANK	GAME					CHANGE
1	Pathfinder RPG				 +1
2	D&D Next (5E)				 -1
2	D&D 3rd Edition/3.5			 +1
4	FATE					 +1
5	D&D 4th Edition				 -1
6	World of Darkness			 +1
7	Old School Revival (OSR)		 -1
8	13th Age				 +1
9	Shadowrun				 +3
10	Savage Worlds				  =
11	OD&D					  =
12	Numenera				 -4
13	Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures	+10
14	Warhammer 40K				 +2
15	Star Wars (SAGA/d20)			 +3
16	Traveller				 +1
16	Call of Cthulhu				 +3
18	Exalted					 +4
19	Dungeon World				 +1
20	GURPS					 +1
21	AD&D 2nd Edition			 -6
22	CORTEX System				 +3
22	Dnd/Pathfinder				NEW
24	AD&D 1st Edition			-11
25	Star Trek				+12
25	Dungeon Crawl Classics			+13
27	Gumshoe					 -5
27	Star Wars: Edge of the Empire		 -3
27	ICONS					 +4
30	The One Ring				 -1
30	Earthdawn				+26
32	Eclipse Phase				 -6
32	Castles & Crusades			 +1
32	Dread					 +4
35	Dragon Age				 -1
35	Deadlands				  =
37	Warhammer FRP				 -8
37	Ars Magica				 +7
37	Chainmail				NEW
40	RIFTS					 +4
40	Apocalypse World			+10
40	HERO System / Champions			+10
41	Stars Without Number			-15
41	Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space	 -2
41	Gamma World				  =
41	Alternity				 +3
41	Mutant Chronicles			 +9
46	The Strange				-14
46	Marvel Heroic Roleplaying		 -3
46	Iron Kingdoms				 -2
46	Feng Shui				 +3
46	Firefly					+10
50	d20 Modern				-22
50	d20 Future				+10
50	True20					 -8
50	Hackmaster				 -2
50	BESM					  =
50	Smallville				 +6
50	Colonial Gothic				NEW
50	All Flesh Must Be Eaten			NEW
50	Hobomancer				NEW
50	Stage					NEW
50	Other Superhero RPGs			NEW
61	Rotted Capes				-11
61	A Song of Ice & Fire			-11
61	Godlike / Wild Talents / NEMESIS	 -5
61	Fading Suns				  =
61	Aberrant				  =
61	DC Heroes				  =
67	Brave New World				-11
67	Marvel SAGA				 -6
67	Star Wars (d6)				 -6
67	Runequest				 -1
67	Paranoia				 -1

Thoughts:

  • OK, something seriously crazy has happened to the scores. Decimal points are now flat-out gone, and the scale only runs up to 100s – sure, there may well have been a big downturn in discussion about Pathfinder and modern editions of D&D recently, but to go down a whole order of magnitude? It’s evident to me that ENWorld has changed the way these scores are compiled on the sly. Whilst it doesn’t seem to have affected the upper reaches of the chart that much, at the same time it does mean that a lot more games are tied due to the reduced precision on offer. Then again, if it was a false precision and the rationalisation has eliminated statistically insignificant distinctions, that’s fine, though it does make the way the rankings are reported on ENWorld (which makes it look like, for example, Colonial Gothic is kicking the ass of D20 Modern when in fact they have the same score) seem silly. So, uh, tune in to Refereeing & Reflection for demonstrably more less misleading reporting of the rankings, I guess.
  • Because of the way the scoring system has been changed up, movement in the chart should probably be taken with a pinch of salt. Some of the movement could further be explained by DriveThruRPG and Kickstarter discussions being incorporated into the statistics. You’re not going to see Wizards Kickstarting anything in the immediate future, and I don’t know whether the DriveThru monitoring includes DNDClassics, DriveThru’s Dungeons & Dragons-specific site. Even so, Pathfinder being substantially ahead of D&D Next so soon after the announcement of the forthcoming release has gotta sting. Then again, Wizards has given us a press release and then really not much to go on – how about announcing what specific form the products are going to take to start generating some buzz for your much vaunted basic/advanced split, huh?
  • Earthdawn has benefited from a little bump which I can only assume is related to the Kickstarter for the new edition. Speaking of Kickstarter products, though, The Strange and Numenera both seem to have a substantially smaller slice of the pie this time, which surprises me considering how recently the Kickstarter for The Strange wrapped up and the fact that Numenera seems to be reasonably active on DriveThru.
  • The more I look at ENWorld’s charts here the stranger the decisions made seem to be. Why were Savage Worlds and Doctor Who listed in the main “non-D&D RPGs” chart but missing from the combined chart? For that matter, there’s categories for Stage, “Other Superhero RPGs” (which ones? Why do minor superhero RPGs not merit their own categories?), and “Dnd/Pathfinder” (surely a category which would be needless if the D&D 3.X and Pathfinder categories were fused) in the combined list that aren’t in the other lists.
  • Other than that, I hesitate to read too much into the current stats due to all the changes. More analysis might be possible next month if things settle down.
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