I can only think of one other company that had success similar to D&D, White Wolf in the 1990s with their Vampire game. While it never became as popular as D&D, it’s the only other game I know that achieved mainstream recognition (even if it wasn’t a household name), and they even had a prime time television series on Fox.
I’m more of a Call of Cthulhu player/Keeper, actually. Maybe Mothership or Runequest if I could get a group together.
For two years? Seven quarters? Eleven quarters? From the point that PF1 came out in '09 against DND 4E to the release of 5E, Paizo was at top for sales. While Vampire did better with other things, like the TV show, their sales never did better than 25% of the market, IIRC. Even at its worst, late 90s, DND still had 50% share.
Yep, DND is a juggernaut that keeps on rolling. DND is synonymous with TTRPG, like Kleenex is to tissue.
I think that the comments on contracts are correct. WotC created the OGL to make sure that what happened that allowed them to buy TSR doesn’t happen again so that DND would always be out there in some form. Dancey has said as much. Hasbro, IIRC, never liked it after getting WotC but for whatever reason, this is their first big attempt to change that. Well, second if they pushed for 4E but that failed.
Roll For Combat got and released the full text of the leaked OGL 1.1.
Thanks for the discussion!
Indeed; WotC quickly discovered that an edition that felt radically different from D&D (4E), created in an effort to attract MMO players to a tabletop game, alienated a lot of their players, who really really liked 3E/3.5. First edition Pathfinder was, of course, 3.5 D&D at its core, and thrived because they inherited that player base who felt that 4E wasn’t for them.
Even if White Wolf’s WoD games were never top sellers in the category, they were instrumental in changing players’ views of what an RPG could be: they were edgier, and had a greater emphasis on role-playing and storytelling, than nearly anything that had come before.
I found the first several releases of 4E to be fun. It isn’t until PH2 and when they started blurring and removing the defined roles of classes from PH1 that I didn’t like it. I also think that Epic tier was broken instead of similar to the other tiers. So, yes, 4E eventually pushed me to PF1 but it wasn’t right away.
I also think that Shadowrun, which I love, Star Wars d6, and several other games also did that but Vampire did do it better and in ways that grabbed people’s attention more than the other games. I think it was a great coming together of 90s grunge/goth with an RPG that helped them play rebels that really helped WoD.
Thanks for the reply!
According to Chris Sims, who worked both on 4th edition D&D and at Paizo, “To kill a myth: 4e did fine financially. It didn’t do as well as Wizards/Hasbro hoped in the long term, but the game did fine early in its life cycle. I assure you it outsold Pathfinder by a large factor. The idea that it was otherwise is optics, popular myth, not truth.”
I was given to think that Pathfinder outsold 4th edition as well, but that might not be the case.
I started playing World of Warcraft shortly after the release of 4th edition, and the similarities were immediate to me. There are several online forums where comparing 4th edition to an MMORPG will get you a warning from the moderators. Apparently comparing the two is a contentious area in some circles, but the similarities are obvious to me.
As a teenaged boy, the first thing I noticed about White Wolf’s Vampire is that teenaged girls played it. While I know some girls played back then, they weren’t in any of my groups, and the ones I did know sure didn’t wear corsets. When I worked at a comic book store a few years later, D&D 3rd edition was selling just fine, but when women came in they were most likely to go for a White Wolf game than WotC. Women and girls certainly make up a larger percentage of D&D players today than they did when I was a teen. Or so it seems.
“Did fine early in its life cycle,” is a significantly qualified statement. I bought the 4th Ed. books as soon as they were published. Ran, IIRC, two sessions, and my players revolted because they hated the system. My group took a brief hiatus (maybe six months?) until the first edition of Pathfinder came out, then switched to that. My purchase would have supported the success of the line “early in its life cycle,” but it was still a huge failure with my group. And there was definitely a period there where, if you went to a game con, there’d be pages and pages of Pathfinder games on offer in the schedule, and 1/10th as many 4th Ed. games. At least around where I lived, anyway.
I didn’t venture into MMOs until a few years after 4E launched, but once I did, I could instantly see the similarities.
I, too, enjoyed 4E at first, but the bookkeeping during combat became a serious drag. 4E made extensive use of conditions and effects (as well as powers/abilities that recharged), and unlike an MMO, where the game engine keeps track of, calculates, and applies those effects automatically, in 4E, the players and DM had to keep track of it all.
I had players who struggled to remember the difference between various conditions (e.g., “what’s the difference between dazed and stunned?”), as well as struggling to remember if an effect was still going on or not. An entire cottage industry sprung up around 4E, to provide players with tokens and tools with which to keep track of all of that crap, which, to me, said a lot about how unnecessarily complicated it was.
And, that’s why we stopped playing 4E – I (as DM) realized that my players were spending all of their time face-down in their character sheets, trying to remember how their characters worked, and they weren’t paying attention to the story, or the information I was trying to give them.
Not only that, but WotC listened to the loudest squeaky wheels, some of whom admitted they didn’t even play D&D. (Paizo did the same when they came out with Pathfinder 2nd, ed, which was/is a failure). For example, the squeaky wheels complained loudly and bitterly about class balance- because yes, once spellcasters got higher level spells they ruled the game. But they ignored the fact that people loved playing the martial classes (fighters, rogues, etc). So in 4th ed, every class was the same basic deal, with a different flavor. But you see, the actual line players didn’t necessarily want that.
WotC is doing the same with 6th, listening to a small cadre of people who do the play testing.
Yeah. Sure, 4th ed sold well to start. But then most players (such as my group) switched to Pathfinder.
Very true. One complaint I often heard about 4E was, “every class is a spellcaster.” Even if you were playing a fighter or barbarian (which had, nearly always, been the choice to give to players who wanted simple characters to play), you had an array of at-will powers, encounter powers, daily powers, etc. – in effect, “spells.”
Which made the “simple” classes no longer so simple.
I’m seeing a bunch of posts on Facebook claiming that the Star Wars video game Knights of the Old Republic used the OGL. So is Hasbro going to sue Disney?
<evil laugh> Let slip the dogs of war! </evil laugh>
Hasbro better cast Pass Without a Trace!
I think that’s probably accurate; at the time that the KotOR games came out, WotC had the Star Wars tabletop RPG license, and were producing a d20 version of the Star Wars RPG. My understanding is that the underlying mechanics for KotOR were based on the d20 system, and the character classes in the video game were based on the classes in the tabletop RPG.
It’s unlikely that the OGL applies to the KOTOR games. As kenobi points out, they were a license of an existing WotC product at the time (the Star Wars d20 RPG) and almost certainly made under a separate licensing deal whose terms would override the OGL.
Also, while Disney owns Star Wars, the rights to the Old Republic setting (and all the KOTOR games) are actually held by EA. If Hasbro wanted to sue somebody over these games, it would be them, not Disney.
Good point; I’d agree that it’s more likely that KotOR licensed the Star Wars d20 rules, rather than relying solely on the OGL.
Disney / Star Wars had their own special license for it.
Further, just checked my books and they are d20 compatible but not OGL. So, no issues there. Further, the OGL1.1 attempt to kill old products only works, in theory IANAL, if they try and print RPGs under the older OGL. As that is long out of print, there still isn’t any issue.
I’m one of the few who doesn’t see 4E as a WoW type game. I’m not arguing there are similarities. I was there at GenCon '08 for the release and saw the suite of digital products they wanted for this. It included a character generator program, a character modeler program, and a VTT. There might have been some others.
What I saw was a more gamist approach to DND, that’s for sure. Instead of I swing my sword, it was “I Cleave” or “I bring a Tide of Iron down on my foes.” Further, Book of Nine Swords had created this type of Martial in 3E. It was 3E’s attempt to scale up the martial types instead of scaling down the casters. With that, yes, you had daily abilities and encounter abilities.
What I also saw in this was a way for WotC to sell all of those as power cards, which I think they did. THAT was the motivation, imo, to sell more things to players, such as these easy cards to track class powers. I think what WotC/Hasbro failed to realize at the time was how good printers were and how cheap players are. (Maybe it’s just mine.) There were so many sites that had them all done in a PDF, maybe even for sale on DTRPG for a quarter of the offical ones, and then it was just printing them.
This is probably a distinction without a difference, though.
I still have players who forget what condition is what. I still forget it for 5E or Level Up since I’m not as versed in them.
My players liked that combat side of it and so didn’t mind tracking things. If anything, they were too good at min maxing. I wanted to have an epic battle at Epic Tier but didn’t min max my bad guys and then watched as two characters proceeded to do a combined 4k of damage to the main bad guy in the first round and end it.
My players were also fine with 4E! They seemed to like it. It was me as DM that didn’t like it and went to Pathfinder.
I have no real numbers. All I saw at the time were charts like this:
Sadly, I haven’t found a site that lists all of them out, only quarter by quarter. I do agree that DND was still the juggernaut of gaming and being knocked down to number two was huge at the time. Assuming this is correct in the face of the Chris Sims quote.
Currently, all I see is this for numbers:
Thanks for the replies!
ETA: What I find more interesting is that I think that PF2 is more like 4E and 5E DND than PF1. It is based on keywords, a la 4E, and has a sliding bounded accuracy. The GMG suggests a way to remove adding level and suddenly it looks a lot like 5E!