Joseph Goodman isn’t as famous in the RPG industry as Monte Cook or Erik Mona, but his company Goodman Games is a well known publisher of third-party D20 material. In an unorthodox move this week, Joseph shares some insider knowledge on 4E success:
The pre-orders on Dungeon Crawl Classics #53, #54, and #55 were larger than anything I had seen in years. More recently, Level Up #1 sold out its first wave of distribution sales in under 48 hours, then sold out the second wave of distributor restocks a week later, and distributors continue to place huge restocks. There is significant distributor support for 4E.
A few interesting points from his post:
- PDF sales are tiny compared to print book sales. This probably being the case with Wizards of the Coast too, it now makes more sense why cancelled their PDF line in April. Wizards may have judged the PDF sales to be insufficient to be worth the increased online piracy rates.
- Some companies are comparing sales of similar 3E and 4E products to judge 4E’s success, but Joseph argues that this isn’t accurate measure: differences in WotC’s books, D&D Insider and the difference in user base eight years after 3E’s launch have changed the playing field, and this is affecting what people will buy.
- Despite rumours that game stores aren’t supporting 4E, Joseph Goodman is in frequent contact with over a hundred stores, and it seems that the stores which don’t support 4E are in the minority. Conversely, it’s very difficult to argue with someone online who says “my local store doesn’t support 4E”, as you have no way to check.
- Many compare 4E sales to D&D in 1982 or D&D 3E in 2001, both record highs for D&D sales. It’s arguably unfair to do so, since by that logic D&D has been failing for 33 years out of the 35 since its release. The global economy downturn is also hitting D&D sales, and this may reveal a sales improvement when the recession lifts.
Of course, as ever, the best advice is to play whichever edition, RPG or game you enjoy. Games are to be enjoyed, not quibbled over!