Goodman Games: “4E is Doing Fine”

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!

Comments (7)

Cedric (June 21st, 2009)

Another thing to consider is that DDI is a huge deal and nothing like it was present before, making it harder to compare sales.

I can envision a time where most of WotC’s profit can come from selling content online rather than physical books once we have better and cheaper content readers like the amazon kindle.

That time is not that far off.

Jonathan Drain (June 21st, 2009)

A follow-up: On RPGPundit’s blog, former D&D brand manager Ryan Dancey has a follow-up.

Toord (June 22nd, 2009)

It’s the Interwebs … you get a point-counter-point and it devolves into a flame war. (sigh).

Tetsubo (June 22nd, 2009)

We’re gamers, we live for the quibbling!

For me, it isn’t the sales that really matter. It boils down too what do you, as a fan of the hobby, think ‘feels’ more like D&D? Some will shrug and say it doesn’t matter, gaming is gaming. Some have drunk deeply from the 4E koolaid trough and champion the new system. Others, such as myself, think that 3.5 is the one true way.

I am not proud of this but I want WotC to fail miserably with 4E. I want them to close their doors. It bothers me how much I want this to happen. WotC has abandoned what I consider is the best version of the game. So I don’t want them to keep producing what I consider to not be D&D.

Toord (June 22nd, 2009)


I hear you and I agree with you wrt 3.5 vs. 4E. My advice though, is that you work on your hate. Hate is bad news man … it’s not healthy and the more you hate something the more it will affect you. And the more that something succeeds the more you’ll get sick. It’s bad news all over, man.

A fellow by the name of Nelson Mandela said this right after being freed after 27 years of wrongful imprisonment,

”[…]And I realized that if I kept hating them once I got in that car and got through the gate, I would still be in prison. So, I let it go, ‘cause I wanted to be free”

Don’t be hatin’ :)

Samuel Van Der Wall (June 25th, 2009)

The amazing thing about D&D is that many of the editions are doing well. There aren’t that many games out there that have a huge following on multiple editions of the game. For example, I personally don’t know many groups playing all the different editions of Shadowrun. It just speaks to the popularity of a game such as D&D.

Noumenon (October 6th, 2010)

Whatever happened to Goodman Games, anyway? They weren’t even at Gen Con this year.

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