Paizo's Pathfinder vs WotC 4E sales

edited October 2010 in Story Games
Over in Stuff to Watch/October, John posted a couple of links to a comparison of sales between Pathfinder and 4E. I started typing a reply there, but soon realized it was far too long for that thread, and was derailing in itself. So I'm making a new thread, if anyone wants to talk about this (from any perspective: marketing, economy, D&D editions, whatever).

Here's my original reply:
[Pathfinder and 4E tied sales 1]
Red Box might be outselling Pathfinder on Amazon (for obvious reasons), but Paizo is supposedly coming out with their own "essentials" line. Even if they won't have the nostalgia credit for marketing, I'm guessing it will do well in some circles. I'm really interested how it will turn out.

A few other thoughs:
-it would be very interesting to see the figures for various OSR clones, LotFP sold like hotcakes (although its print run cannot be compared to behemoths like Paizo or WotC), and there is Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry, Basic Fantasy (plus all the faux supplements (like Carcosa) and the modules...I'm really curious what their figures would look like if put together. I think there are actually three parallel markets for D&D right now.

-I'm really really curious what Pathfinder 2.0 will be like. If you go to RPGnet, there's a bunch of threads with questions like "How much did Pathfinder change from 3.x?" and the common answer seems to be "not enough". My secret wish is that with a new edition (when they come out with it, a few years down the line), they will see the potential of the OSR market and make a sort of hybrid*, further strengthening their "old"D&D position versus the "new"D&D of 4E (even Mearls has been talking about how he wants to take the game back, closer to its roots).

(*which is kinda how I'm running my game now)

-re: modules, just something that crossed my mind. Over on Grognardia, James was complaining how these days "adventure" and "module" seem to be synonymous with "pre-planned plot" (which goes hand-in-hand with the 90's insistence of the GM as storyteller, metaplots, and "roleplaying = collaborative storytelling but NOT story now"), whereas the modules of old were more location based. You had a place with its own people, secrets etc, there was no "plot" to it. The PC wandered into it and whatever happened, happened, if they missed the big bad's secret plan, no biggie. It was just a set piece to interact with and explore (which is much closer to how Story Now deals with "setting", in my eyes - don't plan, play to find out what happens, don't have solutions in mind, just create situations)

Comments

  • Believe it or not, Lisa Stevens is my Wednesday night DM. The only campaign I had to sign an NDA to play (we started when Pathfinder was in alpha), and so I don't know how much I can really participate in the conversation, but I do get the impression that a 2.0 is not even a glimmer in their eyes yet - the whole point of Pathfinder is to keep their baby alive, the baby they created back when they were at Wizards, and most of their customers (on the Paizo boards) don't want change - Lisa never expected it to do so well. She's over the moon.

    On sales figures - game sales (well, anything sales) follow a power curve. You have a couple of successful heavy hitters and then everything else trails off rapidly. I'd expect that the plays (I won't say sales because we're including free games) of any given clone is nigh-immaterial compared to Pathfinder, 4e, and people who are still playing 3.5. Taking the sales of D&D + Pathfinder and doubling it would probably be an overly optimistic estimate if you were trying to guess "How many tabletop D&D-like gamers are out there, anyway?" by my back of the napkin estimates.

    Random interesting factoid: Back when Hasbro bought Wizards one of the sweetest plums was the digital D&D rights - much sweeter than the book rights. (But nowhere as sweet as Pokemon.) And then they sold those sweet, sweet digital rights to the company formerly known as Infogrames and everyone looks forward to the day that Wizards will get those rights back. Well, everyone except the company formerly known as Infogrames.

    Not to derail the thread, but the Paizo product I'm most excited about is the "Plot Twist Deck" - we played our last campaign with "whimsy cards" that Lisa's had since her Lion Rampant days (I think), but I didn't start really getting a feel for how to use them to push my own story agenda until I started hanging out on this forum. I think my new attitude + the cooler cards could create some big awesome.
  • I don't think we're going to see a Pathfinder 2.0 for a relatively long time.
  • Posted By: jenskotI don't think we're going to see a Pathfinder 2.0 for a relatively long time.
    Agreed. I'd bet we'd see many more errata-inclusive printings before we saw a new edition. Backwards compatibility was a big win for Paizo finding its market.

    I too have a wish for an alternate reality Pathfinder, but I think the best I can hope for is a 'Pathfinder Slim' version with the same rules but fewer classes and levels.
  • edited October 2010
    Now that you say it, yeah it seems obvious that a second edition will be long in the coming. I just assumed that there would be one some day, probably sooner than later. Which is a bit of a pity, but also good. Pathfinder is a sort of premature OSR for people who started gaming in the late 90's/early 00's instead of 70's or 80's. It's about keeping that particular edition alive, not taking the game in a new direction. Point taken.
  • I recently spoke with a source in the distribution channel about the market prospects for Dungeon Construction Kit, my 4E product. He asked if I had looked into a Pathfinder version, and said that in the last quarter he had sold as much 3rd party product for Pathfinder as for 4E. I got the impression that this hadn't been the case with prior quarters but I didn't specifically ask about that. That was very useful for me; I've got some thoughts about how I might market versions for both 4E and Pathfinder but I need to do some footwork before making any plans.
  • Posted By: TeatainePathfinder is a sort of premature OSR for people who started gaming in the late 90's/early 00's instead of 70's or 80's. It's aboutkeeping that particular edition alive, not taking the game in a new direction. Point taken.
    Is it? I've been wondering about Pathfinder culture since first hearing of its great success. It's really mystifying to me. I completely drank the 3E Kool-Aid when it came out, and rightly so—at the time, it was the only halfway-decently designed RPG I'd ever seen in my life. But this idea of it as the be-all and end-all of RPGs and that a revised version of it is all we need, forever, seems odd to me.

    I guess this is just one of those things about the majority of RPGers I'll never get: once they find a game they like, they just want to do that one thing always.

    Matt
  • Posted By: DeliveratorI guess this is just one of those things about the majority of RPGers I'll never get: once they find a game they like, they just want to do that one thing always.
    I've got an explanation for that, but I'm not keen on sharing it, 'cause it's usually perceived as a trolling attempt.
  • Posted By: DeliveratorI guess this is just one of those things about the majority of RPGers I'll never get: once they find a game they like, they just want to do that one thing always.
    I guess it's the hassle of learning a new system. That gets quoted a lot, especially by strictly traditionalist gamers who don't realise that not every system has the sprawling complexity of D&D. Me, I've always preferred to try new games, although if I don't like a game I tend not to go back to it, and I have to find something interesting in the premise. 'Best Friends', while a good game in its own way, is a game I will never play because I'm just not interested in the idea of an RPG that runs somewhat like 'Sex in the City'.

    Hold on, what was the thread about again? Ak, D&D and Pathfinder. I hate them. I can never find groups who are willing to play anything else >_< Still, it's certainly interesting to see that the battle between Grognards faithful to 3rd Ed and Gamers willing to give the new rules a chance (whether they play them as well as buy them being another question) is a somewhat even-sided one.

    -Ash
  • After browsing the intertubes for a bit I found two unofficial statements from Paizo people or people close to Paizo saying something like "We aren't even considering a new edition." and "2nd edition is at least 10 years away", which pretty much confirms that the intention behind Pathfinder is to preserve that edition and continue support for it, and not to do something new.
  • Even though I'm not a fan of the Pathfinder system, I'm a fan of Paizo. They're successful because they understand their fans' needs, have great customer support, and decades of experience. 2nd edition would make absolutely no sense for their goals.
  • 3e was a good game, so Pathfinder is a good game, so people like it. I don't know what the big mystery is.
  • edited October 2010
    I will say this for Pathfinder: it is a miracle of the binder's craft. They sell it from the top shelf at my local Border's, which strikes me as unwise since (1) the San Andreas runs basically under the store and (2) Pathfinder is about twenty pounds of game.

    Seriously, it is like a foot thick. You need Exotic Weapon Proficiency in it to wield it without a penalty, it's two-handed but lacks reach, and it does 2d4. Blunt, if your deity cares about that.
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