Cruel Trinkets

Why is the RPG Industry Growing?

Despite Covid-19’s reign of terror, the RPG industry looks healthier than ever. But why? In a time when we couldn’t get around the table with friends, this surely wasn’t what anyone predicted. So, why is the RPG industry growing?

Playtesting Horde
Our lone hero gets ready to repel the undead legion.

I recently read articles about the growth of the manga and comic book industries. Despite the global pandemic, piracy, any economic downturn, and other negative factors, these market segments proved robust enough to keep growing. The tabletop RPG industry is also reportedly growing, with ICv2 citing a 31% growth in the RPG market in 2020. This growth is great, but what’s actually driving this growth?

I’m asking. I don’t know.

Many of the people who read my blog are intelligent folks who know things though. Maybe their insights will help us figure out the answer.
That means you, so sound off in the comments.

I suspect that community content is certainly playing its part. Websites like the Dungeons Masters Guild and Storytellers Vault give GMs (and DMs, and Storytellers) a way to earn something from the content they’re creating for their games anyway. Now, Paizo is joining the community content market with their own Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite initiatives. It’s a solid route for a publisher with a strong IP to go.

Streaming on platforms like Twitch and YouTube probably brings in more players and more book sales, though I’m not too familiar with the streaming scene and its impact. I’m guessing. I do know that watching HarmonQuest always got me amped to play though. It’s the perfect kind of marketing that worked for TV: look at us, we’re happy (playing D&D), you should join us and also (play D&D).

Being at home more might have had an impact too, though I don’t know how many people are still spending most of their time at home. After a few months of lockdown I picked up skateboarding again, maybe many others have dived back into roleplaying? I’d love to find the numbers and know the actual trends.

Then there’s the virtual tabletop boom, and of particular interest to us, the growth of solo RPG gaming.

Most likely, all of these factors are because of the pandemic. If that’s the case, then should we expect the market to contract as the world recovers from Covid? Nothing is forever, as they say.

Above is a short poll I did at the start of the year. I didn’t get loads of responses, but if this is any indication of how people and the market reacted to the crisis, then it’s worth digging deeper and understanding exactly what’s going on. My feeling is that demand outpaced supply, leading to better sales. What do you think?

If you like knowing about the RPG industry, you should add your voice to Kim Frandsen’s RPG questionnaire, which is running until October 1st, 2021. He’ll send out the results via e-mail if you add yours to your response. He’ll also be publishing his findings on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, so connect with him now.

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