The Orr Group is kind of a restless bunch. That’s why we created Roll20 and continue refining it— we can’t leave well enough alone.
We heard many folks at conventions talk about how “THIS tabletop game is just destroying THAT tabletop game… nobody even plays THAT one anymore” and became a bit flummoxed. We had done surveys over a year ago that indicated a lot of diversity in gameplay via Roll20. The more we began to think about it, the more he figured we had a large enough population that our numbers would paint a complete picture the likes of which only ICv2 was offering. And our numbers would take a step beyond conventional publishing, as gameplay in our interface isn’t tied to books currently being printed.
We published our first findings— Third Quarter of 2014— recently, and we’re really excited about all the discussion they’ve generated. We’re looking forward to more conversations spawned by these figures, but also wanted to give our perspective as to how this data might be viewed.
How’d You Get These Numbers?
Above you saw me reference a survey— our Summer 2013 info survey. We had about 2,500 people respond, and one of the items polled was, “The games that you play in Roll20 include…” to which we gave around a dozen possible answers in addition to leaving an “Other, Please Specify” field. We used those answers to help us launch our “Looking for Group” system. Our plan with the LFG system was that we only wanted to provide games that you could ALWAYS find a group for— meaning there had to be a big enough population of people playing the game on Roll20 that there would always be others seeking a game. We used this list of games to power two parts of our website:
Your personal profile where you can select what you enjoy playing / what you’re seeking a group for:
And your My Campaigns area, where you can select what game is currently being played, and add it to the LFG section of Roll20:
It’s from those two places that we made The Orr Group Industry Report. Self-reported use of the Roll20 system. In the report we state we worked from a sample size of 25,000 games and 15,000 players— each one of those campaigns and players were active during Quarter 3, thus being included. That said, many, many users don’t select what games they are playing— in the last 24 hours, for example, over 6,000 games accessed and the vast majority of those have not selected what is being played. Additionally, a Game Master is more likely to indicate what campaign they’re starting than a player is likely to alter their profile as it has no effect on the player simply being able to join the Game Master’s session.
What Were the Results?
Here they are in full:
Based on a sample size of approximately 25,000 games and 15,000 players.
Notes on how information is gathered:
“Games” = % of games where the Game Master said “this is what we’re playing.”
“Players” = % of players who were active in the quarter and filled in the “this is what I enjoy playing” field on their profile.
Percentages will total more than 100% because each player/game can have more than one game type designated. This is extremely common for players and rare for the games.
This only takes into account games/players which were active (e.g. game was played, player played at least one game) during the 3rd Quarter of 2014.
This is meant to be a representative sample, as it only takes into account games and players who filled out relevant fields on their game page/profile. There was significantly more than 25k games and 15k players who played in this quarter, but many do not fill out these fields.
The list of available games to select were curated by Roll20’s staff based on previous free-form survey results, and will be changing in the future.
What Do These Numbers Mean?
There are a lot of different ways to interpret these results. Starting from the top, it’s wild that nearly 27% of all games on Roll20 are Pathfinder games and nearly 44% of games fall into one of the four main edition categories we gave to Dungeons & Dragons. Turning to the player numbers, there’s absolutely some overlap in the 43% of folks who identify themselves as Pathfinder gamers and the 45% who see themselves as D&D 3.5 players, which is something we might want to examine down the line. It has been amusing (and a little frustrating) on our part to see these results twisted by both Paizo and Wizards of the Coast enthusiasts to mean one system or the other is on top, when to our eyes this shows a complex battle being fought on a few fronts.
In terms of other games being played, we’ve seen some people look at these results and say, “Well, the system is called Roll20, so don’t you EXPECT the majority of gameplay to revolve around 20-sided die games?” and we’re pretty pleased at how this isn’t overwhelmingly the case. The combined showings for games like Dungeon World, Savage Worlds, Shadowrun, and FATE clearly indicate Roll20 is being actively used for all manner of gameplay— which is precisely the type of diversity we hope to see in the community. The similarity of The Orr Group Industry Report’s scale to ICv2 numbers or even a search of Google Trends show that Roll20’s population is at least generally representative of what is happening in the roleplaying industry.
Where things get really interesting to us are the disparities between Game and Player percentages. 10% of people identify as Warhammer 40k gamers, but less than 2% of all games fall into that category? That seems odd for a game where our logic of generally 1v1 combat should translate into similar game-to-player representation. Is there an interest in Warhammer 40k that our interface isn’t allowing to be capitalized upon?
What Happens Next?
The fourth quarter should be very interesting from the start, as we watch if the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons moves up towards the wildly popular 3.5 realm or settles closer to the use of 4th Edition.
Beyond that, now that our players know we’re watching this data, will more take the time to indicate what they’re using Roll20 for?
Further, what additions or subtractions do we as curators make? Do we add something like Stars Without Number due to its increased popularity in the wake of Rollplay? What about newer games now available on our own Marketplace like Simple System and The Quiet Year?
It’s our hope that others reading these numbers WILL seek to change them or simply take advantage of them. We don’t view these numbers as locked, but instead as opportunities. As Roll20 grows by approximately 1,000 users every day, we know that game masters and players are seeking new and exciting content to experience, and we’ll be exploring how to best meet their expectations with publishers big and small.
All of these are exciting conversations to have as we look to the future— we hope you’ll join in the discussion by having your group report what you’re playing and by helping us to better understand what trends develop in the years to come!