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D&D: Standing on the Shoulders of Past Success

The Boston Globe recently ran a cool article about D&D’s resurgence with the launch of 5E.

My one nitpick, though, is this quote “the game, which experienced strong growth throughout the 1970s and ’80s, began a slump in the 2000s.” Which is the narrative that the current team would LIKE to push … but the truth of the matter is that as good as sales are now (particularly compared to the launch, not to mention the final days, of 4E), they are nowhere NEAR as good as they were in 2000-2002, the first two years of D&D 3E. The sales slump began in 2003 with the release of 3.5.

It’s POSSIBLE that from a measure of revenue generated that 5E has “outsold” 3E at launch … but even THAT seems unlikely, or only BARELY true. And although I don’t have the numbers myself, the WAY that WotC talks about the success tells me that it’s absolutely true that 5E is not even approaching the unit sales that D&D had back in 2000.

I’m NOT trying to start an “edition war” … I like 5E A LOT and will probably play it as my fantasy game of choice for games I run during the next few years (at least). But it bugs me when WotC denies or ignores past success in order to make its current situation look like “the best it’s ever been.”

Still and all, I’m wildly HAPPY that 5E is out and is a hit! And I’m proud of the work that my friends did in designing and developing what could be the version of D&D that ends up having the longest legs.

 

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