Gen Con 2018: RPGs and Data

Okay – so, I was doing research and ended up in a forum that talked about RPGs at Gen Con. People with more intelligence about this kind of thing than I started the discussion an you can join directly right here.

There’s some fascinating things going on here. From a normal industry, we’d be able to look at some of these numbers and undeniably say “better up production” (where here production is, at least, seats at Gen Con). Anyone who’s in the industry knows that it isn’t quite that simple. However, there’s some fascinating stuff to delve into.

A Gen Con Aside

I’m going to use “volunteers” for people who run games for other companies at events like this one. Sometimes these folks are paid. I’m still going to call them volunteers because that’s what a lot of people I talk to call them. Just, head’s up.

The Big Two

Unsurprising, but it is 5e and Pathfinder. Both, however, have only in the 70% to 80% range for attendance. That isn’t too bad. There are plenty of groups outside of the big two who are running these systems, and there are a lot of options.

Some people who aren’t me pointed out that this is a bit of a hit to Pathfinder, but there are a ton of potential reasons that this could be. A popular one is that they have Starfinder now, and that directly competes, at least for volunteers interested in supporting Paizo.

Next Tier

Next up is Games on Demand and Starfinder. They’re both sizeable and I don’t see anything fascinating going on in the data. Games on Demand appears to be 100% sold out. That’s cool, but they are a different beast.

After them is Call of Cthulhu which has a 97% fill rate, then Shadowrun at 83%. Then Dungeon Crawl Classics at 90% filled. Those three have between 1000 and 2000 seats. This shows some interesting things. Call of Cthulhu has been doing well for the last few years, with 7th ed and a pile of other successes. I’m running some Call of Cthluhu there and it sold out in the first day. I think in this area we see something really interesting with the niche interest groups. None of these others have the volume that either Pathfinder or 5e do, but their smaller groups are often under served that make them a bit more fanatical (in a good way).

Some things I saw

There were some interesting other things going on. Delta Green is sold out, same with Eclipse Phase and Bluebeard’s Bride. These are even smaller niches than CoC et al, but they look like they might be in a place where they are being under served. They all deal with some darker and different things, and are all doing incredibly well.

There are plenty of RPGs that don’t seem to secure or reach their audiences at Gen Con, which can be difficult. You aren’t just competing with other RPGs, but also against the general noise of the convention as a whole.

Special Mentions

A friend of mine is running a new RPG called Ragnarok that is hoping to go to Kickstarter next year. He sold out the seats super quickly. I’m running a new RPG that I’m designing that did NOT sell out. Finally, I’m doing some help with an RPG called Lex Arcana that was added a bit late, so still has seats available. Check it out!

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