2000 - WotC Market Research Summary

by Janine Winfree published 2022/11/12 09:28:24 GMT-7, last modified 2022-11-12T09:28:24-07:00
Adventure Game Industry Market Research Summary (RPGs) V1.0 from http://www.seankreynolds.com/rpgfiles/gaming/WotCMarketResearchSummary.html

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Adventure Game Industry Market Research Summary (RPGs) V1.0

Release Date: February 07, 2000

Summary prepared by:
Ryan S. Dancey,
Vice President, Wizards of the Coast;
Brand Manager, Dungeons & Dragons

Permissions: This file is Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast. This file
may be freely redistributed or quoted in whole or part, provided that this
attribution remains intact.

Methodology: Wizards of the Coast regularly surveys various aspects of the
adventure gaming channel; distributors, retailers and consumers to better
understand their preferences, concerns, and needs. That data is regularly
reviewed and distributed internally to senior management. The contents of
this file are excerpts from those sources; the source materials themselves
are confidential internal documents and are not available to the public. You
have my assurances that to the best of my ability, the information presented
in this document represents a fair and accurate representation of the data.

Sources: The primary source is a market segmentation study conducted in the
summer of 1999.  No confidential information provided by non-Wizards
companies was used in the preparation of this report.

Exclusions: The internal information gathered by Wizards is considered an
important competitive advantage. Therefore, not all the information
available to Wizards is incorporated in this document, and there may be
areas where substantial, significant information is purposefully not
included. An effort has been made to ensure that the absence of any portion
of this confidential information would not render the material provided
herein inaccurate or invalid.

Pokemon Effect: As this study was conducted just as the Pokemon TCG
phenomenon was gathering speed.  For this, and several internal reasons, I
have elected not to present information on the TCG component of the industry
at this time.

Updates: From time to time, I intend to revise and update this file to
reflect our ongoing efforts to understand the industry. When an update
occurs, the version number of the document will be changed, as will the
ìrelease dateî. Interested parties can write to me at ryand@frpg.com to
request an up to date copy of this document.


Section 1: The Segmentation Study

Since so much of this data is derived from the í99 Segmentation Study, it is
important that the reader understand how this data was gathered.

For the purpose of the 1999 study, the following methodology was employed:

A two phase approach was used to determine information about trading card
games (TCGs), role playing games (RPGs) and miniatures wargames (MWG) in the
general US population between the ages of 12 and 35. For the rest of this
document, this group is referred to as ìthe marketplaceî or ìthe marketî, or
ìthe consumersî.

This age bracket was arbitrarily chosen on the basis of internal analysis
regarding the probable target customers for the companyís products. We know
for certain that there are lots of gamers older than 35, especially for
games like Dungeons & Dragons; however, we wanted to keep the study to a
manageable size and profile. Perhaps in a few years a more detailed study
will be done of the entire population.

Information from more than 65,000 people was gathered from a questionnaire
sent to more than 20,000 households via a post card survey. This survey was
used as a ìscreenerî to create a general profile of the game playing
population in the target age range, for the purposes of extrapolating trends
to the general population.

This "screener" accurately represents the US population as a whole; it is a
snapshot of the entire nation and is used to extrapolate trends from more
focused surveys to the larger market.

A follow up survey was completed by about a thousand respondents from the
ìscreenerî. The follow up survey is an extensive document with more than 100
questions. The particular individuals chosen to participate in this expanded
survey represent the population, as determined by the screener. In other
words, the small detailed survey group can be reasonably extrapolated to the
larger screener group, and the larger screener group can be logically
extrapolated to the public in general. This is a common, standard, and
accepted methodology within the market research field.

The data from the detailed survey was collated and prepared by the Wizards
market Research Department, in conjunction with an external consulting firm.
We believe that the data is a fair and accurate representation of the hobby
game consumer profile and that it does statistically correlate with the
population as a whole in the US for the target age bracket.


Section 2: Basic Terms

As a part of the detailed survey, the following terms and examples were
provided to the respondents:

Term                                Example

(*)Paper RPGs                       Dungeons & Dragons
Card Games                          Bridge, Solitaire,
                                    Uno, Poker
Trading Card Games                  Magic, Pokemon
Word/ knowledge                     Scrabble,
                                    Trivial Pursuit
Puzzle computer games               Tetris
Non-competitive problem solving     Sim City, Myst
Puzzle table games                  Jenga, Dominoes
Class board games                   Chess, Monopoly, Go
Action/Shooter/Arcade               Doom, Mortal Kombat
Miniatures table-top fantasy/sci-fi Warhammer
Games that use miniatures           Battletech
War games                           Historical
Simulations                         Flight/car
Strategy games                      Risk, Civilization
Social/party games                  Charades,
Strategic sport simulations         Madden, MLB
Other non-sport games               N/A

Specific questions were also designed to separate users of ìcomputer Role
Playing Gamesî vs. ìpaper Role Playing Gamesî.

(*) For my own purposes, I choose to use the term ìTabletop RPGsî in this
document; the term ìpaper RPGsî was used in the study. The terms are
synonyms; my choice is simply personal. I believe that in the fairly near
future ìpaperî RPGs will hybridize with computer assistance ñ not becoming
ìcomputer RPGsî as that term is commonly understood, but not being games
played simply with paper anymore either. Consider this a ìforward lookingî

The term ìD&Dî is used herein to describe all flavors and types of D&D play;
from old ìwhite boxî players up to people playtesting 3rd Edition.


Section 3: Basic Demographics

The study provides the following information about the basic demographics of
the tabletop RPG marketplace:

Size:  6% play or have played TRPGs (~ 5.5 million
       3% play monthly (~ 2.25 million people)

Gender: 19% are female (monthly players)

Crossover:  17% of the total play MWGs monthly
            46% of the total play computer RPGs monthly
            26% of the total play TCGs monthly

The study provides the following information about the basic demographics of
the computer RPG marketplace:

Size:  8% play or have played CRPGs (~7.3 million
       5% play monthly (~4.5 million people)

Gender: 21% are female

Crossover:  33% of the total play tabletop RPGs monthly
            21% of the total play TCGs monthly
            13% of the total play MWGs monthly

The study provides the following information about the basic demographics of

the MWG marketplace:

Size:  4% play or have played MWGs (~3.7 million people)
       2% play monthly (~1.8 million people)

Gender: 21% are female

Crossover:  37% play tabletop RPGs
            40% play computer RPGs
            29% play TCGs

The age breakdown of players within the marketplace is:

Age   TRPG  MWG  CRPG  All Gamers(*)
12-15  23%   27%   23%   11%
16-18  18%   17%   16%    7%
19-24  25%   24%   23%   13%
25-35  34%   32%   37%   29%

(*) ìAll Gamersî means people in the study population who reported playing
>any< of the game types monthly, not just TCGs, RPGs, MWGs or CRPGs.


1. Few ìGeneral Gamersî:
The first, most notable conclusion we can draw from this information is that
the mythical ìhobby gamerî who plays TRPGs, CRPGs, MWGs and TCGs comprises a
very, very small portion of the total market. A minority of gamers play more
than one category of hobby game; very few play all three. The largest
overlap, though still a minority, is with CRPGs and TRPGs.

This is an exciting conclusion, because it indicates that a company can
successfully create brand in one of the three hobby categories, and extend
that brand into the other two without significantly cannibalizing sales. In
other words, the people who buy the RPG are not likely to be the ones buying
the MWG or the TCG.

2. There are ìWomen in Gamingî
Second, it is clear that female gamers constitute a significant portion of
the hobby gaming audience; essentially a fifth of the total market. This
represents a total population of several million active female hobby gamers.
However, females, as a group, spend less than males on the hobby.

3. Adventure Gaming is an adult hobby
More than half the market for hobby games is older than 19. There is a
substantial ìdipî in incidence of play from 16-18. This lends credence to
the theory that most people are introduced to hobby gaming before
high-school and play quite a bit, then leave the hobby until they reach
college, and during college they return to the hobby in significant numbers.

It may also indicate that the existing group of players is aging and not
being refreshed by younger players at the same rate as in previous years.


Section 4: The Role of Computers

There is an intense, ongoing discussion between publishers and customers
about the use of computers and the interaction between computer game play
and adventure game play. The market research study presented some revealing
insights into this ongoing debate.

Internet Gaming: 51% of the TRPG players report that they have ever played a
game on the internet. 28% report that they play an internet game monthly.

% Who want to buy software to help manage game and speed up combat: 52%
% Who want to play D&D over the internet with others: 50%
% Who read newsgroups, mailing lists and web sites: 37%
% Who currently play with computer assistance: 42%

What computer do gamers use?
Wintel Platform:               63%
Macintosh Platform:             9%

(The question was essentially ìWhat platform have you used in the last
 monthî, and ìnoneî was an option, probably accounting for the missing

Whatís sitting at home?
Wintel Platform:              54%
Macintosh Platform:            7%

Three quarters of the sample use the Internet at least once a week, but only
two thirds have access from home.

ìWho plays electronic games?î
               Computer Console/Handheld  Both
Average Age:   26          23             20
% 6th-8th:      5          20             27
% 9th-12th:    23          52             37
% College:     53          26             31
% Post Grad:   20           2              5
Marital Status
% Single:      52          65             76
% Partnered:   46          29             22

Games electronic gamers play monthly:
                    Computer  Console/Handheld  Both
% TRPGs:               72           54           57
% CRPGs:               44           21           50
% Puzzle Comp:         39           41           49
% Classic Board:       39           48           44
% Action/Shooter:      32           55           61
% Simulations:         25           36           40
% Strategy Games:      26           26           32

One conclusion we draw from this data is that people who play electronic
games still find time to play TRPGs; it appears that these two pursuits are
ìcomplementaryî or ìnoncompetitiveî outside the scope of the macroeconomic
ìdisposable incomeî competition.


Section 5: Tabletop RPG Business

We asked questions of people who play TRPGs to get a better and more
detailed picture of that category. This section explores some of that data.

The market research study provides some useful information on the games TRPG
players play when theyíre not role playing:

51% play a non-TCG card game monthly
43% play a puzzle computer game monthly
43% play a classic board game monthly
58% play an ìaction/shooterî computer game monthly
41% play a ìsimulationî computer game monthly

The >least< played game types were:
26% play a TCG monthly
24% play a puzzle table game monthly
17% play a MWG monthly
17% play a social/party game monthly

When asked how likely a person was to be the DM/GM, the responses were:
2+ Sessions as DM/GM:  47%
Donít DM/GM:           41%

When asked to describe a variety of past game experiences, the market
provided the following data:
Question: Result

Used detailed tables & charts:     76%
Included Miniatures:               56%
Used ìrules lightî system:         58%
Diceless:                          33%
Combat Oriented:                   86% (*)
Live Action:                       49%
House Rules:                       80%
(*) Looked at in reverse, this interesting answer tells us that 14% of the
gamers who play an RPG >have never played< a combat oriented RPG.

Of the people who reported playing a TRPG, we further screened for people
who played D&D and asked those individuals some more detailed questions.
This data comes from people who have played D&D, not necessarily those who
play monthly.

        Age:  <12   12-15   16-18   19-24    25-25
Learned D&D:  23%      41%     15%     12%       9%


One conclusion we drew from the data was that if a player had played longer
than one year, the chances they would play another year were greater than if
they had not yet been playing for a full year. In fact, the longer a person
plays, the higher the chance they will stay in the game; in other words,
players are >less< likely to quit playing D&D the longer they play, not
>more< likely.

                     <=1 Year  >1-5 Years  >5 Years
Expect another Year: 40%       75%         88%

We asked what the frequency of play was:
           Total D&D    <=1 Year    >1-5 Years    >5 Years
Monthly:   7.2          4.9         13.2          5.9

So we see that the longer a player is in the game, the fewer times per month
they play after the 5th year. Once the ìacquisitionî period (1st year) has
passed, frequency of play accelerates tremendously, then drops. One
explanation for this fact may be that since acquisition happens most often
at age 15 or less, ìnew playersî may have a lot of time available for
gaming, but as they age, they have less time per month to play.

We looked at a few other questions based on how long a person had been
playing the game:

[ if this chart gets mangled in the formatting, it has three columns of
data ]
            Typical     4 or More     Average Sessions
            Session     Gamers In     before Restart
            5+ Hours    Group         (New Characters)
Total       28%         62%           15.4
<=1 Year    10%         48%           8.8
>1-5 Years  14%         60%           12.9
(*)>5 Years 42%         71%           19.6

(*) Remember that frequency of play is down sharply for these gamers)

This data tells us that the longer a person plays the game, the longer the
game sessions get, the more people play in the game, and the longer the game
progresses before a character restart. In fact, if you look at the >5 year
group, you realize that the big jump in long sessions and in average
sessions before a restart means that the 5+ year gamers are playing the same
characters, on average, vastly longer than anyone else.

One conclusion might be that it takes 5 years for a player to really master
the system and really figure out what kind of character that player likes to

The following financial figures are for TRPG players in general (D&D
information, where available, is provided as well)

This data seems to validate the theory that young gamers, while very active,
donít spend a lot of money. (The following data is reported by for RPG
expenditures)  The big dollars come from adults...

Total spending by age:
12-17: $297
18-24: $850
25-25: $2,213

And, the longer they stay in the category, the greater their total
Play <=1 Year: $116
Play 1-5 Years: $562
Play >5 Years: $2,502

And if they can be induced to become a DM/GM, expenditures skyrocket.
Will DM/GM: $2,048
Will not DM/GM: $401

Some breakouts for the D&D population in particularÖ

Total D&D spending by age:
12-17: $164
18-24: $443
25-35: $1,642

Monthly D&D spending by age:
12-17: $10
18-24: $12
25-35: $14

Total D&D spending by time in game:
<=1 Year: $123
1-5 Years: $338
>5 Years: 1,756

Monthly D&D spending by time in game:
<=1 Year: $7
1-5 Years: $22
5 Years: $16

(Interesting note: Monthly spending in the first five years after adoption
of the game is higher than the spending beyond that point ñ though the
older, longer gamer plays the game more, they spend less. This may relate to
the frequency of a character/game restart.)

D&D DM willingness effect on expenditures:
Will DM: $1,444 total / $21 monthly
Will not DM: $187 total / $7 monthly

(Interesting note here: Even people who donít DM buy a heck of a lot more
than just a PHB...)

Effect of miniatures addition to RPG mix:

Few miniatures owned/used:  $139 total RPG spending
Many minis owned/used:   $4,413 total RPG spending

We found that players who were ëlapsedí ñ reported that they had played
TRPGs but were not currently doing so; had spent more money than the current
players, and had played more different games monthly ñ but interestingly,
they had spent less money, on average, on D&D than players who were

     Mean RPG Spending  Mean Total D&D    Number
                        Spending          RPGs Played
     $1,273 / $1,667    $895 / $599       2.2 / 3.3

One conclusion that could be drawn from this data is that gamers who donít
like D&D will spend a lot of money and try a lot of systems to find
something they do like before they quit. Gamers who like D&D will spend less
money and try fewer systems, but will spend more on D&D than those who doní

When asked why a gamer lapsed, the answers (multiple choices allowed) were:

Got too busy with other things:       79%
Too few people to play with:          63%
Not enough time to play:              55%
Found a game I liked better:          38%
Unhappy with the game and the rules:  38%
Cost too much money:                  32%
Burnt out from frequent play:         29%

Getting back to the people still playing the games, when asked what games
TRPG players play monthly, the answers (multiple choices allowed) were:

D&D:                       66%
Vampire: The Masquerade:   25%
Star Wars:                 21%
Palladium:                 16%
Werewolf: The Apocalypse:  15%
Shadowrun:                 15%
Star Trek:                 12%
Call of Cthulu:             8%
Legend of the Five Rings:   8%
Deadlands:                  5%
Alternity:                  4%
GURPS:                      3%

When asked to describe aspects of their games, on a scale from 1 to 5,
answers were:

Create Own Adventures:           42% / 11%
Create Own Campaign Material:    29% / 17%
Replay Adventures:               18% / 35%
Use adventures from magazines:   21% / 40%
Follow official D&D Rules        33% / 17%

When we asked RPG purchasers how many had purchased D&D at a particular
retail type, the answers were:

(*)Hobby/game shops:      36%
Book Stores:              27%
Comic book stores:        18%
Specialty toy and game:   17%
Large toy store chains:   15%
Conventions:               4%

(In other words, 36% of the respondents indicated they had purchased a D&D
product at a Hobby/Game shop.)

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