Monday, July 19, 2021

The popularity of tabletop roleplaying and explosive growth in digital sales. Interesting DrivethruRPG numbers yet again.

 So recently I visited a Barnes and Nobles for the first time in forever. While looking through the store I came across this.

and in a bit of a surprise there was a table full of merchandising much of it typical of folks trying to follow the latest fad. 

So DnD and roleplaying are a thing again not longer relegated (for now) to a single shelf in the back corner of the science fiction and fantasy section.

So this got me thinking about something I haven't done in a while. Crunching the order numbers from my sales to get a sense of how DriveThruRPG and other Onebookshelf sites are doing.

I posted on this back in February of 2014 and in May of 2015

So this weekend I went through my sales and pulled the numbers. Also I wanted to see what effect the pandemic had so I did a month by month starting in December of 2019.

It is rare that a day goes by that somebody doesn't download a copy of the free PDF of Blackmarsh. So for my data, I can get a order number on January 1st (or the first of the month) and produce the above. But keep in mind that this doesn't show absolute sales only relative sales. Many order numbers are probably internal orders used to manage OBS day to day business. And these order are across the various various OBS storefronts like Wargames Vault. 

So it looks like Covid pandemic had an effect as April of 2020 and May of 2020 showed sales well above the usual month to month growth.  With 1,086,556 orders processed in April and 828,972 orders processed in May. 

Year to year, digital sales have achieved phenomenal growth and has grown by an order of magnitude (10x) since 2008. 

If folks want to crunch the numbers for themselves I provided a link to the spreadsheet below.

Order Numbers for DriveThruRPG

Here what I see when I run a sales report. I blacked out the customer #. 



  1. HEY! I grew up with that one relegated shelf at the B. Daltons! I loved that shelf!

  2. It's great that our hobby is becoming less sidelined.

  3. Huh, interesting. I ran my own sales report and found my digital numbers through DriveThru (I only sell PDFs through DriveThru) nearly doubled in 2020 compared to the prior two years. However, in 2021 they are back on track for 2019 numbers.

    By the way, those sales numbers are impressive, Rob. Order figures in the six-digits for a single month? When do you quit your day job?! That's good stuff, man.
    : )

  4. While I would love to make my living from my writing and mapwork, those order numbers are internal to DriveThruRPG not my sales. I happen to get orders each day because of the Blackmarsh PDF being downloaded each day which is free.

    So while not enough to live on, my sales has allowed me to increase my budget for projects and hire artists to make commissioned pieces, and hire editors.