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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 24 Jul 2022 :  17:00:30  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
From Forgotten Realms to Red Steel: Here's That Full D&D Setting Sales Chart

quote:
Whether this will end a thousand internet arguments or fuel another thousand, Ben Riggs, author of Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons, has finally published the combined chart of cumulative sales for every AD&D setting from 1979 to 1999.

Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Oriental Adventures, and Dragonlance lead the pack. The least selling setting was Red Steel in 1994. There was a clear decline in sales of all settings from 1989 onwards, so that's not necessary a comment on quality. Planescape, certainly a cult favourite, sold surprisingly few copies.

In order, the best-selling settings were:

1. Forgotten Realms
2. Greyhawk
3. Oriental Adventures
4. Dragonlance
5. Ravenloft
6. Dark Sun
7. Spelljammer
8. Lankhmar
9. Al-Qadim
10. Planescape
11. Birthright
12. Maztica
13. Karameikos
14. Red Steel



There's a chart on the site with the numbers, too.

Personally, I'm really surprised to see that Spelljammer came in #7. I would have laid money on it trailing behind Planescape, and I would have thought that Al-Qadim and Lankhmar would have beat it, as well -- especially the latter, given its age and the inclusion of the novels on Appendix N.

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sleyvas
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USA
11217 Posts

Posted - 25 Jul 2022 :  01:16:17  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm surprise oriental adventures beat dragonlance, ravenloft, and dark sun

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 25 Jul 2022 :  11:33:35  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

I'm surprise oriental adventures beat dragonlance, ravenloft, and dark sun



Yeah, that surprises, as well.

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Ayrik
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7653 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2022 :  03:43:58  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
These charts don't really show what products were on the market at any time.

OA didn't really have much competition during the period it was selling well. 1E didn't have anything like the variety offered in 2E, 3E, and later editions. One book to spend your money on.

Dragonlance was great ... but it was competing with the Realms and - let's be honest - the Old Grey Box was better. Dragonlance then kept up with rules supplements and modules based on the novels ... but the Realms then kept on getting better and better with each new product. Two big products to spend your money on, and if you couldn't afford both then you were likely to buy into the Realms.

[/Ayrik]
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Wooly Rupert
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36134 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2022 :  05:48:53  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

These charts don't really show what products were on the market at any time.



I'm not seeing how that's relevant -- it's showing the total sales for each setting. Of course some products are going to do better than others, but this is a comparison of entire product lines. I don't know that information on how Dragonlance Product #72 did compared to the same month's release of New Setting Boxed Set! really adds anything to what the charts give us.

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sleyvas
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Posted - 26 Jul 2022 :  14:23:41  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

These charts don't really show what products were on the market at any time.



I'm not seeing how that's relevant -- it's showing the total sales for each setting. Of course some products are going to do better than others, but this is a comparison of entire product lines. I don't know that information on how Dragonlance Product #72 did compared to the same month's release of New Setting Boxed Set! really adds anything to what the charts give us.



No, Ayrik has a really good point, and one I was thinking about as well but didn't mention. Remember, back then, there was no "Amazon" and most people were lucky if they actually had a big name book shop in their community. For instance, my own nearest book seller was a mom and pop shop that sold novels. That book store was smaller than your average gas station grocery nowadays. The store owner specifically kept catalogs of current gaming and miniature offerings and would order in books when people requested them, but for he most part they were selling what was out at the time. They were usually really good about only ordering enough to cover what they thought would sell pretty fast. So, if you didn't find and buy a product within say 3 months of its release.... good luck finding it except at a convention. For a lot of us, that was also about the time that we were starting to learn about conventions OR that conventions were starting to appear near us. So, it would be very critical to know what settings were available when.... because I didn't buy a lot of Al-Qadim stuff because during those years I WAS buying realms stuff. I didn't have a lot of coins to spread around, and I could barely keep up with the realms releases (and would get really mad when they'd release something big, only to find out that 50% of it was literal reprints... one of the reasons I didn't buy some of the nice boxed sets like the North, because I figured a lot of it was reprints from savage frontier).

Still, I am very surprised that OA beat out the other things, just because I thought OA released around the time of FR. Google says it released in October 1985, and the FR campaign actually came out 1 1/2 years later in May 1987. So actually, yeah, its only competition was dragonlance and greyhawk. That was also while I was still in high school so I didn't have any money for any of it. I only got the first few FR things because I scrimped and saved every penny I got, and then when I got my first job a little over a year later.... I spent all my money on gaming stuff for the first time. However, that's MY story, based on my age... and I know that some folks were a little older or a little younger, and therefore even a couple years makes a big difference on what they were buying.

When the mom and pop book stores started disappearing and chain books stores started appearing in malls, that also became a game changer. No longer was there the friendly book shop owner who would order minis on the hope that people would buy them, so people started ordering them directly and more game shops started appearing to cater to specific clientelle. Then of course, amazon changed book buying for everyone.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Edited by - sleyvas on 26 Jul 2022 14:26:02
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 27 Jul 2022 :  04:00:22  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I still don't see the point behind comparing sales for individual products, just because they came out at the same time. A sourcebook on a specific topic, for a single setting, isn't going to do as well as a boxed set, especially if it's for a new setting. And not only will that sourcebook move less units, there will likely be less units to move, because TSR would be pushing the newer, pricier thing harder.

It's an apples and oranges comparison, and you're talking about hundreds if not thousands of things to compare.

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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
11217 Posts

Posted - 27 Jul 2022 :  13:37:17  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
No, I don't think he's looking for individual to individual. So, this guy says "all Oriental Adventures products", it would be nice if we also knew a time frame that OA was released between. For some that will be VERY broad (i.e. FR), for others like Kara-Tur, Birthright, Spelljammer, etc... we can probably narrow it down to 4 or 5 years (some even less). For instance, I may be wrong, but I'd be surprised if the Al-Qadim product releases were more than 3 years long, and some like Red Steel and Lankhmar may have only have been a year or two. That would allow comparison for competition to a limited degree, and it might also help cement what kind of societal changes may have happened around that time.

BTW, it does sadden me that Al-Qadim ranked so low, but I get it. Like Firefly the tv series, I only really discovered it after it was already cancelled (got the initial boxed set, but not the add ons .... and the add ons were what made that product line).

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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