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Did 5E neuter the OSR movement.

Memona

Corgi King
Validated User
#31
I don't think the OSR movement is waning, it's just the need for OSR rulesets are unnecessary. What we will get instead is OSR supplements, adventures and monster manuals. We are in the second wave, if not third wave, of OSR products and the movement for TSR-style D&D is only growing.
 

LordEntrails

Mad Mage
Validated User
#32
I would disagree with the idea that OSR is limited to only those who played OD&D and AD&D. Fun games are fun no matter how old they are. I don't have enough room in my open table public play B/X game for the players interested. I don't have any problems getting people to the table to try old school games (some stay, some don't, but that is true of D&D in general). OSR games can certainly appeal to new players (nearly all of the 7-8 players who play in my weekly Basic game are younger, newer players).

I agree that 5E is growing and I'm sure it is eclipsing OSR involvement as a result. And that's fine as 5E is a great game. But its really simple marketing. WoTC has the money to spend on live streams, Adventurer's League, product tie-ins, etc. But I think the general increased popularity in D&D as a result of 5E can and should actually increase the involvement in OSR games. It opens doors to role-playing games in general and gives an opportunity to present old school games to an increasing pool of interested people.
Yes, rising tide and all that. And, imo, I think we have reached a point that nothing will every truely not be available to some extent. I mean, want to run a GangBusters game? Easy enough to do now days as I'm sure I could find a pdf somewhere. But it doesn't really mean it is a viable market. There are similar analogies elsewhere, but no value in debating such.

And anecdotes are great, but is their any actual publisher data? The world is growing and at one point in time 10,000 people doing something was significant, now... *shrugs* maybe not so much on a global scale.

The greatest impact of the OSR was to reclaim our game as a hobby. We don't need an official authority to tell us how to play our game and we don't need permission to create our own content and tweak the game to make it what we want. The game was originally a DIY endeavor and the OSR reminds us of those roots.

I don't know if the OSR is dying (it actually seems to be continuing to produce excellent products so I think probably not), but I will do whatever possible to promote and support the OSR and make sure the it can continue to show us that D&D belongs to us (the players) and not some game designer or corporation.
Perhaps the greatest boon to society from the OSR movement is that thought.
 

Chikahiro

Neo•Geo Fanboy
Validated User
#33
Question perhaps: maybe OSR as a market has been successful, has matured, and thus is supposed to look different than it did a few years ago because of its stage of life?
 

Von Ether

Registered User
Validated User
#34
Speaking purely as an OSR publisher, 2018 was my best year yet, even after 2017's SWN: Revised Kickstarter clocked in at $192K. The free version of the Revised game has gotten almost half as many downloads in one year as the original free version did in seven. OSR or OSR-adjacent KSs like Silent Titans are regularly pulling in six-figure successes. There's been absolutely no weakening of the market that I can see.

To get some perspective, check out the rankings here. Of all the sci-fi-category RPGs DTRPG sold in 2018, between Wrath & Glory, the Genesys core book, Shadowrun 5e's core book, and everything else with the "sci-fi" genre tag, what game sold best? Stars Without Number: Revised. A game so OSR you can run Keep on the Borderlands with it just by flipping AC from descending to ascending. A game so OSR it uses Empire of the Petal Throne's hit point rolling rules.

Now, it's clear that FFG and Catalyst and Modiphius are getting a lot of direct sales and FLGS sales and Amazon sales that I'm not, so I'm sure a wider sales perspective looks different. And while my ego would love to credit Sine Nomine's financial success to my inimitable brilliance, the reality is that my only amazing powers are the ability to draw a Gantt chart and to spend eight hours a day writing whether I like it or not. There are other far more inventive and creative people in the OSR than I am, and for a lot of them, the only thing between them and similar profitability is their lack of enthusiasm for middle management.

In truth, I expect the OSR to continue to grow in absolute terms as more people initially attracted by 5e find its particular charms to their taste. In relative terms, I'm sure it will become smaller as 5e scoops up the vast majority of new players, but a sub-genre doesn't have to dominate its niche in order to continue to provide a healthy ecosystem for its participants... and the OSR has already produced plenty of playable content even as the minority option it is.

As a sidenote: A game store owner, who is overall knowledgeable about the industry and I would have friendly debates about the OSR and how big it was. He kept saying it was a tiny niche. I kept saying it was much, much bigger and that WotC had an inkling of that as they designed 5e. I think it's that there has been no way to really track the real numbers on the OSR for paid products. (He especially can't believe that CardinalXimenes is now living the dream.) But over the last three years, he's slowly come around but still doesn't think that WotC had the OSR crowd as one of their target markets.
 

CardinalXimenes

Registered User
Validated User
#35
As a sidenote: A game store owner, who is overall knowledgeable about the industry and I would have friendly debates about the OSR and how big it was. He kept saying it was a tiny niche. I kept saying it was much, much bigger and that WotC had an inkling of that as they designed 5e. I think it's that there has been no way to really track the real numbers on the OSR for paid products. (He especially can't believe that CardinalXimenes is now living the dream.) But over the last three years, he's slowly come around but still doesn't think that WotC had the OSR crowd as one of their target markets.
I'd suspect that has a great deal to do with it. The absence of many reliable hard sales numbers, the lack of conventional retail channels for most OSR products, and a player base that may not necessarily be as enthusiastic about online representation as other groups are would all contribute to an uncertainty over how "big" any OSR product really is. Everyone's doing the blind-man-and-the-elephant routine over the parts of it they can detect.

The latest ICv2 numbers place the size of the North American tabletop RPG market in 2017 at $55 million. This number is not a perfect one, but it draws on Kickstarters, non-traditional sales channels, and enough of a spectrum that it's probably in the neighborhood of correct.

In 2018, Sine Nomine's gross sales through all channels were approximately $300K. If the RPG market continued its recent upward climb and was worth $60 million in 2018, that means that one OSR guy working out of his office in the icy northern forests was a half-percent of the North American TTRPG market... and I'm just one man. When you pile on the other creators and OSR publishers, even if you only get to two or three percent, you're looking at two or three percent of the entire NA market. A couple million bucks in sales is enough to keep a a considerable number of writers interested in the genre, particularly when the barrier to entry is so low and the net profit margin on gross sales is approaching 50%. You won't be buying office space any time soon, but given that your capital outlays consist of an InDesign subscription and a chunk of stock art, you can afford to take a flyer on it.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
#36
My own suspicion is a mix of what others have said; 5e has siphoned off some people who were trending toward OSR games because they didn't like 5e or Pathfinder (or even 3e), some of the OSR growth has reached maturity (and that means the excitement that drove some people's visibility has flattened), and, yes, some of the unpleasant cultural/political baggage attached to some elements of the OSR has driven some people away. So 5e was a factor there, but only a factor.
 

Zeea

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#37
I'd suspect that has a great deal to do with it. The absence of many reliable hard sales numbers, the lack of conventional retail channels for most OSR products, and a player base that may not necessarily be as enthusiastic about online representation as other groups are would all contribute to an uncertainty over how "big" any OSR product really is. Everyone's doing the blind-man-and-the-elephant routine over the parts of it they can detect.

The latest ICv2 numbers place the size of the North American tabletop RPG market in 2017 at $55 million. This number is not a perfect one, but it draws on Kickstarters, non-traditional sales channels, and enough of a spectrum that it's probably in the neighborhood of correct.

In 2018, Sine Nomine's gross sales through all channels were approximately $300K. If the RPG market continued its recent upward climb and was worth $60 million in 2018, that means that one OSR guy working out of his office in the icy northern forests was a half-percent of the North American TTRPG market... and I'm just one man. When you pile on the other creators and OSR publishers, even if you only get to two or three percent, you're looking at two or three percent of the entire NA market. A couple million bucks in sales is enough to keep a a considerable number of writers interested in the genre, particularly when the barrier to entry is so low and the net profit margin on gross sales is approaching 50%. You won't be buying office space any time soon, but given that your capital outlays consist of an InDesign subscription and a chunk of stock art, you can afford to take a flyer on it.
Thanks for that information, and congrats!

I think it could be that we're also talking about different things when we talk about the OSR, too. I'm mostly thinking about chatter regarding it, which has seemed to fall off somewhat as 5e has become a bigger thing. In terms of sales, though, your numbers seem pretty definitive. Even if you're the only OSR publisher anywhere near that range, just your sales alone would make the OSR financially very significant.

EDIT: I think I'm probably thinking of player identification as part of a "movement" as the main thing. By that metric, a lot of people who play your games wouldn't be OSR folks because they generally don't consider themselves to be and don't have much interest in other OSR products. But also by that metric, some people who play and buy only 5e would probably consider themselves OSR folks, so...might balance out?
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
#38
EDIT: I think I'm probably thinking of player identification as part of a "movement" as the main thing. By that metric, a lot of people who play your games wouldn't be OSR folks because they generally don't consider themselves to be and don't have much interest in other OSR products. But also by that metric, some people who play and buy only 5e would probably consider themselves OSR folks, so...might balance out?
Yeah, I think there's something to this; even though I, overall, have a kind of trad approach to gaming (though more in the "I imprinted on what I expect of games most heavily in the RQ-to-FGU period" than D&D-centric), I don't consider myself an OSR guy (though I do think Godbound is a hell of a game, and I can at least get what people see in SWN).
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
#39
I think it could be that we're also talking about different things when we talk about the OSR, too. I'm mostly thinking about chatter regarding it, which has seemed to fall off somewhat as 5e has become a bigger thing. In terms of sales, though, your numbers seem pretty definitive. Even if you're the only OSR publisher anywhere near that range, just your sales alone would make the OSR financially very significant.
Plus of course a lot of OSR games are available for free download, and thus wouldn't show up much as sales. The one game I kind of ran was with Labyrinth Lord; other games I might use are Dungeon World, 3e or PF SRD, Mazes and Minotaurs, or my own kitbash. I'm invisible to any sales data.
 

Daztur

Seoulite
Validated User
#40
I think there's a distinction to be made between the OSR as:
-An intellectual movement.
-A style of play.
-A market segment.

As an intellectual movement it's mostly played out which is why you don't hear as much buzz, it's mostly done what it came here for. As a style of play it's still growing by leaps and bounds since a lot of its ideas have infiltrated into 5ed and are being spread around very widely even if generally in a very watered down form. The mainstream is a LOT closer to the OSR than it used to be. As a market segment it's chugging along just fine. OSR games are doing just fine on KS and on Drivethrough RPG.
 
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