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D&D’s Player Base Has Climbed to 40 Million

July 11, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Dungeons & Dragons D&D

Dungeons & Dragons has been blowing up over the last few years, and now we know exactly how big it is. A Bloomberg feature on people who make money as professional Dungeon Masters reveals that an impressive 40 million people play D&D annually, according to Wizards of the Coast.

For perspective, that number is roughly comparable to the total number of Xbox One units sold worldwide (41 million), the number of people who watched Game of Thrones last season (44.2 million across all platforms per HBO) and the total number of tickets that were sold to see Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel in theaters (46 million and 47 million). It’s also just a bit less than half of the 98.2 million people who tuned in to watch this year’s Super Bowl. In addition, 9 million people watched people play D&D on Twitch in 2017. That is of course spearheaded by the likes of Critical Role and WotC’s own Dice, Camera, Action, but spreads to a wide berth of games below those high points.

Those 2017 numbers are probably fairly low compared to current numbers if sales trends are anything to go by. Bloomberg notes that sales of the D&D Fifth Edition Starter Set have gone up consistently over the years, with sales up 41% in 2017 and jumping another 52% in 2018. And that’s the starter set, not the Player’s Handbook which is just as often (if not more often) a player’s entry into the game.

Much of the rise in D&D’s player base and interest level can be attributed to the rise of geek culture as well as the success of Fifth Edition, which streamlined the game after years of being considered overly complex and a difficult entry point for new players. You can also point to the number of celebrities who have come out as D&D advocates, which run the gamut from True Blood alums Joe Manganiello and Deborah Ann Woll, Stephen Colbert, and Vin Diesel to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Felicia Day, Patton Oswalt, and Anderson Cooper.

Whatever the reason, it seems clear that Dungeons & Dragons (and roleplaying games in general) have finally broken through the pop culture bubble by any definition, and are here to stay at last.

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Dungeons & Dragons, Jeremy Thomas