tabletop

Itch.io and the changing landscape of tabletop rpg community

There are a few different things going on right now in the tabletop roleplaying game (ttrpg) space that are disrupting the community and the market at the moment. So what’s going on?

  1. Google + is going away.

    For those of you late to the scene, google plus became an unofficial area for the ttrpg community (OSR, D&D, etc) awhile ago. Now that Google is eliminating the service, the entire community is being uprooted. Attempts to re-locate that space have been unsuccessful so far.

  2. Creators are getting fleeced.

    This may be my own perspective on the issue, but popular online ttrpg markets (DMsGuild, DriveThruRPG, Roll20) have been taking bigger cuts of creator revenue than I personally think are warranted. DMsGuild takes half of creator earnings and forces exclusivity with content. DriveThru takes 35% (for non-exclusivity). Many of these marketplaces have failed to innovate or update following creator demand (DriveThru is especially notorious for its outdated structure and sorting).

  3. Itch.io is considering more services for ttrpgs.

    After some important Twitter discussion between @swordpeddler (ttrpg creator) and @moonscript (itch dev), Itch.io is soliciting ideas to improve their categorization of physical/tabletop games. It has also lead to discussion of additional support and features for ttrpg on itch (https://itch.io/t/384953/physical-games-classification-project). This has been a conversation brewing with myself and other creatives for months now, so I’m excited to see it gain traction.

  4. New creators will continue to find it increasingly difficult to break into the market in a meaningful way.

    The resurgence of popularity in Dungeons and Dragons (5E) has created a market boom for ttrpg content over the last five or so years. As marketplaces continue to fill up with loads and loads of submitted content, new creators are having more difficulty sticking out from the crowd. Considering the changing market, I strongly suggest honing your social media and branding skills as a content creator. If you can’t build a following, you’re going to find it very difficult (See my post on tips for ttrpg creators).

Everything I’ve mentioned is creating tension in the ttrpg community. So what does that mean? It means we can expect some major changes coming this year (2019). I personally think if Itch.io follows through with their restructuring to support ttrpg content, we’ll see creators rushing to use that site. Itch already has some inherent advantages with profit sharing (creator chooses the amount) and with a broad creator toolset (email, analytics, product forums). This places them at a distinct advantage over other marketplaces, especially if they can cater to the ttrpg market.

The real question will be if there is a worthy successor to the Google + communities. On the off chance that itch.io makes dedicated forums for ttrpgs, it could be the next hot spot. Discord continues to gather steam. Will there be something that connects both artists and players like Google+? We’ll have to wait until the dust settles to find out.

As part of the community, you have the power to shape where we all congregate. Engage in conversations with others, try different services, and see what you like best. I look forward to seeing how the year shapes up.

Zeshio