RPG Podcast Listener Survey — thoughts.

August 6, 2010

A few months ago, David Pinilla set up a survey for RPG Podcast listeners. If you’re interested in reading the RPG Podcast Listener Survey Results, you can find them here.

There are a couple of things I noticed that I find interesting.

The Games People Play.

The first thing I noticed is what games are popular with listeners. Some of it isn’t surprising, but some is:

  • DnD/D20 (except Star Wars) is played by 36.8% of respondents.
  • Savage Worlds: 10%.
  • FATE/FUDGE: 8.3%.

It’s no surprise that DnD/D20 has the highest share of players. Frankly, I thought it would be about twice that, and in reality it might be.

I suspect the sample of RPG Podcast Listeners as a subset of all RPG players is a small fraction. Many people play RPGs, but aren’t “in to the hobby” enough to spend time listening to podcast (or reading blogs). They play their game on Saturday night, and that’s it (until the next session). They aren’t interested in it beyond what’s happening at their table. I suspect there may be a lot of DnD/D20 players who fit into this category, so we’re only getting a portion of them in the sample used by the survey.

The other thing that surprised me is that Savage Worlds and FATE/FUDGE scored so high. I find this even more remarkable because White Wolf titles only came in at 6.3%. At my local gaming story, by looking at what’s stocked, I would have assumed that White Wolf games would have come in second behind DnD/D20. Maybe that’s the case regionally.

I wonder if the popularity of Savage Worlds and FATE/FUDGE is a result of the low barrier-to-entry. The Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edtion is 10 bucks, and you can find FATE/FUDGE material free on the web, and even the stuff that isn’t free is reasonably priced. Spirit of the Century is about 15 bucks for a PDF.

Contrast this with GURPS (which is almost $100 for hard-copies of the core books), which came in at 2.8%, and HERO (also with expensive books) at 1.9%, and you start to see a correlation between price-to-play and popularity.

This is further reinforced by Burning Wheel/Mouseguard (6.7%), which (at least in the case of Burning Wheel) is a very complicated system, but reasonably priced.

The Top 10

How did the individual podcasts rate with regards to listenership? Here’s the top 10:

  1. Fear the Boot (44.0%)
  2. The Podge Cast (36.4%)
  3. All Games Considered (28.4%)
  4. Role Playing Public Radio (26.2%)
  5. Bear Swarm! (26%)
  6. Brilliant Gameologists (24..1%)
  7. Atomic Array (19.5%)
  8. Happy Jacks RPG Podcast (19.5%)
  9. The Voice of the Revolution (19.3%)
  10. 2D Feet in a Random Direction (18.9%)

I am stunned that we came in so high, and rightfully so. This survey took place in may, when all of us (the Happy Jack’s hosts) were working the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, and many listeners were under the impression that they were listening to pre-recorded episodes that were months old. Because many listeners thought they weren’t listening to “timely” shows, our site traffic and unique downloads plummeted. So, for our show in particular, this was not a good month to survey podcast listeners. But somehow we still hit #8.

The most recent episode of Brilliant Gameologists discusses the survey, and one of the hosts (Scott) predicted that either Happy Jacks or RPPR will be in the Number 1 position next year. He backed this prediction up with the comments, as both RPPR and Happy Jacks had an enormous number of “rabid” comments in the survey. This surprised me as well (not with regards to RPPR), but with regards to Happy Jacks. I was under the impression that no one knows who we are. Certainly, I don’t think we’ve pinged the radar of most other podcasts or blogs, as we don’t get many mentions on other podcasts or blogs. But apparently, word-of-mouth promotion from existing listeners goes a long way, maybe farther than getting blog/podcast mentions).

What I’d Like to See in the Next Survey

There are a couple questions that I would like to have asked in the next survey:

  • Did recommendations and reviews in podcasts get you to try/buy new games.
  • How many listeners are GMs and how many are players.

The first question is just for curiosity’s sake. The second question would affect our content. Do we have a lot of listeners who are primarily players? If so, we need to step up our player-targeted content.

To Conclude

Thank you to those of you who took the survey. It’s provided a lot of insight, and you may very well see some subtle changes to our content as a result (but we’re not getting rid of the burps!)

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