About a month ago I did an article comparing the Web traffic of major RPG companies and communities using Alexa data. It was interesting to see how they ranked, but of more concern was that traffic appeared to be spiraling downwards hard. I just went and re-checked and that trend continues; over the last three months all sites are down and some sites are down by more than 70%!
A quick rundown on traffic change over the last 3 months –
- wizards.com: -31%
- rpg.net: -25%
- sjgames.com: -56%
- paizo.com: -14%
- enworld.org: -46%
- white-wolf.com: -66%
- privateerpress.com: -37%
- d20srd.org: -59%
- alderac.com: -74%
- peginc.com: -72%
- palladiumbooks.com: -77%
- rpgnow.com: -23%
- drivethrustuff.com: -46%
- atlas-games.com: -77%
- indie-rpgs.com: -53%
- mongoosepublishing.com: -15%
From looking at the graphs, a couple of these properties had a big spike in the June-July timeframe that is hurting their compare. Take a look at Palladium. But even without that they are way down off pre-spike numbers, more than 50% easily, and continuing to decline at a good rate.
Heck, even looking through the smaller properties, the best showing is Flames Rising, only dropping by 3%.
This seems to be to be a crisis. At the company I work for, a large computer-related manufacturing concern, we know that Web traffic is directly proportional to our company revenue over time. If our traffic was down 50% our CFO would shit a brick. We’re down a little due to the economy, but nothing near this amount.
Why is traffic to every RPG company and community site dropping?
It’s not the school year starting, if you go look at the maximum data Alexa will give you there’s no similar drop in 2007. Basically, everything was doing fine, slipping slightly, until June-July 2008. Some properties got a bump then, but ever since everyone from Wizards to dungeonmastering.com is in a death spiral.
Is it “the economy?” Well, despite all of the furor in the media (in my opinion this is a largely manufactured crisis by the current administration, YMMV) major sites aren’t going down. dell.com is down just 2%, for example. You could argue that the economic problems would have a more vigorous effect especially on discretionary/entertainment spending. But I’m not seeing that anywhere else. Check out amazon.com‘s stats – they are down only 11%. (They had a June bump too!) worldofwarcraft.com is down 25%, with no June bump. Heck, fandango.com (movie ticket sales) is up 14%. So there is certainly some slippage overall, and you could chalk up some 10-20% of it to the economy if you wanted to (though given some of the stats I’m seeing I think that’s more excuse than reality), but why is it is much worse in the RPG realm? Also, the dropoff has been in progress for a while and the current “economic crisis” really just got sprung on us in September.