Dungeons & Dragons had its 'best year ever' in 2020

Graph showing roughly 60% of D&D players are male, 40% female, and less than 1% other/non-binary.

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Back in the 1980s, Dungeons & Dragons enjoyed a brief period of cultural relevance that saw it featured in the movie E.T., its own Saturday morning cartoon, and a moral panic. In a twist no science fiction writer saw coming D&D has enjoyed a return to popularity in recent years thanks to Critical Role, The Adventure Zone, Stranger Things, a new edition of the rules that doesn't suck, and a thriving fan art community whose influence probably isn't as recognized as it should be.

It's a trend that isn't slowing down, as publisher Wizards of the Coast has announced, declaring that 2020 was "the best year ever" for D&D. The tabletop RPG enjoyed its seventh consecutive year of growth, with sales up 33% year-over-year, more pre-orders for rules supplement Tasha's Cauldron of Everything than any previous book, and millions of downloads of the free material made available via the Stay at Home, Play at Home initiative.

D&D's plans for 2021 include the fast-paced co-op videogame Dark Alliance coming to PC on June 22, a set of Magic: The Gathering crossover cards on July 16, and a return of the D&D Live and D&D Celebration events. The latest supplement details gothic horror setting Ravenloft, and two more classic settings are scheduled to return (fingers crossed for Planescape).

Though it's probably a couple of years off, Wizards of the Coast also notes that, "a movie set in the Forgotten Realms starring Chris Pine, Hugh Grant, Rege-Jean Page, Michelle Rodriguez, Sophia Lillis, and Justice Smith is in production."

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.