One of our favorite parts of being endemic investors in the gaming industry is the passionate, engaged, and creative community that underpins the ecosystem. This is a core driver of our investments in areas such as communication platforms (Bunch), social gaming (Goss), and user generated content (Hiber and Dorian). As believers in these verticals, it was particularly exciting to find an opportunity that brought them all together through one unified offering.
Social Experiences for a Devoted Player Base
While tabletop gaming has traditionally been an activity that requires friend groups to gather in a centralized location, Role has created an authentic digital experience for RPG fans to convene online. It is critically important that Role’s product design stays true to the ethos of tabletop gaming, as they are not trying to convert RPG titles into video games. Rather, the offering enables meaningful social experiences through a group video chat feature, standardized format for running RPG games, profile features that track the games a user is playing, and more.
If you are not familiar with this genre, it is necessary to understand how people-centric the gaming experience is. There are generally no game materials outside of written instructions and some visual aids. This is because the players within a given game session (led by a game master) are essentially creating the story with each turn. While there are certain rulesets and parameters that characterize each RPG title (Dungeons & Dragons being the most popular), these dynamics generally create engaging and non-repeatable experiences.
The social nature of these games has established a devout community of tabletop RPG players, and the market has grown to ~$10 billion annually. Considering there are about 80 million players worldwide, each user is spending ~$125 each year. This is over 2x the user monetization of mobile gamers, where users spend closer to $50 annually.
Tabletop RPG games are inherently imaginative, as each player is literally contributing to the story as it progresses. However, this is not where creativity ends. The genre has a vibrant modding community where users are constantly able to remix existing IP by changing rules or other components of the game design. In fact, one new piece of content is created for every 2.5 users that join Role.
As a result, Role is not just a platform for the distribution of tabletop RPGs, but also a marketplace for the community’s diverse creations. Users are able to monetize their ability to create compelling content and continuously supplement the existing library of game frameworks. This is an important feature that demonstrates the power of licensing derivative work to fans, and it is replicable with IP holders across entertainment.
Role’s founders, Logan Dwight and Ian Hirschfeld, are two of the most passionate and knowledgeable experts in the genre. They live and breathe RPGs, and were successfully able to build the entire initial platform themselves. Their creative abilities, understanding of the market, and prior experience in design and development make them an ideal team to pioneer this space.