DriveThruRPG Metal Tiers for Bestsellers and Why They Matter

If you’ve spent much time on DriveThruRPG (or its sibling websites like The Dungeon Master’s Guild, DriveThru Comics, DriveThru Cards, Pathfinder Infinite, etc) you might have noticed that some titles have metal-themed badges displayed on their pages.

An example of a REALLY COOL game that’s also a Platinum bestseller by a REALLY COOL indie publisher… just sayin’

While they may not necessarily stand out to some folks browsing these sites, these metal badges are awards granted to titles that have hit certain tiers of units sold on their websites. And to some publishers they can be really important social proof for their games.

For a TL;DR here is the quick and dirty breakdown of DriveThruRPG metal tiers and the sales numbers an individual title requires to be awarded one:

DriveThruRPG Metal Tier Quick Reference

  • Copper Bestseller: 50+ sales
  • Silver Bestseller: 100+ sales
  • Electrum Bestseller: 250+ sales
  • Gold Bestseller: 500+ sales
  • Platinum Bestseller: 1,000+ sales
  • Mithral Bestseller: 2,000+ sales
  • Adamantine Bestseller: 5,000+ sales

Let’s take a closer look at the DriveThruRPG metal tiers and dig in to what these might mean for both a player looking to buy a title and a to publisher watching their bestseller tier increase.

Defining the DriveThruRPG Metal Tiers

There are a total of seven metal tiers that a title on DriveThruRPG might attain, pictured below in their updated format from DriveThruRPG’s recent redesign. Metal tiers being awarded is tied directly to actual sales of that individual title.

Let’s break down each of the available DriveThruRPG metal tiers really quickly so we have an idea what we’re working with. All title counts and percentages are accurate as of the date of writing this article, but you can check the most up-to-date counts for each tier on DriveThruRPG’s website here.

The Breakdown of DriveThruRPG Metal Tiers

To start, there are a total of 150,076 titles (59.98% of all titles for sale) on DriveThruRPG that have yet to hit Copper bestseller and have no metal tier.

It’s really important to me to drive this home: this does not mean that these games are bad, have failed, or anything to that effect. These titles might not be marketed heavily, they may sell tons of copies on other marketplaces, or any number of possible explanations for not having hit a tier. So never just dismiss games or other work just because they haven’t yet hit one of these tiers.

Conversely, having a metal tier might indicate a title’s quality to some degree, but a metal tier doesn’t guarantee that a title is at a certain level.

A quick breakdown of how many titles are in each of the seven DriveThruRPG metal tiers, including those that have yet to hit a tier

Copper: 50+ sales

19,570 titles (13.04%)

Silver: 100+ sales

20,765 titles (13.83%)

Electrum: 250+ sales

10,595 titles (7.06%)

Gold: 500+ sales

5,815 titles (3.87%)

Platinum: 1,000+ sales

2,521 titles (1.68%)

Mithral: 2,000+ sales

552 titles (0.37%)

Adamantine: 5,000+ sales

260 titles (0.17%)

What Makes a Sale Count Towards a Title’s DriveThruRPG Metal Tier

It’s important to know what DriveThruRPG considers a “sale” eligible for metal tier advancement. The website doesn’t award credit to freely distributed copies of titles, or those that have been distributed at cost.

So if you’ve given a bunch of freebies away to your friends or reviewers, don’t expect that to bump your metal tier up (though that kind of marketing can be useful in eventually increasing sales for sure, not a bad long-term tactic)!

To my knowledge, this also applies to folks who run Kickstarters and distribute rewards through DriveThruRPG, since those titles are typically distributed freely to backers who have already paid. Something to keep in mind if you’re planning to fulfill your crowdfunded TTRPG via DriveThruRPG!

DriveThruRPG Metal Tier Artwork Recently Got an Update

It’s worth adding that the image of the seven metal tiers above shows the new version of the badges. You’ll see plenty of titles that have their metal tier badge on their title’s listing, and most I’ve seen as of writing (including all of my own) tend to still have the version from the old version of the site.

You can see the original artwork for all of the DriveThruRPG metal tier badges below for reference (though they’re a lot more self explanatory to be honest):

Exploring The Increase in Top Ranked Sellers

A website I’ve referenced so many times over my publishing journey is the Amazing Tales page breaking down the metal tiers written up by Martin J LLoyd, a big inspiration for me wanting to dive in and re-explore these numbers.

The thing that stands out the most to me in comparing current metal tier title counts with the data Lloyd pulled together in 2019 is the number of titles that reached Adamantine status.

There could be any number of reasons that this top-selling tier of games has grown so quickly over the last five years, not least of which could be the exploding popularity of tabletop roleplaying games.

Whatever the cause, it’s exciting to see so many fantastic titles available that people enjoy enough for them to sell over 5,000 copies on DriveThruRPG alone. To me, that speaks to ongoing growth of quality games and resources which will only benefit all of us.

What do DriveThruRPG Metal Tiers Mean for Players and GMs?

While knowing how many copies a specific title has sold might not seem like something a TTRPG player or game master might find useful, it’s a pretty good example of social proof of a title being more likely to be of a certain level of quality.

It’s also a relatively good indicator of a game having an established player base. If you’re looking to pick up a new indie game and see that it’s a Mithral bestseller, you can at least be sure there are few thousand other people out there interested in this game too. Plus, those more popular games might also have a greater number of content creators making helpful and interesting videos about how to play.

Games with bad designs, ugly layouts, or difficult to understand gameplay might manage to make it into the higher bestseller tiers, but it’s not super likely.

Especially if a game combines high ratings and a high bestseller tier, you can most likely trust that the game is at least playable and enjoyable.

What do DriveThruRPG Metal Tiers Mean for TTRPG Designers and Publishers?

As an indie TTRPG publisher, I find the DriveThruRPG metal tiers to be both motivating personally and a useful marketing tool.

Building off of the point about social proof above, a title you published hitting a bestseller tier (especially one where the numbers of other titles having accomplished that same tier are smaller) can be something you use to better sell your games.

Once my first game Journey hit its first bestseller tier (and since release has steadily risen through the ranks to Platinum) I began adding the bestseller tier badge to my title’s DriveThruRPG listing.

Once it hit Gold, I also started feeling confident enough in my game to start referring to it as a “bestselling worldbuilding game.” This is one way I use that social proof to demonstrate my game’s quality to possible players.

This social proof can even extend to other opportunities as a publisher. If you’re looking to run a crowdfunding campaign, for instance, and have a few games at higher bestseller tiers, you can use this as a talking point in your sales pitch. By showing a track record of releasing titles that sell, possible crowdfunders might be more likely to think the campaign will succeed and want to participate.

Lastly, and this is my business brain kicking in, indie TTRPG publishers can use these sales rankings to help them understand what kinds of things they make are selling well. For example, I have four titles in the series of Tome for Game Masters and Players, only some of which hit Copper bestseller. While I think a large part of why these haven’t moved is my lack of marketing and explaining the USP clearly for these books, the lower sales numbers might help me to make the decision to not spend time and resources on making a new entry in that series right now.

Conversely, with my solo worldbuilding game Journey rapidly approaching Mithral, I might extrapolate that my “creative tools in the form of solo TTRPGs” games sell better and put my focus there.

Just don’t judge me that my next game in that format, Stargazer, still isn’t out yet as of the time of writing this article. 😅

How Indie TTRPG Publishers Can Use DriveThruRPG Metal Tiers for Marketing Their Games

Here are a few ways publishers might want to use their title’s metal tier status in their marketing to take advantage of the social proof it affords:

  • Celebrate your metal tier advancements on social media and to your email list, using it as another way to put your game in front of more people in an organic and non-salesy way
  • Update the artwork on your DriveThruRPG listing page to include the bestseller tier badge
  • Refer to your game as a bestseller when you share about it. Own your accomplishment!
  • Display bestseller tier status in person at conventions to bring social proof into the face-to-face environment
  • Use sales success as an indicator of what kinds of titles you create that sell well to allocate your time and focus on replicating that success
  • Display your past track record in making games that hit bestseller tiers when building out crowdfunding campaigns to show social proof

How to Check a Title’s Eligible Sales Towards Metal Tier Growth

If you’re like me, you’ll want to keep an eye on how well your title is doing. Luckily DriveThruRPG’s publisher tools offers a simple way to accomplish this.

Step 1: Log in to DriveThruRPG and visit the Title Analysis Report page

Step 2: Choose the title you want to view stats on from the dropdown

Step 3: On the report that loads, find the number defining the “non-free units sold”

Journey is creeping up on Mithral bestseller, slowly but surely!

That number is your current count of titles sold and will let you see where this specific title lands on the bestseller tier scale.

Wrapping it Up

DriveThruRPG’s metal tier bestseller ranking system gives both players and publishers some interesting insights into a game’s performance.

For players, metal tiers can be a useful indicator of a game’s popularity and potential quality, especially when combined with user ratings.

For publishers, a title advancing through the metal tiers is not only motivating but also offers useful marketing opportunities.

Whether you’re searching for a new game or promoting your own work, these tiers can enhance your experience on DriveThruRPG. As the TTRPG industry continues to grow, we will doubtlessly see even more titles reaching those coveted top tiers, reflecting the ongoing passion and creativity within our community.

Maybe even a game you create might reach those heights…