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4th Edition and the "Younger Audience"


D&D 4th Edition (and Beyond)

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Dark Archive

So here's a question for you... If you believe the oft repeated phrase that 4th edition will "fire" D&D's current fan base in an attempt to capture a younger audience, how do you think that this will be accomplished?

What's going to be different about this incarnation of D&D that will send kids out in droves to buy it? Is there going to be a new cartoon show? Is it the new Minis game? Perhaps another attempt at making a good movie? A new MMORPG?

Thoughts?


They're trying to tap into the social networking (Facebook, MySpace) phenomena by linking all their products (books, online games) into Gleemax. All their licensing agreements for movies, games, shows, etc. will probably strongly tie back to Gleemax in some form. Once the network externalities are in place they're hoping to charge for everything that's online. That's their "digital initiative".


They need to spend a round to refocus. Even in the best of circumstances, that demographic is a fickle bunch and will be gone in 4 years' time or less.

As a poster in one of the other threads suggested, this has nothing to do with keeping the game going 5+ years. It's all about a spike in sales next year or two and a blurb on the resume/CV, then on to another company to market widgets to the new in-demand demographic. Never mind that D&D withers and curls up into a fetal position to whimper for help from its once-loyal fans.

I don't know the current financial situation at WOTC, but perhaps D&D as we know it is already considered dead by Hasbro and this is just a bit of ceremonial hand-waving before last rites are performed.

Dark Archive

I think that 4E is just a springboard to get kids used to the idea of D&D so they will be more likely to play 5th edition (which won't really be 5th edition because it will be a MMORPG that can only be played online). Pen and paper D&D will no longer be supported after 4th edition.


David Witanowski wrote:

So here's a question for you... If you believe the oft repeated phrase that 4th edition will "fire" D&D's current fan base in an attempt to capture a younger audience, how do you think that this will be accomplished?

What's going to be different about this incarnation of D&D that will send kids out in droves to buy it? Is there going to be a new cartoon show? Is it the new Minis game? Perhaps another attempt at making a good movie? A new MMORPG?

Thoughts?

Woh, Woh. Hold it. Time out. They previously have made an attempt at making a good movie? When? Because I must have missed that.

A good movie would be based on a mid level adventure involving a plot and following D&D rules. Like raise dead. I mean the jerks can raise him from the dead but just mosy along instead? And why a nature cleric? Wouldn't he be a druid?


Realistically, they need to come up with a product to sell. They can't just keep patching 3.5 and writing new supplements for it, because they've published most of what people have said they wanted to see. Speaking as a fairly loyal 3.5 player, I can't imagine what three or four books per year they could possibly write that I would buy. Can you?

So, their options are kind of limited. Write new books that won't sell, abandon the franchise, or write new books that will sell.

I don't believe they are intentionally jettisoning their loyal fanbase. They need to write new books, and the only ones they know people will buy are core rule books. So, they're writing new core rule books. And, hey, guess what? Now that they have new core rulebooks, they can write a new FRCS and a new Eberron and and and...

Oh, and, yes, even better than hoping people will pay $30 every few months for a new book is the possibility of charging people $15 every month for an online service. Particularly if they don't actually have to write a whole new books' worth of content every month; for your $15, you get a few new web pages, a few new web tools. It's not like they're beaming an entire new Monster Manual into your website every other month.


And, specifically, how is it marketed towards a younger audience? Every single thing I have heard about a major design change between 3.5 and 4.0 screams "World of Warcraft" to me.


Raymond Rich wrote:
They need to spend a round to refocus. Even in the best of circumstances, that demographic is a fickle bunch and will be gone in 4 years' time or less.

I don't know about you, but I started playing D&D when I was 12-13. And at 41, I'm still playing (and playing 3.5). So introducing a game to a new crop of youngsters means adding to a fan base that will continue with the product as they age.

I may not move to 4th ed any time soon but I moved from the blue book to AD&D to AD&D 2nd ed to D&D 3rd ed to 3.5. And at some point, when I run out of material to run, have no time to write my own stuff, I'll move over to the "current" version, whatever that may be. People like me will continue with the product because we love the game. Focusing on getting new kids into the game is just plain smart.

Greg


Colin McKinney wrote:
And, specifically, how is it marketed towards a younger audience? Every single thing I have heard about a major design change between 3.5 and 4.0 screams "World of Warcraft" to me.

Just more instant gratification types are what they are trying to attract. You know, the fickle people who will dump tonnes of money and then find something "cooler" so they can pwn (?) people. You know, the audience where it isn't about the game so much as being better then other people at the game. Competition instead of cooperation.

Which is what D&D is all about... wait no it isn't.

Dark Archive

Still, I don't really see what's going to be different about this incarnation of the game that is going to suck in the WOW crowd. After all, they can play WOW. I know plenty of people who play world of warcraft that turn up their noses at the idea of playing a fantasy board game, let alone an RPG.

And... I said "attempt" to make a good movie. I've seen many "attempts" that have gone horribly, horribly, wrong. Including both D&D films.


What is WOW?

hehe

j/k

I played Diablo (the first one) for about 45 minutes before I decided I was wasting my time. That was it. Never again.

For me, RPGs are pen and paper--on computer it's FPS.

Dark Archive

I'm still of the opinion that 4th edition needs the support of the old school fans of D and D to be considered a success, because older D and D players are the best recruiters for the game in my humble opinion. I've only been a DM since 2003 or so, and I've pulled at least ten people into the hobby who wouldn't have played otherwise. And, of course, if those ten people are going to pick up 4th edition, Wizards needs my (and others like me) support.

I still want to know what's going to get new kids playing the game that wasn't already being done.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

GET OFF MY LAWN!!!


David Witanowski wrote:


I still want to know what's going to get new kids playing the game that wasn't already being done.

Nothing.

... and, I don't think they care. For example, I watched the 4e promo stuff on YouTube and there was not one hot chick in any of it. In order to pull in young DnD players (which will be teenage boys) you must have hot chicks in your ad campaigns!

... at least, that is what I would like to see. (writhes hands together, and leans forwards in wheelchair all excited)


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
David Witanowski wrote:
What's going to be different about this incarnation of D&D that will send kids out in droves to buy it? Is there going to be a new cartoon show? Is it the new Minis game? Perhaps another attempt at making a good movie? A new MMORPG?

I think by 'younger audience' they mean people in their twenties and older teens, not little kids. When a large chunk of your fanbase is in their late thirties, 'younger' also shifts up as well.


wizard wrote:
David Witanowski wrote:


I still want to know what's going to get new kids playing the game that wasn't already being done.

Nothing.

... and, I don't think they care. For example, I watched the 4e promo stuff on YouTube and there was not one hot chick in any of it. In order to pull in young DnD players (which will be teenage boys) you must have hot chicks in your ad campaigns!

... at least, that is what I would like to see. (writhes hands together, and leans forwards in wheelchair all excited)

Marvelous (no sarcasm, I actually agree with you). Honestly, D&D has almost always been about word of mouth & coming and playing/watching a session. Putting it online IS a smart move in the current market. Yes, I said that. My worry is that they simplify it too much, making it work online, but not the table top (where the game really belongs, IMO).

How do we, as a community, promote D&D then? Do we? Do you care to do "word of mouth" online? How do you do it, and even more, how do you do it in an appropriate manner? See, I don't think it is as easy as WoTC seems to believe. Where is it appropriate for that kind of "word of mouth" and what about actual online advertising?

Oh, and for both sides of the gender debate: Chainmail bikinis for all! *Darkmeer grins with glee as he realizes some are going to cringe at that comment*

/d

There, Sebastian, I'm done dancing on your lawn :P

Scarab Sages

Darkmeer wrote:
See, I don't think it is as easy as WoTC seems to believe.

And this really is the crux of my argument..... WotC *think* this is going to bring in new players (and it may, briefly, as another poster said earlier in this thread), but it's not. Have you ever tried to get someone who really enjoys WoW to stop playing long enough to have dinner, for example? It's a highly addictive, visual and auditory sensory experience with the added advantage of being very PUSH oriented (as in the player doesn't really have to put much into the game to get the full experience of the game). I played WoW for a little while on an emulation server, and didn't find the appeal. But obviously there are millions of people who like it. If people like it, they are going to play it. If people are playing it, they aren't going to be playing D&D (for the most part - there are obviously those people who will play both... but they're probably already playing both and don't need a new ruleset to get them in).

WotC is not doing what is best for the hobby, they are doing what is best for Hasbro. They have no choice (but that doesn't mean I can't still find it ridiculous of them :) ).

As for what they're specifically doing to make it appeal to a younger audience... I dunno, it just has that feel. It is obviously still going to appeal to some long-time gamers as well. Unfortunately for WotC and D&D I don't think that the majority of those long-time gamers are going to be bandwagon-jumping any time soon.

The Exchange

What are they doing to pull in the younger crowd? They are making a Kewl new core race out of Teiflings (cool, I can be all demonic and evil-like!) regardless of how ridiculous it is that a whole race comes to being from liasons with demonic entities. They made warlock a core class (kewl, I can wield evil powers of the abyss). They have every class running around with powers that are usable 1/day, 1/combat, etc, to promote those who don't want to monitor their PCs powers. Everything I read of the classes looks like you could make an ability into a card and "tap" the card like some frigged up CCG, to use the power....untapping it after a set amount of time.
Things that have have been in the game for decades are being tossed aside in favor of "instant gratification gains". The game looks to be moving into a game where you don't think of strategy and preplanning, but where you can blast, smash and throttle everything for an unlimited timespan with no downtime.
Powering up and high-speed leveling are all signs of trying to appeal to the MMORPG crowd. I feel like 4.0 will have a "Mana" bar, a "fatigue" bar, and a "health" bar all floating in front of my eyes while I play, constantly recharging while I walk through the dungeon.

That is how I see 4.0 trying to appeal to the younger crowd and leaving behind the "grognards".

FH


Raymond Rich wrote:
They need to spend a round to refocus. Even in the best of circumstances, that demographic is a fickle bunch and will be gone in 4 years' time or less.

This is true but I think WotC is aware of it and indeed is building their future business plans around a 4-5 year turnover cycle. That's enough time to sell the vast majority of the books they're likely to produce to the vast majority of the players who are likely to buy them. Then they reset things with a new edition and start over again. My suspicion is that many, if not most, of the changes made to D&D mechanically in 4E have as much to do with laying a more solid groundwork for future editions as they do with improving gameplay.

In any event, this is an easily falsifiable thesis. If WotC does not announce 5E within 5 years, I'll readily admit I'm wrong and have misunderstood them, but I don't think I'll have to do that.


Fake Healer wrote:

What are they doing to pull in the younger crowd? They are making a Kewl new core race out of Teiflings (cool, I can be all demonic and evil-like!) regardless of how ridiculous it is that a whole race comes to being from liasons with demonic entities.

How are tieflings any different from half-elves and half-orcs in that respect?


They're not in Lord of the Rings, Conan or Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. I think that's basis of the objection. If you watch a lot of anime, there's lots of demon-born characters. I think it's a cultural divide within ones heritage of fantasy.

Liberty's Edge

What's kinda weird on that point--I've heard a lot of to-do about the perception (which I don't agree with, but don't want to get into necessarily) that 1/2 orcs and 1/2 elves should not be as common as they are assumed to be with their presentation as a character race.
So.......tieflings should be so common?

Liberty's Edge

In fact, in a barbarous region surrounded with orcs, I could see entire tribes of barbarians with mixed human/orcish blood.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Heathansson wrote:
In fact, in a barbarous region surrounded with orcs, I could see entire tribes of barbarians with mixed human/orcish blood.

Way back when 3e was first launched, there was a Greyhawk 2000 article or something in Dragon and Dungeon. One of the innovations I really liked in that article was the fact that half-orcs and half-elves had become distinct races with their own names.

But, in general, I agree with your point. People seem to be very willing to accept that wizards are much more rare than fighters, but don't seem to be as willing to accept that tieflings are much more rare than dwarves. Just because it's in the PHB doesn't mean it's common. Plus, tieflings/half-elves/half-orcs are probably much more likely to adventure than your average dwarf, elf, etc due to the prejudices they face in normal society. This accounts for their disproportionate representation in adventuring parties.

As for the OP, there's not much to be said on the subject. I'm not in the business of marketing rpgs to the 15-25 demographic, so my skills as an armchair quarterback are even more irrelevant than those of your average rpg marketing armchair quarterback. I can't say that my opinion has any more value on this topic than whether there actually is life on Mars, whether Blue-Ray or HD-DVD will be the next gen DVD format, or any other number of topics upon which I may form an ill-informed, poorly expressed opinion and validate it with questionable arguments loaded with outlandish assumptions. I do know that the style of wargaming that predated D&D never caught on in the younger generation and has just about died out as a result. Will they succeed? My crystal ball is broken, I'll get back to you in a year or two. Do they need to try? Yes.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Darkmeer wrote:

/d

There, Sebastian, I'm done dancing on your lawn :P

MY LAWN!!!!!!


FOUR MILES! IN THE SNOW!


Heathansson wrote:
In fact, in a barbarous region surrounded with orcs, I could see entire tribes of barbarians with mixed human/orcish blood.

Right! And in an ancient magical empire that had lots of relationships with evil outsiders (Cheliax of Golarion or the Great Kingdom of Greyhawk)there could be entire towns whose bloodlines included the odd demon or devil.


My question on the whole thing is, where from and how are they trying to draw these new customers in? Given — they're making the changes to the game and the website to appeal to the teenybopper set. So, where is the targeted advertising? Anyone seen ads in 16? Commercials on MTV? Is Gamespot.com blossoming with tons of D&D pop-ups and banners? Is WotC running a Girlscout cookie-esque recruitment drive ("Tell a friend about 4th ed. and get points towards great prizes!")? Granted it's a bit soon for a media blitz, but I fail to see how they are going to pull people in off the street without putting the product in front of their eyeballs. Do they really think a "build it and they will come" model is the hallmark of a profitable venture?...

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Foxish wrote:
My question on the whole thing is, where from and how are they trying to draw these new customers in? Given — they're making the changes to the game and the website to appeal to the teenybopper set. So, where is the targeted advertising? Anyone seen ads in 16? Commercials on MTV? Is Gamespot.com blossoming with tons of D&D pop-ups and banners? Is WotC running a Girlscout cookie-esque recruitment drive ("Tell a friend about 4th ed. and get points towards great prizes!")? Granted it's a bit soon for a media blitz, but I fail to see how they are going to pull people in off the street without putting the product in front of their eyeballs. Do they really think a "build it and they will come" model is the hallmark of a profitable venture?...

Magic manages to attract a substantial number of fans, and I believe that aside from the occasional ad on cartoon network, does not employ most of the tactics above. Maybe wotc believes similar ad campaigns will work, or that they can convert purchasers of their other products into D&D players.

Also, last time I checked. Most intense ad blitzes immediately precede the launch of the product to be sold. If you were seeing such advertising at this time, I think you would far greater reason to question their lack of competence. Last time I checked, gamespot had ads for mass effect. Perhaps you should consider directing your concerns at Bioware marketing group who completely dropped the ball in not mass marketing that game back in July.

I don't know about everyone else, but I sure am tired of seeing all the ads for movies that come out in May shoved down my throat now...


Sebastian wrote:

Magic manages to attract a substantial number of fans, and I believe that aside from the occasional ad on cartoon network, does not employ most of the tactics above. Maybe wotc believes similar ad campaigns will work, or that they can convert purchasers of their other products into D&D players.

Also, last time I checked. Most intense ad blitzes immediately precede the launch of the product to be sold. If you were seeing such advertising at this time, I think you would far greater reason to question their lack of competence. Last time I checked, gamespot had ads for mass effect. Perhaps you should consider directing your concerns at Bioware marketing group who completely dropped the ball in not mass marketing that game back in July.

I don't know about everyone else, but I sure am tired of seeing all the ads for movies that come out in May shoved down my throat now...

The snide tone of my post aside, I think the core question is a valid one: where are these new, younger customers going to come from? Changing the substance of the game and adding flashy gimmicks to the website isn't going to spontaneously generate customers. Somehow or other, WotC is going to have to put their product in front of faces. And so far, I've yet to see WotC begin courting their audience. While yes, generating hype months ahead of time is bloody annoying, but if they're choosing to jettison their traditonally loyal customers for this new group, shouldn't they be growing the interest of this group shortly?...


How does WotC market? Not that this is all they are doing, but I think it is effective (and this is just a guess):

1. POSTERS IN GAME AND COMIC SHOPS.

2. FLYERS IN COMPUTER RPG BOXES.

3. STROBING AD BANNERS ON WEBSITES.


Foxish wrote:
The snide tone of my post aside, I think the core question is a valid one: where are these new, younger customers going to come from? ...

I am going to attempt to believe that the RPG marketing budget at WotC is small. I will even base this upon the 4e promo(s) I saw online.

I bet a lot of WotC marketing research is done by coming here to paizo.com and watching us "chew-the-bit" over all these 4e questions.

I mean, a WotC marketing guy can log on here, ask a question like "how can WotC possibley attract younger customers for their new 4e product," and get a sample space of ideas for free.

Let me change the subject a little, please:
How can an individual gamer make a few hundred thousand dollars in a year, and still have plenty of time to game with friends?

Thoughts? Parodies? Melodramas?


Tensor wrote:

Let me change the subject a little, please:

How can an individual gamer make a few hundred thousand dollars in a year, and still have plenty of time to game with friends?

Get chucked into a white-collar prison... ;P

The Exchange

Kruelaid wrote:

How does WotC market? Not that this is all they are doing, but I think it is effective (and this is just a guess):

1. POSTERS IN GAME AND COMIC SHOPS.

2. FLYERS IN COMPUTER RPG BOXES.

3. STROBING AD BANNERS ON WEBSITES.

Unless of course they do it in all caps.


Tensor wrote:

I bet a lot of WotC marketing research is done by coming here to paizo.com and watching us "chew-the-bit" over all these 4e questions.

Let me change the subject a little, please:
How can an individual gamer make a few hundred thousand dollars in a year, and still have plenty of time to game with friends?

Thoughts? Parodies? Melodramas?

On point 1, I think more of them go to ENWorld and not here. (Mike McArtor being a notable exception.)

On point 2, I think you're talking lottery, inheritance or owning a turnkey business that churns out lots of profits like a McDonalds franchise or something. You have to be an absentee owner to get all this "plenty of time". Mind you, I'm sure we'd all love to do it! :D


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Tensor wrote:
How can an individual gamer make a few hundred thousand dollars in a year, and still have plenty of time to game with friends?

Learn effective time management. I have two friends in my gaming group that make over 150K a year; both are married, one has a teenaged daughter (who also plays with us, along with her boyfriend). They have time for a weekly gaming commitment and have for many years now. They're also active in their churches, go to plays and otherwise have a significant life outside of gaming as well. Two others have 'on call' jobs and they still make it every week. One other guy is married, holds down a full time job and is working on his Master's degree at the same time; he still shows up every single week without fail and has for years.

So, yes, it can be done. We don't have these 'We game every other month on alternate Tuesdays if it's not raining' groups. Once you get past the point in your life where you're working crappy retail cashwrap jobs (and if that phase lasts more than the time it takes you to get a degree, seek help), it's easy once you say to yourself and/or your spouse 'this is as important to me as X and so it will occupy the same level of commitment in time as X', keeping a game going is easy.


Wayne Ligon wrote:
Once you get past the point in your life where you're working crappy retail cashwrap jobs (and if that phase lasts more than the time it takes you to get a degree, seek help)

How incredibly tactless (and that's coming from someone with a documented history of insulting people).

I believe this product, if it ends up being fourth edition, is the right answer.

Dark Archive

So, some time has passed, and frankly I haven't personally seen any major growth in the number of people playing table-top RPGs. If anything my personal circle of face-to-face gamers has shrunk. Any new thoughts?

Scarab Sages

FabesMinis wrote:
FOUR MILES! IN THE SNOW!

Ya know I really have walked a few miles in 3 foot of snow, just saying


My gaming group has doubled in size.

Hmmm... sounds like a spam email :D


David Witanowski wrote:
So, some time has passed, and frankly I haven't personally seen any major growth in the number of people playing table-top RPGs. If anything my personal circle of face-to-face gamers has shrunk. Any new thoughts?

My local group of gamers gets at least one new person per week showing up interested in playing D&D. Everyone comfortable with DMing is already doing so, and as a result it's becoming hard to place new players in open games. We've taken to encouraging new people to volunteer to start their own game, if that's something they're comfortable with. We did not see this kind of growth rate prior to last year.

Scarab Sages

It's good to hear from some folks that new players are coming in. It don't matter what game they start with ya can always convert em :)


@Seeker :p

Seriously, I really want to try some retro-clone goodness on them. They like straightforward and simple on the whole

Sovereign Court

Just this year Jan-April I have taught three people to play the game. Granted the game has been pathfinder, but they were lured in by interest in playing D&D one had the 4e PH and one had the 4e quickstart rules. After our RotR campaign gets wrapped up I was gonna offer to play a 4e game since one guy seems interested in DMing that way they didn't feel ripped off buying a 4e book they never got to use, but the one interested in DMing is talking about picking up the starwars RPG if you can believe it :) I've gotten him indoctrinated and now he's seeking out new RPGs I could cry :*)


I have found players that are new to me. Does that count?


My own circle of gamers has remained pretty much the same, with a few minor adjustments based on unrelated matters (two friends move out of the area, one friend is occupied with a new child, some others join in the group, etc) - pretty much no edition based change.

On the other hand, the local store where I've occasionally stopped by to play LFR has exploded with activity - going from running one session of 4-5 players to 4 tables of 6 players packing into the room... even as one or two other non-LFR groups have started up 4E games.

I know that experience is certainly not universal, but it has been what I've seen in my area. It's interesting, actually - LFR has stepped away from the focus on conventions that LG had when it was running. My friends and I would go to regular conventions, which would have specials, new releases, interactives, and other such stuff - conventions that would run pretty much for the sole purpose of LG. And I do miss a lot of those unique aspects - though on the other hand, those always did put a bit of a burden on the schedule.

My friends will still play some RPGA games at larger conventions, of course, but we no longer schedule any trips to conventions for the sole purpose of LFR. On the other hand, we now run LFR both on our own, while also traveling to the game days at local stores.

The focus really has shifted to game days and casual play. And I would say that doing so has been very successful at drawing in new gamers in a way that conventions - which were really for those already deeply invested in the campaign - never could.


Games at the store I play at, at least for the last few months, have been limited to games that I have started. Both games have drawn some interest from people who asked the people working at the store about any local games going on. It hasn't been a real deluge of new people, more around one new person joining up about each month and playing a few weeks before disappearing such that I don't hear from them again.

Dark Archive

Matthew Koelbl wrote:


The focus really has shifted to game days and casual play. And I would say that doing so has been very successful at drawing in new gamers in a way that conventions - which were really for those already deeply invested in the campaign - never could.

That's what I'm seeing, too. WotC seems to be really pushing those delves, too; I'm constantly getting invites to run weekly games from different stores. (So far I've had to reject them all: three campaigns a month is enough!)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A bit of thread necromacny going on here, is it not? :)

Didn't WotC say that they'll start by marketing the game at older players, then try and recruit new blood starting in 2010? It will be very interesting to see if this actually happens.


Carl Cramér wrote:

A bit of thread necromacny going on here, is it not? :)

Didn't WotC say that they'll start by marketing the game at older players, then try and recruit new blood starting in 2010? It will be very interesting to see if this actually happens.

Yep, Rouse said this is their strategy going forward. In light of this, their "Never Split the Party" marketing slogan makes more sense - that's the kind of phrase that only has significance to people who have had interaction with the D&D brand (or other party-based RPGs) in the past. I bet we'll see a much more accessible slogan appear next year, when the shift to expanding outside their core occurs.

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