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D&D Next a sign of distress at WotC?


D&D 4th Edition (and Beyond)

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Qadira

DISCLAIMER: this is not an edition war thread, not a "wizards"hate thread, not an opinion about any edition. merely an analytic view of theevents surrounding WotCs' decision to create D&D next and the way theymarket it. No flames intended. Also I think I already posted this but it seems that the website ate the post, since it also does not exist in my "posts" profile in my account. Also, it's a tad long.

SO!

I am a relative newcomer to D&D, having been around only since the days of 3.5. I am familiar with AD&D and with 4th edition but neither are what I look for with my gaming experience.

When 4th edition came out, one of the most loud and repeated "criticism"I heard people mentioning was that Wizards seemed to be eschewing their"old, loyal" fanbase for a chance at a "crowd ofnewcomers". That is, 4th edition seemed to try it's best atappealing to completely new players, in part by marketing itself as a good wayto get into tabletop gaming and in part by adopting the MMORPG formula of"tank, healer, DPS guy". The MMO feel goes father than that though,and I am among those who feel that combat (with the new cooldown system forclass powers [daily, per encounter etc.] being a chief player in this regard).

Furthermore, other "sacred cows" of the game were brought tothe Altar as well. The core classes were changed to include Eldrin andDragonborn (I think that's how they're called, can't remember at themoment). Traditional spells worked differently(Magic Missile needs an attack roll??), the game was stretched over 30 levelswith clear distinctions made between each 10 level group, and many more smallerchanges.

All of this combined gave a very strong impression that WotC werebranching out and trying new things, mainly for the purpose of getting newplayers started on the game.

Then, 4 years later – a lightning fast period in D&D edition lifespan terms – WotC decided to switch to a new edition.

The quick, might I even say hasty transition is an indication by itselfthat WotC felt a need in a change of direction, and rather urgently. Still, byitself this could just mean that from a business point of view, WotC adopted anew policy of more frequent edition changes – which is common in other systems.

However, looking at the details we know about D&D Next, it isnoticeable that they did a 180 degrees turn in their thought process, whichusually for a big, laborious company like them is a sign of distress.

So early on, D&D Next was marketed as a "play D&D the wayyou want to play it!" edition. It is important to notice that suchmarketing is targeted at people who already played D&D previously and arelooking for the best way to continue playing it… NOT for people who neverplayed before. So while D&D next might still be awesome for new players, itis not MARKETED to them.

Then, there was a playtest, and there are the constant surveys, both ofwhich were absent from the 4th edition design process. That is asignal that this time, WotC is greatly interested in what the community has tosay.

After the playtest started, I heard many people call D&D Next a"retro-clone", and the consensus seems to be that it most resemblesAD&D/3rd edition of all the previous editions – if I am notmistaken, those editions were played in the times when D&D was mostpopular, meaning that the majority of D&D players today played theseeditions.

All of that by itself is reason enough to think that Wizards is tryingto get "old time" players back into the game and keep D&D alivefor it's current community, and not to reach a new audience like 4thedition attempted to do.

Add to that another fact: in the days of 3.5, WotC was the elephant inthe tabletop gaming room. Nobody could seriously consider competing with themin popularity, sales, resources and community support. Now, even though WotC isstill huge, they have real competition – Pathfinder. IIRC, Pathfinder has suppressedsales in the U.S (the biggest market) over D&D. that's a huge deal. Not only does it bum Wizards that they havelost momentum and their seemingly unshakeable grasp at the market, but theyhave also discovered another important fact: 3.5 had no real need of beingreplaced. Pathfinder is practically 3rd edition done right, and itshigh sales reflect a large, eager crowed willing to spend money on 3rdedition products.

All of the above lead me to a realization: WotC lost a chunk of itscustomer base, and never gained a big enough bunch of new customers to evenbalance it. 4th editions' attempt to draw in a young, fresh newcrowd has largely failed, and now what used to be the largest company in thefield lost its base.

All of the above makes me think Wizards may be on a loose ground, financiallyspeaking, and in urgent need to show more profit to Hasbaro. Their attempt atdoing so is D&D Next, which is a new edition aimed strongly at bringingback the lost customers from the 4th edition era (short-lived as itwas). Rarely does a company so completely revere its own decisions in suchshort order, and when one does, it’s probably because it was cornered intodoing so.

Thoughts?

Grand Lodge

They've ALWAYS been in urgent need to show a profit to Hasbro. 3.5Ed has played itself out as far as Hasbro was concerned and the big sales are in the core rule sets of Players, GM and Monster Guides.

Marketing 'Wisdom' holds with a 5 year release model to maximise revenue on rule books and so, even though its only 4 years into 4th Ed, by the time D&D Next is officially released it will be about 5... though much like me not wanting to buy an iPhone because I know there's a new one coming, they are sort of hurting their sales of 4th Ed stuff.

Problem is that Tabletop RPGs are not growing like it did then - the new generation of 'gamer' are spoiled for choice in a way they never were 10 years ago (in fact computer game/platforms profits are down too).

There are WotC fans still - some people are genuinely excited by the new look game but they are seeking to recapture the grognard player (who still uses 1st/2nd edition or maybe even 3rd) along with the current potential customer base.

Will it work?

Cant say. A lot of the 3.5 crowd went to Pathfinder, lots are system neutral (ie they don't care which as long as they are playing) and some of the 3.5 crowd liked the simplicity of 4th Ed.

Where WotC MAY find issues is not if they have a good game or not - its their image.

They may hold the "Dungeons and Dragons" brand but players felt burned by the 3.0 to 3.5 change, and the total dump of the 3rd Ed system in favour of 4th... which failed to deliver a decent character generator (subscription worked I believe) for many, and the total non event that was the Dungeons and Dragons "Experience" or Virtual TableTop and finally dumping of the 4th Ed rule set in a "comparatively" short time.

Its no sign of desperation - its an attempt to widen their customer base - recapture old players, keep the current players and find new ones.

I just don't think Hasbro will see the sort of boom that was seen in the heyday of 3.0/3.5 is all. "Unprofitable"* departments only get so much slack before being shelved.

*Your Milage May Vary on what is Profitabilty - it may be the same margin they make on boardgames, in which case WotC is fighting some tough expectations. It may also be 'revenue stream' - if they don't make 'X' Million a quarter it may also come under the hammer.


Quote:

All of the above makes me think Wizards may be on a loose ground, financiallyspeaking, and in urgent need to show more profit to Hasbaro. Their attempt atdoing so is D&D Next, which is a new edition aimed strongly at bringingback the lost customers from the 4th edition era (short-lived as itwas). Rarely does a company so completely revere its own decisions in suchshort order, and when one does, it’s probably because it was cornered intodoing so.

Thoughts?

If WotC were actually on shaky ground financially releasing a new edition of D&D would be the last thing they would want to do. D&D hasn't exactly been a big money maker since the early days of 3E. WotC makes far, far more money with Magic than they ever have with D&D (like orders of magnitude more). This is probably WotC's attempt to keep D&D in production despite its dismal profits (which began back in the later days of 3.5E)

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

WotC? No not even remotely. Most of their money comes from card games like Magic the Gathering. DnD is a drop in the bucket next to that. Now can it be a sign of distress for DnD not making some mystic preset profit number set by Hasbro appointed CEO? Now that is very possible. I forget now who said it, but I think it was Ryan Dancey but not positive. Said that Hasbro set a bench mark for DnD to make 50mil a year. Which would be very very hard for a pen and paper RPG.

If 5E fails to hit what ever mystic mark it needs to hit for profit then I see Hasbro mothballing the IP for awhile and then coming back later with it. They have a rep for doing that, though with it owned be a subsidiary might change that.

The irony is regardless how you or I(I think it is ok game, just not what I am looking for) personally feel about 4e it was for the RPG market wildly successful. Even if it lost book sales and Paizo passed it in book trade numbers. By the time you add in the DDI, most companies never remotely come close to the kinds of profits 4E was making for them. For any other company 4E would have been seen as a run away success like WoD was back in the 90's.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wizards of the Coast is not in trouble. The D&D table-top RPG department/division/shop (however you classify it) did not succeed as well as expected/required with 4e. Two very different things.

From what I can gather, the D&D minis and novels are still doing well. As are Magic the Gathering and the company's other product lines. Wizards of the Coast as a whole is far from being in jeopardy. What may be an issue is that D&D as a table-top RPG is in danger of being shelved at Hasbro's direction for not bringing enough profit.

The fact is, despite the name recognition and the popularity of related products (CCGs, MMOs, etc.), table-top RPGs have always been a niche market. Even during the RPG heydays of the 1980s (the most popular time for table-top RPGs), the comparative market share vs. board games such as Monopoly was pretty small. Compared to the MMO jugernaut, table-top gamining is tiny.

Right now, as long as D&D as a table-top RPG is at least somewhat profitable, I doubt it will be completely scrapped (IMO). At some point, however, Hasbro may convert the D&D brand to something with a higher profit margin, such as a board game like Dungeon or Talisman. I think Hasbro's favored scenario would be to license/produce a successful MMO with the D&D name and drop the table-top market altogether.


From what I am seeing, I am led to believe that what another game company would consider profitable is not what Hasbro would consider profitable. And I can't remember where I read it, but there was something about them wanting each product to stand on is own in terms of profitability, so CCG's and RPG's won't be considered part of the same line anymore. I could be wrong on that, though.

Qadira

Alright, the important distinction between the D&D department and the rest of WotC was missing from my initial calculations, as well as the fact that WotC is in no danger of an actualy financial problem, only a "much less profit than we would have liked" problem.

However, I think the fact that 5e is focused on marketing to the "old" audiance of 3e and before that, unlike 4e which was targeted at a brand new audiance, is very meaningful. I think it demonstrates that 5e is more about regaining a foothold as the top dog in the field than about branching out (which was 4e's focus).


Helaman wrote:

They've ALWAYS been in urgent need to show a profit to Hasbro. 3.5Ed has played itself out as far as Hasbro was concerned and the big sales are in the core rule sets of Players, GM and Monster Guides.

Marketing 'Wisdom' holds with a 5 year release model to maximise revenue on rule books and so, even though its only 4 years into 4th Ed, by the time D&D Next is officially released it will be about 5... though much like me not wanting to buy an iPhone because I know there's a new one coming, they are sort of hurting their sales of 4th Ed stuff.

What Helaman says.

The D&D team may or may not be feeling pressure from the Hasbro execs, but there was always going to be a 5e. Just like there's going to be a 6e, a 7e, and...you get the idea. Once you live through a few edition changes, you realize how cyclical it all is.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Lord Snow wrote:
However, I think the fact that 5e is focused on marketing to the "old" audiance of 3e and before that, unlike 4e which was targeted at a brand new audiance, is very meaningful. I think it demonstrates that 5e is more about regaining a foothold as the top dog in the field than about branching out (which was 4e's focus).

WotC has only been in charge of D&D for two editions. I suspect that as time goes by, it will become clear that WotC's D&D strategy is one of alternating focus: write a 'traditional' edition to reach out to the vets, then write a more creative edition to reach out to a wider audience. Rinse and repeat.

Shadow Lodge

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
WotC has only been in charge of D&D for two editions. I suspect that as time goes by, it will become clear that WotC's D&D strategy is one of alternating focus: write a 'traditional' edition to reach out to the vets, then write a more creative edition to reach out to a wider audience. Rinse and repeat.

3.0 was hardly a "traditional" edition that "reached out to the vets", despite how much 4E-haters want to pretend that it was.


Kthulhu wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
WotC has only been in charge of D&D for two editions. I suspect that as time goes by, it will become clear that WotC's D&D strategy is one of alternating focus: write a 'traditional' edition to reach out to the vets, then write a more creative edition to reach out to a wider audience. Rinse and repeat.
3.0 was hardly a "traditional" edition that "reached out to the vets", despite how much 4E-haters want to pretend that it was.

I've been seeing a lot of comments to the effect that 3.x is traditionalist, but I agree that this is more than a little revisionist.

My overall point is: I think that WotC's D&D strategy is one of intentional flip-flopping between play styles. They're keeping their fan base diverse, even if not every member of the fan base buys every edition. I'd be willing to bet that we'll get an edition with striking similarities to 4e sometime down the road, even if it takes a few editions.


I don't disagree with any point made thus far, but as a former player of 4E, I was a little upset that the game I was playing was being revised after I had finally adapted a campaign my players enjoyed. I feel like I had to "House-Rule the crap out of the system to have something to actually play. I have finally moved over to Pathfinder & hopefully can stay for a spell.
Just my two cents.


I officially cut my last ties with D&D and WotC yesterday by selling off ALL of my 3.0/3.5 stuff to a collectibles guy for the miniscule amount of $200.
That collection also included my Necromancer Modules (including LCoB), Goodman DCC stuff including Whiterock and DCC 35, my SCAP hardcover etc.
If I ever get another home game going, it'll be a Pathfinder AP or three.
The rest of my 3.0 and older stuff went for free to two posters on these boards. I'll stick with Paizo, thank you.

:)
If I hear D&D Next is miniatures/tactical light and brings back the sacred cows with faster rules somehow, then I'll give the core books (on PDF only) a read through.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
My overall point is: I think that WotC's D&D strategy is one of intentional flip-flopping between play styles. They're keeping their fan base diverse, even if not every member of the fan base buys every edition. I'd be willing to bet that we'll get an edition with striking similarities to 4e sometime down the road, even if it takes a few editions.

I think it's a bit flattering to refer to it as a 'strategy'. I think you may well be right about what happens over time, but I expect it will be a function of the rapid turnover of staff rather than any deliberate choice.

I obviously have no special insight into what goes on over there, but it seems likely to me that with the constant churn of employees, there isnt really anyone guiding the product line over more than about four or five years at most. Personally, I still think people overplay the Hasbro influence. Big, successful corporations dont micromanage their subsidiaries to that extent - especially for something as insignificant as D&D. If Magic began to falter, I think the Hasbro board would be quite likely to take notice, but I suspect they're oblivious to the ructions in the RPG world of the last few years.


Dark_Mistress wrote:

WotC? No not even remotely. Most of their money comes from card games like Magic the Gathering. DnD is a drop in the bucket next to that. Now can it be a sign of distress for DnD not making some mystic preset profit number set by Hasbro appointed CEO? Now that is very possible. I forget now who said it, but I think it was Ryan Dancey but not positive. Said that Hasbro set a bench mark for DnD to make 50mil a year. Which would be very very hard for a pen and paper RPG.

That was then WotC D&D Brand Manager Greg Leeds (I think - it could have been whoever preceded him) who felt D&D could make $50 million/year. Hasbro set that as a target for all of their IPs. If they could make $50 million/year they would get all the funding & marketing they could want. Those that didn't would still be allowed to continue but only if a profit was being made and without help from the marketing department.


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Sunderstone wrote:

I officially cut my last ties with D&D and WotC yesterday by selling off ALL of my 3.0/3.5 stuff to a collectibles guy for the miniscule amount of $200.

That collection also included my Necromancer Modules (including LCoB), Goodman DCC stuff including Whiterock and DCC 35, my SCAP hardcover etc.
If I ever get another home game going, it'll be a Pathfinder AP or three.
The rest of my 3.0 and older stuff went for free to two posters on these boards. I'll stick with Paizo, thank you.

:)
If I hear D&D Next is miniatures/tactical light and brings back the sacred cows with faster rules somehow, then I'll give the core books (on PDF only) a read through.

So you 'cut ties' with WotC by selling hot collectibles for a tiny fraction of what you could have got with even a token effort?

yeah - that'll show 'em! LOL!


Ayup, it seems more like the WotC is blundering forward with D&D, having problems with finding where the most money lie.


PsychoticWarrior wrote:
Sunderstone wrote:

I officially cut my last ties with D&D and WotC yesterday by selling off ALL of my 3.0/3.5 stuff to a collectibles guy for the miniscule amount of $200.

That collection also included my Necromancer Modules (including LCoB), Goodman DCC stuff including Whiterock and DCC 35, my SCAP hardcover etc.
If I ever get another home game going, it'll be a Pathfinder AP or three.
The rest of my 3.0 and older stuff went for free to two posters on these boards. I'll stick with Paizo, thank you.

:)
If I hear D&D Next is miniatures/tactical light and brings back the sacred cows with faster rules somehow, then I'll give the core books (on PDF only) a read through.

So you 'cut ties' with WotC by selling hot collectibles for a tiny fraction of what you could have got with even a token effort?

yeah - that'll show 'em! LOL!

The only reason I kept the 3.0/3.5 stuff is because I thought I might play some D&D eventually. Once I got rid of my box containing my WotC rulebooks, I didnt see the need to keep the rest. I'm never going to convert any of the old APs/Adventures (Don't have that kind of time anymore), and I'm moving, so I'm packing light. I also ditched about 4000 comic books for a bulk price the same day.

I'm only keeping my Paizo stuff, so my ties to D&D/WotC are cut. I wasn't showing them anything.


For older paths you can always try looking herein case that you didn't know, that there were some fan conversions done.


Kthuluhu wrote:
3.0 was hardly a "traditional" edition that "reached out to the vets", despite how much 4E-haters want to pretend that it was.

3E had the advantage of coming in when there wasn't anything active for it to replace, due to extreme mismanagement from the previous owners. You can get away with a lot more in the eyes of the consumer in such a situation.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Lord Snow wrote:

Alright, the important distinction between the D&D department and the rest of WotC was missing from my initial calculations, as well as the fact that WotC is in no danger of an actualy financial problem, only a "much less profit than we would have liked" problem.

However, I think the fact that 5e is focused on marketing to the "old" audiance of 3e and before that, unlike 4e which was targeted at a brand new audiance, is very meaningful. I think it demonstrates that 5e is more about regaining a foothold as the top dog in the field than about branching out (which was 4e's focus).

Is it fact that 5E is focused on 3E and previous players? At this time we have seen one single play test that amounts to less than a beginners box. I wouldn't call at will magic missile auto damage or slayer theme that allows your fighter to apply damage on a miss as something that caters to the old guard. There is a vocal community of 4E players asking "whats in it for me" but that doesn't mean there are no plans to make 5E play like 4E. Take a look at the new proposed fighter design combat superiority. Lets have a little patience no need to jump to conclusions. D&D Next is far from over.


I personally don't see D&D Next as a sign of distress at WotC, especially given the methodical design approach they seem to be taking to include the open playtesting. I think the designers generally want to make a great product and a game they themselves want to play. There's nothing wrong with them taking a step back with Next and trying to create a game that captures a lot of the old school feel. I think they learned a lot with 4E and when they launch Next I anticipate a very positive reaction. My friends and I have been playtesting and we like what we see so far and I think if they have the right products at launch, and especially if they have the right electronic support, Next could be a home run as far as this industry is concerned. If they continue to maintain 4E support online, at least leaving the tools there now running, they'll do well by their 4E fans too.

And as best I can tell the D&D brand as a whole, beyond just the RPG, is doing really well now - at least in terms of customer approval if not necessarily profits (I don't know how well they're selling). Most of the gamers I know, the majority who have played D&D since the 1980s, really like the D&D line of board games. I enjoy the adventure system games a lot and really like the new Dungeon Command minis game. I haven't had a chance to play Lords of Waterdeep or Conquest of Nerath yet but all of these products seem to be popular. And the rerelease of the classic Dungeon! game should be good too.

L


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kthulhu wrote:


3.0 was hardly a "traditional" edition that "reached out to the vets", despite how much 4E-haters want to pretend that it was.

I disagree to an extent. It was clearly designed, at least in its marketing, with a traditionalist "Back to the Dungeon" slogan. I believe that was done to reach out to the vets who disliked the strong story elements of 2e adventure writing. In that sense, it was a "back to basics" game that really did have a "reaching out to vets" element to it. It was just a narrow aspect of what was going on.

But the idea of being a traditional edition reaching out to vets really hadn't coming into its own until you started see much more departure from earlier editions and traditions with late 3.5 (Bo9S) and 4e. So there is some revisionism in the psychology. Back when 3e debuted, it was fairly clear that the rule engine was receiving updates that would unify more of the mechanics yet leave most D&D traditions and campaigns intact. Conversion was possible and really not all that hard. The game was meant to reside within the vast bulk of D&D traditional content.

Shadow Lodge

Bill Dunn wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:


3.0 was hardly a "traditional" edition that "reached out to the vets", despite how much 4E-haters want to pretend that it was.

I disagree to an extent. It was clearly designed, at least in its marketing, with a traditionalist "Back to the Dungeon" slogan. I believe that was done to reach out to the vets who disliked the strong story elements of 2e adventure writing. In that sense, it was a "back to basics" game that really did have a "reaching out to vets" element to it. It was just a narrow aspect of what was going on.

But the idea of being a traditional edition reaching out to vets really hadn't coming into its own until you started see much more departure from earlier editions and traditions with late 3.5 (Bo9S) and 4e. So there is some revisionism in the psychology. Back when 3e debuted, it was fairly clear that the rule engine was receiving updates that would unify more of the mechanics yet leave most D&D traditions and campaigns intact. Conversion was possible and really not all that hard. The game was meant to reside within the vast bulk of D&D traditional content.

My point is that, from a purely mechanical standpoint, 3.0 seems as if it were designed by someone who once saw a game of AD&D being played.


I think that 5th edition is a knee-jerk reaction on WotC part, and it is WAY too soon for a new edition. Understand that I strongly dislike Pathfinder...won't touch it because of the 3.5 rules roots. 3.5 was the only version of D&D that made me quit playing D&D, and I played since the late 70's. 4E surprised me at how well it was designed and brought me back. But that said, Pathfinder is very well written and illustrated by a company that loves its customers. Paizo deserves to do well just because of it's loyalty to its customers.

On the flip side, look at where Mike Mearls is leading D&D and I get depressed. Some of the things in D&D next are good ideas. But overall, I think that WotC was desperate to win back some of the customers who left for Pathfinder or other games, even though 4E did well in the market. So they jumped too soon into a new version. I don't predict this working. Pathfinder players are not going to abandon their game to go back to D&D. And Many 4E players are going to stick their (or play older versions). I predict that this is just going to fragment the marketshare once more.

Just a note on new players too...I have not personally seen so many new players in D&D that 4E brought in since the early 80's when 1st Edition was played by everyone. I have multiple groups of totally new players who stated D&D with 4E. But with that couple dozen...almost NONE of them bought much of the rulebooks...if any. The characterbuilder did so well with printing the material, most created their character on someone else's account, and although they play every week...they have never bought a book. So I think that 4E was doing a lot better than the radar of book purchases showed. Again...a knee jerk reaction by WotC that I think will hurt them.

Grand Lodge

Guttercrawl wrote:

I don't disagree with any point made thus far, but as a former player of 4E, I was a little upset that the game I was playing was being revised after I had finally adapted a campaign my players enjoyed. I feel like I had to "House-Rule the crap out of the system to have something to actually play. I have finally moved over to Pathfinder & hopefully can stay for a spell.

Just my two cents.

I dont think 3.0 to 3.5 was planned as a revenue raiser... but I suspect 4th Ed and "Essentials" was - it worked before and they wanted to see if it would work again.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kthulhu wrote:
My point is that, from a purely mechanical standpoint, 3.0 seems as if it were designed by someone who once saw a game of AD&D being played.

Oh, I disagree.

To me 3E to me was very much a spiritual successor to 1E/2E. Its difference is codification of everything that wasn't codified to have a more similar play experience from one table to another. (Now, whether or not that is a good thing obviously varies amongst gamers, but 1E/2E fluff is pretty much the same in 3E.)

Either way, back to the original point, as others have said, I don't think the new edition reflects on WotC's status at all, but its success (or lack thereof) could very much impact the future employment of the D&D designers at WotC.


Steve Geddes wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
My overall point is: I think that WotC's D&D strategy is one of intentional flip-flopping between play styles. They're keeping their fan base diverse, even if not every member of the fan base buys every edition. I'd be willing to bet that we'll get an edition with striking similarities to 4e sometime down the road, even if it takes a few editions.
I think it's a bit flattering to refer to it as a 'strategy'. I think you may well be right about what happens over time, but I expect it will be a function of the rapid turnover of staff rather than any deliberate choice.

Yeah, the design team is a lot like the presidency and his cabinet, in this way.

And I agree that 'strategy' may be giving the design team too much credit, but I'm having a hard time finding a more appropriate word. I think that a combination of fairly predictable factors is leading to a dramatic edition change every 5ish years. For example as each edition matures, I think that a 'the grass is greener on the other side' phenomenon affects both customer and designer psychology.

Anyway, whatever word I use for this cyclical process, I'm sure it's not just a mad scramble every 5ish years. I don't think anyone at WotC has ever said or thought Dam we/they really frakked up this edition! We've got to write a new one, before the sky falls on us!

...So basically, I agree with everything you said. :)


theroc wrote:
But with that couple dozen...almost NONE of them bought much of the rulebooks...if any. The characterbuilder did so well with printing the material, most created their character on someone else's account, and although they play every week...they have never bought a book. So I think that 4E was doing a lot better than the radar of book purchases showed. Again...a knee jerk reaction by WotC that I think will hurt them.

If I was in charge of a game company, I probably wouldn't consider a game where noone needs to actually purchase any of my products to be a success. If lots of people play 4E, but WotC don't sell any products to those people, then it makes perfect sense to create a new version with a different focus.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Are wrote:
theroc wrote:
But with that couple dozen...almost NONE of them bought much of the rulebooks...if any. The characterbuilder did so well with printing the material, most created their character on someone else's account, and although they play every week...they have never bought a book. So I think that 4E was doing a lot better than the radar of book purchases showed. Again...a knee jerk reaction by WotC that I think will hurt them.

If I was in charge of a game company, I probably wouldn't consider a game where noone needs to actually purchase any of my products to be a success. If lots of people play 4E, but WotC don't sell any products to those people, then it makes perfect sense to create a new version with a different focus.

Yeah I was going to make a similar comment. IF you like 4E (or Pathfinder) the best way of showing it is with your wallet. From a business perspective, 500 newer players that enjoy your product but don't make purchases or only pirate material are worth a lot less than 10 older players who will religiously buy new books and materials.


DaveMage wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
My point is that, from a purely mechanical standpoint, 3.0 seems as if it were designed by someone who once saw a game of AD&D being played.

Oh, I disagree.

To me 3E to me was very much a spiritual successor to 1E/2E. Its difference is codification of everything that wasn't codified to have a more similar play experience from one table to another. (Now, whether or not that is a good thing obviously varies amongst gamers, but 1E/2E fluff is pretty much the same in 3E.

There are a lot more differences between the "play experience" of 3e and the same experience in earlier editions than it being codified to have similar play experience between tables. The one thing that makes me mildly pleased about D&D Next is that it appears to be closer to the old systems than to 3e.


MMCJawa wrote:
Are wrote:
theroc wrote:
But with that couple dozen...almost NONE of them bought much of the rulebooks...if any. The characterbuilder did so well with printing the material, most created their character on someone else's account, and although they play every week...they have never bought a book. So I think that 4E was doing a lot better than the radar of book purchases showed. Again...a knee jerk reaction by WotC that I think will hurt them.

If I was in charge of a game company, I probably wouldn't consider a game where noone needs to actually purchase any of my products to be a success. If lots of people play 4E, but WotC don't sell any products to those people, then it makes perfect sense to create a new version with a different focus.

Yeah I was going to make a similar comment. IF you like 4E (or Pathfinder) the best way of showing it is with your wallet. From a business perspective, 500 newer players that enjoy your product but don't make purchases or only pirate material are worth a lot less than 10 older players who will religiously buy new books and materials.

Oh, I totally agree. And I hope my post didn't make it seemed like I think this ability to play without materials is a good thing. I think that so many gamers are notorious cheepskates (or just plain starving students). Remember back in the day when "T$R" was slammed for trying to make money? Heaven forbid! That is one reason why i purchased every single 4E product they put out. Granted, almost all of them are high quality product...but I bought them to support my game (and assuming I will use material in them all someday).

Shadow Lodge

theroc wrote:
Just a note on new players too...I have not personally seen so many new players in D&D that 4E brought in since the early 80's when 1st Edition was played by everyone. I have multiple groups of totally new players who stated D&D with 4E. But with that couple dozen...almost NONE of them bought much of the rulebooks...if any. The characterbuilder did so well with printing the material, most created their character on someone else's account, and although they play every week...they have never bought a book.

I make this point every time someone starts crowing about Pathfinder being the #1 most popular RPG. It probably IS the #1 book-selling RPG at the moment, but I'm not really sure that translates into being the most popular one. I'd wager that the divide between number of Pathfinder players and the number of 4E players is much MUCH narrower than the ICv2 sales report would indicate, and may even favor 4E. The fact that 4E is still #2 despite the fact that their print products have all but dried up for well over a year supports my conjecture.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kthulhu wrote:
I make this point every time someone starts crowing about Pathfinder being the #1 most popular RPG. It probably IS the #1 book-selling RPG at the moment, but I'm not really sure that translates into being the most popular one. I'd wager that the divide between number of Pathfinder players and the number of 4E players is much MUCH narrower than the ICv2 sales report would indicate, and may even favor 4E. The fact that 4E is still #2 despite the fact that their print products have all but dried up for well over a year supports my conjecture.

First let me start by saying I agree with you. Now with that said I play Devils*shudder* Advocate for a moment. While all you said it true or possible true. There is also the fact that Paizo does a lot of direct book sales too. None of the subscription sales are in those numbers nor any where people buy direct from Paizo outside of subscription. Now I have no proof but I wouldn't be remotely surprised if subscriptions make up 50% of their total book sales.

Gah I feel gross now, devil germs. Must go shower with baby souls to get clean.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Helaman wrote:
They've ALWAYS been in urgent need to show a profit to Hasbro.

I heard from a huge name in the RPG indstry the Hasbro forced WOTC to put out 3.5 only 3 years after 3rd to drive sales. People will buy core books. I will not reveal the name.

Grand Lodge

That explains 'Essentials' then...

A 5 year rules set Cycle with a reset/revision of some rules around the 3 year mark.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
CapeCodRPGer wrote:
Helaman wrote:
They've ALWAYS been in urgent need to show a profit to Hasbro.
I heard from a huge name in the RPG indstry the Hasbro forced WOTC to put out 3.5 only 3 years after 3rd to drive sales. People will buy core books. I will not reveal the name.

This may be true. But truthfully, the changes between 3.0 and 3.5 made for a better game. I don't have a problem with buying into a system that is better. Pathfinder is better than 3.5. So I bought them too. And when Paizo releases Pathfinder II, I will likely buy into that also. But I doubt seriously I will leave Paizo for WotC for RPG. I will continue to buy their Legend of Drzzt, Wrath of Ashardalon, Dungeon Command type of board games. That is what Hasbro is good at.

Cheers,

Mazra

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I agree the changes from 3.0 to 3.5 were for the better. But IMO it was too soon.


CapeCodRPGer wrote:
I agree the changes from 3.0 to 3.5 were for the better. But IMO it was too soon.

I disagree with the last statement; I think it was great that the rules were updated early, since that allowed WotC to use the updated rules for supplementary books.

However, 3.5 wasn't a completely new system like D&D Next will be. It was more like an extended errata. New systems released within 4-6 years of eachother is a pretty short timescale.

Andoran

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Are wrote:
CapeCodRPGer wrote:
I agree the changes from 3.0 to 3.5 were for the better. But IMO it was too soon.

I disagree with the last statement; I think it was great that the rules were updated early, since that allowed WotC to use the updated rules for supplementary books.

However, 3.5 wasn't a completely new system like D&D Next will be. It was more like an extended errata. New systems released within 4-6 years of eachother is a pretty short timescale.

They have been sort of forced too by the fact that 4e didn't quite hit the mark with the D&D gaming community. In fact it gave birth to Pathfinder RPG - which wouldn't have been needed had 4e looked more like an incremental advancement on 3.5e. 4e DID fix a lot of what it said it would about 3.5e but it was a little too radical.

History would show this to be true, not just my opinion.

S.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
DaveMage wrote:


To me 3E to me was very much a spiritual successor to 1E/2E. .

It's an Eye of the Beholder situation. I remember about as much rancor raised in the transition from 2.X to 3.0 as there was when Fourth Edition was released. I won't even talk about the First Edition holdouts, or the Basic vs. Advanced wars.


Kthulhu wrote:
theroc wrote:
Just a note on new players too...I have not personally seen so many new players in D&D that 4E brought in since the early 80's when 1st Edition was played by everyone. I have multiple groups of totally new players who stated D&D with 4E. But with that couple dozen...almost NONE of them bought much of the rulebooks...if any. The characterbuilder did so well with printing the material, most created their character on someone else's account, and although they play every week...they have never bought a book.
I make this point every time someone starts crowing about Pathfinder being the #1 most popular RPG. It probably IS the #1 book-selling RPG at the moment, but I'm not really sure that translates into being the most popular one. I'd wager that the divide between number of Pathfinder players and the number of 4E players is much MUCH narrower than the ICv2 sales report would indicate, and may even favor 4E. The fact that 4E is still #2 despite the fact that their print products have all but dried up for well over a year supports my conjecture.

The simple fact PF is even arguably outselling D&D shows what a complete and utter failure 4e was. Think back 2 or 3 years, back then 4vengers laughed at any slight possibility PF would ever outsell 4e, it was so unlikely as to seem completely impossible. Only an enormous shift away from D&D/4e made this happen. 4e has probably (we shall see) in the long term killed D&D, it was that bad - imo.

Shadow Lodge

Rockheimr wrote:
The simple fact PF is even arguably outselling D&D shows what a complete and utter failure 4e was. Think back 2 or 3 years, back then 4vengers laughed at any slight possibility PF would ever outsell 4e, it was so unlikely as to seem completely impossible. Only an enormous shift away from D&D/4e made this happen. 4e has probably (we shall see) in the long term killed D&D, it was that bad - imo.

I think you're overstating matters. Again...look at the products that ICV2 is actually counting...print books. 4E's output has slowed to a absolute crawl...and that was WELL before the announcement of 5E. Hell, it was well before Pathfinder first "won". It's not because 4E is doing badly, it's because 4E's focus is no longer on the print books. I'm not sure how to break that down to you more simply.


WOTC destroyed their best game worlds with 4th Ed. Not to mention settings like Midnight.

Shadow Lodge

Hurin Sundershield SonOfHelgrud wrote:
WOTC destroyed their best game worlds with 4th Ed. Not to mention settings like Midnight.

You misspelled "ignored". And they did the same in 3.X.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rockheimr wrote:
4e has probably (we shall see) in the long term killed D&D, it was that bad - imo.

In light of what we are seeing coming out of WotC, Board Games, a skirmish start up with Dungeon Command, it looks like the D&D RPG is dying. It may not be dead. But it is on life support at least. May be this new system will revive it. It would have to be significantly better than PF to do so. And honestly, I doubt WotC can pull it off. From all appearances Paizo's staff understands what the fans of the genre want in an RPG better than the WotC staff. The focus is different. Paizo wants to put out the best RPG possible, and make some money doing it. Hasbro (WotC) wants to make some money doing it.

Cheers,

Mazra


what? they work on a 5th Edition? already?

what will they include in it this time? mini-games?


Stefan Hill wrote:
They have been sort of forced too by the fact that 4e didn't quite hit the mark with the D&D gaming community.
Rockheimr wrote:
4e has probably (we shall see) in the long term killed D&D, it was that bad - imo.

These are very bold opinions.

Since 2008 I've played 4e exclusively and haven't played PF once. Of the three 'general' gamer forums I frequent -- WotC (well, used to), ENworld, and rpgnet -- 4e has its share of fans and detractors. PF is largely viewed as a 3.5 clone, and often elicits comments like "Why play PF when I have my own house rules?" Should I take this to mean that PF didn't hit the mark within the D&D community, or that it's just that bad?

I hope you'd agree that this would be a huuuge assumption based on limited anecdotal experience.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The reason behind the assumption is not that they play PF, or that they hang around the PF boards. It's because 4E is already being traded out for a new edition. A new edition that's looking an awful lot like older editions. This is not an insignificant thing to take notice of.

But yes, these are very bold opinions. People do make those kinds of things from time to time. Me too!


The biggest difference between 4E and PF is that most people seem to like what PF is putting out enough to sustain it at a level that Paizo is willing to accept while 4E is not doing the same for WOTC. Now there are many reasons for this, and a fair amount of room to disagree on which ones really matter, but at the end of the day, the bottom line for 4E is simply not enough to warrant support in the eyes of the developers and they clearly believe that a drastic change back to what came before is needed to turn the game back into what they are willing to define as a moneymaker. This means that Next is certainly a sign of distress for the brand, at least in the rpg market, even if it isn't necessarily wise to extend that distress to WOTC as a whole, or even the brand as a whole.

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