Business is business...

Dragon and Dungeon Transition Discussion

Just a few of my thoughts on the demise of Dungeon and Dragon. I’ve been playing tabletop paper-and-pencil D&D since Chainmail (i.e. before it was technically D&D). I have most issues of Dragon, and was a charter subscriber to Dungeon. From its inception, I loved the concept of a magazine tied to the brand, generating adventure ideas specifically for the setting. I’ve been with them through all the various editions, changes in leadership, and company changeovers. Things change and evolve, and sometimes they die. But this is the first time I’ve seen a company kill two industry icons without announcing something really amazing as a replacement. It seems incredibly ill-considered unless they have really, really good feedback on some kind of customer tryouts for this new product. Having heard no such “review leaks” from the messageboard community, which usually has someone anonymously willing to break alpha or beta secrecy, the idea may be something completely in-house.

So… will this new Pathfinder fill the void? I’m sorry, but I just can’t immediately leap onto the bandwagon for an OGL product. I’ll check it out when it arrives at the store and make my decision then. Frankly, I’ll miss taking my D&D magazines to coffee shops and slowly perusing each issue. I won’t be able to take them with me to the park for a little light reading, or have something to read between classes. There’s something psychologically important about having a tactile product, and the recent manic push of many publishers toward “online delivery of content” won’t change that. Should I print out a PDF on my own paper with my expensive ink cartridges? That may happen once in a while, but these online content developers should really take a hard look at how often they, themselves, enjoy doing this very thing. It’s cheaper for the publisher, certainly, but on the pragmatic side it’s not going to happen for most consumers, and most people won’t consistently like it after the initial online honeymoon is over.

It’s been suggested that the decision to end both icons of the industry also has something to do with the customer-pull of MMORPGs and the corporate desire to generate a similar monthly income. It’s too bad that the current D&D-branded MMORPG falls short of others, however, and if they’re going to re-tread that path it will be a hard sell for most online gamers. But perhaps it is something else, something truly novel, that they have in mind.

I have to say, though, that what I dislike even more than the loss of the magazines is the somewhat smarmy WotC “we have something great, but we’re not telling you yet” announcement. Frankly, this attitude is insulting. It’s astounding to me that a company would put the hatchet to two long-standing products (each with a pretty loyal following) without simultaneously announcing the revised “better” product. Somehow, I can’t help feeling herded toward the one touted substitute, Pathfinder, while at the same time being given a pat on the head and told to “just wait for the ‘amazing’ online delivery” by some corporate suit.

So, business being business, I will choose to wait for Pathfinder on the shelves and make my judgment then. Am I not supporting Paizo by waiting? No, WotC hurt Paizo by not renewing their license. If it’s good content, I’ll consider buying it then. But it’s the best I can do considering it will be completely OGL content. As for this new and mysterious “online delivery model” as-yet-to-be-announced, if it’s going to big PDFs they can forget it. If they’re developing a new MMORPG, it had better be much, much better than what they have now. If it’s something else, well… it had better knock my socks off. In any case, I’m not holding my breath.

Disappointed to see the end,


The Dragon mag will be greatly missed, I have it back to issue #29.
Each month I looked forward to getting and reading it.


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