Staggered Release of Books?


4th Edition


Why the long wait between the Player's Guide and the MM and DMG? And besides "Keep on the Shadowfell" is there anything else planned to be released during the first year of 4th edition?


It's a market strategy, no doubt. One of the more obnoxious ones.


My best (and uneducated) guess would be having to do with actually developing, writing, editing, and printing said books. They may have the green-light on core concepts, but still have to put it to paper I assume.

My advise to WotC is to take as much time as is necessary. They wouldn't want any D&D book to end up with the errors the Star Wars Saga book had.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
It's a market strategy, no doubt. One of the more obnoxious ones.

They did the same thing with 3e, IIRC.


Fatespinner wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
It's a market strategy, no doubt. One of the more obnoxious ones.
They did the same thing with 3e, IIRC.

yup

except didnt the DMG come out before the MM?
I still have my 3.0 ones
they make nice paperweights
*rolls eyes*


swirler wrote:

yup

except didnt the DMG come out before the MM?
I still have my 3.0 ones
they make nice paperweights
*rolls eyes*

your's are still intact???

mine fell apart after 3 years, I was actually glad when 3.5 came out because my old core set books had all fallen apart (literally); I didn't even mistreat them. Needless to say my 3.5 books are in near pristine quality because of the paranoia that resulted from the fragility of my 3.0 books.

Scarab Sages

I believe the WotC's official answer for this questions was that retailers will have a harder time stocking large quantities of all three books in the same month.

Tam


Tambryn wrote:

I believe the WotC's official answer for this questions was that retailers will have a harder time stocking large quantities of all three books in the same month.

I can see that


Tambryn wrote:

I believe the WotC's official answer for this questions was that retailers will have a harder time stocking large quantities of all three books in the same month.

Yeah, that's what I heard too.

On a related note, has anyone heard anything about the possibility of a "boxset" release like they did with 3.5? I'm thinking that they probably wouldn't announce that until after the core three are out, so they can try to make some collectors buy them all over again. Anyway, my 3.5 boxset slip thing has done a great job of protecting my core three in the time I've had them, so I think I'd go a similar route for 4e if it's offered.

(I think the 3.5 boxset came out only a few months after the core three).

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Easier on WotC R&D.
Easier on retailers and distributors.
Easier on audience pocketbook.

This is the right way to do it.

--Erik


I wasn't aware that the release for 3.0 was that long. I retract my earlier statement.


Rhavin wrote:
swirler wrote:

yup

except didnt the DMG come out before the MM?
I still have my 3.0 ones
they make nice paperweights
*rolls eyes*

your's are still intact???

mine fell apart after 3 years, I was actually glad when 3.5 came out because my old core set books had all fallen apart (literally); I didn't even mistreat them. Needless to say my 3.5 books are in near pristine quality because of the paranoia that resulted from the fragility of my 3.0 books.

yeah mine are in good condition. I've almost sold ema couple times but didnt because the PHB and the DMG were an early combo Christmas/Birthday gift that year from a friend. I have a hard time getting rid of things that were gifts, well and game books. We started 2 different campaigns with em, but then due to peoples schedules and my health at the time they sat on the shelf until sometime after 3.5 came out.


Erik Mona wrote:

Easier on WotC R&D.

Easier on retailers and distributors.
Easier on audience pocketbook.

This is the right way to do it.

--Erik

I thoroughly disagree. If R&D needs more time to iron out the books, they can just as easily hold back all three than they can hold back one or two. Even if 4e's release was postponed for a whole year, it would make me feel better. I don't have to be an insider to know that the Hasbro marketers have a very different agenda than the WotC designers and playtesters.

If retailers and distrubutors run out of shelf space, well boo hoo. That's what storerooms are for, and if customers really want something they can ask to have it retrieved from the back room or just pre-order it beforehand.

The difference between $90 over three months and $90 all at once isn't an issue for most buyers. If a buyer has a limited 'gaming-book allowance' per month, and they just can't make an exception for 4e, they can learn to save a few bucks like the rest of us.

I'm not saying that this staggered release is some evil plot of Hasbro's to brainwash us all, but it is most definately a marketing strategy and it is most definately obnoxious. I'm sure I could pick up the PHB in May and start a 4e game right away, but I'm sure that I would run into a few hitches due to not having the other two books. And if I don't run into any hitches, well why even put out a DMG and MM?

Sovereign Court Contributor

I could be wrong, but i'm pretty sure that the complaints were minimal when 3.0 was released staggered, but when 3.5 was released all at once, there were numerous and loud complaints from customers, retailers, distributors and WotC R&D.

I have a specific gaming budget per month. $90 is more than my monthly budget. Obviously I can save it up, but if the books come out one at a time, I don't have to. And in Canada that $90 is likely to end up $120, regardless of our soaring dollar. Stocking three books for retailers is the biggest though. It's the difference between tying up $300 and $900 for a small store. It's a big bit of change for many retailers. And proabably for many, it's more like $3000 instead of $1000. And that money is tied up until they sell, and if the customers are buying slowly because they cna't afford to buy the whole set, that's a problem. Bear in mind (and this is possibly the real obnoxious part) WotC is targeting young (potential) gamers, and many kids can't or won't throw $100 on the table for D&D.

Yes, it's a marketing decision, but in this case, it's a marketing decision that says they learned from their mistakes.

Sovereign Court Contributor

Sorry one question: How would it be to your advantage to have all thee books be held until July, instead of being released May, June, July. If not having the third book stops from running your camapign, at least you have a month to digest each of the first two books before the third comes out.


Tequila Sunrise wrote:

If R&D needs more time to iron out the books, they can just as easily hold back all three than they can hold back one or two. Even if 4e's release was postponed for a whole year, it would make me feel better. I don't have to be an insider to know that the Hasbro marketers have a very different agenda than the WotC designers and playtesters.

I disagree. They’re in business to make money today, not in 8 months, and not when you have enough money to buy all three books.

Liquidity and cash flow is so important to a company that many companies (including mine) make decisions to improve today’s cash-on-hand, even with full knowledge that they might pay more later.

They need to get books out the door as fast as they can, and they need those books to be as polished as possible.

Further, they need to start signing up suckers, I mean customers, to their monthly fee content – the sooner the better.


Tequila Sunrise wrote:
If retailers and distrubutors run out of shelf space, well boo hoo. That's what storerooms are for, and if customers really want something they can ask to have it retrieved from the back room or just pre-order it beforehand.

Do you actually work in a retailer or distributor or deal with them on a daily, professional basis?

I don't, and so I wouldn't presume to have first hand knowledge of how they operate. Erik Mona, as a publisher in the industry for years, who has no vested interest in whether WotC sells them in one month or three, might actually have more informed knowledge on this and isn't just blowing smoke on behalf of WotC's marketing department. ;)

I have serious doubts that it's simply a matter of "We don't have room on our shelves" and probably has a heck of a lot more to do with the economics involved (which I seriously doubt are all that simple and straightforward). Also, if customers have to ask to pre-order them or have them retrieved from the backroom, well, I'd assume that would equal a heck of a lot of lost sales, which retailers don't particularly care for. But like I said, I don't have firsthand knowledge.

But if it's really a big issue for people, then how about this... don't go into your FLGS in May or June. Then in July, go there and voila! All 3 books sitting on the shelf together. :)

Because if they were released together, they'd be pushed back to July rather than up to May. I don't mean to be snarky, but I really honestly don't understand what the issue is. Yeah, maybe I'd want them as soon as possible, but I'm pretty sure over 3 months starting in May is as soon as possible. Besides, it's not like 3.0 was a huge letdown because they were released over a 3 month period as well. We have to wait 2 months for all the books to be out, but can use them for years to come. How is this hurting us?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Tequila Sunrise wrote:

<snip>I don't have to be an insider to know that the Hasbro marketers have a very different agenda than the WotC designers and playtesters.

<snip>

Here is another problem. If I buy one and waffle a few months, news of 4.5 will keep me from buying the other two. It's better to go ahead and get me to buy all three at once.

Dark Archive Contributor

DitheringFool wrote:
If I buy one and waffle a few months

Mmmm... waffles. I actually read your statement as something to do with waffles. I thought you were making an analogy.

*sigh* I need to sleep more at nights...


Tequila Sunrise wrote:


If retailers and distrubutors run out of shelf space, well boo hoo.

I dont think that is the issue, the issue is, even stores have budgets. FLGS especially, have a limited budget each month with which to buy new stock. They have to think "okay how many people are going to want this? How many will want all three books?" They dont want to overbuy on all three books, beca usewell that sucks for them, they have stock taking up space, costing them money but not outgoing sales. If they underbuy all three, then some people will be upset when they cant get instant gratification at the store and go somewhere else or to amazon and get it in a couple days. Then the FLGS loses out on potential sales and possibly future customers due to their now being seen as "undependable". With the sales set up as is, they can judge by sales of the PHB and from asking customers who pick it up about how many of the MM and DMGs to expect to sell right away.

I agree with the waiting another year to release it though. I really wish they had.


DitheringFool wrote:
Here is another problem. If I buy one and waffle a few months, news of 4.5 will keep me from buying the other two. It's better to go ahead and get me to buy all three at once.

Uh... 4.5 is going to be announced within the first few months of 4e?


Rambling Scribe wrote:
Sorry one question: How would it be to your advantage to have all thee books be held until July, instead of being released May, June, July. If not having the third book stops from running your camapign, at least you have a month to digest each of the first two books before the third comes out.

I don't digest books, I inhale them. I'll make an analogy:

The three core books are not breakfast, lunch and then dinner, spread through 12 hours of the day. They're the main course, the beverage and then the dessert spread through an hour at most. So this monthly release schedule to me would be like (if I didn't feed myself for some reason) being given the main course of a single meal at 6 am, then given the drink at noon and then given the dessert at 6 pm. Although my ability to take in new material seems to be significantly greater than the majority, which truly suprises me.

So I may very well not bother buying anything 4e (assuming it's worth buying of course) until July, when I can buy more than what is essentially a teaser product.

Dark Archive Contributor

Even huge retailers- things like Chapters or Barnes and Noble, have to dedicate a section of floor space to new products.

If this release is anything like 3.0 or 3.5, this will include a stand-up display in stores. having a display for 1 book is going to be smaller than a display for 3 simultaneous releases. This means that it can be put someplace more prominent, like right at the door, or at the tills, instead of buried in the back near the gaming books. This is the marketing angle for both retailers and WotC.

At the same time, most people are going to buy the Players Handbook, if nothing else. This means that people will have a full month to try the rules before they need to consider another purchase. If WotC has faith in their designers (which I would hope they do), this gives them a month to convert most of the naysayers.

Most current DMs don't need a DMG right off the bat. The next book they'll need is a MM. Giving people a month to learn the basic rules and decide to change is a good strategy. Giving them a month to make their first adventure or two with the Monster Manual is a good idea. Then add XP and Magic Items.

To me the strategy seems perfectly sound and not particularly bad. Maybe the DMG and MM should have been released together, but within a month seems well-reasoned.

Also, there is an adventure out earlier, if I recall correctly, so you can slap some PCs together and try the game right away.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
If retailers and distrubutors run out of shelf space, well boo hoo. That's what storerooms are for, and if customers really want something they can ask to have it retrieved from the back room or just pre-order it beforehand.

Sales and Marketing Man to the Rescue!

You're probably right. Retailers almost certainly have (or could make) extra room in the back to store the overstock. Here's the problem though: keeping the shelves stocked constantly. If you only put out one copy of each book, those are going to be gone in a heartbeat. The really hardcore fans who come there looking for 4e books will, as you said, ask to have it retrieved from the back. But what about all the people who would have picked up the book and purchased it after flipping through it on the shelf? The people who aren't already D&D players? If it's not on the shelf, those people won't even know it exists.

"It shouldn't be too hard to keep a couple of copies on the shelf at all times. They can just restock it as needed."

Mmm.... no. Think about your average FLGS (not Borders or Barnes & Noble). How many employees does it have? 2? 3? Maybe even 4 or 5? With a hot new product like 4e, copies are practically going to fly out the door. You don't want to have to assign one of your employees to perpetual 'shelf duty' in order to keep it stocked 24/7 because your supply of employees is fairly limited. Product visibility is crucial to sales in this industry. If your customers can't see it, they can't be interested in it, and they won't buy it. That's why they're staggering the release dates.

With only one book released at a time, an FLGS can set up a single display to showcase the new book, filled with 30 copies of said book, and still have room for their other items. When you need 30 copies of THREE books, however, the logistics get difficult.


speaking of Borders, I cant wait to see what they do for the release *rolls eyes*
they have the worst rpg set up ever. it's dispersed through the sci-fi/fantasy novel section by authors name!!
The only way that can be worse I guess is be like what used to be our FLGS which was doing pretty decent then the main owner/manager died and their relatives took over. They then bought out a failing comicbook shop, and put the owner/manager of said failing comicbook shop in charge of the game store. Next thing you know instead of a great game store with tons of room to play and lots of stock, we have a craptastic comicstore with lots of toys very little decent comic stock and almost zero RPGs, the bulk of the space taken up by collectable games. Then they move it to a worse location thats farther away and have less room for tables, and the RPG section has devolved down to one shelf with less than 20 books on it. Thats one shelf total containing their entire rpg stock.

oops I jumped track again
sorry
:D


swirler wrote:
they have the worst rpg set up ever. it's dispersed through the sci-fi/fantasy novel section by authors name!!

At least you can get to them! They keep them in a locked case around here.


My guess is it's all about the financials. They assume everyone wants all three books or at minimum the PHB and MM. Now they could release them all at once and their financials for the month of May will look great. Then the month of June will look ok and July will look low in comparision. By doing a book each month, it makes their financials look pretty in all three months.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm not certain if it was said before, if so I apologize, but will all three books be out by next GenCon? At out last gaming session the topic of 4E came up and some of us got the idea of making a trek to Indiannopolis next year and check out the new 4E.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

waltero wrote:
I'm not certain if it was said before, if so I apologize, but will all three books be out by next GenCon? At out last gaming session the topic of 4E came up and some of us got the idea of making a trek to Indiannopolis next year and check out the new 4E.

Yes, the books should all be out before GenCon Indy next year. I believe the current release schedule has them coming out in April, May, and June. GenCon is in August (right? or July?) so they'll be out before then.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My problem with it is that I have like 30+ 3.5 books that are supplements. It seems to me that none of them will mean anything now because 4e is revamping everything. I guess I'll stick to 3.5 till I can buy the books second hand really cheap. Especially since the time from second(which didn't have any supplement books) to third was 10 years and 3.5(Which has god knows how many supplement books) just came out in 2003. Which is essentially 3rd, where as 4th edition, (only 5 years later) to sell more supplement books for 4e. It's all so overwhelming that I have 800$ of books that don't mean anything for the future though I have 30 years worth of gaming material to switch to a new edition


Zexcir wrote:

My problem with it is that I have like 30+ 3.5 books that are supplements. It seems to me that none of them will mean anything now because 4e is revamping everything. I guess I'll stick to 3.5 till I can buy the books second hand really cheap. Especially since the time from second(which didn't have any supplement books) to third was 10 years and 3.5(Which has god knows how many supplement books) just came out in 2003. Which is essentially 3rd, where as 4th edition, (only 5 years later) to sell more supplement books for 4e. It's all so overwhelming that I have 800$ of books that don't mean anything for the future though I have 30 years worth of gaming material to switch to a new edition

Methinks You perhaps intended to reply to one of the other hundred-thousand threads complaining about 4th Edition rather than a debate over the books coming out 1/month or all 3 at once.

Back on topic:

Personally I'd *like* to be able to buy all 3 as part of a nice boxed set the day the PHB is released. However, I don't for an instant think that's practical for the distribution chain. Having worked retail just a few years prior, it was hard enough having multiple big releases in a video game store where the customers generally know what they want before they enter. For those who want to browse though, there's more to book shopping than looking at the back of a video game DVD case or leafing thru a video game mag for a rating.

While the FLGS might be willing to dedicate extra space to a major release like this, they lack corporate buying power like B&N or Borders who simply won't change their section plan-o-gram for a "niche product" like D&D. So even if a major retailer was willing to dedicate an aisle table for all the D&D books, You'd be doing a great disservice to all the local gaming stores who would be losing business because of their lesser ability to stock up on product. Perhaps that's not an issue where You live, but here in Charlotte, NC there's just one FLGS left in town (they nearly went under) and the next closest one I know of is 2-3 hours away in Asheville. I love Paizo as much as the next guy but sometimes it's nice to browse things in person.

Sczarni

Ken Marable wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
If retailers and distrubutors run out of shelf space, well boo hoo. That's what storerooms are for, and if customers really want something they can ask to have it retrieved from the back room or just pre-order it beforehand.
Do you actually work in a retailer or distributor or deal with them on a daily, professional basis?

O! O! I DO! I DO! LOOK AT ME! *WAVES HANDS WILDLY*

I work for a small comic store, and our BIGGEST gaming order in the last 4 years was $900 - This includes D&D, Minis, YuGiOh, Magic, Heroclix, Card and comic sleeves - I'm expecting that this will not be the case after those 3 months come out - you have to remember stores have to have enough copies to supply those who want them when they are there, or the people will go to an online store and order it.

that means the FLGS has to order more then they think will sell in a month or loose potential business. Where this is not a problem for PHB, DMG and MM because you know it will sell... you still need to guess how many you'll need for that first month. How well received is it going to be? are entrie groups going to pick up the PHB at once, or just the DM to decide if the campaign is switching over?

all of these things tie in - I'm guessing we're going to get 20-30 PHBs when they come out and maybe sell 1/2 of that.... that's only makeing 2/3 of your money back that first month... 2nd month you need to spend more on next book and you havn't made money back from first, but some people will pick up both so you've made 3/4 of your first month back and 1/2 your second by the time the third book comes out

but this is still better then spending 2,000 in one block some, because at least you can use the money gained from the previous book to pay off the new one


Fatespinner wrote:
Think about your average FLGS (not Borders or Barnes & Noble). How many employees does it have? 2? 3? Maybe even 4 or 5? With a hot new product like 4e, copies are practically going to fly out the door. You don't want to have to assign one of your employees to perpetual 'shelf duty' in order to keep it stocked 24/7 because your supply of employees is fairly limited. Product visibility is crucial to sales in this industry. If your customers can't see it, they can't be interested in it, and they won't buy it. That's why they're staggering the release dates.

At Games Workshop stores they have a store copy of each of the codexes (codices?) which is not for sale. If I was a FLGS that's what I'd do. Have a dog-eared copy of the PH, DMG and MM prominently on the shelf for people to look at.

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