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D&D Last and the Decline of RPG’s

So, a few of may have heard that they’re working a new edition of some game called Dungeons and Dragons, putative market leader and synonymous flagship of the hobby known as Role Playing Games, currently owned by the Hasbro-WoTC Military-Industrial-Entertainment complex.

There has been much in the way of wailings and the gnashing of teeth over the direction the game will take. This is due the relative fragmentation of the D&D audience with the significant changes in the way 4th edition played compared to 3rd. It was different enough as to turn off a significant share of 3.x players, such that Paizo was able to capitalize on this dissatisfaction with the publication of the Pathfinder game, a 3.x/D20/OGL derived fantasy game, with which they have been very successful and took away significant market share of D&D 3.x players.

Thus, D&DNext (5th edition) is focusing a lot of Marketing effort on producing a game that both 3tards and 4vengers and OSR Grogtards can all be kumbayah about. (I find this amusing, as I had dumped (A )D&D and was brought back to the fold by the happy days of 3rd edition. (Mostly because if more unified design, and nostalgia—Fool me once! And yes, my terms are intentionally provocative, as they capture the major dissatisfaction and balkanization between the camps of the edition wars. Seriously, it’s like game of thrones up in here.) There is much talk of public playtests and modular designs, and the hiring of many designers and consultants, Monte Cook, Zak S. The dreaded RPGPundit,, generals and nobles of the various edition camps, to sway the masses. Which brings me to the hiring/firing of Monte Cook, Posterchild of the much loved and majorly successful 3rd edition.

From his LJ post…

Change of Plans
Last week I decided that I would leave my contract position with Wizards of the Coast. I am no longer working on Dungeons & Dragons, although I may provide occasional consultation in the future. My decision is one based on differences of opinion with the company. However, I want to take this time to stress that my differences were not with my fellow designers, Rob Schwalb and Bruce Cordell. I enjoyed every moment of working with them over the past year. I have faith that they’ll create a fun game. I’m rooting for them.
Due to my non-disclosure agreement, as well as a desire to keep things on a professional level, I have no intention of going into further detail at this time. (Mostly, I just hate drama, and would rather talk about more interesting things.)
As for what I’ll be turning to next, I hope you’ll stay tuned. I plan on having an interesting announcement in that regard in the near future.

Now, this set the intertubes on fire, as evidenced in this thread …

and this ENWorld thread (4e bastion IIRC)

and this thread on THErpgsite  (Hive of scum and villany and OSR grogtards)

That is the brunt of the Internet hate machine on the issue, and the nerd rage of the edition wars in general. However, there is one last posting/article that I found most important in this game, the latest earnings report by Hasbro, The evil mega-corp overlords that currently has nerddoms most beloved IP (RIP Gary and Dave!).

From this article…  Major takeaways from this article, Games sales are down 9%, while magic is doing well (as it has been, it’s blue-chip for WOTC. Note the mention of ‘stabilizlng the Games category, with the intent of growing the category in 2013. Also the mention of another part of WoTC going all in on Kaijudo. 

I consider this bit important, to Hasbro, D&D is a poor performer, especially over their length of their ownership of WoTC, they bought WoTC in ‘99, right when the big 3rd edition revival hit, so D&D showed it’s greatest numbers evar. Then you had 3.5, which did less well, and then the switch to 4th, which saw even poorer relative peformance,  highlighted by Paizo’s taking WoTC’s lunch money 3 days a week to boot with Pathfinder. Comparing this to the evergreen golden-goose of Magic (It has been a money making machine its entire life-cycle, even in the current economy. Plus this new initiative with Kaijudo, I see the D&D franchise as a tabletop RPG in danger.  It seems likely to me that Hasbro will mothball D&D WHEN D&D5th fails, in their eyes. SImply because, given the current split between 4th ed, PF/3.x, and OSR players, and the reduced size of the Tabletop RPG market, it is extremely unlikely they will be able to draw enough of an audience to abandon their current games for D&D next, in numbers large enough to appease Hasbro. There just isn’t enough dollars in the tabletop RPG market to make it worth Hasbro’s time. So I see them mothballing the tabletop and just farming out the IP.


So, this brings me to my Title, D&DNext, is gonna be D&DLast, as far as the ‘industry’ is concerned. The RPG heyday of the ‘80s is over, there are more and more gaming/entertainment options, CMG’s, CCG’s, the Board game renaissance, Computer/Console Games, browser games, etc. Tabletop RPG’s are going to return to a ‘cottage-industry’ supported hobby. The Hobby has everything it needs to get all the games they want these days. Easy electronic publication, and printing, direct funding via Kickstarter projects.

I look forward to Tabletop RPG’s slow decline into decadence, oh the games we will play!

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