On Monday, Wizards of the Coast announced that D&D 5e project is live. The Hasbro owned company promised that the fanbase would be involved in product development.
The news was covered by the likes of Forbes and the New York Times and the media pointed out just how divisive Dungeons and Dragons 4e had been.
Geek Native asked (read: begged) a host of RPG authors and publishers for their insight. What did they think about D&D Next (as the 5th edition is currently being called). Here are the responses we got. What do you think? On the money?
Chris Tregenza of 6D6 Fireball;
“4e was WotC’s ‘New Coke’ moment. Many people liked it but it also alienated a significant amount of their core market and damaged the brand. 5e will be a significant and powerful force in the RPG business but D&D is no longer the touchstone brand that all other RPGs are compared to.”
Jonathan Jacobs of Nevermet Press;
“I think 5E is too late – too little. Their “community feedback” approach is probably the best approach, but I don’t think they will pull it off. They are up against a massive wall of negativity surrounding the brand right now. And the thing is that it will be easy to be negative about this change too, which will only compound the problem. I don’t think 5E will unify the fan base at all, only drive it further apart. When I think of all the great creative people who have developed D&D in the past, I know that there’s probably a lot of pressure right now to pull this off. If 5E fails, the D&D brand and the hobby in general will be taking a major hit for long long time. So, will it unite people again around a single game? Probably not, but on the positive side WotC’s efforts to unite the D&D fan base might might give a big boost to games like Pathfinder and RPGs in general simply due to the huge amount of cash I expect WotC will need to dump on on the marketing of 5E for it to be successful (which I think they will do). I guess I’m a pessimist, but I hope I’m proved wrong.”
Gareth-Michael Skarka of Adamant Entertainment;
“RPG market is a shadow of former self, the Pathfinder/OGL genie isn’t going back into the bottle, & new editions don’t fix fragmentation.
The design team is solid, & I have confidence in good results there, but system =/= product, & I have no confidence in WotC to manage product.”
James Desborough of Postmortem Studios;
“I can’t see how they can dig themselves out of their hole. Edition fatigue makes it extremely unlikely that they’re going to pick up as many with 5e as they did with 4e and Pathfinder is now established and, even, ahead of Wizards and their efforts. Without an OGL (not a GSL) they’re not going to get third party support and enthusiasm. Without restoring access to old PDFs (now including 4e books) they’re going to continue to annoy old customers. It’s a hard job, it’s going to have to be damn near perfect to get anywhere at all and, I really think, it’ll need to focus on what RPGs do well, rather than trying to ape MMOs.”
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below? If you’re a RPG publisher or author who would like to be contacted and quizzed for opinion pieces like this then let us know too.
Don’t forget LPJ Design’s own…
Would have loved to see Pathfinder weigh in on this
Yes, that would have been nice! In fairness I didn’t ask them… don’t know anyone there. Now, they do send over the occasional press release so perhaps I should have tried to email that contact.
What do I think?
WotC lost me as a customer just over a year ago when they forced the new DDI on me and replaced the existing, useful character creator with a web-only version that was buggy, incomplete, and had fewer features and unreasonable limits (in particular, regarding print layout, number of characters, and online requirement). They showed a complete disregard for customers that left a sour taste that’s still in my mouth. I haven’t paid WotC a dime since.
A new edition is unlikely to change the this.
I think they’ve understood that they must make the web work for them – but like so many other publishers they really have struggled. If the first launch had been on Silverlight or Air and the second launch had been a move to HTML 5 then that would have worked so much better.
Hopefully this “include the fans” is part of the “make the web work” but, as you say, they have a repair job to do with many gamers.