D&D Does Digital Part IV: Online Communities
  • D&D Does Digital Part IV: Online Communities


    Wizards of the Coast's forums are yet another casualty of the tension between the owners of the Dungeons & Dragons brand and the fan community. The fans have always strongly influenced the evolution of the fantasy role-playing game, in some cases more than the brand itself was willing to admit. With the flattening of power structures created by the Internet, it raises the question: Who really owns D&D?


    Virtual Paper

    The first communities that sprung up around Dungeons & Dragons were a different kind of virtual -- magazines. Jon Peterson explains in Playing at the World:

    The fannish enthusiasm of the era is most enduringly evinced by the growing importance of fanzines, which served as a font— if not a geyser— of new ideas for Dungeons & Dragons. George Phillies, whose Guide to Wargaming Periodical Literature measured the number of articles which focused on a particular game as their subject, records some eye-opening figures in 1975 and 1976. For the first quarter of 1975, he records only ten articles about Dungeons & Dragons in wargaming fanzines, including those in the Strategic Review, GPGPN, the American Wargamer and so on. By the last quarter of 1975, he tabulates a total of thirty, now including Alarums & Excursions in his reckoning as well as Wargamer’s Information. In 1976, as the surge in fan energy bore fruit, those numbers shot up dramatically— 137 articles in the second quarter, for example...This plenitude reflects not only the entrance of new fanzines into the marketplace, but also the fattening of Alarums & Excursions as it attracted more contributors.

    There were many other fanzines that contributed to the Dungeons & Dragons fan community, but Alarums & Excursions was perhaps the most influential:

    Given that TSR simply could not manage the volume of ideas the fan community generated, Alarums served a crucial purpose. The February 1976 Strategic Review says as much, calling Alarums “far and away the best D& D zine,” and giving it the highest rating among the fanzines it reviewed. Aside from merely circulating rules, Alarums analyzed and criticized them, in keeping with the culture of “mail comments” on prior issues that it inherited from the APAs of science-fiction fandom. Nowhere else at that time did proposed emendations to Dungeons & Dragons confront such a responsive and outspoken audience. Lacking the space constraints that winnowed submissions to the Strategic Review down to the Darwinian finest, Alarums gamely printed ideas no matter how thoughtful or unconsidered— only in the next issue, in the mailing comments, did the community’s approval process begin...Comparing the relative value of this volunteer, community-driven effort to the selection process TSR applied to its own periodicals and supplements is fraught with difficulties. Ultimately, the counterproposals of Greg Costikyan against the Blackmoor Monk and Assassin classes demonstrated that whether Gygax liked it or not, the “canonical” TSR rules were subject to the same scrutiny and consensual approval as the juvenile trash proposed in the grungiest zine.

    Eventually, TSR would launch its own official house organ, Dragon Magazine, and the influence of Alarums & Excursions would lessen. But D&D's power has always been in the imagination of its players and dungeon masters, and they soon found new ways to connect with each other through Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).

    The GEnie Escapes the Bottle

    One of the more popular gaming BBS was the General Electric Network for Information Exchange (GEnie). Launched in 1985, it was a text-based BBS that featured RoundTables (RTs) dedicated to a forum topic. GEnie featured some very influential RTs, including the TSR Online RoundTable:

    The TSR Online RoundTable allows you to gain direct access to the world's top publisher of role-playing games and products. Some of the events planned are weekly ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS (R) adventures, RPGA (tm) sanctioned events, beginners games, TSR's Mail Order Hobby Club, a college to train Dungeon Masters and conferences with top TSR game designers and writers.

    GEnie is perhaps best known in geek circles as the original online home for Babylon 5, where J. Michael Straczynski announced it on the Science Fidction RoundTables. Many other geek icons were present in those days as well, including Cory Doctorow (Boing Boing), Michael Okuda (Star Trek graphics designer), Richard Pini (publisher of ElfQuest), and Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation actor and TableTop host).

    Of course, GEnie was a pay-for-access service, which necessarily limited its membership. Once the Internet became more accessible, fandom grew rapidly.

    Users Take Over

    Usenet changed the nature of BBS in 1979. Wikipedia explains the difference:

    One notable difference between a BBS or web forum and Usenet is the absence of a central server and dedicated administrator. Usenet is distributed among a large, constantly changing conglomeration of servers that store and forward messages to one another in so-called news feeds. Individual users may read messages from and post messages to a local server operated by a commercial usenet provider, their internet service provider, university, employer, or their own server.

    One of the more influential D&D-oriented newsgroups was Rec.games.frp.dnd, launched in 1992:

    Once and for all, this is not AOL, nor Compuserve, nor Prodigy, nor Delphi, nor GEnie, nor Fidonet, nor a BBS. It is Usenet, one of the networks which is joined to the Internet. Specifically, this is one newsgroup from among the 22,000+ total newsgroups which make up Usenet. It is not a listserv (although there is an AD&D listserv, and some other groups are Usenet gateways for listservs), bboard, board, list, SIG, or base; several of those terms may technically describe Usenet, but they are no more "correct" than referring to the right side of a ship as anything other than starboard. This is a "newsgroup"--"group" for short--which is part of the Big 8, rec.*, rec.games.*, and rec.games.frp.* hierarchies of newsgroups.

    Specifically, rec.games.frp.dnd was an open discussion of Dungeons & Dragons in the tradition of Alarums & Excursions:

    This unmoderated discussion newsgroup is for discussion of the official rules and settings of the D&D family of role-playing games, produced by TSR, Inc., including Collector's Edition Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), Basic D&D, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D), and AD&D Second Edition. This proposed newsgroup would include discussion of TSR's rules and products and compatible products, such as: character classes; character races; monsters; magic spells; weapons; Greyhawk; the Forgotten Realms; the Known World; Dark Sun; Spelljammer; RavenLoft; Hollow World; City State of the Invincible Overlord; and so on.

    The newsgroup would serve as a popular means of discussing the role-playing game for some time, particularly when fan/company relations were at an all-time low between TSR and its D&D fan base. That all changed when Wizards (and its parent company Hasbro) took over.

    The Brains of the Operation?

    Peter Adkinson, then CEO of WOTC, knew that the Internet was an important channel way back in 1997 when the company acquired TSR:

    We must develop a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the Internet and PC platforms. TSR has tried doing its own software development and has done an extensive amount of licensing. We need to explore all options and develop a vision.

    We discussed in a previous article Hasbro's $50 million plans for its brands and the unique challenge that Dungeons & Dragons faced to get there, tying virutal tabletop play with 4th Edition and the possibility of an eventual MMORPG. Ryan Dancey explained in detail:

    At the point of the original Hasbro/Wizards merger a fateful decision was made that laid the groundwork for what happened once Greg took over. Instead of focusing Hasbro on the idea that Wizards of the Coast was a single brand, each of the lines of business in Wizards got broken out and reported to Hasbro as a separate entity. This was driven in large part by the fact that the acquisition agreement specified a substantial post-acquisition purchase price adjustment for Wizards' shareholders on the basis of the sales of non-Magic CCGs (i.e. Pokemon). This came back to haunt Wizards when Hasbro's new Core/Non-Core strategy came into focus. Instead of being able to say "We're a $100+ million brand, keep funding us as we desire", each of the business units inside Wizards had to make that case separately. So the first thing that happened was the contraction you saw when Wizards dropped new game development and became the "D&D and Magic" company. Magic has no problem hitting the "Core" brand bar, but D&D does. It's really a $25-30 million business, especially since Wizards isn't given credit for the licensing revenue of the D&D computer games.

    It was in 2006 that a desperate plan was hatched to get D&D to the $50 million mark. To get there, Wizards launched Gleemax in 2007. What the heck was Gleemax? It was a floating brain, a faux Magic: The Gathering card, and an in-joke:

    Gleemax the mascot is actually borne from one of the WotC fan base's inside jokes: The community has long suggested an alien presence has been pulling the strings of the hobby company, elevating them to 400-pound gorilla status for reasons beyond human comprehension.

    Gleemax was to be a centralized destination online to get everything hobby and tabletop gamers ever wanted or needed:

    Gleemax™ will be built on three pillars - Community, Games and Editorial Content - each representing the essence of what WotC has been providing gamers for more than 15 years. Specific site features will include an online social community, existing and future releases of WotC digital gaming properties as well as independent strategy games, player profiles, interactive analog and digital community activities, editorial content including community message boards, WotC and player blogs and game rankings and reviews.

    There were to be many firsts for Gleemax, including:

    ...the site's social networking community tool functionality. The tools will run the gamut from traditional social networking fare (blogs, friends lists, etc) to gamer-specific tools (game reviews, game ratings, ways to search for games and gamers) to specialized content that adds to the enjoyment of specific kinds of gamers (ways to build and arrange warbands for various miniatures games, ways to talk about characters in role-playing games, etc.)...In addition to the social networking capabilities, as part of today's Gleemax announcement, WotC also announced several game initiatives coupled with the site's features. The website will include an indie strategy game portal devoted to digital distribution of PC Games that the company believes will be attractive to its community and worthy of the WotC Seal of Approval for fun, strategic games...And as an extension to the already robust http://Wizards.com editorial content, Gleemax will include blogs from WotC insiders and a discussion of game-play, which is so often neglected or overlooked by mainstream computer gaming publications.

    Gleemax was meant to be a social collaboration with the Internet community as well:

    To ensure Gleemax provides players with engaging content and vibrant features most commonly requested and wished for in online communities, WotC is enlisting industry thought leaders in all areas dedicated to online social experiences and strategy/hobby games to sit on a Gleemax Advisory Board. WotC will use the board's input to not only assist during the development stages of the site, but ongoing to ensure Gleemax is providing everything possible for enthusiasts...In addition to the Advisory Board's industry thought leaders, to kick off the launch celebration, WotC is making an Open Casting Call to select a few players to sit on the Advisory Board, ensuring the hobby and tabletop gamers and fans are represented on the board. The selection process will be a reality TV style contest run through http://Gleemax.com over the course of the summer. Bringing player members onto the Advisory Board reinforces WotC's long-standing tradition of engaging with its consumers to ensure their thoughts, opinions and voices are heard.

    http://Gleemax.com was to launch in various phases, each phase providing additional online community tools for players. Phase one offered hardcore gamers online community tools, gamer personal profiles, and editorial content. Then over the back half of the year and into early 2008, new features would be steadily added and new games would start coming online. It didn't work out that way, as Shannon Appelcline explains in Designers & Dragons:

    The name of the site (which came from a Magic: The Gathering card), its juvenile attitude, and its site design all turned off existing players. Constant delays in the release of features contributed to the problem.

    Gleemax's woes were compounded by the murder/suicide of its lead, as detailed in a previous article. By July 30, 2008, the dream of a unified gaming site had come to an end. Gleemax had failed:

    Wizards of the Coast has made the decision to pull down its Gleemax social networking site in order to focus on other aspects of our digital initiatives, especially Magic Online and Dungeons & Dragons Insider. We continue to believe that fostering online community is an important part of taking care of our customers, but until we have our games up and running at a quality level we can be proud of, it will be the games themselves that receive the lion’s share of our attention and resources.

    Gleemax was shutdown completely in September. Then Vice President of Digital Gaming Randy Buehler summarized what went wrong:

    It remains clear that gamers are moving online and if we’re going to preserve everything that is special about Wizards of the Coast—and the hobby gamer culture in general—then we have to move online too. The mistake that I made, however, was in trying to push us too far too fast. I still think the vision for Gleemax is awesome: creating a place on the web where hobby gamers (or lifestyle gamers or thinking gamers, or whatever you want to call us) can gather to talk about games, play games, and find people to play games with. But I’ve come to realize that the vision was too ambitious.

    Some gamers understandably asked what would happen to the forums, and Buehler responded:

    The forums are alive and well, and maintenance of them will actually get more resources thanks to this decision. (They will probably migrate off of http://gleemax.com and back to http://wizards.com, but that's the only change I expect.)

    They wouldn't stay that way.

    Not Quite a Wizard at the Web

    Wizards shifted gears from the ill-fated Gleemax to focus on D&D Insider (DDI), which included a suite of tabletop tools to assist gamers in playing Dungeons & Dragons. The ambitious plan for Gleemax outlined by Ruehler was yet to be realized, but DDI was a valiant attempt to get there.

    Announced in 2007 at Gen Con, D&D Insider was a five-part subscription-based electronic supplement. The five parts included digital versions of Dungeon and Dragon Magazines, the massive D&D Compendium that included a searchable database of every rule in Fourth Edition D&D, an online character builder, and a monster builder. It also included a virual tabletop...and we all know how well that turned out. Despite several bumps along the way, the parts that eventually launched worked -- maybe too well, as Appelcline explains:

    The problems with the Compendium arose due to corporate issues. More specifically, the Compendium had been something the roleplaying group never actually wanted, because it took all of their core book material and gave it away online. Though users had to pay, the money was going to the digital group, not the roleplaying group, causing problems within Hasbro’s bureaucracy. As a result, the RPG division had to take over Insider, but still found themselves supporting a product that they weren’t sure was in their best interests.

    The Character Builder's success was also a problem:

    The problems with the Character Builder came from the fact that it was so good. Making characters with it was much easier than doing so by hand, and so it quickly became the de facto method for many game groups. However, DDI only included rules for Wizards’ rulebooks. This meant that third-party sourcebooks became worthless to DDI groups — which was probably the final nail in the coffin of the already shaky third-party support for 4E.

    In 2010, WOTC made changes to DDI that in retrospect were a retreat from Buehler's vision of an fully-integrated platform. First, the Character Builder was changed to online-only and then PDFs of the two magazines were dropped, made available only through individual web pages. By the time Fifth Edition was announced, the DDI was done. Trevor Kidd delivered the news on October 27, 2013:

    This month we want to share some upcoming changes to the DDI tool set and subscription. As we look to the future launch of D&D Next, we are shifting our focus to the development and support of the new rules set, which will impact the Dungeons & Dragons Insider subscription service. DDI will remain available to those who still wish to access all the great 4th Edition Magazines and Tools as part of the DDI subscription. Starting in March of 2014, the DDI tool set (Character Builder, Adventure Tools and Compendium), will no longer be updated with new 4th Edition game content. Existing issues of Dungeon magazine and Dragon magazine will continue to be offered for viewing.

    WOTC had finally given up on trying to reach the $50 million dream. Appelcline calls it a qualified success, but not what Hasbro wanted:

    In the end, DDI was a success, but probably not what Wizards had hoped. Some products such as the Virtual Tabletop never appeared, despite constant promises. Worst of all, DDI never met the goals that Wizards set. Fan estimates from early 2013 suggest that 81,000 then-active subscribers might be generating Wizards about $500,000 a month. Though $6 million dollars a year isn’t chump change, when compared to the high cost of computer equipment and software professionals it’s not necessarily a lot. More notably, it only reflected about a quarter of the increase that Hasbro needed to turn D&D into a core brand.

    In light of WOTC's failure to reach its revenue goals set by the Hasbro acquisition, the company's gradual retreat from the digital space is not surprising.

    Retreat from Digital

    With the launch of Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons, it was clear that the comprehensive plan for dominating digital and making more money for Hasbro shareholders wasn't working. Dancey explained the consequences of the plan's failure on EN World:

    It would have been very easy for Goldner et al to tell Wizards "you're done with D&D, put it on a shelf and we'll bring it back 10 years from now as a multi-media property managed from Rhode Island". There's no way that the D&D business circa 2006 could have supported the kind of staff and overhead that it was used to. Best case would have been a very small staff dedicated to just managing the brand and maybe handling some freelance pool doing minimal adventure content. So this was an existential issue (like "do we exist or not") for the part of Wizards that was connected to D&D. That's something between 50 and 75 people.

    It seems that's exactly what happened with Fifth Edition. Smiteworks's Fantasy Grounds continued the legacy that was DDI with a robust suite of tools. Dungeon and Dragon Magazine were cancelled. D&D Basic and DNDClassics on DriveThruRPG became the new PDF presence. There was just one legacy component left from the Gleemax days, and those days were numbered. It was a good run, but eventually WOTC decided to shut down their own communities at the end of October 2015:

    Choosing to retire a former foundation of our community was not an easy decision, but we feel that we must adjust our communications structure to reflect where conversations about Wizards of the Coast games are taking place. Social media has changed significantly over the last ten years, and discussions about games aren't exclusive to company-hosted forums. The majority of community conversation takes place on third-party websites (such as Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and many other fantastic community-run websites), and it is up to us to evolve alongside our players. We encourage past and current users to retrieve any information you want to retain from the Community Forums for both Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering.

    As the company continued to shift its resources from trying to develop its own digital presence to leveraging other sites, Wizards of the Coast decided to closed down its forums:

    The shutdown will occur on October 29, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. PT. We want to provide enough time for our forum members to move their content, and we recognize that given our forum's vibrant user base and extensive history, this may take time. Any information still on the forums on the cut-off date will be deleted. Thank you to all of our past and current forum users. You helped build our community into what it is now, and we look forward to continuing to interact with you on our many active social platforms.

    The shutdown actually occurred on November 5, but the result was the same: many D&D fans without a home. Fortunately, EN World is willing and ready to embrace the digital citizens at Wizards.

    The Wizards Diaspora

    As social media has become more pervasive, ownership of a brand has become less about a single web site and more about a cross-platform social presence. Geoff Northcott outlined the gradual shift away from destination brand sites:

    ...there is a definite trend away from destination websites that has major implications for brands and agencies. As an exercise, pick any of the top 100 brands from the Millward Brown or Interbrand list. Then go to Google Website Trends and enter that brand’s URL (i.e. http://bmw.com), selecting “websites” above the resulting graph to get unique visitors. For each brand you should find that visitors between 2007 and 2009 are trending down, or flat at best.

    His post charted the steady decline of traffic to Disney, Dell, and Nintendo web sites, among others. Northcott prophetically outlined WOTC's first attempt to syndicate and integrate content, but when that doesn't work...:

    Social syndication and integration should by now be requirements for most brand sites, obviously using platforms and channels that best fit the goals of the brand and behaviours and preferences of its audience. However some brands are presumably looking at graphs of their declining site traffic, and the boom in social sites, and asking the question “do we even need a website at all?” This leads us to the latest way some brands are dealing with the shift to the social web: ‘Replacement’.

    WOTC came to the same conclusion. There are many other forums for fans to choose from beyond EN World, including RPG.net (general RPGs including D&D), Dragonsfoot (earlier editions of D&D), Paizo (for all things Pathfinder), Giant in the Playground (all editions of D&D), Reddit (all editions of D&D), and so many other specialized forums that they're too numerous to list here. That doesn't include the official Dungeons & Dragons presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While the loss of Wizards' community forums will be hard for some, the fan community will continue to thrive (and has been thriving) without the company's help.

    Wizards may have struggled with getting digital right, but they were right about one thing: D&D has always belonged to us. Maybe the fans really are the best stewards for the brand.

    For more in the D&D Does Digital series, please see:


    Mike "Talien" Tresca is a freelance game columnist, author, and communicator. You can follow him at Patreon.
    Comments 26 Comments
    1. Kramodlog's Avatar
      Kramodlog -
      Wow. Dancey sure saw it coming.
      There's no way that the D&D business circa 2006 could have supported the kind of staff and overhead that it was used to. Best case would have been a very small staff dedicated to just managing the brand and maybe handling some freelance pool doing minimal adventure content.
    1. Random Bystander's Avatar
      Random Bystander -
      Perhaps to a certain degree unfortunately, Dungeons and Dragons is owned by Wizards of the Coast.

      It is supported by fans.

      Any company which does not support their fans in turn will find that, quite often, what you get is comparable to what you give.
    1. delericho's Avatar
      delericho -
      Quote Originally Posted by talien View Post
      Despite several bumps along the way, the parts that eventually launched worked -- maybe too well, as Appelcline explains:

      The problems with the Compendium arose due to corporate issues. More specifically, the Compendium had been something the roleplaying group never actually wanted, because it took all of their core book material and gave it away online. Though users had to pay, the money was going to the digital group, not the roleplaying group, causing problems within Hasbro’s bureaucracy. As a result, the RPG division had to take over Insider, but still found themselves supporting a product that they weren’t sure was in their best interests.

      The Character Builder's success was also a problem:

      The problems with the Character Builder came from the fact that it was so good. Making characters with it was much easier than doing so by hand, and so it quickly became the de facto method for many game groups. However, DDI only included rules for Wizards’ rulebooks. This meant that third-party sourcebooks became worthless to DDI groups — which was probably the final nail in the coffin of the already shaky third-party support for 4E.

      WOTC had finally given up on trying to reach the $50 million dream. Appelcline calls it a qualified success, but not what Hasbro wanted:

      In the end, DDI was a success, but probably not what Wizards had hoped. Some products such as the Virtual Tabletop never appeared, despite constant promises. Worst of all, DDI never met the goals that Wizards set. Fan estimates from early 2013 suggest that 81,000 then-active subscribers might be generating Wizards about $500,000 a month. Though $6 million dollars a year isn’t chump change, when compared to the high cost of computer equipment and software professionals it’s not necessarily a lot. More notably, it only reflected about a quarter of the increase that Hasbro needed to turn D&D into a core brand.
      None of this is surprising, but it does explain an awful lot. Good article.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      I'd agree with the character builder thing. So many times we'd release a 4E book, only to be told by customers that they weren't interested if it couldn't be used in the character builder. You'd think we'd have learned and stopped quicker!
    1. Cody C. Lewis's Avatar
      Cody C. Lewis -
      Great article.

      It's amazing how, to me at least, this series has been sort of disparaging (through no fault of your own, it is just the facts after all). It seems like each article highlights the many failures the game has experienced.

      What's really fascinating is that it almost perfectly represents the half-full/half-empty glass. You can choose to see it as half-empty, that no matter how much fun 5e is or how popular it has become, the company that owns it just cannot seem to get things right when bringing it into the future, or expanding it to additional formats. On the other hand, someone who views the glass half-full might say that failure after failure, failed project after failed project, D&D has survived and is better than ever.
    1. darjr's Avatar
      darjr -
      Wonderful article. Thanks. I would like to note that wotc also has magic, and the digital efforts there have been a huge success. At least I thought so. The console game is booming, isn't it?
    1. Reinhart -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      I'd agree with the character builder thing. So many times we'd release a 4E book, only to be told by customers that they weren't interested if it couldn't be used in the character builder. You'd think we'd have learned and stopped quicker!
      Once the character builder went online with Silverlight, we could no longer insert house rules or create custom material. So I think the problem was even bigger than 3rd party support, but one that hampered the entire 4e experience. Of course, it's part of why software support for a table-top RPG is so tricky to get right in the first place.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by darjr View Post
      Wonderful article. Thanks. I would like to note that wotc also has magic, and the digital efforts there have been a huge success. At least I thought so. The console game is booming, isn't it?
      I didn't even know magic had a console game.
    1. Dire Bare's Avatar
      Dire Bare -
      Quote Originally Posted by dakotahorn View Post
      Great article.

      It's amazing how, to me at least, this series has been sort of disparaging (through no fault of your own, it is just the facts after all). It seems like each article highlights the many failures the game has experienced.

      What's really fascinating is that it almost perfectly represents the half-full/half-empty glass. You can choose to see it as half-empty, that no matter how much fun 5e is or how popular it has become, the company that owns it just cannot seem to get things right when bringing it into the future, or expanding it to additional formats. On the other hand, someone who views the glass half-full might say that failure after failure, failed project after failed project, D&D has survived and is better than ever.
      Life is struggle.

      I don't see the chain of events as WotC continually trying and failing to "get things right", despite the complaints of certain elements of the fanbase. Smaller RPG companies are dealing with an almost entirely different market, and are often given a pass by the "angry fan" aspect of the community. WotC is driven by the concerns of a larger market during a time when media is constantly in flux and many companies, big and small, just "aren't getting it right".

      I do see D&D's continued existence as a testament to the strength of the game itself, and I see 5E's awesomeness as a testament to the fine staff WotC has working on the game.
    1. Cody C. Lewis's Avatar
      Cody C. Lewis -
      I totally agree. I think the game will ultimately stand the test of time.

      It's funny, here in Texas you might hear an exchange at a restaurant that goes like:
      "What would you like to drink?"
      "Coke"
      "What kind?"
      "Dr. Pepper"

      That is exactly how I feel about D&D. It's a brand that defines it's category. It will always be played as long as people are playing TRPGs.
    1. darjr's Avatar
      darjr -
      Quote Originally Posted by dave2008 View Post
      I didn't even know magic had a console game.
      I think its where the idea to sell virtual miniatures came from for the failed 3d virtual desktop. They sell virtual magic cards, apparently a lot if them.
    1. Dhaylen's Avatar
      Dhaylen -
      Quote Originally Posted by darjr View Post
      Wonderful article. Thanks. I would like to note that wotc also has magic, and the digital efforts there have been a huge success. At least I thought so. The console game is booming, isn't it?
      Magic is, essentially, 'broke' / 'a mess' digitally... at least on mobile.
      i.e. Multiplayer almost never worked, and whats more, you have to buy the game to see if the latest version works.

      So, single player is a blast, but I bought it... twice... for multiplayer - with no luck.
      (Too top it off, the apps are rotated out of the store, after buying cards.)

      Customer support, the first time I realized Wizards, well...
      Multiple tickets and basically told to just get a refund.

      I'm guessing their PC version is better, though graphically not as pleasing.
      It seems Wizards 'doesn't quite get digital.' At least that is what I hear, and see, in both MTG and D&D.
      (After all, Blizzard took their 'great' game - I do enjoy it - and made the success with Hearthstone, that could have been Wizards.)

      With the latest mobile MTG, like they tried to copy some ideas, but did not implement them well...
      ... Making a good single player experience less than before, and not trying multiplayer again)
    1. delericho's Avatar
      delericho -
      Quote Originally Posted by dakotahorn View Post
      It's amazing how, to me at least, this series has been sort of disparaging (through no fault of your own, it is just the facts after all). It seems like each article highlights the many failures the game has experienced.
      If I were in philosophical mood, I'd note that virtually all human progress consists of many failures interspersed with the occasional success. It's just that once you've got the success, you move on and build on that - the failures get left in the past.
    1. TerraDave's Avatar
      TerraDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by dakotahorn View Post
      Great article.

      It's amazing how, to me at least, this series has been sort of disparaging (through no fault of your own, it is just the facts after all). It seems like each article highlights the many failures the game has experienced.

      ....
      This series is not "D&D through the ages" or "D&D Worlds" or "D&D gamers" or "5E in context"...its "D&D Does Digital". Its sort of a depressing topic.

      Hence its probably been a strength of 5E that they have downplayed the digital side more then any time in the last 15-20 years (going back to those cd-roms for 2E).

      At least until 3 weeks ago. When SCL came out.

      Like I said, a depressing topic.
    1. Stacie GmrGrl's Avatar
      Stacie GmrGrl -
      It took them 5 editions before they finally designed a version of D&D I am willing to run, so they finally did something right with D&D.

      From this article though, what seems to have hurt D&D for so much from around 2006 till 5e was Hasbro itself, and how them buying Wizards of the Coast caused them to have to rethink everything about D&D. If Hasbro hadn't made WotC separate all their company games into separate accounts so they had to somehow justify everything separately things probably would have been a lot better for WotC and D&D over the years. Who knows, 4e might have turned out to be a totally different beast of a game.

      I guess Hasbro had much more influence in things than I originally thought.
    1. darjr's Avatar
      darjr -
      They've been pushing scl for months, it's the sole reason Dragon+ exists, to push that.
    1. Cody C. Lewis's Avatar
      Cody C. Lewis -
      Quote Originally Posted by delericho View Post
      If I were in philosophical mood, I'd note that virtually all human progress consists of many failures interspersed with the occasional success. It's just that once you've got the success, you move on and build on that - the failures get left in the past.
      Well, I have always loved the business part. Evaluating the successes and failures. It's probably weird that I would rather discuss those topics more than actual rules... I guess it's just the way I'm wired. Oh well.

      Again, great series so far. Well researched and very interesting topic.
    1. Dire Bare's Avatar
      Dire Bare -
      Quote Originally Posted by Stacie GmrGrl View Post
      It took them 5 editions before they finally designed a version of D&D I am willing to run, so they finally did something right with D&D.

      From this article though, what seems to have hurt D&D for so much from around 2006 till 5e was Hasbro itself, and how them buying Wizards of the Coast caused them to have to rethink everything about D&D. If Hasbro hadn't made WotC separate all their company games into separate accounts so they had to somehow justify everything separately things probably would have been a lot better for WotC and D&D over the years. Who knows, 4e might have turned out to be a totally different beast of a game.

      I guess Hasbro had much more influence in things than I originally thought.
      Hasbro has certainly had several negative effects on the development of D&D, at least from my own perspective. But, I also wonder, what positive effects Hasbro has had on the development of D&D? I doubt it's none.

      It's kinda fun, but also kinda pointless, to play the "what if" game. What if WotC had never been sold to Hasbro? It's easy to focus on "what went wrong" and imagine if things "went right" instead . . . . but really, would D&D be better off? Worse off? Non-existent? Or just different, and we'd be complaining about a slightly different collection of griefs.

      But, hoo-boy, you are right! This article certainly brings to clearer focus some of the frack-ups D&D has had to endure due to corporate mismanagement under Hasbro.

      Just a reminder to all though, D&D endured plenty of corporate mismanagement under TSR before WotC swooped in to save the game. D&D struggling under bad decision makers is part and parcel of the game history! It just wouldn't be D&D without some sort of craziness going on behind the scenes!
    1. Hussar's Avatar
      Hussar -
      Yeah, @Dire Bare, I'd say that if you put the corporate decision making processes of WOTC/Hasbro side by side with TSR, WOTC/Hasbro comes out looking an awful lot better, at least in comparison.

      Heck, no matter how bad WOTC/Hasbro has been, they still haven't gone bankrupt. And, after the massive downsizing at the beginning of 5e, it appears that the staff has been growing again.
    1. delericho's Avatar
      delericho -
      Quote Originally Posted by dakotahorn View Post
      Well, I have always loved the business part. Evaluating the successes and failures. It's probably weird that I would rather discuss those topics more than actual rules... I guess it's just the way I'm wired. Oh well.
      Sure, I understand that - I'm in much the same position myself.

      Again, great series so far. Well researched and very interesting topic.
      Yep.
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