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  1. #191

    Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelesko View Post
    My comments might have sounded like I was anti-VTT. Obviously, as someone who just released a VTT, I'm not. =)

    I think roleplaying can be done online, and in a lot of cases, better than real life. I just disagree with the idea that the Stack-o-Books style of gaming will ever be a good fit for the online medium. Maybe it's a fine stopgap for existing gamers who are willing to make the conceptual leap, but I don't see it as a way to revitalize the hobby as some people seem to be saying.

    My guess is that 10 years from now, the most popular solution will look more like an online game with role-playing capabilities, than an app that tries to translate the current tabletop scene.
    Well, I sort of agree. I think games that are specifically designed to be played online are the way to go. I think those games can however be just as deep and have just as much material as any TT RPG. They can have books and/or digital material that goes with them. Why wouldn't they really? There's no reason people would NOT want to have the same sort of creative material.

    Clearly it will be a somewhat different sort of business, but in many ways it may not be THAT different. You'd have creative people to write settings, adventures, monsters, whatever, etc. In a lot of ways it would probably work a lot like the way WotC runs DDI now. It will just require the evolution of all the tools and whatnot required to support the proper workflow in addition to the software to run a game (VTT or whatever one wants to call it).

    IMHO this really is the future for at least one branch of the RPG industry. I can see the argument that the existing TT RPG industry doesn't go away and this is some sort of 'new thing', but it seems to me like from the standpoint of a company in the business it is something that could become their business or part of it.

  2. #192

    Network Externalities and such

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    I In contrast to the 90's and 00's, I've seen many more young gamers join in the last three years and many say this is the era where geek is cool. Most Encounters DMs have a story of a parent bringing in a young kid (I saw at least seven in my first two seasons of Encounters, with two becoming being regular players). I saw many young teenagers at PAX Prime this and last year. I see more young players at LFR conventions. I see a lot of young gamers at Gen Con the last two years. I see gaming stores catering to the young with Pokemon games and then transitioning them to other games as well. Stores in Seattle bring in buses of school kids and in Portland they have D&D Summer and Winter Camps. Do you see this increase as well? How large is the drain from MMOs?
    I'm a latecomer to this thread too, but
    I found the whole "acquisition" and "network externality" portion of this discussion too interesting not to comment.

    I think Ryan Dancey has tied the demise of some marketing channels too closely to the issue of network effects and player acquisition. Brick & mortar retail channels may have improved network externalities by increasing the availability of game products, but game products are just as easily obtained through online retail channels today. And while Amazon.com does nothing to reinforce the network effect through player acquisition (as is often bemoaned), neither did brick & mortar bookstores. So that leaves hobby games stores and peer groups as the primary sources of player acquisition.

    While Ryan Dancey may be close on his estimate of only 500-1000 hobby game stores left in the US, I think the composition of many of those surviving game stores is telling. Many now-defunct hobby game stores were no better than niche brick & mortar bookstores; when online retailers beat them on product price, availability, and service, they started to go out of business right along with them. Five years ago my local FLGS (the stereotypical narrow-aisled rat nest with posters covering the windows, a disinterested clerk and a stale fast-food smell) was replaced with a new game store designed around a model that other successful game stores seem to be following: A full-spectrum store that sells chess, backgammon, poker, and party games in the front, boardgames in the middle (from "feeders" to Eurogames and various licensed property games), and TRPGs and miniature combat games in the back. (CCGs are in and behind the glass sales counter, as always.) The most distinctive feature of this successful game store (which just doubled in size at its new location), however, is the fact that over half of its square footage is dedicated to tables for playing any kind of tabletop games, with late hours to support after-school or after-work players. This allows for a weekly and monthly scheduled of organized play events that build a local gaming community. Players come in to buy or play one game, and come back to buy or play others, including D&D (and occassionally Pathfinder.) That is why programs like Encounters may be more important to WotC than LFR, because they provide an organized play format in these stores targeted at new player acquisition. (And Lair Assaults to try to bring in experienced players from their home games.) I would back up Alphastream's anecdotal evidence of more new (young) players- I've helped plenty of high school and college students, kids brought in by their parents, and lapsed D&D players (some overlap on those last two categories, of course) learn the ropes of current edition D&D in these short 1 or 2-hour sessions. This is where Paizo has to sell its (excellent) Beginner Box, because it can't survive indefinitely on aggregated (but still dwindling) legacy edition players. If nowhere else, these kind of game stores will be the drivers of new player acquisition.* TRPGs will survive or thrive as part of this larger hobby gaming community.

    I'm not sure what VTTs may do other than hold onto TRPG players not supported by a "new-format" game store, but TRPGs are a different playing experience than MMOs and similarly shouldn't be compared to them other than in the largest sense of competing for a gamers' finite budget and leisure time.


    *Conversely, I always thought that the reason the WotC retail stores (remember those?) failed was their narrow product focus and inability to support organized play- those mall stores didn't have the square footage for game tables.

  3. #193
    As a high school teacher, one who connects with the gamer types, I think their problems with paper and dice based RPGs are simple:

    1) Video games require no set up time.

    2) Video games require no significant reading (or abstract thinking).

    3) Video games can be played solo, and at one's own pace.

    4) Video games are socially acceptable; TRPGs still aren't.

    To create a new generation of paper and dice gamers, one must overcome those conditions.

  4. #194

    Magsman (Lvl 14)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Falstaff View Post
    See, they should be here, now, talking and discussing D&D with us fans. That's the kind of interaction they need to show us that they're willing to do. Talk with us about D&D. Come to these forums and just talk. Be honest and talk with us. Why won't they do that? It would go a long way to fostering goodwill between WotC and us gamers. Just my opinion.
    They do - sometimes. Mearls more than Monte, I think - although Monte does have his own boards where he has been quite responsive in the past.

  5. #195
    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    (much commentary)
    I'll try to answer your questions as best I can but I'll tell you up front that the kind of rigor you're looking for with regards to numbers doesn't exist. For example, the distributors don't share information about retail sales with publishers, so no publisher knows where the distributors are sending its products or in what quantity. As you'll see from some of my other answers below, some of the data the publishers might have is often contaminated by people lying to get perks & benefits they're not really entitled to get.

    Games Workshop likely has the very best data of everyone. They sell their stuff through their own stores and through stores they act as their own middleman for. They use 3rd party distribution sparingly. Games Workshop is the only public company in the hobby gaming space (Hasbro pointedly does not break out Wizards of the Coast information in its SEC filings - I'm certain because they don't want the researchers that follow them (or their competitors) to know what a huge percentage of their bottom line profits come from Magic and from D&D licensing). You can get Games Workshop's information directly from their website (look for the investors links). They're listed under GAW on the FTSE stock exchange in London. Go back as far as you can before you start reading - the annual reports are just fascinating and reveal a tremendous amount about the hobby over the past 10+ years.

    Wizards has never released its market research data after the report I published in '99/'00. They have mountains of such data but they keep it close to the vest. I wish they'd be more open, it would be useful to everyone in the industry and would have very little impact on them.

    If you want to see what the market was like in the 1990s, I recommend that you get archives of Comics & Games Retailer. They had a monthly retail store survey that tracked the popularity of various products. The conventional wisdom in the industry was that the numeric data was worthless, but that the ranking order of sales was actually usually quite accurate. From time to time I do presentations at industry shows about this data but they're less and less useful now (the magazine itself is defunct and didn't capture much data of use after the early 2000s).

    You can also look to the reports currently produced by ICv2. These reports don't show unit volumes and they also are compiled from retailer surveys so the accuracy may be questionable, but I think the rankings are usually pretty accurate.

    There is no independent 3rd party source for unit volume data on any hobby gaming product which I consider reliable. The industry lacks something like BookScan or SoundScan, and it is poorer for it. The reasons for this are long and convoluted but they are likely unfixable so its a situation everyone has resigned themselves to living with.

    Finally I'll say that as an industry insider I get a lot of information I simply can't share. My ability to get that information is based in large measure on my reputation for not disclosing it. If people felt that I would take information given to me in confidence and repeat it, they'd stop sharing it with me. So I will often tell you that I know what I know but I can't tell you how I know it. Still, I think that's better than nobody telling you anything, and like Mark says, often with a little work you can get some verification of certain facts by creative Google searches.

    Ok, as they say in Iceland: ßfram med smj÷rid! (On with the butter!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    First, on the numbers. If I use the Wizards locator to find stores running Encounters I come up with more than 500. If I widen the search to stores selling D&D, I come up with even more. Do you really feel confident about your numbers?
    The Wizards locator (like all store locators in the industry) has 3 problems:

    1: Some of the stores in it will have ceased to exist. Turnover is ferocious, especially with new young stores. Most don't last the first year they're in business. But Wizards won't remove them until some database cleanup cycle which doesn't happen every year.

    2: Some of the stores in it never existed. They're individuals posing as retailers to get store perks and access to various organized play promotional materials. Some of these folks will go so far as to mock up a retail space for the purposes of shooting pictures to "prove" they're Brick & Mortar stores, get business licenses, maybe even build a website. Wizards' ability to identify and remove these people is always less than the need to do so (its time consuming and most of the time you'd rather spend headcount dollars on someone that will help grow your business rather than enforcing rules against cheaters).

    3: Some of the stores in it aren't game stores. They're stores that sell Magic or (less commonly) D&D, but that's it. The "game store" might be one rack of product maintained by the son of the owner for himself and his buddies. Again, they're seeking access to the promotional stuff Wizards produces. They may run a Friday Night Magic or an Encounters session on a for-profit basis (or just because they love the games), but they're not Full Line Game Stores.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    Also, how critical are hobby stores?
    Mission critical for everyone but Wizards, and reasonably critical for Wizards. Excepting the TRPGs sold in mass market bookstores, the primary venue for all hobby gaming product is the full line game store. All the on-line sales and direct sales end up being about 20% of the unit volume of 80% of the publishers (and not just TRPGs, but CCGs, boardgames and minis too).

    They represent the chance to present a game option to a buyer who is in the right frame of mind to make a purchase. This cannot be overstated: Getting someone into a game store with money to spend and an interest in buying is the primary method a publisher sells that all-important first purchase to a player. Maybe they go on to buy supplements/expansions/etc. from other sources, but they're highly unlikely to buy that first thing anywhere other than a game store.

    The TRPG business used to have some of this effect in mass-market stores but as I've been watching them over the years the selection and variety of the books on offer has gone down and now it is likely that just Wizards and Paizo are getting any of this benefit.

    So if you want to make a TRPG that isn't Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder, you better hope you've got full line game stores to sell it too, or nobody will ever be likely to start playing it.

    The other thing the retailers do is provide a pool of capital. They typically pay their distributors COD, and in rare cases on Net 30 terms. That money flows upstream to the distributors and thence to the publishers. Every unsold copy of a game on a retailer's shelves represents an investment by that retailer in that publisher. The more stores, the larger the pool of capital. The fewer stores, the less capital.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    So we go from 15 in 1001 to 10 in 2011...
    Sorry - you misunderstood. I said you had to add the newcomers in 2001 to the publishers that existed in the 90s (very few of whom went out of business in the interim). By the time you get to 2012, you see a big reduction in absolute numbers of TRPG publishers, and even greater reduction in the number of living-wage paid TRPG design/development positions because the companies operating in 2012 do so with less staff than they (or their peers) did in 2001.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    Somewhere in there you sort of say that the problem is 3.5, but is this a major factor?
    Yes, it was a huge factor. You have to understand that most publishers have no room for error. A failure of just one release can put them into technical bankruptcy. Many publishers operate for years with negative cash flow, slowly draining the bank accounts of their owners. 3.5 was brutal to the industry because it was such a surprise to everyone. Many publishers got caught with 3.0 products in the pipeline or on store shelves and they faced immediate cashflow problems as a result. There just isn't enough of a shock-absorber in the system to cope.

    You'll remember that when we did 3.0 we announced it a full year before we shipped it, and 2e didn't have any publisher ecology to support. Still, retailers took an (unavoidable) beating on the 2e product that they had on their shelves during that period.

    And I said that the market could possibly have recovered even from that had it not been for the rise of the MMO. We'll never know, but 3.5 was a good system and it had fan interest. If the publishers had more runway they may have been able to recover and get back into profitability. But they didn't have that runway (a factor utterly beyond Wizards' control).

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    What, really, is the value to the OGL?
    80% of the profits earned by D&D come from sales of the 3 core rulebooks. The rest of the product line is effectively a self-subsidizing marketing campaign. The core rulebooks are reprinted endlessly, allowing their development costs to be amortized over many more units than anything else in the line. The core books are also the products with the widest footprints - they are the things new stores sell, and the beachead the game uses to open a new channel of sales.

    You can (and should) think of the D&D business as the business of selling the core books. If you get distracted and think you're in the business of selling campaign setting or rules expansions you'll end up with a less profitable business.

    The OGL means that there's an even larger product-driven marketing campaign to sell those books. Every 3rd party product that gets people interested in playing a fantasy TRPG leads eventually to a D&D core book sale. Even when someone makes a non-D&D RPG, what they're doing is expanding the fractal interface of TRPG exposure. Once someone is exposed to TRPGs, and they start to play, all the data shows that they're likely to eventually play D&D. That's the power of the network externality.

    So the OGL, for Wizards of the Coast, is basically a way of selling high-profit core books.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    {In response to my description of the damage that campaign settings had on the core game social network} To what extent, though, was this a problem due to so much of the product lines being unprofitable or otherwise problematic? It is often said that having Ravenloft, Dark Sun, Spelljammer, Planescape, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, etc. created a rift. And surely, it was an issue that no player could afford to go very deep in all of these. But, was it really hurting the company in a given year? If there were three products for Greyhawk in one year, was a Greyhawk gamer stopping then and not buying the three Planescape products because that's different, but they would have purchased three more Greyhawk products? Isn't there a balance where you can have a few settings to have wider appeal?
    First, you have to go back to the 1990s TSR catalogs to get a sense as to how absurd this problem was allowed to become. TSR was producing seventy or eighty new releases a year. It was common that every month there was a Forgotten Realms release. Look at how deep the product lines are for things like Dark Sun and Planescape - lines that only existed for a handful of years.

    Second, obviously the smart money is on having fewer campaign settings. For 3e, we had two: Greyhawk & Forgotten Realms. And Greyhawk was supported primarily through the Living Grehawk RPGA campaign with very little published content, meaning that we monetized directly just the Forgotten Realms. And further, unlike the 2e era, we tried to ensure that the Forgotten Realms products would not create their own core systems, but would build off of systems in the core books and thus could be used as supplements for any game even if not using the rest of the Realms canon. In those objectives I think we were extraordinarily successful. And on top of that, we charged a 20% price premium for Realms products - in other words, we made the brand of the Forgotten Realms pay for itself, as opposed to just subtracting value from the core D&D brand.

    I could write a whole essay on this topic (and in fact I have done so, some Google search will probably turn it up).

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    We see something different with Pathfinder. If I look at the catalog, I'm overwhelmed by all the components of Golarion.
    Paizo has a different kind of market than Wizards does. It has subscribers, who have opted in to a monthly purchase process. And Paizo is really careful about differentiating between Golarian content and core Pathfinder content. There's only 3 core Pathfinder rulebooks (the core book and the Ultimate books). Everything else is either monsters, magic items, or Golarian source material. So a person who just wants to use "Pathfinder" in their homebrew hasn't been asked to acquire a bunch of stuff. And the Golarian stuff is very careful to avoid creating systems, but sticks to developing content presented in the core, so folks don't feel like they're missing "part of the game" if they don't buy everything. It helps Paizo tremendously that they're operating so close to so many of their customers without the obfuscation of the distribution/retailer tiers so this kind of strategy can be communicated effectively.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    (in response to my comment about hooking the OGL up to the 3.0 bus and watching the explosion of market activity)Was that an increase to the industry, or to Wizards, or to both? Are there any available numbers on this, and is it possible to separate out the "boom that will be a bust" from revenue that would hang on after the bust?
    Nope, there's no numbers that can be shown. The only facts I have are Wizards numbers. And most of those are confidential. The one thing I can tell you is that when TSR did the transition from 1e to 2e in 1998, they sold 289,000 Player's Handbooks in 1998. We sold 300,000 3e Players Handbooks in about 30 days. And the trajectory of the rest of the product line mimicked the PHB.

    3.5 was not driven by the 10 year plan we left the TRPG team with, and 3.5 was not done the way I would have done it even on that plan. I think that its impossible to disentangle what happened after 2003 from the decision to do 3.5, so it's impossible to say if the "bust" was foreordained or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    You mention that the change from 3.0 to 3.5 really drove the bust. Was it inevitable, just due to the volume? I recall seeing shelves full of d20 adventures, and the ratings for them were abysmal (though they were priced really low). Were the sales really high enough that this was a true loss for the stores rather than making the reality of dead inventory due to no quality control clear?
    Go into a bookstore and look at the offerings for any genre. What you see are a handful of best sellers, a larger (but still limited) selection of evergreen titles, and then a whole lot of crap. Do that in a music store (if you can find one). Do it in any creative field of endeavor. Sturgeons Law (90% of anything is crap) always applies. This mountain of crap does not drive cyclical booms & busts in creative industries. And it didn't drive one in the TRPG business either.

    The thing you need to understand is that during the D20 "bubble", the retailers made more revenue & profit than they had ever made before or since in the history of the hobby. And not because of TRPGs. Because of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!. The year we released 3e, 2000, we fixed a broken business, restored an entire unit to profitability, and outsold every projection by multiples (not percentages). And you know what? We were a pimple on the elephants ass of Pokemon. In that one year, 2000, Pokemon made more than eight times as much money as Magic: The Gathering, and an even higher multiple of what D&D did.

    Pokemon spiked and was mostly a non-factor after 2003 (funny timing that with 3.5, eh?) but Yu-Gi-Oh! took its place and instead of spiking it plateaued and maintained for about 5 years.

    Those two products combined firehosed about a 200% increase in overall revenue into the retail tier. The losses they took on unsold d20 product were rounding errors. In fact, it's likely that the availability of all that mass-marekt CCG cash enabled stores to take gambles on D20 products of suspect provenance which is one reason there was so much crap in the channel in the first place. If you don't really care that much about if you sell something or not, you're more likely to speculate (or buy with your heart, which is what a lot of game store owners do when times are good).

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    In contrast to the 90's and 00's, I've seen many more young gamers join in the last three years and many say this is the era where geek is cool.
    We're seeing an all-new type of person in the market now. These people are "lifestyle gamers" not "hobby gamers". They're not dedicated to, or interested in a lifetime affiliation with a game system or game type. They enjoy all sorts of gaming - video games, family games, hobby games - with equal passion. They seek out experiences that reward them for being smart and thinking quickly, as opposed to mastery of rules intricacy. They don't see themselves as defined by the games they play. They won't say "I'm a D&D player" like many hobby gamers would. They'll say "I think D&D is cool", which is a whole different kettle of fish.

    These people will have to have products purpose built for them, and those products won't look like the pyramid shaped "lines" that hobby gamers are used to. They'll look like bestselling novels, maybe trilogies, where you play them and then move on to something else rather than having a high-replay value. And while they'll reward being a bright, savvy gamer, they won't require you to know that you get a +2 circumstance bonus when flanking, and how to determine if you're flanking, and sell you miniature figures and battlemats to show that you're flanking. So I'm absolutely talking about not "dumbing down" the games, just making them smart in a different way than we're used to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    But they are also hiring and added designers. Have they really decreased in size over the last few years?
    Unquestionably yes. I would estimate that they've got less than 50% of the designers/developers that they had as of 2003. Maybe even less than that. And overall, the number of full-time, living wage positions for TRPG designer/developer positions in the industry may be 20% of what it was in that era.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    Could we not argue that the OGL has made it impossible for D&D to move forward and leave old versions behind? If the game needs to change in design, needs to be innovative to compete, and must attract new gamers, then doesn't it have to move forward?
    I can imagine several ways to develop a 4th edition of D&D that are different from what was done. The design horizon of 5th Edition (should such a thing exist) has to be more narrow, because it must be built in response to the reaction to 4th.

    I can imagine developing a 4th edition that was less complex, but still rooted in the 1e/2e/3e design tradition of D&D. I can imagine de-emphasizing the Power Gamer quadrant of the player demographic and doubling down on the Storyteller and Character Actor quadrants. I can imagine learning something from the narrative control experiments in the "indy" RPG scene and bringing that to the D&D game to change the way the DM and players interact. I can imagine all sorts of ways to advance D&D, without putting the game into a paradigm shift. But now that it's been shifted, well, options for further progress become much more limited.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    Would 4E have not been a continually massive success if the OGL had not existed?
    My opinion is no. If you add up the unit sales of 4e + Pathfinder (and any other d20-derived game) over 4e's life, the total is going to be less (substantially less) than the same numbers of either 3e or 3.5e, and I suspect lower than 2e as well.

    The MMO problems affect D&D as much as they affect everything else. 4e is a game that was launched into the teeth of a hurricane, and on its own merits, it didn't have a level playing field.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    Wait, but hasn't it been on par with Pathfinder on sales (mostly tied or higher, sometimes lower)? Is that not enough to be commercially successful?
    Success for 4e was defined (by Wizards) as generating annual revenues between $50 and $100 million. By that (self-imposed) definition, it is a failure.

    Profitability for D&D means that it has to recoup all the costs not only of its development and its on-going support network but also the investment into DDI. I suspect, but do not know, that it has not recouped those costs. And I suspect that none of the current product line (the stuff being solicited and sold as new this year and last year) is even marginally profitable when you factor in the overhead of the sales & marketing teams, plus the RPGA.

    Wizard's cost basis is several orders of magnitude higher than Paizos. They have more, higher paid staff. They pay more for art. They pay more for production. They have more overhead costs (rent, legal, etc.) And worse, due to the way Hasbro structures itself, they don't get to claim any credit for the royalties earned by D&D licensing. So the money Wizards gets to use to offset its costs is just from product sales and DDI.

    4e is also exclusively sold through middlemen. You can't buy D&D from Wizards of the Coast. Whereas Paizo earns 100% of many of its sales, Wizards only earns 40% on all of the stuff it sells. So Wizards has to sell 2.5 times as many units just to generate the same revenue as 1 unit of a Paizo product sold direct to a consumer.

    If it were working financially, you wouldn't have seen Essentials. Essentials, to me, was the visible indicator that the strategy of selling the highest margin product - the core books, had failed for 4e, and that Wizards was seeking to make revenues (and profits) elsewhere. As I didn't see a huge groundswell of reaction to Essentials, I conclude that the strategy didn't work either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    I share that sentiment, and I know you want a strong overall RPG market, but to be honest what you wrote was that the lifeboat was just Pathfinder now. What role does Wizards play for Paizo? Why does Paizo need Wizards to be a strong brand?
    For many people, D&D will always be synonymous with RPGs. Their opinions about the hobby will be colored, for better or for worse, by how D&D is performing. Their interest in and ability to support RPGs will be limited by that association.

    D&D also has worldwide brand recognition. Pathfinder has a fraction of that brand equity, and its mostly in the US. Any market that D&D is doing well in is likely a place that Pathfinder can also thrive in. The idea that Pathfinder can open and expand a foreign market is untested.

    It may be that Pathfinder has passed a phase-change, and has fully inherited the mantle of D&D, and that it is now on its own as the RPG category champion. But I don't know that to be true, and I think it's way too early to make that coronation. Pathfinder is at heart a revision of a revsion of 3.0. That makes it effectively a 12 year old game. I think a lot of innovative ideas have been added to the toolbox of TRPG design in those 12 years, and if D&D can pick them up and use them, I think it benefits everyone and that includes Pathfinder.

  6. #196

    Lama (Lvl 13)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Falstaff View Post
    See, they should be here, now, talking and discussing D&D with us fans. That's the kind of interaction they need to show us that they're willing to do. Talk with us about D&D. Come to these forums and just talk. Be honest and talk with us. Why won't they do that? It would go a long way to fostering goodwill between WotC and us gamers. Just my opinion.
    If the RPG team came to chat, I'd certainly read the conversation, but I'm really not turned off by them not participating on ENWorld- or this thread in particular. I guess, to be fair though, I'm not looking for them to prove anything to me.

    I mean I don't hold it against anyone for not talking shop, theory, or speculation that pertains to the future of their business, including at least one employee of their competitor, amidst certain elements on this public forum ready and willing to twist their words and/or pounce.

    I'm sure we'll hear more from everyone at WotC come the end of this month.

  7. #197

    Titan (Lvl 27)

    Hussar's Avatar

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    Aug 2004
    Fukuoka, Japan
    Excellent response as always Ryan. I might disagree with you, but, damn, you make a convincing argument.

    Just a question though:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan D View Post
    Success for 4e was defined (by Wizards) as generating annual revenues between $50 and $100 million. By that (self-imposed) definition, it is a failure.
    I'm presuming that's gross sales of course. For the past year, we've had over 50 000 DDI subscribers (it's over 65 k now). 50 000x$7=$350 k per month. That's $4.2 million per year. But, since we don't have to worry about distribution or retail, that's effectively the same as making 16 million per year. And, that's a very conservative estimate by the way, since we are only taking into account DDI subs that we can prove.

    Let's not forget also, that that money comes in regularly - no several month wait from a distributer to pay, which is no small advantage as well.

    The thing is, you keep comparing D&D at its absolute highest (in your own words) to now. If we move the slider to 2004 instead of 2003, the view isn't anywhere near as bad. Is it really fair to compare high bubble point D&D to any other point in time?

  8. #198
    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post

    I'm presuming that's gross sales of course. For the past year, we've had over 50 000 DDI subscribers (it's over 65 k now). 50 000x$7=$350 k per month. That's $4.2 million per year.
    So less than 10% of the minimum goal they set for themselves. Since I doubt anyone at that meeting was going to sign off on any sales figure over $20-25 million for the physical products, I suspect they were looking for something more like 300-350k DDI subs; I.e.what a moderately successful MMO would generate.

    I think it's fair to compare 2009-2011 with 2000-2003, or even 1989-1993, because we're talking about industry wide phenomenon: retail tier sizes, distributor consolidation, rise of effective direct (MMO) competition.

  9. #199

    Titan (Lvl 27)

    Hussar's Avatar

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    But, again, where are you getting this 50 million/year figure? And, other than at the height, has WOTC ever actually achieved that?

  10. #200

    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)

    Mark CMG's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pour View Post
    If the RPG team came to chat, I'd certainly read the conversation, but I'm really not turned off by them not participating on ENWorld- or this thread in particular. I guess, to be fair though, I'm not looking for them to prove anything to me.

    Plus, I think they would probably prefer to just watch and find out what others are saying rather than steer the discussion or wind up entrenched in sidebar discussions that take away from their heavy time commitments toward the new shiny. While not everyone agrees with their direction or everything they say, they are professionals who need to focus at the top tier of their industry and spending too much time on all of the messageboards they'd need to frequent to keep all of their fans feeling like they are engaging might be a bit much to expect of them. We get the occasional liaison interface from folks like Trevor when we add defnite misinformation that needs correction.

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