Is because as this thread shows, though we've been loathe to admit it as a "gamer" community, we've never really been united in the first place.

I've spent some time lurking recently at RPG.net, and if that community's any indication, D&D as a whole is one of the least-well-regarded systems out there (at least from a mechanical standpoint).

I've also been thinking about the so called "edition wars," and why the 4e/3.x schism seemed to be particularly bad (though apparently the 1e/2e vs. 3e split was fairly divisive as well).

And I think maybe it's because the 4e / 3.x split finally put out in front of us, in the full daylight of blogs, forums, and chat rooms, something that we had maybe suspected but weren't really willing to admit to ourselves---That when it comes to D&D, rather than being "united" in our game of choice, we'd actually been demanding radically different things from E. Gary Gygax's magnum opus all along. The fact that it remained somewhat of the community's "lingua franca" for nearly 25 years is a testament to Gygax's original vision.

One reason the 4e / 3e split was so divisive, I think, is because when the 4e fans threw up their hands in joy and said, "FINALLY!!! CLASS BALANCE!!", all of us 3e fans went "Huh? Really? THIS is the game you wished you'd been playing for the past 25 years? Hmm. Didn't see that one coming." The concept that entire groups of players would so wholeheartedly embrace 4e's conventions seemed almost foreign to the 3.x-ers.....and the 4e-ers couldn't for the life of them figure out why the 3.x-ers couldn't see that the mechanical improvements were producing a "superior" style of game.

As a community we were forced to look across the table, across the room at our FLGS, and realize that what we assumed was a "shared D&D nationality" was more akin to groups of isolated city-states battling it out for territorial control. (I realize some of the more long-standing gamers probably came to that recognition long before 2008.)

D&D Next will not be a "commercial" failure by any stretch. It will certainly be as profitable as 4e. But I have a hard time seeing it really uniting the fanbase into this wonderful "Stepford Dungeon" community. There's too much competition--strong competition--from outside vendors now. We've all tasted what it's like to find a system tailored to us---and not the other way around.

Unless D&D Next can REALLY be as "modular" as they claim, it's really going to be nothing more than "another way to pretend to be an elf, kill orcs, and take their stuff." Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm just not drinking the "TEAM UNITY!" kool-aid at the moment.