How Important is the D&D Brand?




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  1. #1
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    How Important is the D&D Brand?

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    Paizo already is with the MMO they're "making"

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    What do you think? Should companies like Paizo try to compete for that brand identity space in the general public?
    No. They'd lose.

    IMO, Paizo should stick to what they're doing - produce quality products, look to increase their profits, and generally expand. It's worked for them really well so far, so they should carry on as before. Don't fight D&D for name recognition, because they can no more do that than you could fight Coca Cola, McDonalds, or Ford.

    But... if at some point they get an opportunity to buy D&D (highly unlikely, but not impossible), then they probably should. If only to make sure nobody else beats them to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by delericho
    No. They'd lose.
    I don't think it's a binary choice. It's not "beat the D&D brand or have no brand at all". There's nothing to "lose" by promoting your brand. Of course, every company should compete for brand space, but that makes it sound like there's a limited resource of it. Every company should establish its own brand as best it can; that doesn't mean every company has to be the #1 recognised brand (though I'm sure they'd like to be).

    So yes, Paizo should continue its efforts to establish its brand. It has a loyal fanbase, it's selling very well at the moment, it has an upcoming MMO (D&D has a couple); it's 40 years behind D&D, so it's a long hill to climb, but it can climb that hill for the next 40 years.

    And it's not all brand. As they've shown, you can outsell the top brand without having the same degree of recognition. Although, admittedly, as I've said before - it would be pretty darn embarrassing for Paizo if they weren't outselling a company which isn't actually selling anything right now!*


    *Reprints and weird lego type things I don't understand aside.
    Last edited by Morrus; Saturday, 20th July, 2013 at 11:32 AM.

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    I would like Paizo to try their hand at a Celebrity game like the PAX ones from WotC. I don't know if that counts as competing on a brand level or not, I just think it would be way fun.

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    I believe that -before you can create a brand identity of your own or chip away at someone else's- you need to have a quality product. More importantly, the people you are trying to sell to need to believe you have a quality product. On that front, there are many companies which are doing great, and I believe a combination of a lack of D&D product a well as a perceived lack of quality (no matter if that perception is true or not) have given some of those smaller companies an ability to be seen. Now that they have been seen, the question is whether or not they can be unseen. Will people who were lured elsewhere come back to D&D once D&D has an active game again? Many people will probably play D&D and something else, but that is still something which takes away from D&D because the money spent on that something else is money that could have been spent on WoTC products.

    I do believe D&D has a strong brand identity. I also believe it is one of the strongest brands in the rpg hobby. However, I'm not convinced it is still as strong now as it was ten years ago. I do remember times when I would say "D&D" when I really meant "tabletop rpg," but -now- I most often find myself and the other gamers I socialize with on a personal level being more specific with game names. With that in mind, my natural question is whether the D&D brand strength is the most important thing right now or if the financial strength of WoTC (and Hasbro) is the most important thing. In no way would I ever try to deny that D&D as a brand name is recognizable, but I will argue that -I believe- we're in a time where other rpgs could do just as well (if not better) if they had the same resources and support available.

    Something else I believe is that the next big step for a tabletop game might be to drop the term "roleplaying game." I do not believe the term carries enough meaning. I also think the term is somehow both simultaneously empty of meaning and loaded with baggage because of games like D&D and WoW. For those who don't know what it is, it doesn't say anything; for those who do know what it is, it says too much or not enough depending on who you are talking to. I think many games would benefit from a marketing standpoint if they used something like "collaborative storytelling system." Depending on the particular game, different descriptors may work better, but my overall point is that I believe some changes in terminology might benefit a game due to the evolution of the hobby and the wide range of things that "rpg" can entail while simultaneously conveying little or no meaning to people outside of the hobby.

  • #7
    You are pretty optimistic about the D&D brand strength even though it is at an all time low. Not only on the primary market where Pathfinder now rivals and even surpasses D&D in sales, but also on secondary markets like Video games where while once D&D was a name indicating quality now doesn't mean anything any more or is even a negative term. How is D&D doing on the book market?

    Also, what you write is pretty US centric. Outside the US the D&D name is a lot less stronger.

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    The downside of the D&D name is that it can serve as an anchor, dragging down the rest of the hobby. There's no reason that an rpg has to be about hodgepodge high fantasy, involve combat, use any physical aids, or have complex rules. There's no reason that the people playing it have to be white guys who don't get enough sunlight. And yet, there's a culture around D&D, and stereotypes beyond that culture, that carry a negative connotation to many and limit its popularity.

    Creating or expanding a new brand name I think is beyond the capability of an rpg company. Pathfinder isn't really different from D&D, doesn't really have a different audience, and doesn't have an IP with any mainstream appeal. Maybe, just maybe, their MMO could change that. Given how rough the MMO market is, I wouldn't bet on it. I wouldn't watch a Pathfinder TV show, and I like Pathfinder (the ruleset) (some of it anyway). If I were a TV exec, I doubt I'd ever pay any money for an rpg's IP. D&D blew the only real chance this hobby has had so far to cross into cinema.

    I think a more likely direction is to take a recognizable name and make an rpg out of it. And we've seen plenty of those, most of which haven't really been game-changers. The WotC Star Wars game probably had the biggest audience of any of these, I would guess. There's also all those Cthulhu-based games. Licensed rpgs, AFAICT, are usually released well after the main property, usually aren't advertised very well, and the design of the rpgs themselves often doesn't fit the task and sometimes just isn't good.

    What I'd really like to see is some big, new film/TV show or computer game with an rpg attached, released at the same time and promoted in the same way. Buy the tie-in novel! Buy the t-shirt! Buy the PnP rpg! Sort of like what Defiance did, game and promoted together, as equals with roughly simultaneous releases. It seems to be that Dragon Age wasted the opportunity to do this; the PnP game was too little too late, though it seems to be doing okay for itself. Huge genre hits like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones haven't hit this nail on the head either, which is a shame. Of course, given a simultaneous release, the success of a massive new IP would hinge on quality and on how well it was sold.

    To me, that's the only way a new brand name could ever sit side by side with or even surpass D&D.
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  • #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derren View Post
    You are pretty optimistic about the D&D brand strength even though it is at an all time low. Not only on the primary market where Pathfinder now rivals and even surpasses D&D in sales, but also on secondary markets like Video games where while once D&D was a name indicating quality now doesn't mean anything any more or is even a negative term. How is D&D doing on the book market?
    Brand and sales figures are not the same thing. The D&D brand is strong because people have *heard* of D&D, not because people *buy* D&D. And the reason they've heard of it is partly due to longevity, but also from cartoons, movies, books, video games and the like.

    So the D&D brand strength is not at an all time low. Sales figures are; that's because WotC isn't currently selling D&D.

    Not only on the primary market where Pathfinder now rivals and even surpasses D&D in sales
    As I said earlier, it would be pretty embarrassing if they weren't surpassing a product not currently being sold. Even I'm surpassing new D&D RPG sales.

  • #10
    For other companies D&D has done it's job in paving the way, in that regard there really is no competition - D&D will always have been first. Owning the brand will mean that there will always be a following and interest, but that goodwill only goes so far.
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