5E Does WotC suck at selling games? - Page 3
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  1. #21
    Every time I see Magic and Catan at Target I weep on the inside for the missing DnD box.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Runny View Post
    Every time I see Magic and Catan at Target I weep on the inside for the missing DnD box.
    I saw the stater set on the shelf in the boardgames section at Target this weekend. But until Walmart will carry it, the big box route only has traction in urban/suburban areas. Smaller towns don't get Targets, just Wally World.

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    I think he's ignoring several things. First, the Starter Set module could do more to teach being a DM, but saying it only gives a few paragraphs on the first page shows either a shallow reading of the module or is ignoring many spots where it stops to suggest how a DM should approach a situation. I think its unfair to say otherwise.

    Second, he's ignoring three vectors: the adventure league in game stores is designed to bring players in, Dungeonscape is designed to make the game more accessible and we live in a world with the web. Wizard's own site has lots of content and sample material. Youtube videos, podcasts and more are at new gamers disposal. Acquisitions Inc. is a major outreach to the fan community through the most popular webcomic in the world and at the largest video game convention in the United States.

    I think WotC is well aware of the problem....it has been a problem for 30+ years, really.

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by GameDoc View Post
    I saw the stater set on the shelf in the boardgames section at Target this weekend. But until Walmart will carry it, the big box route only has traction in urban/suburban areas. Smaller towns don't get Targets, just Wally World.
    By that logic, the only successful PC games are diablo II and the Deer Hunter series, because those are the only PC games I see in Wal-Mart.

    I bet these concerns about retail presence are overblown. Why worry about getting a display up at Waldenbooks - oops, Borders - oops again, Barnes and Noble - when that sales model is dying anyway? Nerds buy online.

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    I thought the 4e DM's Guide did a great job of teaching people how to be a Dungeon Master. Those first 30-some pages had some of the best "how to run a game" advice I've ever read, and I've been running games for over 30 years.

    I also thought Keep on the Shadowfell (still available for free!) did a great job of stepping players and DM through the game rules one encounter at a time. It may have been a bit slow and long, but so was Keep on the Borderlands, frankly.

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    I think it is fundamentally wrong because the whole things assumes that as other "geek culture" things grow, so also should tabletop RPGs grow.
    It doesn't work that way.

    The portion of the population who will sit around a table and pretend to be an elf isn't really changing. The fact that playing dress-up at social events and pretending to be an elf behind the anonymity of a computer are growing in popularity doesn't not contradict that, nor does it demand any correlation.

    Obviously WotC is kicking butt at selling 5E *to the real, existing market base*.

    Being a DM has always had its challenges. But the challenge of getting good at it has never been the rate limiting step. The DESIRE to do so is what dominates the math.

    I'm sure you could get a non-zero change by making it easier to get started DMing. But if you are looking at the entire population as your reference, the change will be insignificant.

    If you are selling bicycles to animals, it might not hurt to increase the ease of learning so that 80% of the monkeys can learn rather than 60%. But if the animals are 95% jellyfish and 5% monkeys then you only gain 1%. And it may turn out that 35% of your monkeys don't care how easy it ease, they just don't want to bother.

  7. #27
    Good article, makes a number of good points. But I think it severely underestimates the quality of the Starter Set as a DM introductory product. My wife, who had little prior experience as a player, was able to pick the box up with zero prep work and begin running the game for her younger siblings. They had a blast!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
    There's a question that the AngryDM doesn't address - does D&D lend itself to being sold?

    He goes on about how RPGs are complicated, with high barrier to entry. He asserts that creating simpler and simpler products, and selling tutorial products will get people into the game as a whole. He's so convinced that he offers to write the products himself, if they'd give him a license. But I'm not convinced he's correct.

    There's a term from business that's relevant: being "high touch". When a thing is "high touch", it requires a lot of contact with the salesperson to close the deal. In business, this is costly, and businesses spend a lot of effort to convert high touch things to be low touch. But some things are irreducibly high touch - if you break them down to the point where you don't need the extra effort of the salesperson, you're no longer selling the original product. There is a limit to how far down you can go to create an entry-level product, and for D&D, the level you can reach with product alone, without a human salesperson, may not be low enough to open floodgates of new players.

    RPGs at this time may be irreducibly high touch - if you create a low-touch product to bring them in, the experience it will provide may be different enough from the full game that it doesn't actually serve as an on-ramp. It may be that the apprenticeship, "older cousin," model is the most effective one for RPGs.
    All of this is true, and a very good point. But I think we can at least say that D&D could theoretically be reduced from being enormously high touch to moderately high touch. To put it another way, there are ways to both better support the "older cousin" model AND provide alternative entry methods. More on that in a moment.

    But as I said in the comments field on the blog, I see it as a variant on the problem car mechanics--or really any technical specialists--have communicating with normal folk. If you know "27 things" and you're talking to someone who knows "3 things," it is hard to communicate in a way that doesn't induce the Blank Stare of Incomprehension, but actually helps the person who knows 3 things to understand what you are saying.

    And it isn't just technical expertise - any time someone knows a lot about something and tries to communicate with someone who knows significantly less, you've got problems. This is the challenge of teaching, of education in general. I have found in my own experience that the key is not saying too much, but helping students engage the process themselves. We generally learn through doing, not just being talked at.

    But as you say, the problem is inherent in D&D. The key becomes learning how to teach well. And this is something that TSR/WotC haven't done so well over the years. I think an important part of the solution is creating tutorial products that engage people in learning to play while they play. One thing D&D hasn't had for its 40 years of history are advanced media technologies; I think they are crucial to this.

    Quote Originally Posted by drjones View Post
    I admit I only skimmed about 20% of this giant wall o' text but it seemed typical for a game blog: high on personal option taken as fact and low on concrete useful information. Along the lines of 'I would be a better coach of the Packers because I would tell them to win games more' but with a ton more words.
    I think perhaps because you skimmed 20% you missed the part in the latter third or so where he actually presented some ideas, while admitting that he isn't a marketing guy.

    But so I'm not an instant of that complaint, I'll throw an idea out there. The Starter Set is clearly, as the Angry DM put it (in paraphrase), "The Start Playing Again Set For Those Who Already Know How to Play Some Version of this Game." I'd recommend that WotC research and design a true Beginner's Set. Thankfully "starter" could mean that it is just a quick start product for those wanting to play right away, but not necessarily the product for newbies. There is still room for a Beginner's Set without too much confusion or loss of face.

    What would this Beginner's Set be? Just that - a product for beginners, for people who have either never played or only played and never DMed. It would be designed for reasonably intelligent 12-year olds to learn on their own. What would it include? Basically what we see in the starter set or the core three books, but in a massively simplified tutorial version. There would be:

    - A Player's Book - how to make a character, in a hand-held manner. "Once you've selected your class, turn to page X if you choose fighter, page Y if you choose wizard"...etc.
    - A DM's Book - Again, a tutorial on how to run the game, including example sessions.
    - An Adventurers Book - Sample short adventures, both choose-your-own style that you can run yourself through, but also a full-blown adventure that you can run for your friends, albeit with helpful sidebars and such.
    - Dice and other doodads - Pretty it up. Make it fun to open and look at. But not too much.

    In addition, there would be online support and apps for character design and other fun things. The text could include numerous references such as "For More Options, go online to..."

    Beyond the Beginner's Set you could theoretically have an Expert's Set, which would be more levels, less hand-holding, more adventures, classes etc, and a transition to the core books. You could also have rules for random dungeon generation, that could both be used for solo play or for designing adventures (hopefully this will be in the DMG, but a simple version would work here).

    OK, those are two products plus some apps. I also agree with the Angry DM that advertising is huge. But all that, well, let someone who knows what they're talking about say their piece. But again, you need someone who can "translate down."

    Oh yeah, one more thing. I didn't talk about ideas to convert existing players to DMs. I think solo products are an untapped potential - world builders, campaign builders, and yeah, solo dungeons to play through, have fun and also try things out. I'm not sure what Dungeonscape will offer, but the world/campaign/adventure building is huge. I hate to say this, but the basic idea of those annoying Facebook questionnaires might work well, with algorithmically generated worlds and adventures, that then can be tweaked. The point being, people need help and an interactive process could actually be rather fun.
    Last edited by Mercurius; Wednesday, 17th September, 2014 at 10:53 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BryonD View Post
    If you are selling bicycles to animals, it might not hurt to increase the ease of learning so that 80% of the monkeys can learn rather than 60%. But if the animals are 95% jellyfish and 5% monkeys then you only gain 1%. And it may turn out that 35% of your monkeys don't care how easy it ease, they just don't want to bother.
    Haha, no doubt. But again, we don't know exactly how many of those animals are jellyfish and how many are monkeys. Their "true nature" is revealed through whether or not they show interest in riding a bicycle. If you don't provide a bike that is easy to learn on, then we'll simply never know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
    Haha, no doubt. But again, we don't know exactly how many of those animals are jellyfish and how many are monkeys. Their "true nature" is revealed through whether or not they show interest in riding a bicycle. If you don't provide a bike that is easy to learn on, then we'll simply never know.
    I often feel like I am DMing for monkeys. :-)

    This also begs the question: If you gave a million monkeys a million copies of the Core Rules, given enough time would one eventually produce the Tomb of Horrors?

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