D&D 5E A lesson I hope WotC learns from Paizo (with regards to 5E)

Gadget

Adventurer
DISCLAIMER: This post makes a number of unfounded assertions based on my understanding of how the RPG market works. If I'm wrong, just remember that I am a delicate snowflake and you need to be gentle.

Another thing: you need a lot of books, but you HAVE to do with without bloat, and it has to still be quality. At my local B&N the Paizo books outnumber the D&D books 3:1, simply because of the sheer number of titles. And these are NOT "advanced" books or somesuch with rules bloat. For the most part these are adventures, GM helpers like the NPC Codex, etc., i.e. things that help GM's start and run a Pathfinder game. Meanwhile, the 4E books are all player options books. Players don't drive your sales, DM's do.

I think the heart of it is this: stop making books for players and start making books for GM's. Adventures, adventures, adventures. Stop putting them on the website and start putting them in binding and battle Paizo for shelf-space. Don't make adventures this add-on afterthought to selling the core rules. Rather, make the core rules just a gateway into the purchase of adventures and modules.

NOTE: I don't buy adventures or modules. I have no care for them at all. As a player, I buy every player options book I can get my hands on. But the fact remains that I am in the vast minority (I think), and I am not one to be catered to. Ever. I'm niche at best.

Well, considering D&D has actually published anything new for quite a while, I don't find it amazing that Pathfinder outnumbers D&D at the local B&N. During most of 4e's run, my local B&N had far more 4e stuff than Pathfinder. And the whole reason we have lots of player focused splats is because there are more players than DMs, so selling to all of them is a potential larger market. As I understand it, the old AD&D style modules were either loss leaders or had razor thin profit margins by the time of 3e's release. It was one of the reasons for the original OGL, to offload a lot of the less cost effective adventure writing to smaller players so WOTC could produce glossy, high quality books for players to trick out their PC's with. And the strategy worked, at least initially. Until the Adventure Path model, largely perfected by Piazo, took hold and filled a gap.

But I agree that that business strategy is no longer the way to go: the market is changing and the pendulum is swinging back a little towards adventures and DM focused products. Ryan Dancy's 'network externalities' argument may apply here. However, one has to consider the size of WOTC, and the income & profits needed to sustain them. I doubt if they will allow D&D to ride on Magic's revenue coattails forever. It may be that they need more hardbacks to justify overhead, or they have to reduct size and have more layoffs ( queue evil mean WOTC thread here). DDI subscriptions seem to be one way they have/are trying to offset this cycle of revenue ups and downs, so it seems they are aware of the problem.
 

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Mercurius

Legend
I definitely understand this sentiment, but I'm really of two minds about it. If they are going to release fewer sourcebooks, the quality control definitely needs to be very high. With a frequent release schedule, if a title does not appeal enough it is a lot easier for me to skip that book and not feel too bad about it. On the other hand, if it going to be the only book of that type for a couple of months, that would far more disappointing for me. It's a hard call.

Just to clarify, in the OP I wasn't suggesting reducing the number of books published, but reducing the number of hardcovers to maybe one per season. As [MENTION=37579]Jester Canuck[/MENTION] implied, greater pleasure comes from delayed gratification. One really high quality 320-page book every three months is far more desirable than three mediocre 160-page books in that same span, that end up having about the same word-count.

Now maybe WotC has felt, in the past at least, that its better to sell say, 3 million $30 books than 1 million $40 books, but in actually not only will they sell more books if they create higher quality products, but it is more sustainable in the long-term to create higher quality products because it keeps the fan-base healthy.

So I would suggest one hardcover per quarter, plus other products - softcovers, box sets, modules, etc - sprinkled inbetween. You still want at least one new product coming out per month. But the point of the original post was to make hardcovers special again - longer, higher quality, and more meaningful. 4e really lost sight of this.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Supporter
The one thing I really don't want is a lot of 300+ page tomes. The PF Core Rulebook is horrible - as someone who needs to transport books some distance to the game, the PF core book is very close to coming apart. 300+ page books? Please, no.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
The one thing I really don't want is a lot of 300+ page tomes. The PF Core Rulebook is horrible - as someone who needs to transport books some distance to the game, the PF core book is very close to coming apart. 300+ page books? Please, no.

What about PHB? 3.5 and 4th ed both pass 300 pages.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Supporter
What about PHB? 3.5 and 4th ed both pass 300 pages.

After playing with a lot of the Essentials books and AD&D of late, I'm quite happy for the PHB to not be that big. :)

Having just one book at 320 pages isn't so bad (the binding is much less of an issue), but when you have a lot of them, it becomes problematic.

Cheers!
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
This is exactly what I said in another thread. If there are cool, smaller, creative splatbooks, great. I enjoy a lot of those out of Pathfinder and other 3PPs as well, but at the very least the core books should be fairly hefty.
 

This is exactly what I said in another thread. If there are cool, smaller, creative splatbooks, great. I enjoy a lot of those out of Pathfinder and other 3PPs as well, but at the very least the core books should be fairly hefty.

Just remember though, the bigger the core books are, the bigger the entry barrier to new players. Having to read (or at least thinking you have to read) a 300+ page rulebook to learn how to play the game would put quite a few people off giving it a go.
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
Just remember though, the bigger the core books are, the bigger the entry barrier to new players. Having to read (or at least thinking you have to read) a 300+ page rulebook to learn how to play the game would put quite a few people off giving it a go.

Honestly, I bought the books long after I knew how to play the game. I don't think I've ever actually seen anyone in a gaming store or a book store who went "Huh, what is this D&D thing? I think I'lll drop 40 bucks to find out!"
 

delericho

Legend
No, but the last time I introduced the game to a bunch of kids, they saw the (3.0e) core rulebooks, asked "do we need to read all of that?", and I watched the interest die in their eyes.

Whether you need to read it or not, the mere existence of those 300+ page rulebooks is a barrier.
 

delericho

Legend
Honestly, though, I think it would be a mistake for WotC to base their strategy on selling hardback books at all. We're still in the transition period, but electronic publishing is in the process of killing print and taking its stuff. And, as soon as you're unbound from using physical media, then when adding 'bits' to the game (that is, new feats, monsters, spells, etc), an electronic book is probably the worst way to present that information.
 

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