D&D 5E Could D&D Die Again?


As the title says. D&D has almost died 3 times but could it happen a 4th time?

For purposes if this question I'm going to ignore events that are highly unlikely and would really mess things up. This means WW3, Supervolcanoes, great depression etc basically things completely beyond WotC control. Could they botch things that badly purely on their own merits?

Also an edition flopping by itself won't kill D&D. Nor am I talking about no more D&D ever but something similar to the other near collapses/TSR going under.

So in what somewhat plausible scenario could D&D die again?

Here's my scenario.

1. The D&D movie flops (for whatever reason). A flop here means it loses money roughly speaking it needs to make around double it's production+marketing costs not if it makes hundreds of millions of box office or the quality of the movie or if you liked it. $200 million box office could still be a flop. Does the movie make money yes/no is the only criteria.

2. One D&D flops for whatever reason. Bit harder to know but if it's 4E 2.0 and it goes out of print in a few years it's probably a flop.

3. Hasbro/WotC themselves get into trouble due to whatever reasons. This means no MtG money to bail out D&D.

So that's roughly the scenario that's somewhat plausible.

This is not a prediction, projection, want desire etc.

Why plausible? For those of you who don't know is Magic is not in the best condition right now and Hasbros stock price is falling.

Due to various decisions made by WotC there's a lot of angry MtG players out there. It's probably worse than 4E comparatively. Espicially to WotC bottom line.

There's also multiple reasons but overprinting sets, to much product and to expensive with deluxe products aimed at whales seems to be big issues.

How bad is it? They're dumping MtG product for sale on Amazon cheaper than distributors can get it. And they're asking people why they're no longer playing standard. And Bank of America has commented on what's happening. How it plays out in the future no idea.

And that's basically how D&D could tank again a simultaneous collapse of D&D and MtG. Probably won't happen but it's a somewhat plausible scenario.

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Sales in the relatively near future will stabilize, if they haven't already. But die? I don't see it happening any time soon. The future is hard to predict, especially when it hasn't happened yet, but HASBRO is still hoping that D&D is the golden multi-media movie/game goose.

I mean, worst case they decide to sell it off and Elon Musk buys it. :eek:


Sales in the relatively near future will stabilize, if they haven't already. But die? I don't see it happening any time soon. The future is hard to predict, especially when it hasn't happened yet, but HASBRO is still hoping that D&D is the golden multi-media movie/game goose.

I mean, worst case they decide to sell it off and Elon Musk buys it. :eek:

WorC is better run than TSR and they've course corrected before.

Seems they're doubling down on thetG side of things in 2023.


CR 1/8
Less popular doesn't been crash and burn though which is what I'm outlining.
Ah, okay.. So what you're getting at are cases where the business itself collapses for some reasons and stops putting out content and other support, more or less independent of what fans are doing?


Ah, okay.. So what you're getting at are cases where the business itself collapses for some reasons and stops putting out content and other support, more or less independent of what fans are doing?

Yes either they go bust again like TSR or require a bailout like TSR with the Blooms and Lorraine.

Not D&D goes broke never to be printed again. Doesn't include fan stuff and non WotC D&D's.

Some of the symptoms going on with MtG seem to echo TSR. What I mean by that is the over production of product. As long as D&D stays the course with their current release schedule I don't see an issue. But if they start pushing products out so fast customers can't keep up? Then yeah it'll start bleeding out.


Well, not take anything away from WOTC and the team there, but a lot of 5e's success seems to be timing and pop culture zeitgeist due to things like Critical Role, Stranger Things, etc. It can be argued that even the pandemic helped 5e in some ways. Don't get me wrong, 5e laid the framework to be successful, and was smart enough not to shoot itself in the foot, but I think the run-away success it has enjoyed has been beyond their control.

As to almost dying, I think it could happen. As others have said, fads tend to come and go, and I see D&D 'going' in another couple of years (if it hasn't started already). Combine that with some not great business decisions on WOTC/Hasbro's part (or even failing to read their market correctly, maybe even in a non-D&D division), and I can see it happening.


D&D as a brand may sink into a deeper niche again, but it's about as likely to die out as Marvel or DC or Star Wars. RPGs have had a much bigger impact on culture than most people realize, and the medium isn't likely to die. People still play chess, a game whose origin can be traced to back around 1,500 years ago.

Ennh.. I think for D&D to truly die, one of three things would need to happen:
  1. The TTRPG hobby needs to die,
  2. They do something with the IP to make it radioactive (likely would have to be deeply and irredemably offensive), or
  3. The economics of game publishing change such that it is so unprofitable as to be actively harmful to produce at any level of demand.
1 seems possible but somewhat unlikely given the relative uniqueness of the experience provided.

2 is also possible but given how much offensive D&D content already exists, it'd take an impressive level of offensiveness to accomplish.

I don't really have the background to comment on 3.

Most of the company-related stuff I would expect to wash out as either they get their stuff under control or they sell off assets. As long as the D&D IP has value as an asset, it'll get produced somehow by someone.

Nothing that is shall last forever.

D&D in particular is really multiple products created by multiple creative teams that succeeded to varying degrees multiple times relying on brand strength and some degree of underlying strength in the product. It's as if rather than forsaking New Coke, Coca-Cola had continued with it, then replaced it with a succession of Newer Cokes, (X-Treme Coke, Coke Millennium, iCoke, 2 Coke 2 Cola, etc). This sort of business model seems almost certain to fluctuate between highly successful products that retain existing customers while also bringing in new ones, products that get mixed consumer responses, and absolute fiascos. But the point is that a business model that involves abandoning even a flagship product that is still wildly popular in favor of rolling the die on a new similar product branded as a new edition of the same product is an inherently unstable business, and sooner or later it's going to roll a nat 1.

Which is why I think OneD&D is a brilliant business idea in theory, and a terrible one as it is being executed. In its core formulation it is a revision of 5e to make it into a forever edition. This is not realistic (nothing lasts forever) but a narrow, targetted revision of the core product line to make it closer to a forever product and put off a completely new "edition" (ie: replacement product with D&D branding) as long as possible is a move towards a lot better business to be in long-term. However the playtests are not proposing targetted revisions, they are proposing "arbitrarily change just enough to make everyone has to buy a new PHB to play at a 5.5 table, and do it while the customer base is largest" changes. I'm sure this is exciting for the designers, who get to try a lot of cool ideas, and will lead to a larger short term gain in sales of new core books. I'm sure that will work out well for the suits making power point presentations about how OneD&D will integrate product lines and synergize and whatever, who will all have moved on to other positions, if not other companies, by time 5.5 turns out to be a mild flop, which instead of prolonging the 5e line of products hastens its need for further revision or an actual new D&D and all the risks that entails. Basically I think it's a good business move at the core, which is probably going to be executed terribly due to the muddled interests of various individuals in a corporate environment to advance their own careers, pursue their own creative visions, and/or be able to give a good pitch to executives or stockholders.


All we really need is for RPGs to go back to being something to feel ashamed of, the brunt of jokes and something you would never bring up in casual conversation. As an 80s kid, I am still shocked when younger people just randomly bring up D&D and ask others if they play. For D&D to fail it needs to get back in the closet.

I see this scenario making that happen:
  • the D&D movie is enough of a success to give WOTC a bit too much hope
  • WOTC then try to make D&D cool and trendy. Trying to Marvelise it.
  • In doing so, they abandon their base, but make something terribly cringy, alienating mainstream interests in the process.


B/X Known World
I’m counting one time D&D almost died. That was when TSR went under. Not sure about the other two times. 4E wasn’t one as it was still the #1 and for a time #2 selling RPG in the world.

Every fad fades. Even D&D. If Hasbro is smart they won’t bank on the extreme popularity of D&D lasting forever. As with most entertainment right now, D&D and MtG are taking hits because people are not isolating and are going back to the office. They kept producing mid-pandemic levels of product when the pandemic is ending.


I think 'death' is just not possible at this point.


I reckon D&D is pretty safe, actually.

I don't think WotC/Hasbro are likely to be on the hook if the D&D movie loses money. They'd have licenced the IP to a studio, who invested in a production company, and the company would have borrowed against the expected returns of the film. Maybe WotC could be in line for royalties/bonuses whatever if the movie does well, but there's no way they'd be exposed to any losses. That's why you have LLCs.

MtGs issues are certainly a problem for WotC, but not so much for D&D. Absolute worst case for MtG, everyone stops buying it completely, and WotC goes broke. Which certainly isn't a good thing - but then there'd be an asset sale, and D&D is still doing well, so its rights and IP still have value. Someone else would buy it (and no, Justin LaNasa couldn't afford it!) And you don't buy something like that unless you intend to use it. The absolute worst case I could think of here is that maybe it gets bought out by a computer games company - EA or someone - for the IP, with the RPG a distant second priority, like what happened to White Wolf back in the day. But I don't even think that's likely. D&Ds ttrpg revenues VASTLY outweigh D&D computer game revenues over the past decade or so. Why kill a goose that lays the golden egg?

And if ABSOLUTELY everything goes wrong, maybe WotC does a Lorraine Williams and borrow against the D&D IP to prop up the other failing lines, but does so in such a way that in the case of default the IP is split between different lenders who for some moronic reason refuse against their own best interests to cooperate in unifying it and selling it off so there's no way for any single entity to own and publish official D&D ever again - there's still the OGL. Someone would do a Pathfinder on 5e on day 1, and that's even assuming that something that already exists, like A5E, didn't become the community standard.

D&D ain't going anywhere.

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