D&D 5E Could D&D Die Again?

Hasbro can go bankrupt. It probably would not end the hobby as people can now make retroclones.

For the hobby to die out, all existing players have to die out and none join. Given there are players in their teens I'd say the game is likely to persist through the end of the 21st century. Frankly, given that all you really need is books, dice, and paper (the earliest rules even use six-sided dice only), it might even survive catastrophic social collapse as the survivors would likely have some leisure time eventually, and collective storyteling has a history in preindustrial cultures.
 

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Shadowdweller00

Adventurer
I don't know about dying, but I could quite easily see Hasbro/WotC putting the wrong people in charge of design decisions regarding the next edition and alienating vast numbers of fans. I remain skeptical that enough of them learned the right lessons from 4e as is.
 

Clint_L

Hero
Okay, so we are defining "die" as "the publisher experiences a sales contraction leading to business problems."

Sure. It's inevitable. But that's a pretty weak definition of "death." The OP refers to three times this happened. I doubt any of them actually came close to literally killing the game, as even by the mid-80s, when TSR first almost went bankrupt, it had achieved a massive cultural footprint. Someone would have purchased it and kept the IP going.

The other thing to remember was that D&D still had strong sales at that time, though growth had greatly declined. But Gygax and the Blumes were terrible at business.

I presume the second time was when TSR went bankrupt, but again this was due to terrible mismanagement and they still were selling lots of product. If WotC hadn't bought them, someone else would have eventually.

In both cases lots of us kept playing the game right through the turmoil at the publication level.

I don't know what the third time was supposed to be. 4e? 4e was a failure but it didn't come close to killing D&D. If anything, it just led to the creation of a new D&D variant, Pathfinder, as well as D&D's most popular version yet, 5e.

D&D has been incredibly resilient. Because it is a fantastic idea. If it was ever going to die, it would have been in the early-mid 70s when it was still largely a word of mouth phenomenon. But since the 80s it's been to big to die.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Okay, so we are defining "die" as "the publisher experiences a sales contraction leading to business problems."

Sure. It's inevitable. But that's a pretty weak definition of "death." The OP refers to three times this happened. I doubt any of them actually came close to literally killing the game, as even by the mid-80s, when TSR first almost went bankrupt, it had achieved a massive cultural footprint. Someone would have purchased it and kept the IP going.

The other thing to remember was that D&D still had strong sales at that time, though growth had greatly declined. But Gygax and the Blumes were terrible at business.

I presume the second time was when TSR went bankrupt, but again this was due to terrible mismanagement and they still were selling lots of product. If WotC hadn't bought them, someone else would have eventually.

In both cases lots of us kept playing the game right through the turmoil at the publication level.

I don't know what the third time was supposed to be. 4e? 4e was a failure but it didn't come close to killing D&D. If anything, it just led to the creation of a new D&D variant, Pathfinder, as well as D&D's most popular version yet, 5e.

D&D has been incredibly resilient. Because it is a fantastic idea. If it was ever going to die, it would have been in the early-mid 70s when it was still largely a word of mouth phenomenon. But since the 80s it's been to big to die.

1st time was the 70's and Blooms bailed it out.

Basically "die" is WotC getting itself into financial trouble and either D&D gets bought out or requires a bail out.

Basically another company ends up with it. Or WotC D&D goes out of print.

Not talking about clones and OGL "D&D'".
 


Art Waring

halozix.com
I think I have mentioned this in other threads a little, but d&d, and ttrpg's as a whole have evolved far beyond their wargaming roots to become something more than just the brand or the "lifestyle" trend going on.

ttrpg's are played in prison, where dice aren't allowed, but they still make their own out of paper templates. Inmates from all walks of life that would never come together in prison normally, now cooperate together as a team.

Its played in person, on the internet, youtube, and on PbP message boards like this forum.

It is being studied for its potential for use as a mechanism, for therapy in psychology circles.

Soon as they find an astronaut that is a ttrpg fan, they might even run a game in space, that would be quite a moment for ttrpgs. With commercial flights into high orbit now accessible to the wealthy, who knows what the future holds?
 



Clint_L

Hero
1st time was the 70's and Blooms bailed it out.

Basically "die" is WotC getting itself into financial trouble and either D&D gets bought out or requires a bail out.

Basically another company ends up with it. Or WotC D&D goes out of print.

Not talking about clones and OGL "D&D'".
Okay, so not "die" in any reasonable sense of the word "die," since that's not what you are talking about at all. Setting the clickbait title aside then, the real question is whether D&D might come under new ownership. Probably, eventually. At this point it is a highly coveted IP, very much like Lucasfilms or Marvel, and it is not a stretch to imagine a bigger corporation than Hasbro wanting to get their hands on it. It's year-to-year sales are almost incidental; in fact, if it has some off years that will probably make it more of an acquisition target since it will become a better deal and the IP will be the real treasure.

If you look at the history of D&D, it is very much a history of the game being consistently acquired by larger and larger corporate entities. You don't think someone like Disney would be interested in this property? Their Pixar division already released an unofficial D&D movie.
 


mamba

Hero
You figure that the majority of gamers out there are buying the new book every time it comes out to use? The sales certainly don't support that idea. The current player base is measured in the millions, but, I really don't think that WotC is banging out millions of copies of every single book they publish. Hundreds of thousands, maybe, but many millions? That would put them in Harry Potter level book sales.
Given that they release several adventures per year and it probably takes anywhere from 6 to 12 months to run a campaign, you do not really need to buy every one, even when all you do play are official adventures.

Add to that that only the DM needs to buy it while there then probably are on average 5 people using it (incl. the DM), which brings the number of sales down further.

So you basically have 10% of the player base buying an adventure, maybe, certainly nowhere close to all.

And that ignores that about half of players / DMs play homebrew and the other half might not limit themselves to WotC offers. So at that point you are really more in the 4-5% range.

Since WotC does not publish sales figures, we won't know how much they sold, but that range is a lot more realistic than your 'there are millions of players' baseline.
 

Given that they release several adventures per year and it probably takes anywhere from 6 to 12 months to run a campaign, you do not really need to buy every one, even when all you do play are official adventures.

Add to that that only the DM needs to buy it while there then probably are on average 5 people using it (incl. the DM), which brings the number of sales down further.

So you basically have 10% of the player base buying an adventure, maybe, certainly nowhere close to all.

And that ignores that about half of players / DMs play homebrew and the other half might not limit themselves to WotC offers. So at that point you are really more in the 4-5% range.

Since WotC does not publish sales figures, we won't know how much they sold, but that range is a lot more realistic than your 'there are millions of players' baseline.
small game store examples I have seen antidotally support this .
 

Emrico

Adventurer
i've played that boardgame
(bonupoints i bet more then 1 of you 'know' that game and it wont all be the same on)

Avalon Hill Civilization? 🤣🤣

I remember a complete debacle of a game day years ago. Friend's wife (she HATED gaming and his gamer friends) was going to be gone from Saturday morning til Sunday afternoon. So he planned and invited our group of 8 or 10 players over for a game of Civ. Everyone arrives about 10am. Get everything set up and get the game going. Just as it's starting to move along nicely and everyone is into it, about 3pm, his wife comes home as plans were canceled and kicks everyone out.

We never let him schedule any games at his place ever again.
 


Hussar

Legend
Given that they release several adventures per year and it probably takes anywhere from 6 to 12 months to run a campaign, you do not really need to buy every one, even when all you do play are official adventures.

Add to that that only the DM needs to buy it while there then probably are on average 5 people using it (incl. the DM), which brings the number of sales down further.

So you basically have 10% of the player base buying an adventure, maybe, certainly nowhere close to all.

And that ignores that about half of players / DMs play homebrew and the other half might not limit themselves to WotC offers. So at that point you are really more in the 4-5% range.

Since WotC does not publish sales figures, we won't know how much they sold, but that range is a lot more realistic than your 'there are millions of players' baseline.

I agree with everything you just said. I’m not sure, are you disagreeing with me somehow?
 



Hero Quest has been dead for decades, and now it is enjoying a second life. I wonder if this has been possible because somebody got the idea reading in this forum.

The "death" of D&D now in its best time would be very strange, but maybe if:

- The prestige of the company is damaged by some scandal, for example a CEO was selling energon to the decepticons.

-
The prestige of the brand damaged because it was not enoughly ideologically neutral.

- Loss of competitiveness. The players would rather to buy 3PPs because with the same money they get more lore and crunch. Or the players aren't interested into too many feats, subclasses, spells, magic items..or about lore could be read in the fandom wiki.

- Some horrible action by "rotten apples" destroying the prestige of the rest of the players. But here Hasbro could hire people to explain TTRPGs can be very good to learn social skills and other things.

- Failures to explain the reasons of the last reboot of the D&D multiverse after some special event.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The sooner that happens, the sooner the game becomes driven by the gamers instead of the stock holders.

This would come of better if you had any evidence that stockholder feedback has had any direct impact on game design. Game design is driven by desire for profit, sure, but not by "stockholders".

We'll say what goes on at table without some new "product" contradicting us.

Given how many people here have successful homebrew campaigns that deviate from published rules in innumerable ways, it seems to me this is less a reality, and more a rhetorical boogeyman targeting fear of loss of control

No longer will professional designers tell us how to run our games.

They don't, and haven't.

We can mold new players into our ways of playing without mainstream culture polluting their mindsets.

"We can mold our new players into OUR ways..."

You realize that sounds about as insidious as corporate control, don't you?

Shouldn't the ideal be allowing players to find their own fun, without anyone "molding" them at all?
 


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