D&D General D&D: One Brand, Multiple Games

Reynard

Legend
Oh like distinctively non D20 games with entirely different mechanical systems? Cause the D20/5E proliferation is intended to give the impression of different goals of play, but doesn't usually work out that way. So, it certainly isn't a way to achieve what you are looking for.

Thinking more on the question, I think for it to be possible, WOTC would have to articulate these different experiences and why folks would want them. Us hardcore forumites have a good grasp on this after spending decades discussing it, but the average gamer barely recognizes these differences. So, probably a critical role type media product for each line, distinctly different artwork, etc...
I'm mostly thinking things like "Why is WotC cedeing the narrative RPG genre to other companies when they could put out some specific D&D branded narrative game?" and the like. Again -- I think the answer is that it isn't worth the development costs for doing so, even if someone in the design department wanted to -- but I'm not approaching it from the perspective that this would ever happen. I am just musing about what different D&D branded RPGs might look like and what niches they might fill and markets they might serve that 5E doesn't.
 

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Jer

Legend
Supporter
You were talking about the proliferation of the system -- d20 and later 5E as a distinct system -- where I am talking about different D&D rpgs with different game systems to grab different markets and/or achieve different goals of play.
Ah - I think I finally grasp what you're asking.

Given that - I think it would probably be a bad idea. I think having D&D across multiple different games is fine but they need to be different types of games. There can be the dungeon crawler board games, and the war/conquest board games, and the D&D themed card games and those aren't going to confuse anyone. Because the board and card game market work that way. But you start putting out multiple different games branded as D&D with different systems and, because of how niche the RPG market already is and how identifiable D&D is as a brand associated with an RPG ruleset. Unlike a lot of other RPGs where the setting is more the "star" of the brand than the rules, for D&D the rules are the star of the show.

I think it could be done with other brands though. Brands that, unlike D&D, are more tied to a specific setting rather than to the actual underlying game. We see this to some extent in the RPG sphere already - Rifts comes in two flavors (original and Savage Worlds), Pathfinder comes in two flavors now (original and Savage Worlds), and Cubicle 7 made two flavors of Lord of the Rings RPGs (One Ring and AiME) and now their Doctor Who game (original and Doctors and Daleks). And of course there's the granddaddy of them all in this sphere - Cthulhu games. How many different Lovecraftian games are there for different play styles? So many Lovecraftian games for different playstyles. I don't think that's exactly what you're talking about, but maybe it's close? (Pathfinder is the odd one because it is associated more with a rule system than a setting, so maybe it's the closest an existing brand is to what you're thinking?)

So I don't think that D&D could follow that model, but perhaps they could put out and Eberron or a Forgotten Realms or other setting specific game that used different systems if they ever wanted to explore that side of things.
 

There are already bunch of players involve in older editions and they don’t need an official brand or approval.

new players will be attracted by a strong unified trend, and will want to rapidly play the full game, so lesser version will not become a lasting experience.

Optional Variant on popular features like feat and MC may create more frustration than help to introduce new players. Whim… why can’t we use feats?

They already make parallel product, but they won’t split the RPG.
 

Reynard

Legend
There are already bunch of players involve in older editions and they don’t need an official brand or approval.

new players will be attracted by a strong unified trend, and will want to rapidly play the full game, so lesser version will not become a lasting experience.

Optional Variant on popular features like feat and MC may create more frustration than help to introduce new players. Whim… why can’t we use feats?

They already make parallel product, but they won’t split the RPG.
For clarity, I'm not talking about lesser or basic or advanced variations.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
From what I've read, one of the issues back with TSR-era D&D was that they published a lot of different settings, so books that applied to them each had a very limited audience instead of the whole player base. So while creation, editing, art, layout costs stayed the same, and publishing costs increased from smaller print runs, each book also made less sales. This was not a winning combination financially.

The question then turns into, would the increase in interest in the brand be worth those increased costs for reduced profits. It seems it would take a good amount of "meta-brand" material that crosses the individual games. Movies, boardgames, tee-shirts and other swag, etc. Considering how they Wizards holds a dominate position there in an 800-lb gorilla sort of way, I don't see that fraction increases would expand the meta-brand enough to offset the other costs.

Could they do it? Sure. But it's being done by 3rd parties right now so fans have it, and not sure that it's profitable enough to do at Wizard's standards to bring in house just for an "Official" stamp.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I'm mostly thinking things like "Why is WotC cedeing the narrative RPG genre to other companies when they could put out some specific D&D branded narrative game?"
Oh -for that specific question I think I have two answers. The first is because Wizards has probably looked at the numbers and realizes that the amount they would have to spend to capture a part of that market with a different set of rules is never going to pay for their overhead or development costs, so let someone else do it. The RPG market is already not huge and is mostly owned by Dungeons and Dragons - the marginal increase in revenue that they might make by putting out a narrative game alongside D&D

The second is because they already have a large chunk of the narrative gamers - they have the ones who don't want to use a narrative system because they find it constricting (or even counter to their own narrative style) and prefer the freeform nature of using a traditional system to produce narrative results. You can find those folks on so many of the actual play podcasts and YouTube videos and Twitch streams and D&D 5e seems to fit a lot of their styles quite well. So they probably aren't even seeing a need to specifically target those kinds of players anyway. (I think if they were going to go that route they'd probably have more success building a version of D&D that goes heavy into the paint on the tactical combat side of things and maybe loosening the current version up even more than it already is).
 

Remathilis

Legend
I'm mostly thinking things like "Why is WotC cedeing the narrative RPG genre to other companies when they could put out some specific D&D branded narrative game?" and the like. Again -- I think the answer is that it isn't worth the development costs for doing so, even if someone in the design department wanted to -- but I'm not approaching it from the perspective that this would ever happen. I am just musing about what different D&D branded RPGs might look like and what niches they might fill and markets they might serve that 5E doesn't.
WotC right now is very much in the "do a few things really well" vs "do a lot of things mediocre" mode. They make the biggest RPG and CCG in the world. They could try to, say, complete with GW for the miniature skirmish ground (they have tried, and failed, multiple times to do so) or attempt to branch out in gaming beyond fantasy (such as Alternity/Gamma World/d20 Modern) but it almost feels like a distraction from their bread and butter: D&D books and MTG cards. The only thing they see a future in is digital, but again its branching out their core components (D&D Beyond, MTG Arena) rather than spreading out into new things.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
I do think there is room for two more products in the line that both use D&D lore IP but aren't specifically called D&D (to reduce confusion).

A Fate style super rules light version
A 4e style highly tactical, crunchy version

If the D&D movies and TV shows take off, it could make sense to increase the product line to take advantage of the IP with a broader set of games that appeal to more people.
 

grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
What is the payoff for introducing all these other lines of 'D&D'? Iterative changes concurrently released cannibalize your player base. What customer base are you tapping into? It is the equivalent of searching for crumbs in the corners of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Maybe after 50 years of D&D 5E it will go the way of Monopoly and Clue, but I don't see Hasbro bothering to release competing editions. DMs Guild and OGL can cover the iterative design market.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
@grimslade not sure if you were responding to me, but in the case of using D&D IP to create a rules light version that appeals to players who find 5e to crunchy and highly tactical version for those who find 5e to lite, seems like there is space to leverage the IP to bring in more potential players.
 

grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
@grimslade not sure if you were responding to me, but in the case of using D&D IP to create a rules light version that appeals to players who find 5e to crunchy and highly tactical version for those who find 5e to lite, seems like there is space to leverage the IP to bring in more potential players.
I would love for 5E to become a much more modular and elaborate system. I think it is a solid system and could handle some extrapolation. What I don't see is a lot of enthusiasm from WotC to do this. From the timid UA feedback loop and the lack of experimentation in the core D&D game, most innovations have come from leveraging the much more popular IP of MtG to match the planeswalkers universe. ENW Level Up is trying to fill this niche and does a good job. Why don't we see any UA with these innovations from WotC? You can't say it hasn't occurred to them.
 

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