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D&D 5E D&D's Digital Future: Speculation on the future of product releases in the digital space

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
So, I was thinking to myself what the D&D team was referring to when they were talking about the future of the brand, specifically in the digital space. And then I was reminded of these snapshots, which emerged around a D&D survey a few months back;

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Whether or not these snapshots are accurate, just mockups, or an actual platform in development, I think they provide a good context for how TTRPGs have developed in the digital space, especially in a "pandemic-world."

Platforms like Roll20, D&D Beyond, and Fantasy Grounds have had a big jump in users in recent years, in part due to the growth in TTRPGs, but also due to more players choosing to play games remotely (we all know why). Not only have these platforms grown and formed licensing deals with big players like WotC, we've seen entirely new products like TaleSpire emerge (see image below).

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It's no surprise that WotC has been looking at all of this, and wants a bigger slice of the pie for themselves. The question is, are they planning on doing it all, or increasing their partnerships with other companies? WotC hasn't been shy about dumping partners in the past, but it's a big investment to create your own platform (seemingly from scratch).

But if the above images are at all credible, that seems exactly what WotC may be planning; to make an pretty robust digital platform, much in the vein of Roll20/TaleSpire, with the character creation of DND Beyond. With options for free play, a monthly subscription, and additional purchases for miscellaneous items, WotC may be trying to go after the whole space like an 800 pd gorilla.

If the platform is 3d (not 2d like Roll20), we could even see entire new modules released with digital maps for sale on this platform (much like how Roll20 sells modules). Imagine, a new module released as a book, but also released as a digital module for folks to buy and use the maps already fully populated with enemies, traps, and items. I'm sure a segment of players would absolutely go wild for it, if it was close to the quality of TaleSpire.

Now, this would be a pretty big project. Huge in fact. Could it be launched in time for the 2024 anniversary? I'm not sure myself, but I wouldn't be surprised if the WotC team is targeting that year for release of such a platform.

Speculate away! Is this good for the industry, bad, or even a likely outcome for the future?
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Speculate away! Is this good for the industry, bad, or even a likely outcome for the future?
I’m no Luddite, but the imagination has an unlimited budget, doesn’t require a subscription, and will never be locked behind micro-transactions. If/when the pandemic ends, many people will be in a rush to get back to their in-person games. VTTs and the like will still be around, but they’ll not be as dominant as they are now. The pictured product is WotC playing catch-up, but by the time they do, the market very hopefully will have moved on.

I see all this in the same way as mini and terrain collecting, a related but almost independent hobby. Focusing on the accessories rather than the game, if that makes sense. It’s neat and fun tangential hobby, I’ve done a fair bit of it myself over the years, but the core will always be the books, pencils, paper, dice, and the imagination.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I see all this in the same way as mini and terrain collecting, a related but almost independent hobby. Focusing on the accessories rather than the game, if that makes sense. It’s neat and fun tangential hobby, I’ve done a fair bit of it myself over the years, but the core will always be the books, pencils, paper, dice, and the imagination.

Well, WotC does sell minis and terrain. I'm not disagreeing the core is books and dice, but it does seem like WotC intends to move into this digital space, like they have for other D&D-adjacent products.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Well, WotC does sell minis and terrain. I'm not disagreeing the core is books and dice, but it does seem like WotC intends to move into this digital space, like they have for other D&D-adjacent products.
Well yeah. They sell a lot of accessories. I'm not saying they shouldn't. I just doubt the timing on this particular thing will pan out the way they hope.
 

Well, WotC does sell minis and terrain. I'm not disagreeing the core is books and dice, but it does seem like WotC intends to move into this digital space, like they have for other D&D-adjacent products.

The commercialism of some of those accessories bothers me as well. I'm not sure if I've just become more aware of the marketing for these products, or if they are actually making more boutique products to hit their profit goals. I'm talking about things like this:


It's minor, but the message is that by spending more money you will "enhance your game." Same with expensive minis. For digital tools, the promise is that setting up roll 20, getting a dnd beyond account, setting up a discord, cross referencing all your notes in obsidian portal or one note with images and digital handouts and the like will streamline prepping and running the game and thus make it better, when in reality it can easily just add a bunch of overhead, especially for DMs. Dnd is already a high prep game for a lot of people, and I'm not sure the 5e books are really so oriented toward mitigating that, including the published adventures.
 

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