Digital Only Edition

Digital Subscription Based Perfect D&D. You in?

  • Yes.

    Votes: 17 14.8%
  • No.

    Votes: 95 82.6%
  • I'm special. Let me tell you how.

    Votes: 3 2.6%

WarDriveWorley

Adventurer
I voted no for a few specific reasons.

I enjoy online access and PDFs because they can make searches easier, but they also can bog down a game if there's slow wifi/internet or the site is experiencing issues. Paper books don't have that issue.

Also one of my players is mostly blind and has issues seeing electronic screens. If I went to purely digital I would alienate a friend and player that I enjoy gaming around.

Some of my players are technology adjacent. They know just enough about tech to get by with their daily lives, but can get frustrated with new tech. Not saying they couldn't adapt, but it presents an additional hurdle to them enjoying the game.

So while I do like and enjoy online access as an additional tool, I don't think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks of having it as the de facto rules source.
 

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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I feel like the extra money they'll drain out of you over a one-time book or ebook purchase compounded by the inevitable difficulty of cancelation plus the encouraging of moving things you actually do care about to a Pay Forever model will be something that matters to you.
Not really. I've paid a subscription to Blizzard for World of Warcraft for probably 75% of the game's existence. Hasn't bothered me. $15 a month is doable for my situation, but granted, I recognize the privilege I have to be able to say that. I know not everyone can, and I do not begrudge anyone for not wanting D&D to go in that direction. And as far as the difficulty of cancelling? I don't know what kinds of subscriptions other people are signed up for, but I can cancel my WoW subscription, Star Wars: The Old Republic subscription, my Patreon subscriptions, my Norton 360 subscription, my Poland Spring water subscription etc. all very easily. The days of joining a gym with a monthly subscription plan and then forgetting about it for months on end even though we don't go to the gym anymore are long since past.

Now truth be told, I don't want D&D to go the complete subscription either necessarily, because like I said, I prefer to play in person. But I shelled out the $6 a month for D&D Insider when I was playing 4E because the online Dungeon Magazine, Dragon Magazine, Character Builder, and Monster Builder were so worth it for the money in my opinion. And if a 6E that was my creme de la creme of game arrived via subscription... I would not dismiss the idea out of hand. I honestly do not know what I'd do, but it's not something that's keeping me up at night either.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
As an example, the last version of D&D that I played, not counting Pathfinder (D&D 3.75) was 3.0/3.5 and that had about a seven-year life span. Fifth edition is already there and will surpass the longevity of 3.x. That's a long time to be forking out a monthly subscription fee, especially considering that if some life altering event happens (not uncommon for many people) and your income changes you lose access to your game. I still have the rules for 3.5 and tons of Pathfinder 1e material in physical format so as long as I have players I have all I need to run a game. A subscription model destroys that. Couple that with the fact that some people, like myself, stop buying adventures, rules and supplements after a while because it just becomes more than I will ever use. If you think it is a working model for you then that's fine but there are far more drawbacks, as near as I can tell, than upsides (unless you are the company selling the subscription).
I've paid for World of Warcraft for probably 14 of its 18 years of existence and it hasn't bothered me a bit. And if/when WoW stops being a thing and the game servers shut down... I will consider the $15 I spent each month to play it to be more than worth the cash, even if I now have nothing physical to "show" for it.

I certainly understand why some people don't want to consider a possible D&D as like the same thing as going to an arcade, a movie theater, a bowling alley, or a casino-- where you outlay a bit of money and have an enjoyable experience for a certain amount of time but don't come away with anything tactile when you're through-- but I myself don't have any problem with it. My game closet is full of physical product that I've never even opened up in like 10/15/20 years... so I might as well not even own it. So what's truly the difference between that and "losing" a book once a subscription ends and the server housing it gets shut down? None so far as I can see.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I don't know what kinds of subscriptions other people are signed up for, but I can cancel my WoW subscription, Star Wars: The Old Republic subscription, my Patreon subscriptions, my Norton 360 subscription, my Poland Spring water subscription etc. all very easily.
You know the cancellation problem is actually so bad people are pushing for legislation, right?

The ability to trap people into subscriptions is largely the point of most subscriptions.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
You know the cancellation problem is actually so bad people are pushing for legislation, right?

The ability to trap people into subscriptions is largely the point of most subscriptions.
I am unconcerned with other people's issues with subscriptions. If people were unable to figure out how to work the Columbia Record and Tape Club back in the 80s to get first-run music at a greater discount than the local record store... that's on them.

If you don't do subscriptions because you're looking out for the little guy, that's lovely. But I'm not you.
 





Hex08

Adventurer
My game closet is full of physical product that I've never even opened up in like 10/15/20 years... so I might as well not even own it. So what's truly the difference between that and "losing" a book once a subscription ends and the server housing it gets shut down? None so far as I can see.
The difference is that at any time in the future you could look in that closet and decide that you want to read and possibly play the game you bought (or sell it, donate it or burn it). Since you own it nothing is stopping you. Whereas, if I feel like I don't need any more content for an RPG (because many, especially the big ones, end up with a lot of bloat) and am happy with the amount of the product I currently have I still have to pay to play if the RPG is subscription based. Also, I will never have that game in my closet to dig through and find and finally give it a shot (which I have done) if a new edition comes out and support for the old stops or a server is shut down.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
The difference is that at any time in the future you could look in that closet and decide that you want to read and possibly play the game you bought (or sell it or donate it). Since you own it nothing is stopping you. Whereas, if I feel like I don't need any more content for an RPG (because many, especially the big ones, end up with a lot of bloat) and am happy with the amount of the product I currently have I still have to pay to play. And I will never have that closet to dig through and find and old game I never tried and finally give it a shot (which I have done) if a new edition comes out and support for the old stops or a server is shut down.
If that ever actually happened to me, then maybe I'd go along with your point. But in fact... I've gotten rid of older games and books that I never played anymore (like all my AD&D and 2E books) and have not once ever regretted not owning them anymore. And I have a whole bunch of game books that I've purchased (either through Kickstarter or on a whim at a con) that the most interaction I've had with them was maybe spending an hour or two when I first got it flipping through it... but again have never touched it since. So what good has it been to have these physical copies in my closet? Heck... it's no different than me having bought Blu-Rays discs of movies I thought I wanted bunches of years ago, but then never actually once watched them a single time because I've been too busy watching other stuff on the subscription services like Netflix and Disney+ that I pay for every month.

So this idea that needing a physical copy of something to actually put on your shelf is I'm absolutely sure important to a lot of you... but I'm not that guy. If I'm not going to use it... I don't need it.
 

Hex08

Adventurer
If that ever actually happened to me, then maybe I'd go along with your point. But in fact... I've gotten rid of older games and books that I never played anymore (like all my AD&D and 2E books) and have not once ever regretted not owning them anymore. And I have a whole bunch of game books that I've purchased (either through Kickstarter or on a whim at a con) that the most interaction I've had with them was maybe spending an hour or two when I first got it flipping through it... but again have never touched it since. So what good has it been to have these physical copies in my closet? Heck... it's no different than me having bought Blu-Rays discs of movies I thought I wanted bunches of years ago, but then never actually once watched them a single time because I've been too busy watching other stuff on the subscription services like Netflix and Disney+ that I pay for every month.

So this idea that needing a physical copy of something to actually put on your shelf is I'm absolutely sure important to a lot of you... but I'm not that guy. If I'm not going to use it... I don't need it.
All I can say is that if subscription based is fine for you then cool. However, you did ask what the difference was so I gave examples. Whether or not they are relevant to you is your decision (and that's fine) but the differences still exist.
 
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Ystraeth

Villager
They're going to be on their phones anyway, let's face it.

Not in our games. We have a "no-devices" rule, and it works wonders for game quality. Phones can be used for an emergency of course or people can step out to take a call, but 'being on your phones' is not something we do at our face to face table.
 


Ystraeth

Villager
On the topic of a subscription model. Um, hell no?

I require actual books for one - I'd give up gaming entirely if online only was my sole option. I also have no need of battlemaps/VTTs, and refuse to rent RPG content anyway.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I'm another that's fine with digital, but a subscription is a hard no. I prefer to actually own things, and I DO regret getting rid of my 2e books.

PDFs are great when they're searchable, and they can help locate some information quickly. But that's on my desktop; a PDF on the phone or tablet just isn't a fast way to locate date. It certainly isn't as fast as flipping through a book, anyway.

I also don't play online and deeply disliked almost all aspects of doing so when I had to a couple of years ago (the fog of war function on the VTT was the only thing I liked about the experience). I'd frankly rather just not play than be forced to play online - and that's before we even get into the whole "D&D while camping" angle.
 
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I don't have any physical books for 5E myself (my players/fellow DMs do though), everything is on Beyond. Which I fully expect to vanish one day, taking my books with it (I'm sure some kind soul will have uploaded them to the internets by then though).

I think a lot of people are knee-jerk rejecting the subscription, and whilst I get it, the main way I accessed 4E was by subscription to the DDI, and because the price was reasonable, I actually found it pretty great. People talk about outages and computers failing and so on, but we played with the DDI for rules for years at various people's houses and that was never once a problem. I don't think it was ever down for a significant period.

As for "D&D whilst camping", what, you're hauling a PHB, DMG and MM, at a dead minimum, with you in your backpack when you're camping? And dice, and character sheets to get damp and bent and maybe if things get really exciting, catch fire? God help us if you use minis or battlemaps!

Pull the other one mate, it's got bells on!

If you're glamping or car-camping you've likely got power and signal and thus could use digital. Though I admit in America is easier to get outside signal coverage entirely.

But realistically I simply wouldn't take D&D camping. I'd take an RPG that was appropriate for that, like, y'know, Dungeon World. All the fun of D&D, more accessible than even 5E, weighs maybe 1/10th as much, takes up about 1/10th as much space, and doesn't need anywhere near as much in the way of dice, and is pure TotM.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Hypothetical: the perfect edition of D&D for you comes out, but is only available in a subscription based, digital only format (you can't print out PDFs and you even use a digital device for your character sheet). Assuming again that it is otherwise everything you want in an edition of D&D, and assuming the price isn't prohibitive for you, would you be in?
Oof. So apart from being digital only it’s perfectly tailored to my tastes? I want to say I would hand-copy it into paper form if I had to, but I think it’s clear that goes against the spirit of the question. I guess I would bite that bullet, but I’d be pretty grouchy about it.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I run a fair amount of stuff digitally when I can, but I don't want to be locked into it nor have to deal with an online subscription to get it (or lose it if the sub ends). I'll go with a subscription for value that subscription adds. Maybe that's convenience for some situations, maybe it's a character builder/tracker, whatever. But I have too many varied preferences for when and how I'm using the content under varying circumstances to want to be locked into one mode and that may include playing without a wifi internet connection or when my iPad's battery has pooped out.
 

Tom Bagwell

Explorer
This is actually where I am currently. I've been running for two years, and I've only purchased books via D&D Beyond. I just find it incredibly convenient for a variety of reasons. If I just want to read it, I have the books I need on my tablet.
 

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