WotC Guessing as to WotC's VTT plans

Zardnaar

Legend
That's true.

But if I am planning on finally leveraging the D&D Brand to make World of Warcraft money, I need to sell subscriptions to not just DMs, but players, too.

They want to bill every member of every gaming group monthly. Make no mistake, that's the plan.

MMO money. That's the goal. It always should have been, to be perfectly honest. I know that may be a dirty idea here, but if I own the D&D brand? I'd be demanding to know why these other companies are taking what should always have been my money.

Properly exploited, the D&D Brand should make money at a scale which makes M:TG look like its poor cousin. This has been true for 20+ years.

AAA titles these days are in the 100-200+million dollar range.

WotC doesn't really do software well and has cheap out in outsourcing.

No one's gonna pay big money to license D&D vs their own IP.
 

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Hussar

Legend
Still not AAA budget.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey which I play had 7 studios working in it at once took around 2 years iirc 100 million.

Throwing money at something doesn't make it AAA you have to also make a smash hit.
Why would you compare this to a AAA video game though? This is not a video game. It's nothing like a video game. There are no cut-scenes. There are no stories. There are no actual play mechanics. This is no more a video game than Microsoft Word is a video game.

AAA video games require that kind of investment for lots of reasons - voice actors, story boarding and writing, on and on and on. This is a glorified chat program. That's it. There's nothing here that is even remotely close to a AAA game.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Why would you compare this to a AAA video game though? This is not a video game. It's nothing like a video game. There are no cut-scenes. There are no stories. There are no actual play mechanics. This is no more a video game than Microsoft Word is a video game.

AAA video games require that kind of investment for lots of reasons - voice actors, story boarding and writing, on and on and on. This is a glorified chat program. That's it. There's nothing here that is even remotely close to a AAA game.

Previous poster mentioned AAA game context the 350 staff. That's more than when TSR peaked.
 

Hussar

Legend
To be honest, I'm not exactly sure how you need that many people, but, fair enough. I'm not a programmer, so, I'll let them get on with it. But, again, all these comparisons are just baffling. MMO's and whatnot. This is not a video game. It's just not. It's far closer to a chat program married to an art program. That7s it.
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
To be honest, I'm not exactly sure how you need that many people, but, fair enough. I'm not a programmer, so, I'll let them get on with it. But, again, all these comparisons are just baffling. MMO's and whatnot. This is not a video game. It's just not. It's far closer to a chat program married to an art program. That7s it.
I have severe doubts that there is anywhere near that number of people hired for this gig. I expect a rationalization of who is paying many existing employees and a relcassifcation of which "division" is paying them within Hasbro is the real culprit here.

350 would be a LOT for even the largest, most epic, Triple A title. That's more than Blizzard devotes to its dev team. I don't believe that number to be a true representation of the VTT team. At all.

That said, a 3D VTT, with advanced lighting, particle emitters and significant animations for spells, not to mention auto-resolution of a vast number of attacks goes WAY beyond a "chat program" or "art program". You are letting the Fantasy Grounds experience blind you to what's possible., (Even Foundry VTT goes way beyond FG now) . So yes, in terms of the asset creation, it certainly does look like a video game. You are off base here.
 
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350 would be a LOT for even the largest, most epic, Triple A title. That's more than Blizzard devotes to its dev team. I don't believe that number to be a true representation of the VTT team. At all.
AAA video games can have more than 1000 people working on them. But 350 seems like way too many for a VTT in 3d. For comparison, Tactical Adventures, who made Solasta: Crown of the Magister, has got 30 employees. Visually, Solasta isn't that far off from what I imagine a 3D VTT will be.
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
AAA video games can have more than 1000 people working on them. But 350 seems like way too many for a VTT in 3d. For comparison, Tactical Adventures, who made Solasta: Crown of the Magister, has got 30 employees. Visually, Solasta isn't that far off from what I imagine a 3D VTT will be.
No. They don't. Most run at 50-70 at any one point in time, with various teams being rolled in and out of active production depending on the productions stage. Some massive titles can go to 3 times that at peak staffing.

There is no Triple AAA game that has had 350 employees on site simultaneously engaged in active development on the same title. That's not how the business of game development works.
 

darjr

I crit!
OK here’s my guess.

The D&D virtual weekends are going to push hard for folks to use it. This is the real “get players to buy something” bit. The D&D virtual weekends will be extended to 24/7 and funnel players to WotCs vtt by DM incentives and then have things players can buy, like bits of rules from existing books or fancy dice or fancy “skins”.

They will continue to have a free tier and some sort of sharing so a DM can run purchased content for their players.

Finally, and this I can’t go into much detail, they’ll have third party content. I suspect this was the basis of the whole “abandoning OGL” rumors of a few days ago.
 

nevin

Hero
Well, the problem with something like that is that you are inheriting a bunch of pretty old code. Roll 20 has been around now for what, almost ten years? That's quite a while and things do change.

And, I don't think that Roll 20 would be able to handle 3d or animation, which are two things they are apparently headed towards.
They better be careful. Roll20 works. 3d animation dine improperly or by devs shooting for newest shiniest and processor /graphics intensive application could sink that ship. it better be useable by 10 year old pc's, over a 50mb internet with 6 to 10 players. Developers without clear gials are good at making things most people dint have the hardware for..

Plus marketing wise buying roll20 upgrading for larger user base gives customers something now while they aim for that 3d star.
 

darjr

I crit!
They better be careful. Roll20 works. 3d animation dine improperly or by devs shooting for newest shiniest and processor /graphics intensive application could sink that ship. it better be useable by 10 year old pc's, over a 50mb internet with 6 to 10 players. Developers without clear gials are good at making things most people dint have the hardware for..

Plus marketing wise buying roll20 upgrading for larger user base gives customers something now while they aim for that 3d star.
Software loyalty, for a variety of reasons, is also real.
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
Software loyalty, for a variety of reasons, is also real.
Roll20 has been bleeding tens of thousands of customers to Foundry VTT for nearly 3 years. FG has lost them, too, albeit, in smaller numbers as they have a much smaller userbase to begin with.

The main reason people stayed with Roll20 is they either: 1) aren't familiar with Foundry VTT and the advantages it offers; or 2) don't realize they can migrate their campaigns and purchased content to Foundry VTT with a utility to do so and believe their purchased content won't transfer to that VTT.

There are also a number of older GMs that, in accordance with what has been posted recently, go with the "too fancy, gets in the way of imagination" stuff. I'm not too sure about all of that -- but I accept that for whatever reason, they don't want something more than Roll20.

But really, for most, it's mostly inertia and lack of information. As you say software loyalty arises for a variety of reasons.
 

Grantypants

Explorer
One thing I expect to see is something along the lines of the DM's Guild but for 3d assets in the VTT. WotC would no doubt love to see the modding communities that popped up around games like Neverwinter Nights, but with them in control of what can be downloaded and them getting a cut of each sale.
 

darjr

I crit!
Roll20 has been bleeding tens of thousands of customers to Foundry VTT for nearly 3 years. FG has lost them, too, albeit, in smaller numbers as they have a much smaller userbase to begin with.

The main reason people stayed with Roll20 is they either: 1) aren't familiar with Foundry VTT and the advantages it offers; or 2) don't realize they can migrate their campaigns and purchased content to Foundry VTT with a utility to do so and believe their purchased content won't transfer to that VTT.

There are also a number of older GMs that, in accordance with what has been posted recently, go with the "too fancy, gets in the way of imagination" stuff. I'm not too sure about all of that -- but I accept that for whatever reason, they don't want something more than Roll20.

But really, for most, it's mostly inertia and lack of information. As you say software loyalty arises for a variety of reasons.
That's kinda a big deal, I'm not posting to counter you, but do you have a source? I'd love to see it please and thank you.
 

One thing I expect to see is something along the lines of the DM's Guild but for 3d assets in the VTT.
I think that's incredibly unlikely.

WotC just are not the sort of company who is into that. WotC have ultra-tight control over the aesthetics of their products. They're absolutely obsessive about it. It's one of the few things that's been completely consistent with WotC over the last three decades.

So the idea of essentially allowing a "free-for-all" where anyone who can meet basic guidelines can upload 3D models etc. subject only to basic approval/checks (i.e. that they're not obscene or gory or broken or whatever - and that's a whole burden anyway which WotC would probably like to avoid) is just absolutely abhorrent to WotC. Particularly on a premium product that they're aiming to present to millions of people. DM's Guild largely exists as it is because it's relatively unpopular and niche and WotC does absolutely nothing ever to make anyone aware of its existence. It might as well be in a back room with a "do not enter" sign on the door lol. What you're suggesting would be part of WotC's top-shelf product, one which they're going to be expecting to have mass uptake of, and would necessarily be pretty central to that product.

It's possible WotC will do bespoke deals with certain artists and so on to have them to models or even model-lines (or architecture or whatever) for the VTT. But opening the floodgates like that? It won't happen.

I don't think it's even particularly likely that they'll allow 3PP adventures or the like in the VTT. They might, but I think it's a little more likely they'll only have first-party (or invited 3PP) stuff, and DMs will have to manually assemble anything 3PP like it was homebrew.
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
That's kinda a big deal, I'm not posting to counter you, but do you have a source? I'd love to see it please and thank you.
Earlier this year In May of 2022, Foundry VTT's 2nd anniversary, there were 52,000 foundry servers (each is a licensee). The numbers will have increased since then... how many? I don't know.

Previous percentage breakdowns of their userbase last May 2022 was 5e 65% PF2 20% PF1/SF 5%, with the remainder of 10% or so split between a multitude of smaller RPG systems.

Reverse engineer those numbers and having paid attention to who is playing and what they say they were leaving behind? Overwhelmingly, it's Roll20. It's not even close. FG2 and FG Unity have lost customers to Foundry VTT as well, sure, but it's much lower in number (the tech advantage difference between Foundry VTT and Foundry Unity is much more narrow than it is with Roll20 - and there is no importer to dl/migrate a campaign they had paid for from FG to Foundry VTT. With Roll20, you can migrate it all from Roll20 to Foundry VTT in 10 minutes or so.) More to the point, FGU is much more sophisticated software than Roll20 is, so the tech advantage Foundry VTT has over it is much smaller. Still, FGU does require a download and install (Foundry VTT is accessed instead via Chrome, like Roll 20 is.) It also requires purchases of game software and modules -- neither of which Foundry VTT requires. Foundry is therefore a superior substitute, which is also cheaper than both. That has the consequences in the marketplace you would expect it to have.

You can look at the numbers on Roll20 and they confirm this, in part. There was a dramatic exodus of PF1 and PF2 GMs (and Starfinder, too, though that was never large on Roll20) from Roll20 in 2020 and 2021. We don't have to guess what happened -- everyone in the business knows that Roll20 lost almost the entirety of their PF base (it's now only about ~3% of Roll20 users). And it's over 20% of Foundry's userbase.

We also know why that happened. It was because Foundry VTT's PF2 code is robust and polished AF -- far more polished than its 5e code, to be blunt. Foundry's 5e code is created by the Foundry's main programmer Atropos (he now has a few programmer employees, but before late 2021, he didn't) and so Atropos had to code all of Foundry VTT PLUS 5e's game code as well. In contrast, the PF2 dev team for Foundry has ~8 hardcore members and over 2 dozen more part-time contributors and data entry volunteers. Even Atropos has admitted on Twitch/Youtube that the PF2 game code was more advanced and polished than 5e's (Why? Again, PF2's community simply have more programmers working on it). Add to that limitations which come with the SRD -- and no limitations which come with the OGL, and that ties it off with a ribbon.

But above all, the Foundry VTT module PDF2Foundry allows anybody who had a valid watermarked PDF from Paizo to instantly create and import that adventure, PFS Scenario, or Adv Path module into Foundry VTT for free (exception: it would not import monster art not contained in the adventure -- people got that from the Archives of Nethys for free, instead.) The bottom line was that if you are a Paizo subscriber and play via VTT, you will always choose Foundry VTT essentially by default as you get a watermarked PDF for the Paizo lines you subscribe to directly from Paizo as part of the bonus for subscribing directly. Add $50 for Foundry VTT as a one -time payment, and you had a slick VTT that supported your game without additional cost. That was a no brainer. So those subscribers left Roll20 en masse for Foundry VTT.

In the face of all of this and the runaway success PF2 was on Foundry VTT, Paizo officially licensed their APs and monster art to Foundry VTT. Those are now sold on Paizo.com. Since Foundry VTT became a Paizo licensee, the PDF2Foundry module is no longer updated and those modules released after Foundry became a Paizo licensee must be purchased specifically for Foundry VTT from Paizo. The previous stuff that was still free remains still free though.

Anyways, none of this is controversial. Foundry leapt past FG early in 2021 in terms of total customers and has been eating into Roll20's market share the most ever since. Sure, there are some new users to Foundry VTT who never had any prior experience on any VTT who came to the software in 2020 when it was released during the pandemic -- but that's a pretty small element of their userbase overall. Overwhelmingly, those customers used to be Roll20 customers and no longer are.

You can check all of the reviews and comparisons on Youtube, too. None of this is new or controversial -- it's been clear since 2020 that was the case. Foundry VTT is not only the most advanced VTT software currently on the market, it is also cheaper than even 1 year of Roll20 with Roll20's dynamic lighting enabled -- and Foundry VTT doesn't charge for game systems or adventures. On the 5e side, all of that licensed code not in the SRD flows to Foundry VTT through DDB without any need for an additional purchase (excepting those who pay directly for Mr. Primate's plugin on patreon. That's about 10k owners a month, as you yourself recently saw.) There is another importer, VTTA, that is essentially for free now which imports monsters from DDB as well. VTTA doesn't import adventures though. Home brewers go with VTTA; adventure module buyers go with Mr. Primate's patreon DDB importer.
 
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SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
I've been playing by VTT since Covid hit. I started with Roll20 (and still play a 3.5 game on it), moved with Fantasy Grounds for my Curse of Strahd campaign and then went to Foundry for a Pathfinder 2 game.

The transition between products was okay, better, best. If Foundry had a robust 3.5 module, we'd be using that for that game, as Roll20 is just problematic for us with problems each session.

Now here's the thing: I'd definitely be looking at what WotC does, and might use it for any 5/6E games, but that seriously depends on the model they implement.

If you haven't checked out Foundry, I'd definitely recommend it for 5E and especially if you want to try out PF2. There's an import for D&D Beyond material which I haven't used but gets strong reviews.
 

They better be careful. Roll20 works. 3d animation dine improperly or by devs shooting for newest shiniest and processor /graphics intensive application could sink that ship. it better be useable by 10 year old pc's, over a 50mb internet with 6 to 10 players. Developers without clear gials are good at making things most people dint have the hardware for..

Plus marketing wise buying roll20 upgrading for larger user base gives customers something now while they aim for that 3d star.
Buying Roll20 is a horrible horrible idea. It would cost them far more than it would to make their own better preforming one from scratch.

Which we know they are already doing.
 

Hussar

Legend
I have severe doubts that there is anywhere near that number of people hired for this gig. I expect a rationalization of who is paying many existing employees and a relcassifcation of which "division" is paying them within Hasbro is the real culprit here.

350 would be a LOT for even the largest, most epic, Triple A title. That's more than Blizzard devotes to its dev team. I don't believe that number to be a true representation of the VTT team. At all.

That said, a 3D VTT, with advanced lighting, particle emitters and significant animations for spells, not to mention auto-resolution of a vast number of attacks goes WAY beyond a "chat program" or "art program". You are letting the Fantasy Grounds experience blind you to what's possible., (Even Foundry VTT goes way beyond FG now) . So yes, in terms of the asset creation, it certainly does look like a video game. You are off base here.
I'm not sure I completely agree here. Although, you are right, it does go beyond a simple art program. But, there's a ton of things that a VTT doesn't need:

1. No physics engine.
2. No predictive algorithm for smoothing out other player actions.
3. Very little animation. Yes, I can see things like rippling water or whatnot, but, it's not like we're talking something like Assassins Creed or whatever newest multiplayer game you want to point too. Animations will be very limited. I doubt that your token will move, for example - other than maybe some sort of lifting and dragging a static mini from point A to point B. It's not like there will be attack animations or damage animations or anything like that.
4. No need for anything like voice acting or story creation or anything like that.

Is it simple? No, of course not. It's very complex. The rules interactions are going to be insane. But, by the same token, a lot of the elements of an actual video game just aren't needed for a VTT. Your token isn't going to animate, walk across the screen and then attack like it would in a video game. You are going to slide a static token from point A to point B and then attacks and whatnot will be handled in text with zero interaction with the images.

So, no, I don't think it looks like a video game at all. It's closer to something like Zoom.
 


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