OGL Hasbro/WotC has crossed the Trust Thermocline

So I was this article linked on Twitter:

Breaching The Trust Thermocline

The basic idea is:

In large bodies of water, the temperature drops slowly the deeper one dives. That change can, if the descent is slow enough, feel almost imperceptible. Yet at a certain point, the water temperature drops sharply and alarmingly. This point is the thermocline—a near-physical barrier where warm water meets cold. The shift between the two is sudden and dramatic.

In business, particularly digital services or businesses relying on a subscription revenue model, trust works in the same way. Wired into those products and services is a “trust thermocline.” It is a point which, once crossed, otherwise healthy businesses and products suddenly collapse.

The article then goes on to talk about how:

In most cases, that failure follows a pattern: the company or service will be growing, whether in users or revenue, and perhaps rolling out new products that are bundled within an expanded subscription, or showing good adoption on their own. In many cases, there will not even seem to be a new rival in the market, with existing ones failing to threaten them through market share. Then suddenly, over a short period of time, sales and user numbers collapse. Consumers move to seemingly inferior products or simply disengage completely from the business.

The thermocline has been crossed.

At its simplest, the trust thermocline represents the point at which a consumer decides that the mental cost of staying with a product is outweighed by their desire to abandon it. This may seem like an obvious problem, yet if that were the case, this behavior wouldn’t happen so frequently in technology businesses and in more traditional firms that prided themselves on consumer loyalty, such as car manufacturers and retail chains.

The cause of this crossing is the slow erosion of individual trust in a brand which translates to a massive, large-scale abandonment of the product or service.

A multitude of micro-infractions for consumers don’t just harm an individual’s experience; they damage that trust commons until the trust thermocline is breached for large groups of users at the same time.

This, I feel, is a good explanation for the sudden kick in the pants that Hasbro/WotC are experiencing now. WotC was already causing problems for its major brands, particularly Magic: The Gathering. There's been several years worth of slowly simmering discontent in the MTG community over the direction the brand has gone, particularly since the start of the pandemic. The Magic 30th Anniversary collection, the introduction of Non-Magic IP into the game (up to the point that you can now find Universe Beyond cards in boosters for the latest Standard set), endless variants of cards that have no actual use in gameplay, direct-to-consumer sales eroding the brick-and-mortar hobby shops where people, you know, actually gather the play the game, and other decisions made to maximize revenue at the expense of customer service have eroded the trust commons of normally very loyal customers.

And then they turned their attention to D&D. I know I, personally, have been unhappy with the quality of recent products (I liked Tasha's, but was completely underwhelmed by more recent fare), suspicious of the OneDnD initiative (especially the moves that seem designed to move it further from the tabletop to a VTT that, importantly, does not yet exist and that they've massively failed to deliver before), and now the OGL 1.1/2.0 debacle kicking an entire industry in the jibblies -- this has gotten to the point where they have crossed the thermocline for me, and my patience for Hasbro/WotC is at an end.

They managed to weather a storm with 4e by backpedaling to the more open 5e, but they're going to have to do a LOT more work this time around to regain customer trust.
 

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darjr

I crit!
I don't know, this theory basically says there is a slow gradual erosion until it eventually crosses a line. That is not what happened here, they dropped a nuclear bomb without warning, nothing gradual about it.
Note that in the details that slow encroaching can happen internally and in a two steps forward one step back sort of way.

Lurching as in the GSL attempt and then again now with the OGL 1.1/2.0 etc.
 


Fanaelialae

Legend
I had no issues with OneDND. I was cautiously optimistic about the VTT, and quite optimistic about 5.5. Whether or not I adopted the VTT, if you had asked me in December whether I would buy and play 5.5, I would have said it was all but guaranteed.

Sadly, after the OGL debacle, that's no longer the case. Even after their (rather limited) walk back, I just don't want to support them anymore. I'm not even angry... more like disappointed. At this point I prefer to take my business elsewhere (perhaps an ORC game, should that license live up to what's been written). It's not that I've shut the door to ever buying another WotC product again, but i don't see it happening in the foreseeable future either.
 

Scribe

Legend
I don't know, this theory basically says there is a slow gradual erosion until it eventually crosses a line. That is not what happened here, they dropped a nuclear bomb without warning, nothing gradual about it.

In terms of the thermocline, thats what the leak of the original documented terms was. The slow gradual erosion has been a thing again Wizards for some time, it just wasnt seen in exclusively D&D circles, because 5e has been on an upward trajectory since the rejection of 4e.

As noted though, in MtG, this has been going on for years now, and it came to a head a month or whatever ago, with the 30th 'release' of 4 packs of cards for over $1000 USD. They were rejected outright by the community, and not just MtG, but other CCG segments as well. It was a debacle.

Wizards then followed up on that banger of a PR gaff, by...doing all of this with the OGL.

This OGL fiasco, is the thermocline, where it goes from gradual, to shocking.

The comparison seems pretty apt, to me.
 

I had no issues with OneDND. I was cautiously optimistic about the VTT, and quite optimistic about 5.5. Whether or not I adopted the VTT, if you had asked me in December whether I would buy and play 5.5, I would have said it was all but guaranteed.

Sadly, after the OGL debacle, that's no longer the case. Even after their (rather limited) walk back, I just don't want to support them anymore. I'm not even angry... more like disappointed. At this point I prefer to take my business elsewhere (perhaps an ORC game, should that license live up to what's been written). It's not that I've shut the door to ever buying another WotC product again, but i don't see it happening in the foreseeable future either.
That's a lot like how I feel (with more ambivalence towards OneDnD, but if you'd asked me a month a go I'd have said I'd still have tried it). That's why I think this is a thermocline, and not just regular disgruntlement. Disappointment, and feeling that I can do better. just a flat "this is going to keep happening. This is not the worst they will do." I'm just done, and I suspect a lot of other people are, too.
 

mamba

Hero
As noted though, in MtG, this has been going on for years now, and it came to a head a month or whatever ago, with the 30th 'release'
agreed, if we expand this from D&D to WotC, then this might function better as a steady decline. Both came to a head shortly after another too ;)
 

darjr

I crit!
Though in many ways we may still be in the slow decline phase overall. If you take the rest of the wider general player base into account.

Most of them may not have any idea if any of this.

We may just be too close and in the front cars that have already gone off the cliff.

Those of us with issues with this OGL thing that is.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
just a flat "this is going to keep happening. This is not the worst they will do." I'm just done, and I suspect a lot of other people are, too.
Exactly. This is the harm to the gaming community that Hasbro-WotC is willing to do even when they are trying to do damage control.

Hasbro-WotC will do things that are worse and worse from here.

They would be monstrous if the only way to do roleplaying games.
 

I won’t put trust in a corporation that makes 1.3B revenue. they won’t come to help if I’m in needs!

I expect that Wotc show a nice public image. Which they fail during the OGL affair, but for now they handle the damage control nicely.

I expect that they manage continuity and improvement over the initial PHB.
For now pretty good with Xanathar, Tasha, and the first drafts of OneDnd.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
Though in many ways we may still be in the slow decline phase overall. If you take the rest of the wider general player base into account.

Most of them may not have any idea if any of this.

We may just be too close and in the front cars that have already gone off the cliff.

Those of us with issues with this OGL thing that is.
Assume a maximum of 99,999 people canceled their subscription to D&D Beyond, that isbless than 1% of the user base. Definitely enough to scare management into a change of direction, well and good, but...that still leaves 10 millio+ people using Beyond.

Question is, is it a train heading off of a cliff, or are the managers who apparently think ot will blow over in a fee months right...? We'll probably see when the movie comes out. Right now, the PHB is #147 in all books on Amazon, so this may end up being a bifurcation I'm the fanbase rather than the End Times.
 

The Myopic Sniper

Adventurer
When there is different management at WOTC/Hasbro, I think that trust can be regained, but knowing that these people thought that changing the OGL was a good idea, they are going to have to go well above and beyond the quality of the product they have been putting out recently to regain my custom. If all the C level people get wiped out in the next management level shakeup and they bring in new people who are communicative and are enthusiastic about open gaming, I will think a lot better about the brand.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I remember using the thermocline in the Silent Service video game to evade surface destroyer's radar. And I do feel that WotC's definately crossed the line (multiple times, multiple ways) to destroy the goodwill they'd been building for the last 8-10 years.

Run Silent, Run Deep. The torpedo is running, straight towards WotC's cargo ships....
 

Muso

Explorer
I find myself in complete agreement with the analysis. If I think about some of the complaints of the last period I seem to see just that (Ravenloft nice but very sweetened, the manuals with crossovers with Magic to the detriment of what the fan base has been asking for years, i.e. the settings, some things that the 5th edition promised and never really did, for example modularity, etc). In Italy, the localisation was bad with bad translations (to be kind). And finally the OGL bombshell. At this point the avalanche has started.
 

I find myself in complete agreement with the analysis. If I think about some of the complaints of the last period I seem to see just that (Ravenloft nice but very sweetened, the manuals with crossovers with Magic to the detriment of what the fan base has been asking for years, i.e. the settings, some things that the 5th edition promised and never really did, for example modularity, etc). In Italy, the localisation was bad with bad translations (to be kind). And finally the OGL bombshell. At this point the avalanche has started.
I didn't mind the D&D/MTG setting crossovers -- at least, the Ravnica and Theros ones. Strixhaven can die in a fire for all I care. Theros, meanwhile, took a plane I had been middling on and really deepened it to the point I actively wanted to run a game in it -- especially with all the 3PP stuff I found surrounding it.

I do get the complaints, though -- I definitely wanted to see Planescape long before now.
 



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