D&D 5E Hope for an open GSL?

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
So, again, I ask, what would you consider a success?


That's WotC's call and they've announced a new edition. Even if you argue that everyone who signed up for DDI did it to receive Dragon and Dungeon magazine, and further argue that the documented DDI subscribers numbers show an increase from 50K to 70K (approx) readership, or even if you go further still and claim that there are an additional 30K subscribers to Dragon and Dungeon that are undocumented, you'd have to ask if the additional cost to produce that increase warrants calling it a success. I wouldn't personally argue for that premise but in that light it doesn't seem we'd even need a new edition announcement to have a fair idea of the answer. It's like you're arguing that you should strip away the number of expected Dragon and Dungeon subscribers to determine how many documented purely DDI subscribers we should count to determine the success of DDI. To whit, your argument seems to imply that an analysis of DDI subscribers should be taking the 70K (approx) then remove 50K expected number of magazine faithful and determine that there are really only 20K documented DDI subscribers. I'm not quite sure how your arguement is portraying the success you conclude.
 

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hanez

First Post
Dungeon was targetted at DMs only. Dragon didn't make a whole lot of sense for players because it was lots of interest reading and classes and things your DM may not even accept. Its not fair to compare that to the online versions because DDI is a huge draw over the pdfs, and they are targetted/packaged completely differently.

Also Paizo was and is just phenomenally better at making adventures. The online magazines are a failure simply because they suck compared to Paizos mags, and the numbers are most likely waaaaay lower if you subtract DDI subscribers.
 

SiderisAnon

First Post
It's not a success because there's a difference in distributing something as its own thing, and bundling it with the purchase of something else.

If one person sets up a shop that sells fuzzy dice and moves X number of them in a month, and a car dealership down the street gives away fuzzy dice with each new car sold and sells (X times 1.5) new cars in a month, it's specious for the car dealer to claim "we're more successful at selling fuzzy dice."

This becomes particularly true if that statement is then presented as evidence of better-quality product. If the car dealer's fuzzy dice are made of cheaper materials, a claim of "our fuzzy dice are of superior make to our competitor's - why else would we have sold more?" is incredibly spurious.

The problem here is that you're putting blinders on and ignoring the whole package.

It's not about how many of the DDI subscribers read a Dungeon article. While that might drive what content WoTC creates, the only thing that really matters is profit. If they spend $X to make the content and support the servers, and then make $Y in monthly subscriptions, what really matters in the end is whether $Y is enough higher than $X to justify the cost of continuing the DDI service. They have continued the service, therefore they're making a profit.

Also keep in mind that Paizo's cut of the magazine subscriptions is out of the equations not. Even if you only look at magazine subscriptions vs. DDI subscriptions, a lower price does not necessarily mean less spent on creating content because nobody is paying for the physical printing and distribution of the magazine (not a small cost) or for the profits that Paizo made off of the issues. WoTC could well be pocketing more per month than they used to; we simply don't know.

There is also the fact that the DDI functions as a source of marketing. People who use the service can be sold products, just like people could be shown ads when reading the magazines.

Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter what content people are looking at with DDI, or even if they have a subscription and never log in. WoTC has to consider that when making content, because they want to retain users, but as long as they are pulling in a reasonable profit (and only the suits know what "reasonable" is), DDI is a success.

I'd also submit that if DDI was a failure, they would have shut it down already. They're not shy about canceling products.
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
They have continued the service, therefore they're making a profit.

This is not a given fact.

I'd also submit that if DDI was a failure, they would have shut it down already. They're not shy about canceling products.

Again, not a given fact. They may have a long way to go yet to recoup the R&D expenses they have sunk into DDI. However, it is the platform of their future and there's no way they're going to move forward with 5E without keeping DDI up and running even if it has been a money pit. Cancelling DDI is NOT an option. Replacing it might be but it seems unlikely they are working on a replacement for it in parallel to their DDI upgrades.

I agree it is a marketing arm but I'm not convinced it necessarily sells much in additional hardcopy products. Mostly I hear folks say they like DDI because it makes buying the supplements unnecessary. I suppose updating the DDI has the effect of selling itself, by maintaining subscription levels.

But rolling the magazines into DDI (or its predecesor(s)) was a necessity for synergistic reasons. It's a shame, however, that WotC is not making compilations available as Print on Demand products for those who don't want DDI but still want the magazines, even if that would mean $10 issues. I think people would pay for the privilege.
 

mudbunny

Community Supporter
WoTC just being wrong on several things. Anyone remember when buying the physical product was supposed to get you the PDF for a $1 or $2 according to 'the Rouse'

That was an idea thrown out by Scott when DDI was first being announced. Very "Pie in the sky, we would like to be able to do this with DDI." However, once it was investigated how they could get the codes out to people without them being lost/stolen/etc, it was found to be unfeasible.

How about the 'virtual table top'

You mean the one that is in open beta and can be accessed by anyone with a DDI subscription?

or the 'virtual visual character' and other bits?

Good riddance to the Virtual Character Model thing. Waste of time and effort IMO.
 


JoeGKushner

First Post
That was an idea thrown out by Scott when DDI was first being announced. Very "Pie in the sky, we would like to be able to do this with DDI." However, once it was investigated how they could get the codes out to people without them being lost/stolen/etc, it was found to be unfeasible.



You mean the one that is in open beta and can be accessed by anyone with a DDI subscription?



Good riddance to the Virtual Character Model thing. Waste of time and effort IMO.

So wait... you're saying that something coming out 4 years after it's announced is a good thing? Something that was supposed to be a part of the initial launch?

Come on man.

And I agree with you about the virtual character thing but hey, that was another of WoTC baby's so it being shot in the face was a good thing and something that WoTC should have avoided in the first place.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
The problem here is that you're putting blinders on and ignoring the whole package.

Actually, the problem here is that you're trying to redefine the scope of the debate we're having.

What was being discussed was the number of subscribers to Dragon and Dungeon in print versus the number of subscribers to their new digital format. I was pointing out that simply comparing the number of print subscribers versus the number of digital subscribers is not a valid comparison, since the nature of the digital subscription is quite different from the old print subscriptions.

Saying "yes, but look at how much money WotC is making from the DDI" isn't a counter-point; it's changing the subject entirely.
 

mudbunny

Community Supporter
So wait... you're saying that something coming out 4 years after it's announced is a good thing? Something that was supposed to be a part of the initial launch?

Come on man.

And I agree with you about the virtual character thing but hey, that was another of WoTC baby's so it being shot in the face was a good thing and something that WoTC should have avoided in the first place.

Ohh, I thought that you were discussing the state of DDI right now. If I would have known that the discussion was on how WotC screwed up 4 years ago, well, I would never have gotten involved.

History is history, and continually dragging it out to prove or disprove some nebulous point is of no interest to me.
 

nedjer

Adventurer
How much profit is being turned is anyone's guess, but DDI has been very successful on a number of levels:


  1. Engaging fans, e.g. the Legends and Lore blogging.
  2. Capturing subscribers during a recession, i.e. lots of sticky customers who are used to logging in for ideas/ resources to use in their games. (Most are highly likely to at least try 5e subscription, as they're used to finding value in the fluff)
  3. Preparing and testing the content delivery technology
  4. Developing the site to a stage where they can react quickly and innovate without becoming locked into expensive projects, e.g. since starting on the 4e table it's become much cheaper to link a figure and a touch tablet at the tabletop to a PC's lifestream/ database entries, for that to go to a character visualization database, and then on to a 3D printer - allowing an evolving set of figures to match the PC's in-game evolution, e.g. scars or reaching a certain level.
The site might be even more successful if they stopped putting a big, graphics-heavy nag banner in the screen as it comes up. :p
 

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