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D&D 5E How would you improve Dragon+, WotC's Online Magazine?

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Can you link to or explain why a print version of Dragon Magazine isn't possible? Because I have near my desk a copy of White Dwarf and I'm wondering why WotC can't do it if GW can at $9 an issue.

Every article I've read on the topic of print media says that general interest magazines are losing subscribers and advertising but niche magazines (which is what Dragon Magazine would be) are doing very well. It's still a $22.9 billion industry.
You probably need to ask WotC. We're not privy to the company's finances or sales figures.
 

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dave2008

Legend
My recollection is that the opposite is true. When it launched it was very much just a promotional fluff piece, but over time it came to have more useful content.
That is my recollection as well (in fact people complained about on these forums). The usable content definitely went up. However, I do feel that more recently there have been more advertising-type promotional fluff pieces.
 

M_Natas

Explorer
I also find dragon+ a pretty dull experience. It really feels more like a sales catalogue and not like a magazine.

For a print magazine, I even would pay! I'm doing it for some german genre magazines (10 bucks each for a Larp-Magazine and a fantasy-Book/Movie/Games-Magazine) and would do it for Dragon+ Magazine if it would include something like:

  • a DM Advice Column (on the D&D Podcats they have some nice guest DM coming in and explain stuff - just write that down and put it in the magazine!)
  • some nice monster/NPC stats and some nice random tables (wilderness encouters, No-Fight-City-encounters ...)
  • a really nice map that is not just a reprint from one of the books (I own most of the books already)
  • at least one short one-shot adventure
  • a nice D&D short story
  • Some nice Lore and Backgroundinformation for a Monster/NPC/Location/Magic Item in one of the published Settings
  • they can keep the Interviews they are doing, but really, they need more ...
  • I like the Random NPC Generator thing, they do on the official D&D Podcast - they just need to write that down for Magazine and Boom: more nice content.

So really a Magazine, that gives you content for your D&D Games and scratched this fantasy itch.
 

Stormonu

Legend
To be honest, I wasn’t even aware of the existence of Dragon+ until this thread came up.

And I think that’s the biggest problem. I’m aware of White Dwarf and even Kobold Quarterly. I used to have a subscription to Dungeon & Dragon and read them regularly. I had no awareness a form of Dragon had come back and I bet most other folk do not either. It doesn’t have a prominent presence like the old newsstand version did.

Unfortunately, looking through the recent issues of Dragon +, I don’t see anything that really interests me, unlike the old run of Dragon (say, up to about 250). I don’t know if they could capture that old bottled lightning, but it would take a great deal more effort than they appear to be willing to put into it now. The old Dragon was a cornucopia of articles - beastaries and ecologies, game tools - classes, races, magic items, gear and whatnot, short fiction, research articles, campaign world in-depth dives and off-the-wall articles that‘d make you think about including things you wouldn’t normally consider in a D&D game. It would be a full time job to correlate and print that sort of material these days and with WotC/Hasbro just working with a barebones staff wouldn’t cut it.
 

dave2008

Legend
It would be a full time job to correlate and print that sort of material these days and with WotC/Hasbro just working with a barebones staff wouldn’t cut it.
Well, they did outsource that to Paizo for a long time.

People used to post here regularly when a new issue came out, but that stopped a while ago and EnWorld staff doesn't seem interested in picking it up

PS It would get a lot more views if it was their official channel for distributing information. The problem with it is that a good bit of the interesting stuff in it (like UA documents) is old news by the time it is in Dragon+
 

Remathilis

Legend
I think the issue is that D&D Beyond has co-opted a lot of what Dragon (and Dragon+) did/was supposed to do.

Articles on advice for DMs and PCs?
Interviews and discussion about new rules and books?
Preview content?
Streaming D&D?

That's all on DnDB's front page, not WotC's.
 

Mistwell

Legend
Would you pay twenty dollars an issue for it? Cause that's the price WOTC would have to charge to make it workable...
I disagree. There is a way to do it, and be profitable at it. However, that way has one huge drawback: A very long delay between the time you send it to print and the time it gets released.

You have it printed overseas, and delivered by ship to a major U.S. port, and then trucked to warehousing for distribution. It's a pretty long delay. Roughly two months, sometimes more, if done the least expensive way.

A color cover with black and white interior would also help. Reducing the paper quality of the interior would also help.

But if you do that, you can then sell it for a reasonably lower price and still make money on it, if you have the market to sell into.

I just don't think WOTC wants to get into all of that. Because the returns wouldn't be "amazing" and the effort to get there would be a larger devotion of resources that would be tied up in that venture that could probably be used more profitably elsewhere. Despite it still being a profitable effort.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Can you link to or explain why a print version of Dragon Magazine isn't possible? Because I have near my desk a copy of White Dwarf and I'm wondering why WotC can't do it if GW can at $9 an issue.

Every article I've read on the topic of print media says that general interest magazines are losing subscribers and advertising but niche magazines (which is what Dragon Magazine would be) are doing very well. It's still a $22.9 billion industry.

I don't really remember what video it was, but for one of the Q&A for his magazine Arcadia, Matt Colville spoke on why a print magazine for his product is unfeasible, and even why WotC likely would never do one again too.

That said, I don't know why White Dwarf is profitable. That magazine has been running largely uninterrupted since the 1980s with a fairly dedicated readership, which would be unlike a D&D magazine which would have to start an audience from the ground up. They might be able to pull it off but I find it unlikely that WotC would try.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
I haven't read the entire thread, so if I'm repeating others points or skipping over anything . . . .

I don't think that a magazine in the classic Dragon Mag tradition will ever work again, print or digital (or Dungeon Mag, or Polyhedron Mag). Everything Dragon (and the others) used to contain, is more conveniently delivered differently, online through digital media and the D&D community at-large. Sites like DriveThruRPG.com and DMsGuild.com provide just about everything Dragon did, and with a lot less work and expense on WotC's part. Reviews and commentary on the hobby are found in blogs and message boards (right here!).

I really miss the good old days of a monthly Dragon Magazine, but it's not ever coming back in that form. :(

If WotC hired me to revitalize a new Dragon Magazine . . . I'd probably do something very similar to what Paizo does with the Pathfinder Monthly Adventure Path. Turn the monthly product from a magazine to a more structured gaming accessory. I would include relevant ads however, to bring down costs and to showcase other gaming companies in the D&D ecosystem. One or two adventures each month, sometimes connected in multi-adventure arcs (adventure paths), sometimes not. Articles expanding on the game, new player options, DM advice, perhaps pulled from "the best of" the DMsGuild and professionally edited and illustrated. It wouldn't have to be monthly, quarterly would be okay.

I'd subscribe to that! It seems to work well for Paizo, although they don't have a behemoth corporate overlord to satisfy . . . .
 

GreyLord

Hero
I am going to mirror what someone else said.

#1) They need it in print. Webzines are a dime a dozen, and 95%-99% of gamers do not even KNOW that a Dragon Magazine or any thing similar to it even exists. The advertising for it is poor, the usage of it is poor, and thus it's influence is limited.

Part of this is advertising, but part of this is simply visibility. Put it in a subscription service (for example, magazine subscriptions are advertised via Amazon) that spreads it's availability around and puts it in waiting rooms and offices. There are a TON of businessmen, dentists, lawyers, and others these days that have been or are gamers. Catering to them with a magazine for D&D is easier than it has ever been. This not only appeals to their hobbies of the past or today, but is basically free advertising for WotC.

In addition, there are a ton of people that prefer to get in print magazines (for example, I still get National Geographic, even if I don't read it much myself anymore. I do have others who read it while sitting around in my living room or elsewhere, and it's nice to actually browse through it in print).

This doesn't negate an online presence for a magazine, but having it in print can spread awareness and is useful.

Printing on demand for a subscription actually is a calculated cost that done correctly will NOT lose money, but actually make more than normal. If utilized as an advertising recourse, it can actually increase the rest of sales as well.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
I don't really remember what video it was, but for one of the Q&A for his magazine Arcadia, Matt Colville spoke on why a print magazine for his product is unfeasible, and even why WotC likely would never do one again too.

That said, I don't know why White Dwarf is profitable. That magazine has been running largely uninterrupted since the 1980s with a fairly dedicated readership, which would be unlike a D&D magazine which would have to start an audience from the ground up. They might be able to pull it off but I find it unlikely that WotC would try.
Can you link to or explain why a print version of Dragon Magazine isn't possible? Because I have near my desk a copy of White Dwarf and I'm wondering why WotC can't do it if GW can at $9 an issue.

Every article I've read on the topic of print media says that general interest magazines are losing subscribers and advertising but niche magazines (which is what Dragon Magazine would be) are doing very well. It's still a $22.9 billion industry.
White Dwarf is a very different beast from Dragon Magazine. Also, while clearly Games Workshop feels that continuing the magazine is worthwhile, for now, how much profit do they make on the magazine? Is it a loss leader? It wasn't all that long ago that GW was doing some pretty significant experiments with the format of WD, so things haven't been all roses all the time for their infamous house organ.

White Dwarf does do a pretty good job (currently) of showcasing the Warhammer hobby and does provide new gaming content, lore content, and advice content each month. But, while Warhammer certainly has a robust online fan community, it doesn't have a D&D Beyond or DMsGuild.com to support the game(s).
 


Zaukrie

New Publisher
I think the issue is that D&D Beyond has co-opted a lot of what Dragon (and Dragon+) did/was supposed to do.

Articles on advice for DMs and PCs?
Interviews and discussion about new rules and books?
Preview content?
Streaming D&D?

That's all on DnDB's front page, not WotC's.
It is true, D&D Beyond is a good replacement for some of what Dragon magazine did. The advice articles for DMs and PCs are quite good, especially for beginners.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
White Dwarf is a very different beast from Dragon Magazine. Also, while clearly Games Workshop feels that continuing the magazine is worthwhile, for now, how much profit do they make on the magazine? Is it a loss leader? It wasn't all that long ago that GW was doing some pretty significant experiments with the format of WD, so things haven't been all roses all the time for their infamous house organ.

White Dwarf does do a pretty good job (currently) of showcasing the Warhammer hobby and does provide new gaming content, lore content, and advice content each month. But, while Warhammer certainly has a robust online fan community, it doesn't have a D&D Beyond or DMsGuild.com to support the game(s).

Well, I wouldn't quite agree with the no online support... GW has actually made some apps for army building and painting, and their website https://www.warhammer-community.com/en-us/ is extremely well curated. They have 5 new articles up just for today, and they consistently push out two articles a day.

I'll add, this is all extremely new on the GW side. They used to have essentially no online support, no community outreach, nothing. But this new approach has been extremely successful for them, and I think could be a good model for D&D to emulate (though not 100% replicate).
 

Stormonu

Legend
Another thing to note is that White Dwarf, to my knowledge, has never been out of print and probably has subscribers all the way back to the 80s and 90s. Dungeon and Dragon were subletted to Paizo, who when the physical magazine ended Paizo was able to leverage those subscribers to their product. Essentially, WotC let go of the readership and lost all of their subscribers at the time. If WotC were to revive a print magazine, they would have to start their readership from scratch, building up a following before it would be profitable.

Also, for several years White Dwarf content atrophied, until it was little more than a GW miniatures/game catalog that they convinced folks to buy, rather than give out for free. Somewhat ingenious, get your customers to buy the catalog. Though lately I have heard they have gone back to adding in new content these days.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
Well, I wouldn't quite agree with the no online support... GW has actually made some apps for army building and painting, and their website https://www.warhammer-community.com/en-us/ is extremely well curated. They have 5 new articles up just for today, and they consistently push out two articles a day.

I'll add, this is all extremely new on the GW side. They used to have essentially no online support, no community outreach, nothing. But this new approach has been extremely successful for them, and I think could be a good model for D&D to emulate (though not 100% replicate).
Oh, I agree that GW has made massive improvements over the past few years. The Warhammer Community site is pretty cool, but it's not a community-driven site like the DMsGuild (neither is D&DBeyond, of course). And the Warhammer Community site, like White Dwarf, is mostly advertising with some content thrown in. I'm currently irritated with the available apps, they suck, but they are the best apps GW has ever put out and they are constantly improving them. Maybe they won't suck sometime soon . . . .

I don't mean to say we shouldn't compare GW to WotC, or White Dwarf to Dragon . . . there certainly are a lot of similarities in the companies, games, and communities . . . . but also lots of differences, so it's hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison, IMO.
 




ART!

Hero
Semi-random thought: IF they did want to do a print mag again, they could include a sample one in every new boxed set they come out with (as well as instructions on how to subscribe), just so more people know it exists.
 

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