5E If WotC is outsourcing official 5E material to 3PP, What is WotC working on?

DragonBelow

Explorer
Kobold Press did (the writing for) Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat. Sasquatch Game Studio is doing the Elemental Evil books; to me, this means WotC's writting staff must be busy with something else. What could that be?

DB
 

pukunui

Adventurer
They're busy writing story bibles, working on options like the Battlesystem mass combat module, overseeing the production of the content they've contracted out, and so on. They're probably also busy reviewing the core rules in anticipation of their first rule review survey at the moment.
 

Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
I wonder if they're working on ideas that could be thrown to screenwriters in the event that WotC secures the movie rights? That may even be considered part of the work they're doing on story bibles.
 
Mearls said that they were taking a break after the DMG was done, but they'd get working on things in the new year.

On their table, of course is the following:

1.) Legends & Lore columns for Battlesystem, races, and other cut material
2.) Fan-kit and/or OGL
3.) Coordinating the Elemental Evil storyline release in March
4.) The next set super-secret rule book (Forgotten Realms campaign guide, etc) for Gen-Con release
5.) Story Bibles for future adventure paths
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
Cooking up licenses for more companies?

I’ve always maintained that the profit margin for WotC in the D&D brand lies not within the game sales itself - that’s peanuts compared to other gamelines these days - but in the spinoffs. These could be boardgames, miniatures, cards, books, online games, TV shows and movies possibly.

In my view, if they get it right, they should go back to the idea of an open source license - but more stridently controlled than 3E, so that 3rd parties strictly write D&D adventures and settings rather than effectively create their own gamelines and alternative rules. WotC could produce some ‘official’ adventure paths or classic settings (Forgotten Realms, Ebberon, Dark Sun, etc) occasionally, but otherwise just keep promoting the sales of the 3 core rule books to new markets brought about by increasing brand awareness from things like books, TV shows and movies.

We don’t want rules bloat in this new edition, if possible, so having Player’s Handbook 2, 3, 4…..etc, would be a major, major turn off.
 

TerraDave

5ever
Mearls said that they were taking a break after the DMG was done, but they'd get working on things in the new year.

On their table, of course is the following:

1.) Legends & Lore columns for Battlesystem, races, and other cut material
2.) Fan-kit and/or OGL
3.) Coordinating the Elemental Evil storyline release in March
4.) The next set super-secret rule book (Forgotten Realms campaign guide, etc) for Gen-Con release
5.) Story Bibles for future adventure paths
I think they have basically confirmed everything but 4. And if there is one, it could be a setting or monster book (or both, I suppose).
 

CapnZapp

Hero
In my view, if they get it right, they should go back to the idea of an open source license - but more stridently controlled than 3E, so that 3rd parties strictly write D&D adventures and settings rather than effectively create their own gamelines and alternative rules.
But conventional wisdom says you don't make any money off adventures (since only one out of every five players buy them - the DM - and then not every DM either, since any given adventure only appeals to a small slice of active gaming groups).

Adventures are instead loss leaders for game lines, since without adventures, you have no game line.

While such an license would be great for you and me who just want that official touch for our own self-published adventures, it is not what third parties will want to publish. They would want to publish "compatible" game lines that look official. They would want to publish splatbooks that appeal to the entire player base (and thus competes directly with WotC's core offerings).

Exactly as happened with the d20 license.

TL;DR: If WotC makes such a license as you describe, it must feel (from a third party perspective) very restrictive or it will not work as intended.

In conclusion, I fully understand why they chose their current strategy instead; making specific deals handing out the license one tightly controlled product at a time.

Perhaps they will issue an open license, but my guess it will be for non-commercial use only or somesuch.
 

Staffan

Adventurer
But conventional wisdom says you don't make any money off adventures (since only one out of every five players buy them - the DM - and then not every DM either, since any given adventure only appeals to a small slice of active gaming groups).
Conventional wisdom is clearly wrong, since Paizo are making a mint off their adventure paths - to the point where company reps tend to respond to suggestions about changing them with "They're where we make most of our money, so we're very careful about not wanting to fix something that isn't broken."

You clearly can make money from adventures, you just need to do them right.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Conventional wisdom is clearly wrong, since Paizo are making a mint off their adventure paths - to the point where company reps tend to respond to suggestions about changing them with "They're where we make most of our money, so we're very careful about not wanting to fix something that isn't broken."

You clearly can make money from adventures, you just need to do them right.
Yup. You produce Dragon and Dungeon magazines for years, and then when the license ends you convert all those subscribers into adventure path subscribers.

It's not the adventures (though those are good); it was a perfect storm of various circumstances. It's not repeatable.
 

AmerginLiath

Visitor
I agree with the things said so far here. The other thing, so far not really said, is simple. For every person/group that's been playing 5e voraciously and wants MORE MORE MORE right now, there's many more casual players who either are just getting started or haven't yet really gotten into it (I myself have yet to be able to play any 5e sessions yet, for lack of time and lack of group). By leaving space after the Core Books are released before new material really starts coming out, it allows players & groups to get into the game (or at least stick their toes into the 5 waters) without seeing an onslaught of material out or in the immediate pipeline that could potentially disrupt a campaign or just cost a lot of money to keep up with. We on major message boards and such are "the educated consumer" (to borrow the language of a defunct local clothier), but there's a much larger D&D population that's going to be learning 5e without seeing what the Mearlses and Crawfordses of the world are saying is happening and appreciate a better window (especially those who game less regularly and so are learning a game/organizing a campaign more slowly).
 
But conventional wisdom says you don't make any money off adventures (since only one out of every five players buy them - the DM - and then not every DM either, since any given adventure only appeals to a small slice of active gaming groups).
That kind of brings up one of the reasons I've been so frustrated with WoTC since 4E launched. It seemed (to me, at least) in 4E that the accountants took over the product decisions. They clearly said "campaign settings and adventures don't make us money, so lets cut those from the product line. Let's make a bunch of player-focussed products instead". Clearly that didnt work out. Without supporting DMs, there's nobody who wants to run your games.

Paizo, on the other hand, seems to have a much better grasp of the gaming ecosystem -- perhaps because it's a smaller company run by gamers, and not part of a big conglomerate that demands accountability for every product released. It seems more prepared to release products that might not be the best sellers but are part of the bigger picture, supporting its real money makers: the adventure paths and rulebooks. And funnily enough, some of those sourcebooks do end up on their Top 10 sellers list, defying all conventional wisdom.
 
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TrippyHippy

Adventurer
But conventional wisdom says you don't make any money off adventures (since only one out of every five players buy them - the DM - and then not every DM either, since any given adventure only appeals to a small slice of active gaming groups).

Adventures are instead loss leaders for game lines, since without adventures, you have no game line.
They don’t make money off the adventures, they make money from the brand. However, that brand has to be supported if it wants to be successful. Adventures add to the brand by showcasing the creative writing involved in the game. Rules supplements diminish the brand’s worth by making the game more complicated and alienating to new players.

While such an license would be great for you and me who just want that official touch for our own self-published adventures, it is not what third parties will want to publish. They would want to publish "compatible" game lines that look official. They would want to publish splatbooks that appeal to the entire player base (and thus competes directly with WotC’s core offerings).
The decision to publish would be up to them, but lots of publishers have produced third party adventures, campaigns, settings and possibly monster compendiums and been successful. I do recognise that splatbooks generally sell more, but there does need to be some careful thinking about that element from WotC. They simply cannot afford to let the open license spin out of control as they did with 3/3.5/d20 and have third parties essentially becoming competitors to the brand rather than contributers.

TL;DR: If WotC makes such a license as you describe, it must feel (from a third party perspective) very restrictive or it will not work as intended.
In conclusion, I fully understand why they chose their current strategy instead; making specific deals handing out the license one tightly controlled product at a time.The missue here is simply publishing rate. Again, to make the brand healthy it needs support

Perhaps they will issue an open license, but my guess it will be for non-commercial use only or somesuch.
The major issue here is simply publishing rate. Again, to make the brand healthy it needs support and it’s got quite a way to catch up with Pathfinder for example. Things like open licenses and online support (available pdfs of core rulebooks included) are a way of building the line quickly (and creatively). It’s just that, as you suggest, it needs to be done carefully - which creates something of a tension in it’s current direction.
 
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Valetudo

Explorer
Paizo has stated in interviews that most of their money is made from their APs. In fact they only made their pathfinder books so that they had something to use with their APs. Lets face it, they are light years ahead of wizards when it comes to adventures.
 

Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
Paizo has stated in interviews that most of their money is made from their APs. In fact they only made their pathfinder books so that they had something to use with their APs. Lets face it, they are light years ahead of wizards when it comes to adventures.
I think they're light years ahead of WotC in terms of their understanding of the RPG market. Clearly Lisa et al have better business skills.
 

SirAntoine

Visitor
A couple things.

Paizo may sell mostly their adventures, maybe because they give the rules away for free and also because those adventures are playable by anyone with D&D.

Wizards of the Coast is in the business of market research now, I should think. This is the time to see how 5th edition is received, and to make plans based on those indications.

Contracting out for the adventures shows they are keeping their cards close to the chest. I don't think we can say what is next.
 

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