D&D General Is DnD being mothballed?


This is inspired by a thread of tweets by Matt Colville

Basically he believes DnD 5e is basically being mothballed, or sidelined as just a legacy thing they do.
They dont really invest money into the TTRPG much, its mainly just a side thing to promote the brand similar to the current state of marvel comics, the comics dont really get funding or money, its about the wider brands and IPs then the comics themselves, the comics are just fun sidegig promotional things tied to the legacy thats it.

It would explain a lot of things about Wizards atm, for example if it was all about making money, why arent their new classes or way more player splatbooks, why arent their more PHB's not just revisions but more PHBs with more classes and subclasses, these sell better then everything else, all they seem to be selling is just Settings to promote for the brand, and their staff seems relatively super small despite being the biggest DnD edition. They dont really make much, everyone else in the industry prints more books and does more then them, and they actively kinda dont. Even though it would legit make them more money.

5e player want more rules more options, and just more in general, but they...just dont do anything with that, its not just about making money if it was all money the release schedule would have way more player options, even lazily thrown together ones. But here we are just getting...well less, it makes no sense, and the budget and scale for the Biggest TTRPG in the world seems well...meager really...they dont seriously invest in the game it feels like, it legit the game is under-monetized literally, they can do way more to make way more money with 5e but they actively..dont

Its weird, and i think matt has a point, maybe mothball isnt the right term, but the TTRPG is just a legacy brand thing they keep around but dont seriously invest in, its a sideshow, the money hasbro gives isnt to dnd the TTRPG, its the Movies, its the Video games, its the license, it also explains why WoTC is pushing for DnD to go digital with the TTRPG, because its probably the only way for hasbro to every seriously invest in the game again which is making a subscription/microtransaction digital platform they can push numbers with, without that...well i think they would invest even less in TTRPG and just license out the brand further.

Whats your thoughts on this possibility? I think its interesting, and it makes how WoTC just...treats dnd make sense, its just marvel comics, a sideshow gig to promote the real money maker....the brand.(A DnD cookbook sells more then most splatbooks in DnD and most competitor RPGs. It also actually explains the OGL issue abit, WoTC wasnt lying when they said they were worried about disney and such, because if the goal for DnD is to be a wide Marvel Style brand hoping to hit it big with the movie...having so much of your IP like Owlbears Magic Missiles and such just avaliable for any studio to use in their movies or games without going through you? Thats a big issue, its like if the spiderman costume was open source and everyone can use it to make Spiderman adventures, thats a huge problem in brand identity, that competitors and 3rd parties can take, thats what probably bugs them about CR, they see their big marvel brand thing being used to make TV shows and Comics and they get nothing from it.

But yea, what do you think?

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I crit!
PHB2 It was called Tasha’s

They’ve said why they abandoned the idea of PHB 2 and DMG 2. A significant number of people thought it was a new version of the core book instead of an expansion.

Edit to add verbiage from a post way down in the thread:

OK. I gave it some thought more thought and went for a walk and re read what he wrote. I think he picked bad phrasing.

What I think he's getting at is that the RPG isn't getting the lions share of the funding. And in his opinion it shows and WotC is doing it intentionally. Possibly making a mistake.

I think it's entirely possible that the lions share of the funding is now going to the VTT and DNDBeyond and then the RPG, in that order. However I think that's just perception on our side, if Matt has more insider info, which he just might, we can only guess. However it does seem like that's the order of things from out here.

So if that's what he's getting at? I agree. I don't think it should be reflected in more products or even the products he mentions as missing. But I think a united leadership of D&D (which would cost money) and more time to develop ideas and develop products could be useful.
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Writer for CY_BORG, Forbidden Lands and Dragonbane
His rather flippant dismissal of the positive effects of a slower release schedule doesn't sit well with me. TSR made boxes, books, tie-ins with Diablo and StarCraft, and tons of other stuff, but that didn't guarantee a vibrant game. I also was of the impression that second edition AD&D collapsed under the weight of all the books and boxes for the game, overwhelming the customers and dividing their spending over too many products, making none of them profitable.

But then again, I might be biased since I enjoy a slow release schedule, so I might very well be wrong, and D&D would flourish if there were tons of more books.


The EN World kitten
I think Coleville has hit the nail on the head with regard to it being about the brand rather than the game, at least insofar as how the WotC executives are looking at it. Which is kind of a shame; it doesn't seem like that long ago that Ryan Dancey was telling us how Hasbro's ideal was for D&D to earn $100+ million per year. Now, as far as we know, it's earning $100M to $150M, and that's apparently "undermonetized."


Also the release pace has been covered over and over again.

The 3rd edition pace, in the king term, was bad for the edition.

PHB2 It was called Tasha’s

They’ve said why they abandoned the idea of PHB 2 and DMG 2. A significant number of people thought it was a new version of the core book instead of an expansion.
Yea, but even at a slower pace their should be more for this game, like PHB2 would actually be new classes, and more then that then just a few subclasses and DM's tool, their wasnt even a lot in that, and why arent we getting more player options like that, for what reason?
Its just less money, they dont print a lot, what they do print doesnt have much in it, if it was about making money, printing new player options even at a slow pace would happen a lot more, classes, more subclasses more rules, they just do not do this.

I think it might go beyond just "its strategy" Im not sure if it makes sense.


Posting Justin Alexander's comments from his discord server, because they mostly echo my own:
The thing that confuses me with Colville's comments today is that he seems to be just now discovering that D&D 5E was created by a development team that was expecting D&D development to be mothballed and the whole department laid off by Hasbro.

And I'm really not clear how this is news to him.

It was pretty obvious in 2012-15 what was happening. It's only become more obvious over the years as developers have left WotC and confirmed what happened: 4E was a huge failure twice over. Everyone in charge was sacked. There was no roadmap for D&D to generate the revenue that would prevent Hasbro from mothballing the division. Their goal was to design a version of the game that would hopefully be kept in print so that the game wouldn't just be completely dead.

Like, the original plan was: Publish core rulebooks and then have OTHER RPG PUBLISHERS develop all the adventures for it.The fact that they:
  • Got the design right enough to pull back everyone who had ditched 4E.
  • Critical Role premieres March 2015.
  • Stranger Things premieres 2016.
  • They got the release schedule right, with a pace that created big, cultural events that unified the fanbase and generated excitement.
Is, frankly, as much luck as anything else.

But the big thing is that D&D production is clearly throttling UP, not down. More books are being released at a faster pace. Is it throttling up to the literally ruinous pace of 4E? No. Which can be difficult to understand if you think 4E was secretly a huge success, but isn't surprising to anyone else.
The game ain't mothballed. The anemic approach to content is consistent with 5th edition's history.

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