Yes, and previous editions did alot of the latter...
Edit: Also im sure they know they can't please everyone but if something doesn't resonate with the majority of your market... why would you spend the money and dedicate the resources developing it when you can focus those on products that do resonate with the majority... this is business 101.
Except that they've then clearly thrown good money after bad, if they've tried three separate times
and every single try fails
At this point, it would have netted them some
profit to publish something
, even if it wasn't universally acclaimed. Remember, the standard we've been told WotC has used in the past is something like 75% approval. If something didn't get 75% approval, it was canned back in D&D Next. They may have relaxed things a bit since then, but they're still almost surely setting really really really
high standards. Such standards are good if
you can meet them, since that nearly guarantees profits. They are bad when, as the saying goes, the perfect is the enemy of the good.
Further...not every product needs to be for every customer. That's the lesson of stuff like extra chunky spaghetti sauce. You can horizontally segment your market and increase
your profits--sometimes by an order of magnitude. The issue, again, is NOT that psionics aren't desired. It's that everyone who wants psionics (and it's clearly a significant chunk if they were willing to try three separate times
to make it happen) wants THEIR psionics, and (in general) REALLY DISLIKES anything that isn't THEIR psionics.
- Some want it highly scientific-sounding. Others want woo-woo mysticism. Still others want something more "paranormal."
- Some want it to function very similar to spellcasting. Others want it to be nothing at all like spellcasting.
- Some want it to be highly diverse and flexible. Others want it to be very focused and specific.
- Some want to integrate psionics into other things, especially if they're fans of hyper-reductionism. Others want psionics to remain totally separate from other classes. Some take a middle ground and accept "dabbler" subclasses (the psi equivalent of EK.)
And the problem is, even if
two people agree on their position for each of the four distinctions above, they can still
take umbrage with how each other would implement the specific details.
IOW, there's like four or five distinct, large camps, that all want
psionics and may constitute a majority of players (certainly, it constitutes enough of a bloc that WotC has tried to court them three times
, something only matched by their efforts to rework the Ranger), but none
of them fully agree on what form it should take. Any specific implementation may only please 60% of psionics fans (if you're lucky
), who may be only 70% of all customers. So even though a majority of people might want psionics, and a majority of the people who want
psionics may want any given implementation, a distinct minority (.6*.7 = 0.42) of the overall population may actually like that specific
And so we go, around and around, unable to move forward because it's not possible
to please 70% of the customer base with any given implementation of psionics, even though "give us psionics" gets 70% approval. Lowering the threshold for "this is good enough to make a profit" would make sense under this hypothesis, because then all the work they've already put into making some kind
of psionics would at least finally turn a profit, even if that profit is smaller than the theoretical
profit they could get from a (potentially impossible) ideal
psionics solution that pleased all of the camps.
If they instead came out with psionics rules that at least attempted
to horizontally segment the market (say, 2 or 3 psionic classes instead of just one, with one going for a more scientific and focused approach, and another going for a more diverse woo-woo mysticism approach), and included it in a supplemental book like Dark Sun
where it can be easily ignored by people who don't like psionics, they might find quite a bit of success. Not as much
success as if they could find the silver bullet for all these troubles, but again, the perfect is the enemy of the good.