Looking Ahead to 2022

Predicting anything is a risky business; predicting the future of the hobby business even moreso, as the ups and downs of the industry aren't necessities and therefore harder to judge. But there's some trends in 2021 that point to what we can expect in 2022.

RPG2022.png

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

The 5.5 Edition Shuffle Begins​

The announcement of a new edition of Dungeons & Dragons by the 50th anniversary of D&D in 2024 wasn't necessarily a surprise, but a half-edition may not have been what everyone expected. Promises that everything will be backwards compatible (a promise similar to 5E's) will rely primarily on how transparent Wizards of the Coast is with those changes. So far, those changes have been signaled early on. There will come a turning point where signaling compatibility with the upcoming edition will matter to consumers. It's a long way off for most gamers, but not too soon for publishers, especially those with print products planned in the latter half of the year. Expect to see more of them begin showing their hand by indicating 5.5E compatibility this year.

D&D's Digital Dominance Expands​

We've discussed in depth how Wizards struggled to develop a coherent digital strategy until finally just outsourcing the whole business to third parties. But there's a new CEO in town, and Chris Cocks' background in digital seems rooted in plans for the future of both D&D and Magic. Cocks led the creation of a Digital Games Studio and a revamped technology team, coupled with the curious rumblings of WOTC's plans for a virtual tabletop and the registration of the digital-focused trademark of "Atomic Arcade" adds up to all of the company's digital plans for D&D and Magic coming in house.

Unions Will Accelerate​

The ingredients that create unions (suppressed wages, economic uncertainty, industry abuse, high-risk jobs) have been percolating for some time now, but the pandemic seems to have finally pushed employees to action. The most emblematic in the industry is Paizo's new union, but it seems unlikely unionization will be merely confined to that one company. Hasbro already has a union, but it's not clear if there is representation in Wizards of the Coast. Other large companies in hobby markets may well have their own unions soon.

We'll Learn to Live with the Pandemic​

In-person gaming is particularly vulnerable to pandemics: talking, laughing, and being in close-proximity are all considered "high-risk activities" that can potentially spread a virus. To a certain extent, online gaming blunted the damage, but that left in-person events like conventions in a tough spot. Slowly but surely, conventions are adapting. We'll probably see more of this, with digital/in-person hybrid events, testing and vaccine requirements, and attendance limits on future conventions. One thing is becoming apparent: it's no longer possible to simply delay long enough until the "pandemic is over."

The Supply Chain Will Eventually Unclog​

As I recently discovered when I ordered a prop helmet for my son's costume a month-and-a-half before Halloween that still hasn't arrived, the world is currently experiencing supply chain issues. These disruptions have impacted many tabletop gaming companies, particularly during the holiday season. This is bad, bad enough to sink Dust Studios, and there will surely be more. Worse, supply chain problems will continue well into 2022. It should get better by the end of the year, but by then frustrated customers may have changed their buying habits and impulse buys will be a thing of the past.

Please Be Better 2022!​

2021 was marked not so much by what it achieved but by what it didn't. 2020 set the bar low, and 2021 just didn't perform as high as we expected. Here's hoping 2022 will be incrementally better.

Your Turn: What are your predictions for 2022?
 
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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

Your Turn: What are your predictions for 2022?
I usually pre-order my 5E D&D books from Amazon so I get the lowest price guarantee. These usually shipped with a total cost of ~$32 USD. Judging by the fact that Strixhaven is still listing for ~$35 USD and the upcoming gift set for $152.96 ($~51 USD ea.) on their site I think the price for hardcovers will be going up. XGtE, MToF and TCoE are priced at ~$32 USD or lower and I can't imagine the cost of a cardboard slipcase driving the price per book up that much. Even the core gift set is only ~$87 USD. I had the upcoming gift set pre-order for a while, kept my eye on the price, and from I recall it never went down. It usually does to its lowest price within a few weeks of it becoming available, but I can't say for sure it didn't because I cancelled the order.
 

I think my main prediction 2022 is that despite liking what WotC are doing, I'm likely to buy less D&D product in 2022.

I feel like this is kind of unfortunate, because I'd like to support WotC's direction, but they're just not putting out a lot of books right now that I want to pay for (and non-WotC RPGs are doing pretty good). I didn't buy the Harry Potter or Dragon books, for example, and the monster book seems uncertain (I'm assuming there will be an unbundled digital edition when the bundle releases, if not, that's actively insulting and I definitely won't buy it this year).

However, if they do put out some nostalgia-setting books, i.e. Dark Sun, Planescape, Spelljammer (or Planesjammer), they will definitely get some $$ from me. Spelljammer/Planesjammer seems like a lock in for 2022.

Talking WotC more generally I'd predict we'll either hear more about the upcoming sci-fi CRPG they have all those ex-Bioware people working on, or near the end of 2022 (maybe earlier but I'd be surprised), we'll hear it's been quietly cancelled (possibly just by seeing the people involved have new jobs). If it's not been cancelled I'd be extremely unsurprised if it ended up on Xbox Game Pass for PC (and presumably Xbox), because Microsoft have a serious eye for upcoming CRPGs and really want Sony to not have them for a while.
 




Tsuga C

Adventurer
I predict that WoTC will continue down the path of eventually making all races little more than generic templates/skins that you can add your choice of abilities and skills to via a pool of points.
Sad but likely true. All the more reason to purchase good-or-better condition books from earlier editions.
 

I predict that WoTC will continue down the path of eventually making all races little more than generic templates/skins that you can add your choice of abilities and skills to via a pool of points.

There is a line in there that they will hopefully not cross. That line is doing all they can to push narrow-minded, anti-inclusive people away from the game without turning it so generic that people may as well play any of the other generic games out there.
 

I think their digital efforts will be directed towards games, not play tools (VTT's, Campaign Managers, Character Managers). In part because they already have partners who do the VTTs for them and I don't think there is enough profit left for them to justify trying to take it in house.

But, if they do, it might mean they actually start doing some content management for their "books" and that would be beneficial for us getting digital products in many formats. But I don't think they are ready to invest the million dollars and the 2 years it takes to get there.

I do see them continuing with the trend of removing anything possibly offensive from their books and rules, and to me the consequences of making races, class, heritages, etc bland and uninteresting. So I'm not looking forward to 5.5E.

I do hope to see more of the big cons going online and doing better at it. So far, very few online cons have been run very well, there is a great deal of room for improvement.
 

Samurai

Adventurer
My message to any WOTC folks reading this is to stop the practice of not giving player races typical stat bonuses for members of that race. Human's main benefit for many editions has been that they can choose where to put their stat bonuses. The basic Humans in 5e instead got a +1 in every stat, but most players I know chose the variant human, with 2 +1's of their choice and a free starting feat that they qualify for. That flexibility was a key reason why players kept playing humans. The ability in Tasha's for all races to choose where to put their stat bonuses instantly removed one of the major things that made Humans special.

After buying and reading Tasha's, in my games, a player can only make 1 change from the racial standard: move 1 stat bonus point, change 1 racial skill or ability, etc. They may still allocate their ability point array, and that right there is how you can get a gnome to start with a 15 Strength, which is very high for that race. Over time, by gaining levels, that gnome can put more points into his Str, all the way up to a 20, but it's not increased by his racial bonuses. This preserves some of the uniqueness and special qualities of each racial ancestry.

If a GM wants to allow his players to ignore the typical stat bonuses for a race and put them anywhere, that is a VERY simple rule they can use at their table.

If the GM doesn't want to allow players to choose all their own racial stat bonuses and there are no listed stat bonuses for the races, they only have 2 options: 1) You get no racial bonuses, just the starting stat array, or 2) each GM has to create the typical stat bonuses for each race they allow in the game. That can get to be a very big job for the GM, and those bonuses might vary significantly from 1 table to another, especially as you add more new races.

So, for the sake of game unity, don't remove the typical racial stat bonuses. You can always put in an optional rule, like in Tasha's, that GM's can let players choose some or all of their own stat and skill bonuses if you want, but if you don't list any typical ones in the book at all, it will create a mess.
 


teitan

Legend
I predict that my D&D purchases from WOTC will probably slow a lot unless they announce an undead book or a planar book and the changes are still compatible with what I already have without forcing me to buy Multiverse. I am getting the new CR adventure. My D&D plans are to branch out to Kobold Press and continue my support of Goodman Games with a probable shift to Dungeon Crawl Classics.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
You say “Atomic Arcade”, and I hear “Gleemax”…

My god, has it been 15 years already????
The only D&D digital stuff I've ever liked from WotC, was that simple character builder included with earlier prints of the 3.0 PHB. Yes it was pretty basic, but it worked and it was fun to play around with it at that time when the new edition had the most complex character building rules we had ever seen. Had they somehow allowed to add character material from supplements or even better custom stuff, we would have used it throughout 3e.
 

teitan

Legend
The only D&D digital stuff I've ever liked from WotC, was that simple character builder included with earlier prints of the 3.0 PHB. Yes it was pretty basic, but it worked and it was fun to play around with it at that time when the new edition had the most complex character building rules we had ever seen. Had they somehow allowed to add character material from supplements or even better custom stuff, we would have used it throughout 3e.
I bought a "used" 3e book on Amazon a couple years ago, it was in shrink wrap that had a small tear in it, dealer wrap, still had the CD in it.
 

Samurai

Adventurer
I predict that my D&D purchases from WOTC will probably slow a lot unless they announce an undead book or a planar book and the changes are still compatible with what I already have without forcing me to buy Multiverse. I am getting the new CR adventure. My D&D plans are to branch out to Kobold Press and continue my support of Goodman Games with a probable shift to Dungeon Crawl Classics.
I really love Kobold Press; they have a ton of books I use all the time. The Midgard setting is very cool, and the Southlands books have now been released as well, expanding the setting even further. Their Vault of Magic gives a ton of new magic items, Deep Magic has hundreds of pages of new spells, and I've already pledged for the upcoming Tome of Heroes and Book of Ebon Tides. I also have the new monster books they have released, and another one in the series is coming to Kickstarter soon.
 

DariusArgent

Explorer
I predict that I won't buy a wotc product ever again however I will support 5E third party publishers if I find their content interesting. Also playing other RPGs such as Mörk Borg and Savage Worlds.
 

ruemere

Adventurer
Prediction #1: There will be more indie publishers, and yet average indie publisher publication lifespan will diminish.

Prediction #2: Crowdsourcing platforms, with its more predictable product costs, will become default also for the biggest publishers.

Prediction #3: Ongoing pandemic will have further changes imposed on us. Most likely are going probably have to do in securing job stability, medical care and introducing certain social standards with regard to employment. It's hard to predict the nature of such changes, but given recent challenges to Google, I would venture that the position of a prospective employee in US will become stronger, remote working will become a viable option, and finally, gig jobs will see some regulation.
 

The only D&D digital stuff I've ever liked from WotC, was that simple character builder included with earlier prints of the 3.0 PHB. Yes it was pretty basic, but it worked and it was fun to play around with it at that time when the new edition had the most complex character building rules we had ever seen. Had they somehow allowed to add character material from supplements or even better custom stuff, we would have used it throughout 3e.
Right? I used the heck out of that CD for a few years. IIRC, didn’t that project turn into something called “CodeMonkey”? I thought a full character builder appeared, but too little too late.

I predict that I won't buy a wotc product ever again however I will support 5E third party publishers if I find their content interesting. Also playing other RPGs such as Mörk Borg and Savage Worlds.
Same here. WotC’s stuff seems very fluffy and boring to me lately, while A5E and PF2 increasingly have my attention.
 

Oofta

Legend
I think their digital efforts will be directed towards games, not play tools (VTT's, Campaign Managers, Character Managers). In part because they already have partners who do the VTTs for them and I don't think there is enough profit left for them to justify trying to take it in house.

But, if they do, it might mean they actually start doing some content management for their "books" and that would be beneficial for us getting digital products in many formats. But I don't think they are ready to invest the million dollars and the 2 years it takes to get there.

I do see them continuing with the trend of removing anything possibly offensive from their books and rules, and to me the consequences of making races, class, heritages, etc bland and uninteresting. So I'm not looking forward to 5.5E.

I do hope to see more of the big cons going online and doing better at it. So far, very few online cons have been run very well, there is a great deal of room for improvement.

I'd guess there's not much additional profit for them to build their own play tools above what they can make from licensing fees. Games on the other hand while higher risk are also higher reward. Biggest risk/reward of course is in movies and series.
 

talien

Community Supporter
Prediction #1: There will be more indie publishers, and yet average indie publisher publication lifespan will diminish.

Prediction #2: Crowdsourcing platforms, with its more predictable product costs, will become default also for the biggest publishers.

Prediction #3: Ongoing pandemic will have further changes imposed on us. Most likely are going probably have to do in securing job stability, medical care and introducing certain social standards with regard to employment. It's hard to predict the nature of such changes, but given recent challenges to Google, I would venture that the position of a prospective employee in US will become stronger, remote working will become a viable option, and finally, gig jobs will see some regulation.
I think #3 is probably going to have the biggest impact on all industries, hobbies included. I mentioned union formation accelerating, and I think that will spur some of the elements you mention in #3. Great insights!
 

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