Online Digital Tools Disappearance Risk Discussion


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Retreater

Legend
In fairness, this was exactly the argument that I was making. That those who had already purchased the product would likely still be able to use the product but that no one else would be able to purchase it.

Also, exactly the argument I was making.
When you need a specific platform to view your content (Roll20, DDI), once that service stops being supported, if you can't download it as a PDF, then it's gone.
If you're not actively signed into the service, or if it is no longer compatible with the new version of the software (as is the case with 4e on Fantasy Grounds), then you can't access it.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So, my opinions differ depending on what digital content we are talking about, and where and why I am accessing it.

If I buy a pdf that's really intended to be my own copy, no, you don't get to reach in and edit it.

If, instead, we are talking about, say, D&D Beyond, where the idea is to have a single source that many people can use to manage a game, then I'm more okay with updates being pushed to me. Trying to keep separate versions of that information and mechanics integration would be a bit much. If I paid a fee one time - that doesn't entitle me to permanent support of the material.
 

Retreater

Legend
If I paid a fee one time - that doesn't entitle me to permanent support of the material.
I understand there is a value to that service worth the price of the fee. For example, if I buy a subscription to Roll20 and purchase content to run for players, the value is that I didn't have to import the data into Roll20 and that I get to have those features for my online game.
But also having been on the receiving end of losing access to content stings.
Do you normally purchase PDFs and/or physical content of material you buy on services like D&D Beyond? Are you okay with material being updated/changed or lost while you're in the process of running a campaign? Or maybe that you won't be able to go back and access it five years from now?
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
But also having been on the receiving end of losing access to content stings.

Expectations matter.

Do you normally purchase PDFs and/or physical content of material you buy on services like D&D Beyond?

So, if context on my personal habits helps:

I have a bunch of stuff in pdf form, but I don't use most of it for active gameplay. I sometimes use it so I can have the same reference in multiple locations for doing prep when I don't want to lug around books, but I don't refer to pdfs during a session.

I have bought a few things on D&D Beyond, because that's a platform I've been using in play.

Several GMs I play under use Roll20, but I have not bought anything for it myself.

Are you okay with material being updated/changed or lost while you're in the process of running a campaign? Or maybe that you won't be able to go back and access it five years from now?

I expect my pdfs to be static, but I am the one who maintains their storage. That's on me.

I recognize that I'm not maintaining the storage of D&DB stuff, and that means it might change. I went into those purchases knowing that, and I made the purchases specifically to support current play, not play that may or may not happen years from now. I'm not really worried about the longer term there. If D&D Beyond folds, I may lose that information. I'm okay with that.

I am not a player that gets upset by rules changes, to be honest. If I'm going to play, I'm going to play - a few differences here or there aren't going to ruin the game for me. I'm... just not that uptight about it.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I copy and paste Dndbeyond stuff. My thoughts on licensed items is that if they charge the same or nearly the same as the stuff I own, I'll save it.

While I was sad that the 4e tools disappeared, it really didn't effect my life. I just moved on.

So, my stance is one of principle, not anything more or less.
 

Retreater

Legend
While I was sad that the 4e tools disappeared, it really didn't effect my life. I just moved on.
Whereas, for me, if those tools still existed, I'd likely be running 4e right now. As it is currently, the system is too unwieldy to run without the tools. The tools were so integrated with that particular edition that I think it affects its stance in the hobby.
You'd probably have triple the number of players (or more) if those tools were still available.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Whereas, for me, if those tools still existed, I'd likely be running 4e right now. As it is currently, the system is too unwieldy to run without the tools. The tools were so integrated with that particular edition that I think it affects its stance in the hobby.
You'd probably have triple the number of players (or more) if those tools were still available.
I played a few times after they disappeared, it was different for sure. But I don't agree you need them. As for having more current players, that's likely true, but I'm guessing WotC and other publishers are happier when one edition is dominant.

I've used DNDBEYOND so much now, I'm not sure I can play 5e w/o it....
 



Bluenose

Adventurer
The reality as that nothing is ever likely to disappear entirely from the internet if it has significant value. The question is whether customers of your product will feel inclined to go to the pirate sites/torrents and get it that way (and if they do, some will never pay for anything again) or whether your new replacement product will be sufficiently desirable that most will move over to it - more likely if there's benefits to moving on if you were a previous customer, rather than making you but everything again.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Whereas, for me, if those tools still existed, I'd likely be running 4e right now. As it is currently, the system is too unwieldy to run without the tools. The tools were so integrated with that particular edition that I think it affects its stance in the hobby.
You'd probably have triple the number of players (or more) if those tools were still available.
I used to play 4E and I never used the tools. It was fine.
 

Voadam

Legend
I got into 4e late in the cycle and signed up for a years subscription to the increasing add on each month to their digital tools. The tools were great. Having the monster database was really fantastic as was the character builder. One month later they switched from a buy increased additions to your tool model to a rent access month to month model. My group at that time decided they were fed up with 4e as a play experience (right when I got into it) and decided to switch to Pathfinder so I was not happy with the new WotC rent model and cancelled. I was glad they provided me with a refund. If it had been a straight continuation of the add on new stuff every month I would have strongly considered keeping the subscription to build out reference stuff I could use in other games or for potential future 4e games.

I was on rpgnow from the beginning when they said you can always download stuff you've bought later.

Dtrpg.com started off with DRM and I did not use them until that was gone.

Later rpgnow merged with dtrpg and I was unable to download a bunch of Dragonlance PDFs I bought when the license went away unannounced, then there was WotC deciding to pull all access to all WotC PDFs I had bought on dtrpg and paizo. Years later they started doing PDFs again on dtrpg, but the ones I bought on paizo are just digital records of my order if I lose those PDFs.

I play 5e but have not gotten D&D beyond.

I joined a group doing Fantasy Grounds and I have bought both a lifetime subscription and some materials in FG format.

I prefer buying PDFs I own. I prefer not to rent access in general.
 

Retreater

Legend
Here's why I say the digital tools were vital for 4e for me - and other groups I know. (Of course, if you played or currently play without the tools, I'm not trying to disregard your experience.)
How many different resources did you use to create your character? Maybe Player's Handbook 1 for your race, Player's Handbook 2 for your class, Martial Power for a few feats and powers, a few magic items from Adventurer's Vault, etc. (you see what I'm getting at). And what do you need to record to know how to use the feat or power - like a static bonus or weapon damage - or is it a paragraph of text and different effects? And when you level up, what do you need to change your bonuses on - every different attack, damage, defenses, hit points, bloodied value, healing surge value, etc.?
As a DM, you can easily adjust monster stat blocks in your head to level up or down to appropriately the challenge the party? Sort through monsters in a comprehensive database? Search for magic items across something like 10 different sources? And you have access to all the errata?
4e was designed to be played with these tools. Don't believe me, watch the original marketing videos. Without them, I think it's a clunky mess. With them, it's probably my favorite edition of D&D.
 

Yora

Legend
I once read about some research, now probably 15 years ago, that concluded that for any piece of online content, there is a 10% chance that it's gone now for ever 7 years since it was put up.
Wouldn't be surprised if that rate is considerably faster now.
 

dirtypool

Explorer
For less than the subscription price of DDI across the life of the game you could have purchased the official power card sets or for the low low price of whatever your local library charges you could have taken said books and photocopied the relevant powers necessary, printed them out and had them handy as a reminder. For even less than that you could simply have written a brief description on any of the two and half pages devoted to powers on the official character sheet.

As for monsters, multiple users spent a great deal of time compiling databases of all the monster manual creatures and made them available for free on forums like this one. So yeah, you could have done that. Or the DM could have brought his book collection and passed it around to players like we did in the days before digital tools, and some of us still do and it is completely playable.

If you feel that as a system it's so clunky it needs digital tools, is it really that good in your estimation?

Your whole argument seems to boil down to "digital tools can suddenly disappear" which sure they can. No one is disputing that, it doesn't however square with your initial point that digital tools are dangerous for the hobby because they mean games themselves can vanish when tools do. The physical media of this hobby has not replaced itself with digital tools, it has supplemented itself with digital tools. DDI disappearing didn't delete 4e pdfs that had been sold. D&D Beyond's model where you have to pay full price for their game content has not in any way slowed the massive sales of physical 5e books. Archives of Nethys has not harmed PF2e, and Demiplane isn't likely to either.
 


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