Roll20 & DTRPG Are Teaming Up

Last month, Roll20 and the Drive-Thru-RPG-powered DM's Guild announced that they were teaming up to bring DMs Guild content to the Roll20 virtual tabletop platform. This week, the two companies have announced that Roll20 and the whole of DTRPG are joining forces.

Roll20DriveThruRPG-Banner_1920x1080.jpg


The two companies combine the world's largest VTT platform with the world's largest TTRPG digital storefront. The announcement refers to a 'new entity' which will be adding PDF support to Roll20 which allows users to access any PDF in the platform, with a longer term goal of making DTRPG's PDF libraries available from within Roll20 itself.

You can see a mockup of how this will look below.

VTT-DMsGuild-Mockup.jpg


PDFLibraryDesignPreview.png

DTRPG-DMG-Roll20-mockup.png




Today, Roll20 and OneBookShelf announced their plans to join forces, bringing together two of the world’s leading digital tabletop roleplaying (TTRPG) content platforms. Roll20 is already the world’s most popular virtual tabletop platform for roleplaying games, providing a digital space for over 10 million users to play TTRPGs daily. OneBookShelf manages eleven ecommerce marketplaces, most notably DriveThruRPG and Dungeon Masters Guild, and is the premier online vendor for the TTRPG industry. The deal empowers players to manage content across platforms for nearly any tabletop game, connect more easily with other players, and step into games immediately, all in one place.

This change forges an unprecedented alliance of industry experience in the TTRPG space, fusing more than a century of combined executive leadership with publisher and community relationships to create the best tabletop platform experience. TTRPG publishers and creators can now easily reach audiences in the virtual game space where they most often play, allowing customers to seamlessly find, share, and play their favorite games.

The joint venture brings together a party of 40 technical wizards dedicated to improving product, code, and user experience. In the coming weeks, the new entity will add PDF support to Roll20’s virtual tabletop (VTT), giving GMs and players the ability to upload, read, share, and immediately play using any PDF in the VTT. At a later date, the companies will make OneBookShelf PDF libraries accessible within the Roll20 virtual tabletop experience, and are committing to ensure that OneBookShelf PDFs will not count toward Roll20 storage quotas.

“Joining forces with OneBookShelf creates the best place to purchase, peruse, and play TTRPGs online, period,” said Ankit Lal, CEO of Roll20. “Since 2012, Roll20 has been the industry leader in virtual tabletop gaming, hosting content from some of the biggest publishers in the space, including Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, and Chaosium. With this deal, we gain significant progress on several of our user promises that dramatically improve the VTT, and will work together to continue adding new and exciting features to our already industry-leading platform.”

“Our mission from the get-go has always been to make it easier for publishers and creators to reach a wider audience of roleplaying fans,” said Steve Wieck, CEO of OneBookShelf. “By combining forces with Roll20, we empower game makers to present content across a wider variety of formats, whether character creators, virtual tabletop, digital editions, or print. Customers will be able to support their favorite games, in any format they desire, with one economical purchase, and they will be able to use their content on roleplaying’s most trusted platform.”

Following the closure of the deal, Ankit Lal will continue as CEO, having been promoted from President of Roll20 in January 2022. He brings 14 years of experience leading strategy, product, analytics, and marketing teams across several industries, most recently at Google and ClassPass. OneBookShelf CEO Steve Wieck will join the Roll20 governing board and executive team, bringing 35 years of experience across the TTRPG industry. Wieck’s credits are numerous: he co-founded White Wolf Publishing, producers of Vampire: the Masquerade and other World of Darkness properties, founded DriveThruRPG in 2004 (which later combined with RPGNow to form OneBookShelf, Inc), and later served on the CCP Games Board of Directors following the company’s White Wolf acquisition. Together, the two combine a wealth of product development and industry-specific knowledge.

Roll20 partnering with OneBookShelf is the latest move under Ankit Lal’s leadership to help realize a new vision for the platform. Since Lal assumed the CEO position, Roll20 has added features highly demanded from fans including Dark Mode, one-way barriers with Dynamic Lighting, and updated compendium sharing. The platform’s performance-improving initiative, Operation Fire Bolt, has reduced in-game load times by 57% and boosted launch speeds by up to 50% for almost all games. Over the rest of 2022, Roll20 users can look forward to continued VTT improvements, faster dice results, more Dynamic Lighting updates, improved character creation and character sheets, and more.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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talien

Community Supporter
What about Astral: Will we shut it down?
Yes, we will be closing the Astral VTT platform in August. We will be making an announcement regarding this within the next week, and we’ll offer some new options to users there.
This is a new one for me. I didn't realize Astral was "owned." My understanding is that it was a partnership:
If it was a partnership (not a merger, not a company buying the other), I'm not sure why Astral would shut down in response to this announcement?
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
This is a new one for me. I didn't realize Astral was "owned." My understanding is that it was a partnership:
If it was a partnership (not a merger, not a company buying the other), I'm not sure why Astral would shut down in response to this announcement?
Partnering is at least sometimes used as a nonspecific catchall term which can include actual mergers or acquisitions.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter


mrswing

Explorer
Seems like they're going to do with Roll20 what they promised but didn't do with Astral - using the PDFs directly in the VTT. Of course, we'll have to wait and see how well all of this is going to work and how close it will be to the ideal situation we're imagining. Also, bad news for FG & Shard and possibly Foundry, I fear...:(
 

SAVeira

Explorer
Seems like they're going to do with Roll20 what they promised but didn't do with Astral - using the PDFs directly in the VTT. Of course, we'll have to wait and see how well all of this is going to work and how close it will be to the ideal situation we're imagining. Also, bad news for FG & Shard and possibly Foundry, I fear...:(
Fantasy Grounds is not too worried. They have a highly active fanbase.

As someone who has and continues to use both Fantasy Grounds and Roll20, both have their own strengths and weakness. If given a choice I would go with Fantasy Grounds over Roll20 just due to the automatic that my games, there have over Roll20.

This will give Roll20 a leg up, Fantasy Grounds I am sure will continue. Just look at all the new material recently released for Fantasy Grounds that is either 3rd party D&D or non-D&D items.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Looking at a few versions of this announcement what I think this means is that Roll20 can take a pdf and autogenerate things like maps and handouts. You could always manually do the things like this yourself, but some automation would be nice.

From the publisher side they also mention “saving hundreds of hours in the conversion process”.
 


darjr

I crit!
...and should be the (not immediate) end for the printing side, what are the other options available as of today? Afaik: Amazon, Lulu... Any other?
(Apologies in advance but both are not my favorite)
Why would they end their printing side? From what I understand they make decent products that are wanted by many. The card printing side I’ve heard is also excellent, a little known thing about thier printing operation.
 

aia_2

Custom title
Why would they end their printing side? From what I understand they make decent products that are wanted by many. The card printing side I’ve heard is also excellent, a little known thing about thier printing operation.
That is not based on any objective fact but on historical observation: out of a merger there must be cost efficiency, there MUST be! What is the weakest side in this merger?
Or, making this point from another point: say that Coca Cola and another beverage company merge together. Say that the second company has also a line of business in the food (like the chips)... What is the part which can be "sacrificial" in order to get a cost efficiency to be showed to the analysist and to thr market?
 

Roll20 and DTRPG are, however, not exactly in the same business. The overlap, if anything, is that they both sell content that can be used for VTT-based online play. But given the speed with which software development has happened on both sides of the merger, I would not expect any immediate changes here. It seems more likely to me that they hope to bolster sales for VTT-content in the way outlined in the announcement.
 


Nylanfs

Explorer
Here's Smiteworks response. :)

 


Zehnseiter

Explorer
I don't really about VTTs. They are more work then I want to invest as GM. So roll 20 doesn't interest me at all. The only thing that is important for me is that they don't do any stupid stuff with drivethru rpg. I just want a place where I can buy PDFs that update themselves with no nonsense attached.
 


Jer

Legend
Supporter
That is not based on any objective fact but on historical observation: out of a merger there must be cost efficiency, there MUST be! What is the weakest side in this merger?
Or, making this point from another point: say that Coca Cola and another beverage company merge together. Say that the second company has also a line of business in the food (like the chips)... What is the part which can be "sacrificial" in order to get a cost efficiency to be showed to the analysist and to thr market?
But that is an example where the two businesses are doing the same thing. That's like a Disney acquiring 20th Century Fox move where you buy a company that is doing the same thing as you because of their intellectual property or other assets to that you can sell them yourself. You get a lot of overlap there because you can just move the chips brand and recipe over to your existing chips manufacturing facilities and shut down the ones you no longer need.

In this case it's two businesses who are selling different things. Their core businesses complement each other, so you don't find redundancies and cost savings there. Getting rid of the printing would presumably be cutting off profits (or else OBS would have stopped the printing side long ago) so it wouldn't make sense to look for new efficiencies from the merger there.

If I were working for these companies in HR, Finance, internal tech support, and possibly customer support/service I'd be worried about my job being redundant in the merger. Those are the kinds of places where companies who are doing this kind of merger/acquisition immediately look to shave costs because that kind of work is analogous to the chips example above - two groups doing the same thing where you can just consolidate the work into a single group.

Even the development staff for the two products are probably safe for now - down the road they might merge the two products and create a single group to develop it but that'll take years, and logistically the storefront product and the VTT product are so different I doubt merging them together would be an easy or even desirable task. I'd only be concerned if I were someone who was a dedicated developer of the Marketplace portion of Roll20 (if they even organize things that way) - I strongly suspect that one of the first orders of business will be to integrate the Roll20 Marketplace into OBS's framework - especially since they announced a while back that they were working on building connectors between the two. Eventually I suspect the Roll20 Marketplace code will go away entirely and be replaced by an OBS storefront.
 

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