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D&D 5E Sell Out: Hasbro and the Soul of D&D

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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
....I know this!

WEIRD AL!

You're welcome.
I wasn't thinking of Mr. Yankovic (or any specific artist) but he mostly fits the bill--though he has perhaps had more instances of success than I was thinking.
 

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Scribe

Hero
The labourer deserves his wages. It's stupid ideas like making money from something is "selling out" and therefore somehow wrong that gets socialism a bad name.
This...isn't the point. The point is the undue influence on the art, in an either open demand or implication of desire for a product to change to capitalize on the most profit possible.
 

Mallus

Legend
The phrase 'selling out' reminds me the commodification of authenticity has been going on for a long time and is probably inevitable in a late-stage consumer capitalist society.

I'll have something more D&D-related to say about all this later, after a lot more coffee or maybe some workday day-drinking because time really is a flat circle in Pandemic: Almost Year 2!

Here's a preview, though. Nonsense.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Watching many things from the 90s (or earlier) with people from a different generation can be an eye-opening experience. I recently saw a touring version of Rent with a group of younger acquaintances, and the universal reaction was the same- "Why don't they just pay the damn rent?"

It is worse than that. Benny offers to continue to allow them to live there, rent free, if they'll just convince one person to stop opposing a project that is intended to benefit artists. Benny is like, "I'll make life better for all of us, give you great new facilities, and let you live here for free," and they say, "No!"

I guess the D&D equivalent would be, like, organizing a boycott of D&D Beyond because it makes money off of giving us tools to play with.
 

I mean, I'm gonna be quite honest here because after reading all of that, it has been something I've always asked AND asked myself time and time again. And OP's post has reawakened said thought and contemplation. Which can be summed up in the following statement:

What about LAST YEARS rent????
 


payn

Adventurer
The meat of this OP didnt really come until the end. 5E is a success because it is already a standardized product. The modularity promised during NEXT never really materialized. What we got was a good to go out of the box (but easy to hack) product. Which is exactly what D&D ought to be. The real die hards will figure it out or go to another product like Pathfinder, 13th age, Savage Worlds, etc. So, no D&D aint selling out, that happened awhile ago and folks are ready for alternatives if they need/want them.

Another way to look at it is D&D is the instrument, the user is the artist. WizBro just sells new products and accessories. They aint the band themselves.
 

It is worse than that. Benny offers to continue to allow them to live there, rent free, if they'll just convince one person to stop opposing a project that is intended to benefit artists. Benny is like, "I'll make life better for all of us, give you great new facilities, and let you live here for free," and they say, "No!"

I guess the D&D equivalent would be, like, organizing a boycott of D&D Beyond because it makes money off of giving us tools to play with.

At some point, you realize most musical plot devices are about on the same level as, "Well...what if you just didn't explore the scary, abandoned house where the serial killer is rumored to have killed his last victim?"
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Watching many things from the 90s (or earlier) with people from a different generation can be an eye-opening experience. I recently saw a touring version of Rent with a group of younger acquaintances, and the universal reaction was the same- "Why don't they just pay the damn rent?" The idea of opposing "the man" (the corporation, the corporate world, the conforming society) and staying true to your authentic self or an artistic vision was simply foreign to many of them; this isn't a value judgment, so much as an acknowledgment that, to people today, the idea that art (or authenticity) and commerce are in any way opposed is bizarre. Success is not some type of integrity- after all, corporations support artistic vision, and the real sign of success is the marketplace. Right? If you are hustling to make ends meet with a number of side gigs, the idea of your endeavors becoming monetarily successful is no longer seen as "selling out," so much as finally making it!
Ok, I’m gonna stop you right there. First of all, the reason they didn’t just pay the damn rent in RENT wasn’t because of artistic integrity, it was because they couldn’t afford to. The question isn’t “why don’t they just pay the rent?” it’s “why are these people, who are apparently happy to kill a dog for a few hundred bucks, unwilling to help Benny stop Morene’s protest in exchange for lifetime rent for free?” Their priorities seem extremely messed up. But moreover, it isn’t that the concept of remaining true to your artistic vision is alien to artists today, nor that we don’t perceive integrity and commerce as opposed. It’s that wealth inequality has grown so extreme and the social safety nets have been so thoroughly sabotaged that we no longer have the option to choose artistic integrity over getting paid. We submit to the gig economy or we starve on the street. And that’s why the characters’ decisions in RENT seem so bizarre to us, because the reality that they’re choosing homelessness over compromise hits us closer to home, and is extremely alarming.

Boomers charted the course to financial stability and handed Gen X the map, but they complained that they didn’t want to follow it. Milennials tried to pick it back up, but it caught fire right in our hands. Now Gen Z is desperately trying to recover something from the ashes of the map Gen X so casually tossed away. That’s why the concept of “selling out” is so bizarre to us - to proudly reject as beneath you something that the rest of us would probably kill for, because the alternative is starving.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
It is worse than that. Benny offers to continue to allow them to live there, rent free, if they'll just convince one person to stop opposing a project that is intended to benefit artists. Benny is like, "I'll make life better for all of us, give you great new facilities, and let you live here for free," and they say, "No!"

It is somewhat difficult to translate the zeitgeist of earlier times into today's era.
 

Scribe

Hero
It's not art, it's a product.

And even when it is art, if no one wants to buy it it doesn't make it great, it usually means it's crap.
The SRD, is (arguably) just a product. If you want to argue that the various things which make up the IP are not art, I guess that's fine.

Not a position I would take.
 

FickleKnight

The Torn
I just don't buy the premise that D&D is really in danger from becoming big. First, as others have said, the SRD exists. Secondly, if the SRD is only not enough for you if you need something official from the corporate source. I love official stuff, but I don't NEED it. D&D won't be dead because it is no longer being produced, or it "sells out" in a direction you dislike. Paizo has proven that there are other avenues, again thanks to the SRD.

I say,

Bring on more D&D toys in Walmarts.
Bring on D&D themed birthday plates, napkins, and wrapping paper.
Bring on the D&D TV shows and movies.
Bring on the explosion of D&D clubs and stores.

I have no problem with the commercialization of something as long as the market can bear. Being a Socialist doesn't mean I can't enjoy buying things. :)
 


The SRD, is (arguably) just a product. If you want to argue that the various things which make up the IP are not art, I guess that's fine.

Not a position I would take.
"Art" is a label pretentious people put on crap in order to sell it to idiots.

[Note this is hyperbole and not intended to be taken seriously, but when Gygax put his original version of Chaimail up for sale he did not think "I am making art" he thought "can I make some money from doing what I enjoy?"]
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Boomers charted the course to financial stability and handed Gen X the map, but they complained that they didn’t want to follow it. Milennials tried to pick it back up, but it caught fire right in our hands. Now Gen Z is desperately trying to recover something from the ashes of the map Gen X so casually tossed away. That’s why the concept of “selling out” is so bizarre to us - to proudly reject as beneath you something that the rest of us would probably kill for, because the alternative is starving.

Oh boy. This might be the funniest thing I've read in weeks. Thank you. :)

Okay, then. But this isn't about politics- it's about D&D, and this isn't the forum for it.

(I have to admit, someone blaming Gen X for destroying the economic future is pretty entertaining, but I'll just leave the post as is.)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Oh boy. This might be the funniest thing I've read in weeks. Thank you. :)

Okay, then. But this isn't about politics- it's about D&D, and this isn't the forum for it.

(I have to admit, someone blaming Gen X for destroying the economic future is pretty entertaining, but I'll just leave the post as is.)
Oh, no, I’m not blaming Gen X for destroying the economic future. I’m 100% blaming the Boomers for it. I’m just expressing jealousy that Gen X had the opportunity to gain a modicum of financial stability before the economy imploded, and consternation at their holier-than-thou attitude about “selling out”
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
At some point, you realize most musical plot devices are about on the same level as, "Well...what if you just didn't explore the scary, abandoned house where the serial killer is rumored to have killed his last victim?"

You know a plot has issues when the whole thing could be resolved in 15 minutes if people just sat down and talked about it like mature adults.

In Rent, they have a whole song about how they aren't mature adults :)
 

I'm not worried, for one very specific reason: Hasbro (not "some dudes", but this exact company) has tried this before. With DnD. About 12 years ago. And it was... not a good move from an accounting standpoint.

Corporations don't have long memories in general, but they remember failures for a long time. They know that the heart of DnD, not just as a product but as a brand, is the ability to make it your own, to run it the way you want to, and to not be tied down to anyone else's vision. To tell your own stories.

Other lessons learned: My Little Pony proved that letting your fans do their thing doesn't hurt. Transformers (and MLP) demonstrates (no, really, it does) that giving content creators the lead makes better (or at least more profitable) content, which is ultimately better for the brand. And the... mistakes with Star Wars proves that letting go of an IP is almost never a good idea.

Hasbro is more than comfortable selling you the tools to make your own stories. They are, after all, a toy company first and foremost. And what are dolls and action figures for, in the end?

Yeah, I'm not worried.

I wasn't thinking of Mr. Yankovic (or any specific artist) but he mostly fits the bill--though he has perhaps had more instances of success than I was thinking.
I thought of Duran Duran, myself.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Another way to look at it is D&D is the instrument, the user is the artist. WizBro just sells new products and accessories. They aint the band themselves.
So, TSR didn't want to be Duran Duran, they wanted to be Roland?

That makes some amount of sense.
 


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