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

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Zardnaar

Legend
Huh. 2e was considered one of the most successful editions - certainly one of the longest lived ones, which gave us pretty much all the things we consider classic D&D today - the settings, the lore, (Oh, gawds, the stacks and stacks of lore) the evolution from tabletop wargame to hobby.

The only thing that changed in 2e is they got rid of demons. For a couple of years. Then they brought them back.

Yeah, not seeing what you're seeing here.

2E sold about half of 1E and kinda helped bankrupt TSR.

Wasn't generally seen as successful. One of my favorite editions though.
 

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Hussar

Legend
2e had virtually nothing to do with TSR going bankrupt. Totally inept business management had a LOT to do with TSR going bankrupt.

But, frankly, the notion of D&D "selling out" is bizarre. They (as in whoever owned D&D at the time) monetized every single thing they could about the game. They sold character sheets, dice, miniatures, books, and a host of other stuff with the D&D brand on it.

At what point in time wasn't D&D "selling out"?
 




Hasbro moving in, simply means more D&D stuff for all of us. We are under no obligation to buy any of it, but I'm sure it will broaden brand recognition, which can ultimately only be good for D&D's success. And as long as D&D is succesful, that means more products for us to buy. More books, more miniatures, etc.

I've never understood why selling out is such a worry to so many people. When Metallica 'sold out', did it cause the decline of their music, or were they always on the decline anyway? Did George R R Martin sell out with Game of Thrones, and is that why the new book isn't out yet? Or is he just tired of the popularity of his own creation?
 

OK, I dont see value in continuing this then. I'm not some art snob, but when you have writers (art) artists (art) and imo designers (game design as art), I do not see how you can say D&D is not an artistic endeavor.

Either way, this isnt a judgment call against people making money. Its a question of if maximizing profit is the most desirable goal of creation.
Well, see here: I write, and I paint, and I design RPG content, and sometimes people give me money for the stuff I make. So I know about "Art", and it's not what you think it is.

There is no such thing as "selling out". There is only making a living by using your talents to entertain people.
 
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Orius

Adventurer
Like others have said, D&D, or more properly TSR, sold out a long time ago.

And when people start ranting about sticking it to the Man, I start rolling my eyes.
 

There is no such thing as "selling out". There is only making a living by using your talents to entertain people.

Agreed. It often sounds like people are just not allowed to capatilize too much on their own success. But if that is the case, where is that line?

Lots of bands start their careers playing in shady bars for tiny crowds, while selling merchandize they made themselves by scribbling their band name on a t-shirt.

When they finally achieve some level of success and buy themselves a tour bus, have they sold out? And why is that bad?
 

Did George R R Martin sell out with Game of Thrones, and is that why the new book isn't out yet? Or is he just tired of the popularity of his own creation?
Neither. He just wrote himself into a corner by setting out to subvert fantasy tropes. One of those tropes is "has a satisfying conclusion". In real life, stories never end - something Martin's archenemy Tolkien acknowledged.

The TV version had this problem. You can't subvert "has a satisfying conclusion" and still have a satisfying conclusion. Martin's solution is cleverer - die before finishing the last book, so there is no conclusion.
 

Neither. He just wrote himself into a corner by setting out to subvert fantasy tropes. One of those tropes is "has a satisfying conclusion". In real life, stories never end - something Martin's archenemy Tolkien acknowledged.

The TV version had this problem. You can't subvert "has a satisfying conclusion" and still have a satisfying conclusion. Martin's solution is cleverer - die before finishing the last book, so there is no conclusion.

I don't think that his intension, but it might be what ends up happening. The show suffered from no longer relying on Martins writing, so they wrote their own disappointing finale that rang false of the show and book's identity.

Has Martin written himself into a corner? I don't think so. But I do think he is more distracted by all the side projects he has going on. I think the success of GOT has become a burden for him, and he may have lost the love to finish his own creation. Some may call that 'selling out'. I just call it writers fatigue.

I think subverting tropes does not mean you can't have a satisfying conclusion. But it seems a happy ending does not fit this series. I think the reason that the new book isn't out yet, isn't a problem with writing, but a problem with wanting to write. If your heart's not in it, the ideas don't come either.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
2e had virtually nothing to do with TSR going bankrupt. Totally inept business management had a LOT to do with TSR going bankrupt.

But, frankly, the notion of D&D "selling out" is bizarre. They (as in whoever owned D&D at the time) monetized every single thing they could about the game. They sold character sheets, dice, miniatures, books, and a host of other stuff with the D&D brand on it.

At what point in time wasn't D&D "selling out"?

OD&D, early 1E.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Agreed. It often sounds like people are just not allowed to capatilize too much on their own success. But if that is the case, where is that line?

Lots of bands start their careers playing in shady bars for tiny crowds, while selling merchandize they made themselves by scribbling their band name on a t-shirt.

When they finally achieve some level of success and buy themselves a tour bus, have they sold out? And why is that bad?

I said it earlier. Selling out is drastically changing something to specifically make more money. Usually artists.

Some examples.

Nirvana didn't sell out they went the other way if anything.

Pearl Jam don't don't sell out once again made less money than they could have.

David Bowie sold out. He admitted it himself he wrote music based on what he thought would sell vs what he wanted.

Metallica sold out, went more radio friendly.

There's probably lots of examples. I don't judge to harshly since I've never been in that position;).

Selling outs only bad if you lose your original customers and fail to get more.
 

I said it earlier. Selling out is drastically changing something to specifically make more money. Usually artists.
No, that's called doing a job and earning a living like a responsible adult.
David Bowie sold out. He admitted it himself he wrote music based on what he thought would sell vs what he wanted.
There is nothing admirable about doing what you want. It's either selfish (if you have money) or stupid (if you don't have money). Part of the skill of being an artist is knowing what will sell.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
No, that's called doing a job and earning a living like a responsible adult.

There is nothing admirable about doing what you want. It's either selfish (if you have money) or stupid (if you don't have money). Part of the skill of being an artist is knowing what will sell.

I don't judge to hard. If I was an artist selling out makes sense.

Others don't sell out and still make plenty of money. You also have to change if you want to remain relevant.

More applicable to music than D&D.

D&D sold out in 1985 at the latest or when Gary took the Blumes money.
 

D&D sold out in 1985 at the latest or when Gary took the Blumes money.
D&D never "sold out" because it never "bought in", if that is what you call the opposite of something that doesn't exist.

It was always a commercial venture intended to maximise profits. That is sometimes misjudged the market doesn't make it morally superior at any time.

Also true of music.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
D&D never "sold out" because it never "bought in", if that is what you call the opposite of something that doesn't exist.

It was always a commercial venture intended to maximise profits. That is sometimes misjudged the market doesn't make it morally superior at any time.

Also true of music.

Being commercial doesn't mean you've sold out.

Artists gotta make a living.

Nirvana for example got pressured to make a more radio friendly album after Nevermind and instead turned in En Utero.

Will Smith never sold out he was commercial from the get go;).

D&D changed tack UA was a money grab and they made those dreadful Dragonlance Adventures ;). Lead to those awful 2E adventures.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
Ok, on a serious note.

Maybe it qualifies as a "sell out", but popularity definitely crippled D&D team ability to design an actually good game -- they themselves admitted that they needed to make an "umbrella game". They can't go too far in any direction or have any focus, so they're stuck.

But this problem was there since forever. They've fixed it in 4E, but people are morons, so here we are.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
In what way does it differ?

Definitely.

Making bad products is the opposite to a "money grab". Here is the secret to making money: make good products.

Generally selling out is applied to music. Usually means someone drastically changed their style to try and make more money.

Will Smith for example was commercial from the get go so didn't sell out.

Nirvana didn't sell out either. Record company wanted a more radio friendly follow up to Nevermind.

Bowie himself admitted to selling out. He went from amazingly inventive 70's artist to generic pop in 80s purely for the money. Bowie was so good he made good pop music.

I don't condemn them for doing it if they do. Green Day would be another example I suppose they're notorious for it. So is KISS.

You can still make good music selling out. And bad stuff as well.
 

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