D&D 5E The Monetization of D&D and other Role Playing Games

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I see that less of a DIY and more of a time when it was acceptable to have a crummy products. It's like people bragging about how much better cars were because they were easier to work on while ignoring the fact that you knew they were easier to work on because they needed their first major repair before they hit 30,000 miles.

I'm getting a game with functional rules, which I would argue is an improvement. It's still a DIY game though. In my last campaign, I had a Mind Flayer who was a good guy and only ate the brains of animals. You can still run your campaign how you want.

Nope. Missing the point. First, you asked whether it was ever a DIY hobby - which ... c'mon. It was a totally different ethos. As has been recounted previously, it used to be more of a toolkit for creating games than a game itself.

Next, it's great that you modify things a little. The point is ... that's less common than it used to be. For a lot of reasons. Partly because there is a standardization of play due to "better rules." Partly because of 3e and its progeny. Partly because of the shift to using on-line and computerized resources (which require homogenization). Partly because of the shift of more tables to using official product, especially APs. And partly because there is increased fetishization of RAW (and or "player empowerment").

None of this is bad, but it is. In fact, many people would argue that this is a feature, not a bug- as people have less time to devote to the hobby, they want to spend more time playing, and less time DIYing.

What's weird is that you are arguing the point (now with a different argument). But hey- feel free to conduct your own survey! When you get the results, please post them.
 

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One small thing I notice whenever I go on the DMs guild is how everything looks the same, because everyone uses the wotc fonts and formatting template. Compared to a lot of non 5e games it's really noticeable how homogenized everything is.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
There are more resources.

There is greater accessibility to resources.

But there is also less DIY at individual tables. There is far more reliance upon, and demand for, RAW. For official product.

I think we might come to terms with this if we consider what points the comparisons are between. After all, as of 2e, TSR had gotten into the supplement-bloat model. I think we would likely find that the increased demand for "official" is based on when there was a lot of "official" to work with. And that's back in the late 80s.

OD&D, AD&D - a lot of DIY, mostly because there was no choice. 2e+, lots of choice, so less need to DIY.

Or, I should say, less need for DIY setting and rules, specifically. There's now more time to DIY on adventures, if you like, and execution of play.
 

What do you all think? Am I wrong to find something distasteful in consumerism in the hobby (even my own)? Is there a line to be drawn somewhere (perhaps at NFTs)? Is it still a DIY hobby, or has that not been the case for some time now?
Fundamentally , I agree with Oofta's point that people want to make money, and that people want to be able to buy things that give them pleasure. Also to point out that D&D, like all other leisure activities, is entirely an optional luxury product -- if you cannot afford it, you should not buy it (and, conveniently, there are massively multiple ways to play TTRPGs without spending a dime). D&D is also pretty good about things in that, while that accessory material does open new doors to the game, it is imminently playable with only the basic or even only the free material. Compare that to a lot of recent video games* that are theoretically cheap or free, but if you don't drop several times the starting cost on DLC, you basically can't complete them.
*From what I hear. my personal knowledge ends in the SNES era

Regarding NFTs and collectables: look, collectables in generable are a confidence game people play on themselves (often with help from others). Every economics course will tell you the same thing -- unless you are gambling on being the outlier, there is a better return on taking the funds you would put to collecting and instead put it in diversified stocks over the same time period. Sure, we all know the guy who had went back to their childhood baseball/basketball/MtG collections and found that Willie Mays/Michael Jordan/Black Lotus* card and sold it for a mint, but that's selectively neglecting the 49 other people you know that dropped serious money on Spellfire cards, Beanie Babies, or Death of Superman issue thinking that would be the next great thing. Unless you enjoy the process, collecting is foolish, and I've yet to meet anyone who enjoyed the process of collecting NFTS (except when they thought that made them the smartest person in the room, see how well that went in the long run...).
*I don't know how old people here are, so I'm doing an assortment

Regarding luxury gaming products -- Here I mean the gilded mahogany gaming tables and such (not an investment, just a high-value purchase). I have odd mixed feelings about this. I am a manager in a tech department, and I have a lot of people below me that are young, well-compensated nerd-aligned individuals, and boy do some of them spend on these kind of things. I have noticed over the past decade or so some behavior I would summarize as "I didn't know this product exists, but now it is something I have wanted my whole life," and also, "two other guys at work have one of these, I have now convinced myself I am lessor for not having one." In a small way, this makes me upset, because, even at their income, this (along with the non-gaming related things where this behavior shows up, such as in cars) is clearly going to come out of the saving for retirement, first house/upgrade from bachelor pad when they decide to family-up. However, it is not my job (or my place) to tell them what to do with their own damn money, and as I said, it's not exclusive to luxury gaming products.

On a lower tier, there's just the whole D&D branded can cozies, caps, t-shirts, ampersand waffle irons*, dice bags, posters, and so forth. These... well, it's the same stuff you have for your alma mater or your favorite local sportsball team -- you want to advertise that you are part of team <fandom> even when you aren't actually doing said fandom activity. I lump this under conspicuous consumption that is probably not the best use of your money, but eh, you probably aren't breaking your own budget to do so.
*probably don't exist, and would be one of the few things I would buy just because the idea amuses me.

Back to D&D/TTRPGs as a DIY hobby -- From he get-go, there have been people who have grabbed the core rules, never bought anything else, and gone on to homebrew amazing things. There have also been people who buy everything that comes out, as it comes out. There have also been, since day one, people who have fallen in love with the hobby and decided 'there's got to be a way to make my living doing this.' And there's always been just a few too many people with that idea compared to how much people really need to spend to play the game. That's why being an indie game developer is (on average) a pretty risky venture, but also why there are so many more kickstarters for resin products and fancy dice and knick-knacks and so on than just games.

Yes, you are probably wrong. It is a game you can still play at very low cost. Additionally, the ability to monetize had created and explosion and creativity and quality. Yet, it still hasn’t slowed the amazing amount of free content and i I’m tact it has helped it. Ever check the UA Reddit? Tons of creative free stuff there
For me, the real heartbreaker is all these art students (or self-taughts in the same vein) that post a fantasy art picture on reddit wanting you to then commission them to draw yours as well. Each one seems to have made about three sales, are spamming the gaming reddits (and annoying the heck out of everyone that isn't interested), and don't seem to be making a living (or even recouping the efforts the spend on selling themselves) off the deal.

pffft. If you're gonna share, show the REAL power of GW marketing.

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...And it doesn't stop with GW...

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Should we send our condolences to your spouse, or is this their secret plan to have the rest of the house to themselves? :p
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think we might come to terms with this if we consider what points the comparisons are between. After all, as of 2e, TSR had gotten into the supplement-bloat model. I think we would likely find that the increased demand for "official" is based on when there was a lot of "official" to work with. And that's back in the late 80s.

OD&D, AD&D - a lot of DIY, mostly because there was no choice. 2e+, lots of choice, so less need to DIY.

Or, I should say, less need for DIY setting and rules, specifically. There's now more time to DIY on adventures, if you like, and execution of play.
I'd say it's slightly different than that, in that while back in the day your viable options were pretty much down to "official" or "homebrew from scratch", now your viable options also include "unofficial 3rd party" and "kitbash"; with the last being to take a published setting from any source and alter it to make it your own - which is way less work than homebrew from scratch! :)
 

Stormonu

Legend
Should we send our condolences to your spouse, or is this their secret plan to have the rest of the house to themselves? :p
She got the Front Room TV, so I took everyplace else for my entertainment. :p We bought the house specifically because of this room, the previous owners converted the garage into a "play room".

(Actually, she wants a sewing room nowadays, but we have to kick the college kid out first...)
 


Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
If you demonetize the hobby, the creators will make even less (and they are already underpaid, as a few articles on this site have described). The conflict between Apollo and Mammon goes back before capitalism--artists and writers used to have to get rich patrons.

If you have money to burn, buy works from creators you like. That way they get the money, as well as DriveThruRPG or whatever middleman.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I linked to it in the OP, but the Satine Phoenix/Jamison Stone situation is a good example of the concrete negative effects of Dnd as a monetized lifestyle brand. Look at the Kickstarter page for Sirens: Battle of the Bards.

Look at how glossy everything is! So many add ons! Dice, Syrinscape, Wyrmwood trays, VTT support, etc etc. Endorsements from people in the hobby. A $3000 support tier that includes the "opportunity" to play a game with Phoenix and Stone. And then, two pro-forma paragraphs of possible risks...which of course didn't include the possibility that the creators would be outed as unethical and abusive people. Their celebrity status is what allowed them to both raise $300,000 for this product and mistreat the freelancers who worked for them, as they were actual gatekeepers to those freelancers being able to make a living in the hobby. If you go to the comments page, you'll see that Phoenix/Stone has shut down their discord page and probably won't deliver the product, let alone all the fancy dice and stuff people pledged for.
This has very little to do with D&D though, in that it is not a consequence of D&D or its marketing but of the Social Media/YouTube influencer phenomenon. The issue here is that Social Media needs content to get eyeballs. It needs the eyeballs to harvest data to sell ads but will not pay for the content or at least it will pay as little as possible for content. So these people will try other stuff to make producing content worthwhile and most of them cannot manage a business then you get various screwups and sometime these people are pretty screwed up themselves and that gets outed also.
When these sort of situations go disastrously wrong, they are treated as exceptions and 'scandals.' What I'm wondering, however, is if the way that dnd is monetized creates the conditions for these types of situations. If, when the kickstarter launched, one had criticized it for its influencer-based commercialization, I think the response would have been 'well, if you don't like it don't back it.' Which is a fair response, as it's not like one could predict what would happen. But it leaves aside the connection between that monetization and the way they were allowed to operate as a business.
The going disastrously wrong is a feature of the whole nature of social media economy. The skills needed to build up a following on Social Media are not necessarily the ones to manage that success and very likely not the ones needed to turn it into a more sustainable business.
Jamison Stone and Satine Phoenix might never had an issue if they understood budgeting and basic project management.
 


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