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

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
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.
It is also because they are not (cannot afford) graphic designers.
 

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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Sorry, I'm not seeing it. The luxury and collector markets have always been there, in D&D and any hobby. But I see it more in older players and we know that most of us regular posters tend to be older and more likely to have discretionary income to pour into our hobbies than we did when we were young.

My middle-school son and his group make their own adventures and homebrew and barely spend anything on the hobby. My son could borrow any of my books, but he never has. They have their own thing going on and that's awesome.

Also, the very nature of TTRPGs leads to homebrewing in my experience. You already have to use your imagination and make so much stuff up, both as DM and player, just to play the game. It naturally leads to "what if" tinkering. If you add to that the increased time and fewer responsibilities of youth, it is fertile ground for creation.

Even for for an "older" player like myself, I got back into TTRPGs when 5e came out after not playing since 1990/1991. Very soon after getting bit by that bug, I was looking at other games, including many that were free. Just to explore very different styles of TTRPG.

I would say its the same as it always was, but that's not true. The internet, especially with social media, VTTs, video conferencing, and other modern tools provide an endless sea of free content and ways to share your own DIY and find players to try your DIY out. That fact that some people spend as much on a gaming table as nice used car, or that there are collectors who buy everything WotC sells plus premium, leather-bound books from lots of Kickstarters has no perceptible effect on this ocean of DIY creativity. It has never been easier to play for free.
 

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."

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.

Great post, pulling out these bits. I think this disparity in income and economic security, seen across all levels of society, is what rankles me a bit about the luxury products. The conspicuous consumption on one end, and the precarity on the other, is a symptom of this disparity, and if the $600 DM screen--more than the average American has on hand for an emergency--isn't exactly harmful in itself, I still find it a little bit gross. It is true that one is funding creators in buying these products, but that also strikes me as a small scale version of trickle-down logic, where the creators have to rely on the largesse and peculiar tastes of a patron class in order to secure basic healthcare. In other words, buying a golden toilet would support the creators of golden toilets, but it's still garish, pretentious, and unnecessary.

That's my #badwrongfun point of view and I'm sticking to it! :cool:
 

The more they focus their efforts on lifestyle products to grift money out of that market, the less temptation for WoTC to involve in pointless edition churn so I'm all for it.

Bring on the D&D themed trinkets!
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Great post, pulling out these bits. I think this disparity in income and economic security, seen across all levels of society, is what rankles me a bit about the luxury products. The conspicuous consumption on one end, and the precarity on the other, is a symptom of this disparity, and if the $600 DM screen--more than the average American has on hand for an emergency--isn't exactly harmful in itself, I still find it a little bit gross. It is true that one is funding creators in buying these products, but that also strikes me as a small scale version of trickle-down logic, where the creators have to rely on the largesse and peculiar tastes of a patron class in order to secure basic healthcare. In other words, buying a golden toilet would support the creators of golden toilets, but it's still garish, pretentious, and unnecessary.

That's my #badwrongfun point of view and I'm sticking to it! :cool:
This is a broader trend in the society and economy and not caused by the hobby.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
This is a broader trend in the society and economy and not caused by the hobby.

1659789404082.jpeg
 

pemerton

Legend
it’s my personal version of what might be a problem with the TTRPG hobby, namely it’s relationship with consumerism, collecting, and exhange.

<snip>

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?
It's been an issue for a long time: The Forge :: The Nuked Apple Cart
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
The more they focus their efforts on lifestyle products to grift money out of that market....

Grift requires dishonesty in the transaction. I isn't grift to make a product, be honest about what it is, and sell it to people who want it.

I purchased, and am running, Beadle & Grimms' Silver Edition of The Wilds beyond the Witchlight - clearly a premium product. They were quite up front about what I was getting, and my group is enjoying the extra touches. There is no grift in it.
 

It already was a "specialist product for collectors and lifestyle hobbyists". That's what it was before 5e! The only people who bought products and played them were long-term diehards - there was little room and difficult entry for "casual" players.
I don't really agree, personally, but it hinges very heavily on definitions, so obviously it's arguable.

Personally, if I look at 4E D&D, it does not look to me like a product for "collectors and lifestyle hobbyists" by my definition, in terms of the actual books released. It looks like they're very much trying to serve an actual player-centric (even more than DM-centric) market, rather than pumping out stuff that's going to go straight on to someone's shelf to be read once and admired, but not used.

4E is interesting because miniature stuff was absolutely about collectors and lifestyle hobbyists (not that the latter, I'm using hobbyist in a term that's differentiated from people who actually necessarily play).

Long-term diehards are not "lifestyle hobbyists" as I'd define them, because they still pretty much only buy stuff they intend to use, and they don't typically buy peripheral "style" products, like, say, plushies that relate to D&D. Do you see the difference I'm getting at? I imagine it's on me and my poor explanations if you don't.

As for "little room and difficult entry for casual players", I'm just not sure that's entirely true, if we're claiming that's not true for 5E. 5E is only different from 3E/4E in one way - the rules themselves are fairly accessible, whilst still toward the crunchier end of complexity by RPG standards (like, maybe 7/10 where something like PtbA games are usually a 4/10 in complexity, and Rolemaster, some versions of Shadowrun and the like would be 10/10 - 3E with anything beyond the basics would be at least 9/10 if not also 10/10 - I would say there are a handful of eccentric games drastically more complex even than those but they're so far outside even the niche hobby "mainstream" they can be disregarded). The big difference in open-ness is just cultural, and pre-existed before 5E (we've got a whole other thread on why it came to have so much impact, but the rejection of gatekeeping and so on has nothing to do with 5E's rules or even DMing suggestions or the like).

I think what makes the difference between targeting people playing the game, and people collecting the game, or using it as a lifestyle thing would be shown in what material is focused on.

I think if D&D leans more and more collector/lifestyle-oriented, we'll keep seeing books like Spelljammer - high production values, very pretty, low amounts of actual material, and we'll see adventures keep being produced with a reading-centric approach, rather than a functionality-centric approach, possibly even amping that up.

Personally I think Dragonlance will be particularly interesting to see, because it looks like with the wargame associated with it, it's definitely targeting collectors/lifestylers rather than players/DMs primarily, but maybe it'll actually be eminently practical?
 

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