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D&D 5E The Overwhelming Dominance of D&D is Bad for Everyone...

MGibster

Legend
Well I've been lectured by try hard hipsters since about 1996 about why D&D sucks.
Yeah, and this thread is not meant to be a "D&D Sucks" discussion. I think D&D is successful largely because every version has been pretty good. If it was bad, I don't think people would play it.

It is not universally bad. D&D dominating the market has some positives and let's draw a clear distinction between D&D dominating the market and WOTC dominating the market.
And I'm certainly not arguing that it's universally bad. As a consumer, one of the positives is that I've always been able to find a D&D game going on no matter my location. For a company, I can understand why they hitched themselves to the WotC wagon because it's a lot easier to move product that way. But many companies who are dependent on WotC have had to make some business decisions in light of this leak.

As a consumer, I do believe things will get worse for us. With WotC's plans to monetize D&D, I expect they'll attempt to control how we play in order to make it easier to sell us digital product. I'm not sure exactly what form it will take, but I don't have positive expectations for where WotC plans on taking D&D over the next few years. In other threads, many people balked at those of us leery about WotC's monetization plans, but changing the OGL is part of those plans.
 

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Vaalingrade

Legend
I have been thinking this for years. I've never understood why so many gamers will only play 5e OGL systems (or maybe Pathfinder). The reason I most commonly hear is that gaming groups either cannot learn too many systems (eg, not enough time money to learn) or simply refuse to because it's what their group enjoys. But maybe to a lesser degree, some gamers simply don't know there are other TTRPG's out there?

With regards to thinking that groups can only play one or 2 systems, I find that dubious, and I wonder if these groups have even tried? As a pre-teen and teen in the 80s, using just the allowances of our gaming group, we bought and played so many games it would probably make people's heads here spin. I could probably name close to 30 game systems we played in a 6 year time span (I actually just started listing them down...and so far have 32 games I could remember off the top of my head). Granted, a few of those games we may have only played 1-4 sessions, but at least we gave it a try. Could we afford every supplement and module? No, but that's what imagination is for anyhow.

If the problem isn't money or lack of time, I suppose it could just be an unwillingness to try out anything else. But that's also just anathema to me. It'd be like eating pizza everyday for the rest of your life. Sure, pizza is great and switching the toppings around might be a small change, but I'd get sick to death of pizza too if that's all I ever ate.

As for gamers who aren't aware there are other TTRPG's beyond 5e OGL (or even D&D), I wouldn't have thought it possible in this day and age with the internet. But I was just watching a Youtube video from The Gaming Group where they listed 29 fantasy games that didn't use the OGL. Many comments were along the lines of "thank you so much...I wasn't aware these other games existed!". Back in the pre-internet days, I was lucky. We played at a hobby store that sold lots of RC cars, train sets, plastic models, and a decent amount of wargames and TTRPGs. In those days, I only remember a handful of stores in my state that were dedicated to TTRPGs, Board Games, or Miniature games (CCG's weren't really a thing until the early 90s with MtG). For example The Compleat Strategist and Enterprise 1701 (now Sci Fi City). These days, if there isn't a dedicated game store, they seem to combine with comic and collectible card stores. But in the age of the internet, I honestly scratch my head how people aren't aware of the vast universe of TTRPGs out there.

It also makes me wonder where the majority of people play now? At a store? At a member's house? On VTTs? If it's not at a store, then I can somewhat see why people may not be aware of other games, but it's still surprising to me.
I think it might actually be easier now than back when I started to not know about other games.

You hear about 'Dungeons and Dragons' in pop culture, decide to paly and order the books from Amazon. Then you head to Youtube and look up some lets plays and advice. The game is either at the table or Roll20. Either way, the link algorithms start advertising D&D stuff and serving D&D videos. Occasionally something Pathfinder might slip through, but mostly you could easily exist in a D&D only ecosystem.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
The first mover RPG benefits from network effect. Same as Facebook, or operating systems. It is easier to get players for the system that everyone knows.
Social Media and the internet may change that.
WoTC may repeat the network effect if they can make their vtt dominant in the market.
 


RareBreed

Adventurer
I find it interesting that many folks seem to think that if there's a mass exodus away from D&D, whether by consumer boycotting, or 3PP no longer willing to hitch themselves to their bandwagon, that this will be bad for the hobby.

On one hand, I can see it, because by no longer having just one game system that the vast majority of gamers will buy, there will potentially be many. This means 3PP either have to create multi-system compatible products, or hope that some other system becomes the golden goose so they can concentrate their effort on that system.

But on the other hand, I see diversity of the TTRPG as a good thing from the player perspective (if not for the 3PP). I'm a believer in "system matters". I've heard many folks want to shoe-horn every genre and theme possible to run in 5e game mechanics. I've often wondered if these same people have ever played something other than 5e. But by using d20 OGL mechanics, you very much limit the style and feel of play. I think that when people discover new game mechanics and worlds/genres not touched by 5e rule systems, it will open their eyes even more.

While it's true that there may be less content available because there may be less 3PP producing it for your chosen system, there IS more to gaming than that. We used to play back in the day where there effectively was no 3PP and you couldn't even hop on the internet to find inspiration or ideas from others.

I also believe that the 3PP can evolve to become more world, setting and adventure focused, rather than game mechanic or stat focused. In other words, less focused on extending game system rules, including things like classes or character options or even new rules. Many world settings don't really need a lot of game mechanic specific info (except maybe for modern or sci-fi settings that's very equipment focused and the game system is very detailed about that). I think a lot of groups already do a lot of house rules and experimental home brews and even have fun doing it. I think what's really challenging for a Game Master is adventures and the worlds to play in.

The other fear I think, is people think if D&D crumbles, then there will no longer be a "poster child" for mass media to talk about. And that if this happens, then there will no longer be an effective recruitment tool for new gamers. But I think TTRPG has reached a critical mass where it's already entered the popular culture and as long as people play it, it will continue to be something new generations will look at. Heck, how many gamers here have introduced their children into the hobby? If Stranger Things had chosen say, Runequest, would that have bumped its popularity? Or would people have gone, "what in the heck game were they playing?". I'd argue that as popular as Stranger Things was, people would have looked up what Runequest is (look how the obscure song 'Running Up That Hill' got to #8 in 2022, even though it only got to #30 in 1985!!)
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I find it interesting that many folks seem to think that if there's a mass exodus away from D&D, whether by consumer boycotting, or 3PP no longer willing to hitch themselves to their bandwagon, that this will be bad for the hobby.

On one hand, I can see it, because by no longer having just one game system that the vast majority of gamers will buy, there will potentially be many. This means 3PP either have to create multi-system compatible products, or hope that some other system becomes the golden goose so they can concentrate their effort on that system.

But on the other hand, I see diversity of the TTRPG as a good thing from the player perspective (if not for the 3PP). I'm a believer in "system matters". I've heard many folks want to shoe-horn every genre and theme possible to run in 5e game mechanics. I've often wondered if these same people have ever played something other than 5e. But by using d20 OGL mechanics, you very much limit the style and feel of play. I think that when people discover new game mechanics and worlds/genres not touched by 5e rule systems, it will open their eyes even more.

While it's true that there may be less content available because there may be less 3PP producing it for your chosen system, there IS more to gaming than that. We used to play back in the day where there effectively was no 3PP and you couldn't even hop on the internet to find inspiration or ideas from others.

I also believe that the 3PP can evolve to become more world, setting and adventure focused, rather than game mechanic or stat focused. In other words, less focused on extending game system rules, including things like classes or character options or even new rules. Many world settings don't really need a lot of game mechanic specific info (except maybe for modern or sci-fi settings that's very equipment focused and the game system is very detailed about that). I think a lot of groups already do a lot of house rules and experimental home brews and even have fun doing it. I think what's really challenging for a Game Master is adventures and the worlds to play in.

The other fear I think, is people think if D&D crumbles, then there will no longer be a "poster child" for mass media to talk about. And that if this happens, then there will no longer be an effective recruitment tool for new gamers. But I think TTRPG has reached a critical mass where it's already entered the popular culture and as long as people play it, it will continue to be something new generations will look at. Heck, how many gamers here have introduced their children into the hobby? If Stranger Things had chosen say, Runequest, would that have bumped its popularity? Or would people have gone, "what in the heck game were they playing?". I'd argue that as popular as Stranger Things was, people would have looked up what Runequest is (look how the obscure song 'Running Up That Hill' got to #8 in 2022, even though it only got to #30 in 1985!!)

RPGs would still exist but consider this. Pre 5E

The RPG market was 13-15 million dollars around 2013

Paizo revenue was around $11 million 2012.

RPG market now apparently is around $100 million.

If D&D died there wouldn't be a mass exodus to other RPGs you would just have a very tiny RPG market.

Not sure if the trickle of D&D players trying something else would be more or less than no D&D at all for other RPG systems to pick up.

History suggests not many.
 

RareBreed

Adventurer
RPGs would still exist but consider this. Pre 5E

The RPG market was 13-15 million dollars around 2013

Paizo revenue was around $11 million 2012.

RPG market now apparently is around $100 million.

If D&D died there wouldn't be a mass exodus to other RPGs you would just have a very tiny RPG market.

Not sure if the trickle of D&D players trying something else would be more or less than no D&D at all for other RPG systems to pick up.

History suggests not many.
But you're assuming that if people abandon D&D, they also abandon the TTRPG altogether. In fact, it's this very notion that D&D/5e and TTRPG are one in the same (or almost all the same) is what could lead this to becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If people think 5e/D&D is the only TTRPG there is, and people abandon D&D, then yes, the hobby will collapse greatly. But if people realize that there's more to the TTRPG world than 5e/D&D then I think this could actually be a good thing. And at least given the comments I saw in that one Youtube comment section, it leads me to hope that people have started to wake up that there's more to the TTRPG universe than all things 5e OGL (including of course, D&D).
 

ECMO3

Hero
RPGs would still exist but consider this. Pre 5E

The RPG market was 13-15 million dollars around 2013

Paizo revenue was around $11 million 2012.

RPG market now apparently is around $100 million.

If D&D died there wouldn't be a mass exodus to other RPGs you would just have a very tiny RPG market.

Not sure if the trickle of D&D players trying something else would be more or less than no D&D at all for other RPG systems to pick up.

History suggests not many.
I don't think the RPG market is relevant to Hasbros strategy.

They are concerned with expanding the D&D brand into media and consumer goods which will dwarf the RPG market.

For comparison - Avengers Endgame is a single movie that grossed over $2 Billion, that is a lot more than Disney is making selling the Comic books the movie is based on, I am sure it is more than the entire comic book market. The money is not in the comics, but the Marvel/Avengers brand.

Hasbro wants the same thing with D&D. How much do you think the upcoming D&D movie will make? Add in coffee mugs, video games, a Fast Food tie in and stuffed Mind Flayer dolls. That is what Hasbro wants from D&D.

It is about the brand, not the game and if their strategy pays off Hasbro won't care if no one plays D&D at all anymore as long as they can market the D&D brand.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I don't think the RPG market is relevant to Hasbros strategy.

They are concerned with expanding the D&D brand into media and consumer goods which will dwarf the RPG market.

For comparison - Avengers Endgame is a single movie grossed over $2 Billion, that is a lot more than Disney is making the selling Comic books the movie is based on. The money is not in the comics, but the Marvel/Avengers brand.

Hasbro wants the same thing. How much do you think the upcoming D&D movie will make? Add in coffee mugs, video games, a Fast Food tie in and stuffed Mind Flayer dolls. That is what Hasbro wants from D&D.

It is about the brand, not the game and if their strategy pays off Hasbro won't care if no one plays D&D at all anymore as long as they can market the D&D brand.

I think the D&D will make a couple of hundred million or three at the box office. Minor hit or minor flop imho.

WotC won't get that of course the studio will get around half of the box office. No idea if WotC get a cut if that number or they paid them a flat fee.

The movie could also bomb so I wouldn't count chickens before they hatch. Kreo worked out so well (no idea how D&D merch will go that's a we'll see).
 

ECMO3

Hero
I think the D&D will make a couple of hundred million at the box office. Minor hit or minor flop imho.

WotC won't get that of course the studio will get around half of the box office.

The movie could also bomb so I wouldn't count chickens before they hatch.

Sure their strategy might fail. But the point is the players are largely irrelevant to their strategy. If the movie flops and they dont get demand for the media and consumer goods, then they will come back to the table with their tail between their legs. But that will be after it fails and only if it fails.
 

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