WotC Third party, DNDBeyond and potential bad side effects.


But hasn’t that always been the issue? At least for 5e?

3pp who put out some additional material for a WotC adventure path are going to be getting a huge leg up over another publisher who puts out a similar product but isn’t linked.

Which of course influences what gets produced and promoted. Being able to buy a book of add-on side adventures for Undermountain (as an example) that are already set up for Fantasy Grounds exist right now. How is this hugely different? Is it simply the issue of scale? WotC doing it directly is the problem?
No, it's different. WotC can't control who puts out a print book that is compatible with D&D, as long as it doesn't infringe on their IP. But they control who can sell their D&D compatible material on DDB.

The issue is that more and more players rely on DDB, particularly as it keeps adding features...such as selected 3PP. If you use it, you don't really want print books anymore, because they aren't part of the encounter builder, they don't work with maps, magic items aren't there to be added to digital character sheets, etc. Print material is just hugely inconvenient and undermines the whole point of having a digital platform.

So this already shrinks the market share available to 3PP, but by adding selected 3PP to DDB, WotC has a lot of power to create winners and losers.

Whether this is good or bad depends heavily on context. If you're a DDB user, it's great. You get even more choices and options. WotC obviously like it; they centralize control of the D&D brand, which is what they really care about, and can make some extra money on the side through licensing, though this is probably small potatoes. If you're a 3PP who gets to be on DDB, it's a fantastic opportunity; your stuff is right there in the DDB marketplace next to the official material, and completely integrated into the digital experience for millions of users (i.e. millions of potential customers). But if you're a 3PP who doesn't get on DDB, it's terrible, because as more and more people go to DDB, that's less and less people to buy your stuff.

SlyFlourish is also arguing that's it's just bad for the industry in general, in the long run, to have too much control in the hands of one company.
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IMO. It really shouldn’t be that way though.

But part of that is that digital can be soo easily copied and shared. So as soon as one can freely do what you describe, it’s also available for the whole world.

To accommodate both interests probably need some legal provision mandating that digital works become public domain after so many years regardless of corporate interests.
Almost every other RPG company does it.


Who is this @SlyFlourish guy anyway?

Just kidding. I own tons of his books - great stuff that I can highly recommend.

The OGL disaster sent my sons and I down the path of writing our own game. We're playing it now and having a great time.

Even so, I suspect we will return to D&D at some point. At some point, we will need a new player and it is so much easier to find players by running a D&D game. Once the player fits in with our group's chemistry and likes how we play - we can switch systems again. The alternative is to bring in people who are new to gaming, which we have done, but it is less reliable.

That is why I stay on top of developments in D&D and the direction it is going. I don't use the DNDBeyond, but it's likely anyone I recruit will. My somewhat recent experience with this tells me the platform builds expectations for players. They will bristle at limitations placed on character building.

Those who say that is a YOU problem and not a WOTC problem are 100% correct.

Just making an observation that it does affect me.

Finally, I wanted to say I appreciate SlyFlourish taking the time to interact in the forums. I know he prefers Discord and other avenues of discussion, but for this dinosaur I like good old forums.
I want to spend more time here. The conversation has been great!


I crit!
Yea. I want PDFs.

I just noticed you can buy books from DnDBeyond without a database component. At a discount.

So they do sell reader only type access. It’d be cool if they just gave me a pdf too.


I don’t know what that means. If it means WOtC is big enough to get away with ignoring what many customers prefer, I agree with you.
Of the top of my head? They have more volume so get better deals with publisers and distributors. The economics of scale are different. Many companies are forced to release PDFs because that has been a major source of sales and profits, selling books I'd less profitable for them. Last, but not least because they are the biggest, practically any store that supports TTRPGs will have a D&D section. Having books in stores drives sales.

Now of course WOTC has even less motivation because they have DDB. There's just not much upside to them selling PDFs.

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