WotC Third party, DNDBeyond and potential bad side effects.

TheSword

Legend
For Customers

  • D&D Beyond should offer some way for customers to download their digital products – ideally PDFs – of both third party and WOTC-published products.
  • D&D Beyond should offer an authenticated application program interface (API) so DMs and players can use material they purchased on D&D Beyond in external tools or services. This API should also let players import material from other publishers who release their content in an appropriate format. Let me upload that Kobold Press subclass directly into D&D Beyond.
  • Players and DMs should be able to filter options in the D&D Beyond character builder so they can select which sources can be used in the character builder for a campaign. For example, a DM should be able to limit characters to only using options from the Player’s Handbook and Xanathar’s Guide but not other sources, even if players own other books online. The existing filter on sources doesn’t limit what options a player can choose when building a character from the sources they’ve purchased.
These all sound really sensible and good. The API might be wishful thinking but I think it would be very good for the user.
For Publishers
  • The storefront should have an open and transparent process for moderating and choosing which products can be published there and which products can not. WOTC should offer clear standards and guidelines for publication.
I don’t see who would ultimately arbitrate this. I don’t see the point if WotC is overseeing themselves. At the same time I would never expect WotC to submit to external arbitration for their own product. That only leaves the court of public opinion which is a terrible way to fairly arbitrate a decision.
  • The store should have no “DM Guild Adept”-like inner ring of publishers. Such systems can become corrupt and unfair – putting more importance on “who you know” than the quality of your work.
I get how that would be good for new publishers but I’m sorry I really find the adept publishers useful on DMGuild. There is so much dross on there that having a mark of quality means I can have a bit more confidence in my purchase. I haven’t got time to wade through a hundred PWYW products and I’ve never been disappointed by an Adept product.
  • WOTC should continue to publish D&D products on other storefronts such as DriveThruRPG, Roll20, and Fantasy Grounds. WOTC should begin selling D&D products on additional platforms such as Foundry, Demiplane, and Shard Tabletop.
I really hope they do this. I spent a lot of money on Roll20 over the years and my peference in the short term is to continue. At least until it becomes untenable. I also hope they release the 5.5 on there in a way that leaves it compatible with existing modules and expansions. I don’t know how they do that but It’s possible - even if it costs me $100 in new roll20 modules.
  • The storefront should let third party publishers email customers with offers on other products, sales, and promotions when customers opt-in to such marketing.
Never going to happen. It’s a breach of GDPR to allow third parties to promote to a database where the recipient hasn’t expressly agreed to marketing materials from that third party. If I sign up to D&D beyond marketing I definitely don’t want marketing from other companies I have no control of. If I want to opt into Paizo marketing I can go to Paizo.com and do that.
  • The D&D Beyond storefront should let publishers include outbound links to their own homepages on storefront pages and emails.
Only seems fair if they’re taking a cut. That said I don’t think it’s hard to find a publishers page if someone wants to do it. I wouldn’t expect them to post links to the same product in a different online store though.
  • Publishers should be able to use crowdfunding (like Kickstarter) for products intended to be published and fulfilled on the D&D Beyond storefront.
How would WotC get their cut of crowdfunded products sold? That could be some very tricky calculations with no way of verifying it, without opening accounts to WotC which I thought was wholeheartedly rejected.
  • Publishers should have options for regional pricing to sell products at reasonable prices in countries with a significant income disparity from North American and European countries.
How would this be achieved with an online only platform? Why would I not just use a VPN and buy my stuff at heavily discounted prices?

I think the suggestions for consumers make a lot of sense but the publisher ideas seem to be largely wishful thinking. Either unreasonable or impractical.
 

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mamba

Legend
How would WotC get their cut of crowdfunded products sold? That could be some very tricky calculations with no way of verifying it, without opening accounts to WotC which I thought was wholeheartedly rejected.
DTRPG can do it

How would this be achieved with an online only platform? Why would I not just use a VPN and buy my stuff at heavily discounted prices?
Steam does it, I assume other online stores (EA, MS, …) as well
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
How would WotC get their cut of crowdfunded products sold? That could be some very tricky calculations with no way of verifying it, without opening accounts to WotC which I thought was wholeheartedly rejected.
I'm not 100% sure I understand this question, but WotC would only get a cut out of products sold on their own platform. Why would they get a cut from products sold on other platforms?

If you fund something on Kickstarter and then go on to also sell it on other platforms such as DTRPG or DDB or at a convention or from your own store or via retail distribution, DDB would get a cut from DDB bit, DTRPG would get a cut from the DTRPG bit, distributors would get a cut from the retail distribution bit. DDB would know how many products it has sold.

Never going to happen. It’s a breach of GDPR to allow third parties to promote to a database where the recipient hasn’t expressly agreed to marketing materials from that third party.

That's why he used the words "opt-in".
 

TheSword

Legend
I'm not 100% sure I understand this question, but WotC would only get a cut out of products sold on their own platform. Why would they get a cut from products sold on other platforms?

If you fund something on Kickstarter and then go on to also sell it on other platforms such as DTRPG or DDB or at a convention or from your own store or via retail distribution, DDB would get a cut from DDB bit, DTRPG would get a cut from the DTRPG bit, distributors would get a cut from the retail distribution bit. DDB would know how many products it has sold.
That's why he used the words "opt-in".
I guess it depends how the Kickstarter splits it’s products. If it’s a simple pdf then it’s easy to get the split of that.

If it includes hardcopies with a free pdf, miniatures, maps, screens etc etc then I would imagine it’s a lot harder to make that split.

Also harder to agree a split if the Kickstarter is a product specifically designed for DDBeyond - for a 3d tabletop for instance rather than something that can exist independently and has a value in and of itself.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
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.
My argument has always been "This is the risk you as a designer/seller takes when you hitch your wagon to the D&D train." And it's no ones responsibility (most especially not WotC's) to make sure your wagon keeps up other than your own.

No designer/seller HAS to design/sell D&D-related game products via DMsG or OGL. If they do so, it's because they know that gives them the best odds of getting eyeballs on it and making sales. They are using D&D just as much as WotC is using them. That's their choice. They are voluntarily lying next to WotC in bed because that's how they have the best shot at making the most money for the work they do. But just because they are making that choice to lie next to WotC doesn't mean it's now WotC's responsibility to stay there and keep the bed warm.

If WotC goes and buys a second bed (say D&D Beyond) and spends more time lying over there... if you are left behind in the first bed, you just have to make it warm yourself. WotC is not obligated to invite you over into the new bed just because you climbed into the first one, and thus... it is now part of your job as a designer/seller to make your products viable to be sold on their own without having WotC lying next to you so tightly... just as you would have had to do had you not gotten in bed with WotC from the beginning and made a completely new game.

We don't feel there's any responsibility being dropped for companies that make things that are outside the D&D sphere and end up not being able to sustain sales. That's just an expected part of going into business for yourself, the risks that come with being a start-up, and we all accept that. So why should that change just because someone decides to build off of D&D? Why should that now make us think that WotC has the responsibility to make things easier for that company to keep going? I certainly don't. A D&D-adjacent company that does not get to sell their products on D&D Beyond just has to work as though they were a company making a completely separate and new RPG.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I guess it depends how the Kickstarter splits it’s products. If it’s a simple pdf then it’s easy to get the split of that.

If it includes hardcopies with a free pdf, miniatures, maps, screens etc etc then I would imagine it’s a lot harder to make that split.

Also harder to agree a split if the Kickstarter is a product specifically designed for DDBeyond - for a 3d tabletop for instance rather than something that can exist independently and has a value in and of itself.
I'm sorry, I simply don't understand what you're getting at here. I'm not trying to be awkward, I just don't understand it.

If a product is available on DDB, then each time a copy is sold on DDB, WotC would get a cut of that specific sale. They wouldn't get a cut off a copy sold at a convention or your own website or via Kickstarter.

Are you saying you think if I make $50K on Kickstarter, and then put that product on another platform, those platforms should all get a cut of the $50K? I'm sure I'm misunderstanding you!
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
My argument has always been "This is the risk you as a designer/seller takes when you hitch your wagon to the D&D train." And it's no ones responsibility (most especially not WotC's) to make sure your wagon keeps up other than your own.
We know. You've made yourself extremely clear. Be in no doubt that everybody knows exactly what your position is.
 

darjr

I crit!
Does DriveThruRPG get a cut of Kickstarters that have PDFs distributed from there? Or does the Kickstarter project have to set that up outside of the Kickstarter with DriveThruRPG?
 


Knowing OneBookShelf, they must get their cut.
I thought the same, but then again you can publish a PDF there with no cost so if you offer the backer a coupon code to reduce the cost to zero, what is there to take? Has anyone ran a Kickstarter and handled fulfillment through DTRPG? All mine have either gone through the publisher's storefront or used a file sharing site like DropBox.
 

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