D&D 5E What happens if 5E fails to unite the base?

I am just curious what people think will happen if 5E fails to unite the customer base (which is its design goal). Let's say it does about as well or a little better/worse than 4E (and the split basically stays where it is); what direction do you think WOTC will or should go from there?

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First Post
I'm positive their plan will work out. But if it should fail I think they'll leave the market for a few years and use the brand name to sell/license books, movies, board- and computer games. They would need to narrow the scope of the D&D experience so as to make it easier to market.


First Post
I think the brand would be either sold or mothballed.

It's been made pretty clear that regardless of whatever its successes might be, selling 4e products to the 4e fanbase is not a successful business strategy for them. Taking what was a niche market to begin with and targeting one subgroup out of it while excluding the rest does not work on the scale they're looking for. And, as they've rather explicitly acknowledged, trying to force change on their customer base is an ineffective strategy.

So the answer is that WotC and Hasbro simply can't afford to continue on their path, they have to change it.


Then the fantaasy roleplaying market will continue to stumble along as it is today. WotC will focus on more profitable aspects of the hobby business (CCGs, board games) and larger revenue generating aspects of their IP (movies, books).

Other competitors will take over leadership of the hobby. Players will continue playing.

In 3-5 years, as their RPG revenue begins to dry up, they evaluate what to do with the game. It may be dropped into evergreen mode (minimal stock to handle current and expected demand and no new development) until future demand picks up or it may be redeveloped as the next killer RPG.

Crazy Jerome

First Post
Given the wide extremes and nuances in playing styles, coupled with residual gool-will and ill-will in certain segments towards various RPG companies ...

Magic 8 ball says that unification will be somewhat successful, but not unambiguously so. This will lead to a lot of sturm and drang on message boards where people try to spin this in the way they want it to come out. Since we still won't have any trustworthy numbers, we won't truly know.

That is, any reality related to their success or failure towards this goal will be muted in perception.


First Post
D&D is the flagship of pretty much all roleplaying. Nothing else is so universally known and played. If 5E is an unprofitable venture for Wizards, I see us as players pretty much continuing to do as we are now, but the entire concept of pen and paper roleplaying games will get aged out with us as too few younger people pick up dead and dying games.

5E NEEDS to at least be profitable, even if it can't be all things to all people, or we'll see the death of roleplaying within 30 years.


First Post
Do you think there is any valid business plan for them to print out reprints of old modules and books packaged together with new supplements that go with those new books? It might be an avenue to take vs coming out with new RPGs all the time.

Thornir Alekeg

Do you think there is any valid business plan for them to print out reprints of old modules and books packaged together with new supplements that go with those new books? It might be an avenue to take vs coming out with new RPGs all the time.
I think this is very likely; just update the mechanics to the new ruleset and you can replay the classics: "This is not your father's Lost Caverns...oh, wait, yes it is..."


Krampus ate my d20s
If 5E does not consolidate a good portion of the fan base, things stay the same for the next 2-3 years. Hasbro makes a call on whether D&D needs to be further developed. It an shutter the design and development of the ttrpg portion and use the IP for books, direct to download movies and crpg/mmo licensing.
Pathfinder will continue on its way, grabbing a larger portion of the market, but ttrpg will dwindle over the next 10 years.


This touches on the Big Question, which is whether TRPGs can achieve another Renaissance and flourish deep into the 21st century, or if they are on a not-so-slow downward spiral as Ryan Doomcey believes, a tiny little boat facing the incoming wave of accelerating technological development.

We just can't know. One suggestion I would bring to the table is that the designers find a middle way between either trying to appeal to WoW players and making the game too "WoWish" and, on the other extreme, disawowing all things cyber. What needs to happen is that the unique strengths of TRPGs are pinpointed and nourished--namely, the play of the imagination and the social environment--and that technology is used as an enhancement of that organic experience rather than a replacement or simulation of it.

In other words:

A) Focus on Imagination and Social Experience (Co-storytelling) = Good
B) Focus on Simulated CRPG environment = Bad
C) Technology as enhancement = Good
D) Technology as replacement/simulation = Bad

Adding A and C together will lead to a healthy--if perhaps reduced--TRPG community and industry; but even if reduced, one that will remain vital for years to come.

Adding B and D together will speed up the downward spiral that will lead to the TRPGs being nothing but a anachronistic hobby played by a few greybeards in 20 years.


Knight of Solamnia
Then in 3-4 years they'll be releasing a 6th Edition with a goal of reuniting the player base ...

I'm not so sure. Mearls talks like this edition will be around for a while. Or at least that's the plan right now. Not that there won't ever be a new edition, but this one should (I hope) have some staying power.

They need to make the base great.

4e´s math is not so bad. The everything is core strategy was the killer, coupled with no OGL.

If you put out a very slim base, which can be enhanced, I really could imagine, that it will be successful.
Adding is easier as subtracting from a psychological point of view:
Player: "why can´t I take feats?"
DM: "I deided not to use them"
Player: "The monsters assume you are having feats, and magic items by now"
DM: "I know, but I adept to those facts."
Player: "yeah... of course... I want feats, though, because without feat xx, this concept does not work... bad DM does not want to play by the rules..."

I'm not so sure. Mearls talks like this edition will be around for a while. Or at least that's the plan right now. Not that there won't ever be a new edition, but this one should (I hope) have some staying power.

I hope it stays around for a while too, but we've heard similar words for the last two editions and look how far that has gotten us.

El Mahdi

Muad'Dib of the Anauroch
Then the Mayans were right...;)

Seriously though, I also think it would be a major decision point for the brand. I see a few options, but really no way to say right now which way I'd think it would go.

  • Option 1: Hasbro puts the D&D brand in Mothballs.
  • Option 2: Hasbro sells the D&D brand (though not likely, their modus operandi is usually to mothball, not sell).
  • Option 3: D&D accepts that it's just the way it's going to be, and decides to try and maximize what they can based on the situation. Likely, they would consider DDI as it's primary product, and maybe start providing support for older editions (over time to minimize start-up costs) and try to maximize profit from the disparate parts of their fan/customer base.
  • Option 4: D&D does nothing, and just lives with this as the status quo.


First Post
If it fails, then I think we'll see a new design team with smaller, more short-term goals instead of 'Reunification'. They'll potentially consist of willing and successful members of Magic the Gathering and various other parts of the toy and board game sections.

And maybe we'll get D&D campaign settings integrated into the Magic Multiverse and featured in their own blocks to generate more widespread appeal (which I think would be kind of awesome).



It won't. Not a new edition of D&D. And it will. Now let me explain the dichotomy:

If WIZARDS OF THE COAST is smart enough - and I think they've learned how to handle things smartly, now - what they will do is provide outlets for people, like me, like others, who want to play AD&D. Or original D&D. Or 2e, 3e, 4e, and the various stripes of Basic D&D.

Most gamers I know are smart enough to know good behavior and reward it accordingly. I know that I myself won't drop AD&D for D&Dn. This time around WIZARDS OF THE COAST doesn't want that.

So far as we can tell there are no crazy ad campaigns on the horizon telling us old D&D sucks and is bad and we're bad for playing it. There's nothing lurking back behind the curtain, no dirty tricks. I do not know if WIZARDS OF THE COAST are planning to re-release, in a permanent fashion, older versions of D&D. As I said though I think they're smart, and I think they will. Probably through DDi, so they can control the sales a little bit better*, but it will get back out there. When people ask "What D&D is 'official'?" WIZARDS can respond, simply "All D&D is official. D&Dn is what's current."

In doing this, WIZARDS OF THE COAST will have create huge goodwill amongst D&D players. They will have become the Great Mediator in the cyclic and wasteful and hilariously stupidly hateful "edition wars".

This will make D&Dn a success. Goodwill will pay off, even the old guard guys like me will at the very least reward that with a try-and-play and wind up with an "only-occasionally" played copy of D&Dn on their shelves. I want D&Dn to become my second favorite RPG. A close, close, close second. Like, "hm, flip a coin, will I run AD&D for this or will I use the new D&D?" There are things I know the new D&D can never be - and that's OK. But what it can do - what WIZARDS OF THE COAST must make it do is be the "ambassador of goodwill Edition". They can't just pay lip service to the idea of "play any edition you like!" That promise must have teeth. If it does...then D&Dn will succeed.

I hope that makes sense.


I expect them to just scale back support and halt anything more ambitious. I don't think that, even if 5E pulls off its stated goal, D&D is capable of reaching Hasbro's sales goals for a major brand, so it will remain in the minor brand ghetto, with constant layoffs and newbies at the helm every five years until the economy gets back into a economic bubble and people are more willing (presumably) to drop their dollars on RPG materials. It will then fall back into disfavor at Hasbro again in the next bust cycle, rinse and repeat.

Regardless, every single edition will continue to be supported by the fans at least until that generation of fans dies off. By the time this is a major factor for, say, 2nd edition, the world may have changed dramatically, and it's hard to predict that far out.

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