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

M.L. Martin

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'm not entirely sure about that--some of the comments that have been made about 4E can be read that way, and WotC has never managed to launch a new edition without tearing down its immediate predecessor. (Although with a sample size of 2, it's tough to extrapolate. :) ) You, at least, can relax--1E has sometimes been ignored (the 4E campaign) and more often (3E, now) been held up in marketingspeak as the Golden Age they're trying to return to. :)

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."

I hope so; I really do.

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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.

There is no reason D&D cannot be an evergreen product. Particularly since PoD has become so affordable, keeping the classics "in print" is perfectly viable. What would need to change for this to happen is how the game is marketeer and distributed.

First, you need a universal edition. Let's say 5E is that rules set. Then you need a library of content: easy as pie, there are hundreds of products from all editions that can serve all customer needs. To cinch it, you need a consistent and dedicated customer base, aka us. Finally, you need a place to promote the game -- game stores. Turn your game stores into not just retail outlets but central locations for play. Bring back the RPGA in a very real way and get people playing. Give game stores pricing that allows them to compete with Amazon and incentives for promoting play.

When you have an active, dedicated and visible player base, they will bring new players in just be being.


Staff member
If the next edition fails to unify the base significantly, WotC will not be able to use:

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVsijmCFs50&feature=youtube_gdata_player]AYBABTU - YouTube[/ame]


First Post
Look, I love the '66 Ford Mustang. There are a lot of people who do. But there are nowhere near enough people that Ford could make any money trying to put it out again, especially as the original molds are gone. But, even if they did, if it was successful it would be at the cost of their new Mustang.

WotC is not going to re-typeset and print old editions in order to compete with its new edition.


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.
The D&D brand is interesting only because it is linked with a famous roleplaying game. If the brand is not linked directly to an existing game, then, it is of little value.

In other words, D&D name is valuable, as long as D&D is a famous roleplaying game. In order to be a famous roleplaying game, it has to remain a roleplaying game in the first place.


The D&D brand is interesting only because it is linked with a famous roleplaying game. If the brand is not linked directly to an existing game, then, it is of little value.

In other words, D&D name is valuable, as long as D&D is a famous roleplaying game. In order to be a famous roleplaying game, it has to remain a roleplaying game in the first place.

I disagree. Whatever value D&D has as a brand outside of actual gamers is already well established. It is a part of the pop culture lexicon and a known quantity in ancillary geek circles like video games and comics. DUD could be OoP for a decade before it lost it's geek cred. Look at, say, X-Files. It has been off the air for a long time but everyone still understands "The truth is out there."


I am just curious what people think will happen if 5E fails to unite the customer base (which is its design goal).

It doesn't actually matter whether 5e unites the base or not. What matters is whether it is profitable enough to continue. It's just that WotC think "unite the base" is the best shot they have of achieving the necessary profit.

5e could fail to unite the base, and fail as a product. ("Fail as a product" could mean doing less well than 4e, about as well as 4e, or slightly better than 4e. And that's not a comment about quality at all - merely profit.) In this case, I would expect to see it scrape along for a couple of years, gradually shedding staff (due to movement to other product lines and/or redundancy), and then be cancelled. D&D may well continue as board games, video games, movies, or whatever else... but the RPG will be gone.

The worst-case scenario is that the game could unite the base, and yet fail to make the money WotC expect. In which case, the game will be cancelled (as above), and it's quite likely that Pathfinder will have been a casualty in the interim.

Alternately, the game could fail to unite the base, but attract huge numbers of new players (and, crucially, DDI subscribers), and so be considered a success by WotC. This would lead to years of ongoing support, a continued presence with Pathfinder (and other RPGs), and an eventual 6e. Basically, things go on as they have been, albeit with a longer-lived 5e than 4e.

And the best-case scenario may be that 5e unites the base, and succeeds as a product. And we enter a new era of peace and harmony, as the Edition Wars come to an end. Plus, they'll give away free volcano lairs with every DMG bought.

(And, just to reiterate, in this context 'fail' and 'succeed' are nothing to do with quality. Had 4e been done by any company other than WotC/Hasbro, it would have been considered a runaway success. But because it laboured under an impossible $50M target market size, it was considered a failure.)

It is worth considering that if 4E was put out by a company other than WOTC it would have likely not sold as well as it did.

When people call it a failure they mean relative to previous editions of the game (particularly 1E and 3E). Obviously most other RPG companies can only dream of having the kinds of sales 4E had. Basically it is a failure because WOTC seems to have lost a huge chunk of customers by releasing 4E.

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