From everything I've read it seems that Hasbro is salivating over generating some degree the profit that Marvel Studio is making
. They are shifting their IP into movies, hence things like the Battleship Movie along with other titles ahead.
So they want D&D to be making $50 million and on the way to $100 million per year to build up an audience base that will roll out whenever a movie is made.
What happens if 5e can't pull off this initial "seeding" strategy? There has been mentioned the threat of mothballing, much the way tons of games from the Avalon Hill catalog are locked away. At the same time, plenty of titles have come out of deep freeze, such as the Merchants of Venus recently. So as much as Hasbro is moving their IP around in an overly corporate sized gloves, there is still some fluidity.
D&D is a bit different from other products they sell. It has had a cartoon and two movies made for it, so it has already existed as a media product. While their $50/$100 million grand plan is making D&D seem as if it is in dire straits, it might also be overblown fear. It might be the assessment of Hasbro that mothballing it wouldn't be the best way to handle the IP. There is also just the reality that by 2016 the Hasbro leadership will have changed and the new leadership won't see mothballing as the best approach.
One angle might be that with Fantasy Flight on the ascent in the hobby market, and who already have a track record of taking licensed IP and developing it, such as 40k, WoW, and even Star Wars, that they may be able to pick up the D&D license and develop it. That would get D&D off of Hasbro's books, with just the license fees and whatever percentage of profit just flowing in.
Another angle in all of this is that they finally have the digital rights back to D&D, which means that what they do with new digital products could have a real impact on the fate of the tablet top game. What happens in the coming years will likely shape the tabletop's existence in various ways. 5e itself is going to have to become even more invested in a digital environment, so I'd assume that the swirl of activity around digital products will be making a big effect.
In terms of digital, it's 2012 now and we're about to get the iPad 3 in the next few months. It'll likely be summer 2013 when 5e comes out and that will mean iPad 4 will be out by then. We're two iterations of iPad away from 5e, along with all the further developments on android. The iPhone came out in 2007 at $600. In 2010 an improved version could be bought for $50 with a plan. iPad 1 came out in 2010, and we're looking at 2013, the same time frame for the iPhone, in terms of the cost and improvements of the iPad to have emerged. I doubt that iPads in 2013 will be $50, but they ought to be sub $200, and perhaps less with some kind of plans.
By 2016, when we've had a matured life cycle for 5e tablet computers should easily be $100 or less in price. At that point you have a tabletop base of players who are mostly going to have a bunch of tablets laying about the table. Sure there will be "from my dead cold hands" print people holding out, but they'll be the graying minority. Younger generations will look at tablets as the obvious choice for any kind of reading material.
So I think that's a big factor. It won't be business as usual anymore in terms of tabletop RPGing functioning under a traditional print business model. We're entering a brave new world, and plenty of people might not like it, but it's still happening and only accelerating. The biggest growth in tabletop is going to be companies figuring out how to mesh digital interaction with traditional tabletop play. If everyone at the table is using tablets and they are all connected to wifi, then all sorts of in-game digital tools can get utilized. Will WotC be a leader in this? So far they keep flailing about, but it might just be the need to get new leadership and a new business plan in place to make them the market leader.