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Will 5e be the last edition to emphasize print products?

Kobold Avenger

Explorer
Definitely a bunch of speculation here, but I feel 5e still emphasizes most of its products having print releases, even if it might be more of a hybrid approach with the PDF versions available at the same time.

But if and when 6e comes along (sometime around 2025 or whenever), are they not even going to bother releasing most of the product line as physical books? Would D&D sourcebooks and supplements have a version or patch model of errata and updates.

Yes there's always the thing about "print is dead" even though I don't think it'll ever truly die, but I feel it's becoming less and less important.

And some might argue that 4e already is the last edition to emphasize print.
 

Morrus

Administrator
Staff member
There’s plenty of money to be made selling print products. On their scale, that’s a LOT of money. Just look how many of the things they’re still shifting years into the edition.
 

Retreater

Explorer
As someone who played 4e at the time (and still does), I would say that it emphasized electronic tools even more than 5e does. The online suite (including the Compendium, online Dungeon & Dragon magazines, and character builder) was/is nearly essential for play.

I can make a high level 5th edition character in a matter of minutes. Even a low level 4e character can take well over an hour - if you even have access to all the splats you need in print form.

That said, my experience with 4e, losing access to the online resources, trying to MacGyver something to work, etc., makes me hope that print is around for a long time. I believe that the reliance of 4e on its online suite and that online suite being unavailable is a contributing factor for making it an almost "dead" edition - whereas 1st-3rd editions can have a robust OSR life.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
So .... no. With a caveat.

First, the caveat. Things change. The rise of streaming services (twitch, et al), "D&D as entertainment" (Critical Role, et al), and on-line services for role playing (Fantasy Grounds, Roll20, et al) is certainly changing things, and it is hard to say what the future will bring.

...that said, the primary difference between TTRPGs and other forms of entertainment is the interplay of interpersonal connections, textual source material, and human adjudication.

For those reasons, I tend to believe that D&D (including 6e) will remain in the province of text and print releases, with the rules also available in other forms.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
The way I see it. M:tG still drives enough people into stores. Putting Books for other WotC games on those store shelves still makes sense.

Now if M:tG is now longer a major player in the future this could change, but it's been around for quite a while at this point so I think it will continue strong.
 

Mort

Community Supporter
As someone who played 4e at the time (and still does), I would say that it emphasized electronic tools even more than 5e does. The online suite (including the Compendium, online Dungeon & Dragon magazines, and character builder) was/is nearly essential for play.

I can make a high level 5th edition character in a matter of minutes. Even a low level 4e character can take well over an hour - if you even have access to all the splats you need in print form.

That said, my experience with 4e, losing access to the online resources, trying to MacGyver something to work, etc., makes me hope that print is around for a long time. I believe that the reliance of 4e on its online suite and that online suite being unavailable is a contributing factor for making it an almost "dead" edition - whereas 1st-3rd editions can have a robust OSR life.
100% agree with this.

One of the main reasons (in addition to the fact that I don't really wish to double pay for product) I haven't invested in D&D beyond. My books will likely be around for a long time (heck I have all the books 1e forward and still look at them occasionally), let's see if D&D beyond makes it a decade.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
I imagine the next edition of D&D culture and its needs will be as far removed from today's as the current streaming popular D&D culture and needs are from say 3.5.

My gut feeling is were are at a point in RPGs "ttRPGs" which is kind of analogous to the 8-track-cassette-CD-stream era of music delivery. So, pretty much i expect significant changes at a rapid pace ahead fueled by the changing culture and evolving technology.

if new knew with any certainty what that next thing would be like.... i would be patenting, licensing, copyrighting like a banshee whatever i could and not telling you guys a thing until all that was locked down.
 

Kobold Avenger

Explorer
100% agree with this.

One of the main reasons (in addition to the fact that I don't really wish to double pay for product) I haven't invested in D&D beyond. My books will likely be around for a long time (heck I have all the books 1e forward and still look at them occasionally), let's see if D&D beyond makes it a decade.
D&D Beyond might be renamed or rebranded, but I feel that someone might try the Games as Service model. Anyways my thoughts on why it may go this way is the way that monthly comic books seem to be heading, with monthly issues in possible declining sales, but collected trades in print going quite strong, and the rise of services such as Comixology.

Though I know that comics and RPGs are very different models, but comics are often sold at the same places many RPGs are. Certainly there's no longer an in print Dragon or Dungeon magazine anymore, but those things were always more "disposable".
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yes there's always the thing about "print is dead" even though I don't think it'll ever truly die, but I feel it's becoming less and less important.
The death of print may have been exaggerated. While big box bookstores are in a decline, independent bookstores have grown about 35% in the past decade, and traditional ebook sales have slacked off some 10%+ in the past couple of years. There's a mixture of reasons for both, but we are left with the fact that the expected ordained death of print... just hasn't materialized.

Sure, I do most of my fiction reading on an e-reader these days. But my gaming? I generally don't use e-print products as my primary source. I use physical books at the table, and my pdfs are for reference when I do prep during lunch at work - they are an extra convenience, if I use them at all.

And some might argue that 4e already is the last edition to emphasize print.
Some might argue it... but some might argue that the world is flat, the sky does not appear blue, and that water is not wet. And they'd be wrong. That some would argue it is not, itself, an argument.

What are the arguments that 5e has somehow not put emphasis on print products? Lay 'em out, so they may be judged.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
We can't even predict when 6E will arrive. There might never be one. Or it might be 30 years away, or 50, or 100. So who knows?
 

bedir than

Registered User
A very large part of the success of 5e is that it is a tangible thing to do with friends around a table. It is succeeding as much as it is because people want things they can touch, dice they can throw and space from digital life. The anachronistic nature of D&D is part of its appeal and that will remain true.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Certainly there's no longer an in print Dragon or Dungeon magazine anymore, but those things were always more "disposable".
When I pick up my wargaming magazines each month I always lament there isn't a print RPG mag to throw my money at. the UK has at least 3 major wargaming mags but no RPG mags out there?

So I always leave the store a sad Flexor. 18/100 STR can't help with that. :(
 

Kobold Avenger

Explorer
I remember the case where it felt really necessary I had either my phone or a tablet at the gaming table and that was when playing Pathfinder when I had a Summoner character and only owned the Corebook of Pathfinder. In addition to playing a class not in the the Corebook, practically every time my character cast Summon Monster I had to look up the stats of whatever I was summoning (but eventually settled on a printout from a PDF with Summon Monster statblocks at each level).

For D&D, I feel most groups usually everyone owns a PHB and brings it with them, but that may not always be the case. And it's dependent on the group being permissive of the use of other products.
 

OB1

Registered User
I’ll take it one step further.
I think 5e will be the last edition period, with it migrating to primarily a digital product line that will evolve over time. So instead of an official 6e, it will just be D&D, but with updates and changes that will keep it fresh and relevant.
When there is enough drift to the PHB to warrant it, they will likely issue an updated version, but it will be comparable with all old material.
It took 45 years and 5 editions, but they finally have a version the continues to see double digit sales growth 5 years after release. Sort of like baseball or football, which went through a long period of constant change before finally finding a sweet spot and settling into forms that change much more slowly now.
 

ad_hoc

Explorer
Boardgame popularity continues to rise.

In a time when everything is digital people appreciate something they can hold in their hands.

I want my D&D time to be without any digital screens. I think a lot of people share that sentiment and is one reason that D&D is so popular.
 

ardoughter

Explorer
I’ll take it one step further.
I think 5e will be the last edition period, with it migrating to primarily a digital product line that will evolve over time. So instead of an official 6e, it will just be D&D, but with updates and changes that will keep it fresh and relevant.
When there is enough drift to the PHB to warrant it, they will likely issue an updated version, but it will be comparable with all old material.
It took 45 years and 5 editions, but they finally have a version the continues to see double digit sales growth 5 years after release. Sort of like baseball or football, which went through a long period of constant change before finally finding a sweet spot and settling into forms that change much more slowly now.
I think this is going to be the case. When sufficient tools are in place D&D will become a living ruleset. We will see a constant evolution on ways to consume D&D. Not just streaming games as entertainment but there has been huge growth on VTTs. I wonder has anyone seen any statistics on the number of player at actual tables vs the number on VTTs?

There are a lot of people using VTTs or other electronic tools for presenting information at the table and I could see Augmented Reality gear and VR adding to that mix in the future and being supported by online services.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
I’ll take it one step further.
I think 5e will be the last edition period, with it migrating to primarily a digital product line that will evolve over time. So instead of an official 6e, it will just be D&D, but with updates and changes that will keep it fresh and relevant.
When there is enough drift to the PHB to warrant it, they will likely issue an updated version, but it will be comparable with all old material.
It took 45 years and 5 editions, but they finally have a version the continues to see double digit sales growth 5 years after release. Sort of like baseball or football, which went through a long period of constant change before finally finding a sweet spot and settling into forms that change much more slowly now.
I'll bet you a 6e PHB (print copy) that your wrong.

6e will look very similar to 5e & it'll be largely backwards compatible at real world tables (not so much digitally). Like going from 1e to 2e, or mixing 3.0/3.5/PF.
But it'll contain just enough new stuff/changes to make it compelling to buy the new books. Wich will be for sale in your local stores.
It'll probably also arrive a lot sooner than some of you think & be heralded by a bunch of hype & hoopla.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
I probably wont buy D&D if it doesn't print books. I like being able to share my copy of the book. I like PDFs for personal reference at home, I like digital tools for easy character/monster building, but when I sit down at the table, I try to be as tech free as possible.
 

Eltab

Villager
As long as D&D has a significant customer base who played the game before there was an Internet, D&D will print books. Passing time and the effects of old age will eventually change the balance. I do not see any reason for 6e to be introduced soon, 5e products sell well. The longer WotC waits, the less likely that books will be important.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I don't think it is a binary decision. Print and digital will continue to exist side by side for a long time to come.

I rarely use the print products at the table anymore, even though I'm almost exclusively playing in-person games. But I still buy all the hard covers, because I enjoy them. I like paging through the books. I find art easier to appreciate on paper, I like the aesthetics of a bookshelf filled with quality and evocative books. I have long ago done away with most of my common, cheap paper backs, and most of my library is on Kindle, but I continue to maintain a smaller library of quality or nostalgic titles.

I'm not alone. I know a number of popular bloggers and podcasters have found a market for curated collections of their writings/talks in print, often emphasizing high quality paper and binding. I have purchased such books. I also have purchased print versions of web comics that I love. Even if I've already read the entire comic online and can still access the entire comic online, if I love it, I want it in a high quality print version.

Print carries a sense of value and permanency. It feels more a part of your life. Good books become part of your environment. As long as we remain physical beings, I think that there will remain print versions of the works we love.
 

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