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WotC's D&D Virtual Table Cancelled

darkwing

First Post
That would be a Hasbro statement, I assume? That just goes to show what small potatoes D&D is from the Hasbro standpoint, which in turn puts the lie to various claims of Hasbro meddling in the game (not relevant to this thread, but a common sight in many others).

If they know how to make money from Magic, then they have at least some business sense. Which makes your statement of "if they had any" specious.
Yep. But "they" in this case means those running D&D. I mean it could be the same people but if so they're looking at D&D and saying "not worth the effort" and "oh shiny new MTG season" and "Did you say something about D&D? I couldn't hear you over the cash registers ringing from all these collectible card game sales! $.$"
 

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Obryn

Hero
This doesn't directly affect me ... yet. Even in the beginning, I never subscribed for the VTT; I simply had no interest. :) But I'm more certain now that the plug will be pulled on the rest of the DDI tools before too long.

-O
 

mach1.9pants

Adventurer
Oh, and they need to get movin on this page:
Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Tools

(The link to the VTT page mentions nothing about cancellation).



Also, funnily enough, you can "check out" dungeon and dragon "magazine"...

downloading a "sample" issue from
2008 http://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/dragon/364/364_Dragon.pdf
2008 http://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/dungeon/155/155_Dungeon.pdf

(When the magazines were of better quality, actually compiled, and longer).



Just pointing out the theme of "overpromise (and lead people to believe in more than they get) and underdeliver".
Just checking my (compiled by myself in later editions) Dungeon mags:
155: 109 pages -the freebie
203: 44 pages -last months

Pretty sad.
 

Pour

First Post
Yep. But "they" in this case means those running D&D. I mean it could be the same people but if so they're looking at D&D and saying "not worth the effort" and "oh shiny new MTG season" and "Did you say something about D&D? I couldn't hear you over the cash registers ringing from all these collectible card game sales! $.$"

That said, I do love MtG. They creative, art, design, organization, digital, and managerial teams are phenomenal. Can't hate on them for being successful. Who knows, MtG might be the only thing keeping D&D afloat at all. Though I still say if they just made another damn cartoon they'd be fine...
 

Aberzanzorax

First Post
Careful, there might be a baby in that bathwater. I don't understand the emotional attachment people place on the companies rather than the games. If 5E is the awesomest edition of D&D ever, why would WotC's failed 4E VTT affect a decision to play it?

That's fair.

It's not 4e's failed VTT.
It's not the move to the crappy online Char Builder from the functional one.
It's not their lack of digital products at release (advertised as current in PHBS).
It's not "there will be no 4e for several years." Oops.
It's not Gleemax.
It's not the death of Dungeon Magazine and Dragon Magazine (*cough* move to digital format and subsequent demotion to "web enhancement/advertisement you pay for" status).
It's not the continual firing/layoffs of quality designers who have a wealth of understanding of the game and its history.
It's not the pulling of pdfs to "prevent piracy."
It's not that they seem to want to be super hush-hush about everything (until recently).
It's not that people had to pull teeth to get what they promised in the first place (Remember they promised conversions of Elder Evils? Remember the contest where fans voted over many months to design a monster that was going to (but never did) end up in a monster manual?) Only a forum furor led to those actually happening.
Remember the disk at the back of the 3.0 PHB (forget the name of the tools)?

It's ALL of that.

Don't need it.


If 5e is awesome...I'll play it, sure. But I'm now thinking I'll give it just about as much attention as any indie game I come across. Open it up, thumb through it...give it about a minute's consideration.

It's no longer the point of "well, it's D&D...I gotta at least give it a chance".



WotC has had a lot of chances.
 
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Dannager

First Post
I imagine it's getting a lot harder to justify support of the VTT with a number of other groups working on similar projects (Roll20, Tabletop Forge, Maptool, etc.) and the D&D VTT's primary draws (4e tool integration) with an uncertain lifespan due to the edition transition. They're probably consolidating what they have in order to focus on starting fresh with 5e - all the other tools are established; the VTT is the only one that wasn't finalized.
 

Jack99

Adventurer
That's fair.

It's not 4e's failed VTT.
It's not the move to the crappy online Char Builder from the functional one.
It's not their lack of digital products at release (advertised as current in PHBS).
It's not "there will be no 4e for several years." Oops.
It's not Gleemax.
It's not the death of Dungeon Magazine and Dragon Magazine (*cough* move to digital format and subsequent demotion to "web enhancement/advertisement you pay for" status).
It's not the continual firing/layoffs of quality designers who have a wealth of understanding of the game and its history.
It's not the pulling of pdfs to "prevent piracy."
It's not that they seem to want to be super hush-hush about everything (until recently).
It's not that people had to pull teeth to get what they promised in the first place (Remember they promised conversions of Elder Evils? Remember the contest where fans voted over many months to design a monster that was going to (but never did) end up in a monster manual?) Only a forum furor led to those actually happening.
Remember the disk at the back of the 3.0 PHB (forget the name of the tools)?

It's ALL of that.

Don't need it.


If 5e is awesome...I'll play it, sure. But I'm now thinking I'll give it just about as much attention as any indie game I come across. Open it up, thumb through it...give it about a minute's consideration.

It's no longer the point of "well, it's D&D...I gotta at least give it a chance".



WotC has had a lot of chances.

Does that mean you promise stop posting about WoTC and D&D? If so, can I have your gold?

If this is a serious question, take it to PM. If it is not, this post is pointless other than crapping the thread. Please don't. Thanks. - Lwaxy
 
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Mustrum_Ridcully

Adventurer
Wow!

5 years after it was demonstrated as a major part of D&D insider, they pull the plug.

What a colossal, embarrassing failure.
Actually, this is their second attempt within these 5 years. The first virtual table was an over-ambitious project complete with 3D and all, and the first prototype was terribly buggy and unstable.
The second was basically re-using an already existing software and optimizing it for D&D 4 and their IP. It had some cool feature, but also many restrictions.

There are alternatives out there - not without their own flaws, but usually more flexible. MapTools or GameTable. (I vastly prefer MapTools now). Considering the focus they put on making it D&D 4 "compatible" - it may be stupid to keep working on it if the next edition is already in the works.

The character builder (online and offline), monster builder (offline at least) and Compendium are much better software and have better value overall. Especially since while you can make generic virtual game tables that work for most types of RPG, a generic character builder that covers a vast array of systems is very hard, and a feature of such builders would be that they "know" all the content of the game system - which is not necessary easy to acquire.
 

Phaezen

First Post
Honest question, of those of you complaining about the cancellation oft he VTT who actually uses it on a regular basis?

They are pulling it because not enough people are using it so it is not worth them spending the resources on it. This is purely a business decision, one the every business around the world has to make from time to time.
 

Cergorach

The Laughing One
WotC digital strategy related to D&D has been a failure since 2000. I've given up faith a long time ago in any product/service announced by WotC. This doesn't surprise me in the least.

Companies like WotC/Hasbro prey on brand loyalty, in our case D&D, that actually works. I started playing D&D 25 years ago, D&D has a 'special' place in my hart, a feeling of nostalgia. So I bought into 4E and kept buying it long after it became clear that it wasn't going to be really my game. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one... I'm currently far more interested in closing the holes in my 2E collection then I'm interested in 4E/5E/Next. It just seems like another nail in the coffin of the D&D brand...

Paizo has shown that they have a solid digital strategy, and they seem to understand that you don't start with planning an AAA style online tool. You start minimalistic and iron that out before adding features or going fancy.
 

ComradeGnull

First Post
I'm curious what this means long-term about their sales strategy- like how will DDI work once 5e is out, are they still counting on subscriptions for revenue, etc.

I can easily see one of three things happening for the 'online tabletop' segment for 5e:

1) There are already too many 3rd party options for WotC to make much money out of it, and the existing VTT was too tied to 4e to be worth continuing development on. They'll make minimal noise about supporting online play, and let the 3rd party market hash things out. Making a great online play platform is a big development investment, and it isn't clear how much revenue it could actually bring. This means Hasbro/WotC doesn't see much actual growth coming to the brand by putting money behind a dev effort.

2) WotC buys or invests in one of the current 3rd part products and makes it the 'official' online platform of 5e. WotC isn't a software company; why should they try and build one from scratch when they can let someone else do 95% of the work to the point that they know it works, and then acquire them? Doing this would indicate that Hasbro is still willing to put some significant money behind D&D, and is still trying to grow the product rather than just curating the brand so they can license it for movies and lunchboxes.

3) VTT was meant for 4e, and practically speaking, 4e is nearly done. They'll take what they have, refocus on 5e, and release a new 5e VTT somewhere down the road. The product isn't ready for prime time, and there is no reason to rush it out the door if the edition that it was built to support is moving into the background anyway.

The question is, is this Wizards leaving this area entirely (which to me would indicate that D&D is going to be a bit more back burnered than before), or is this Google canceling Google Video in favor of YouTube? (yes, slightly weird analogy since they kept it around for several years after aquiring YouTube, but you know what I mean).
 

Jhaelen

First Post
I think WotC was behind the curve from the start with the VTT. There are tons of good VTT's available at prices ranging from reasonable to free. I had tried three different VTT's and looked at one or two others back when 4E launched. I think the market for VTT's in general is pretty small, and I don't think the product WotC was offering could compete.
This!
It's what I thought immediately after WotC's first announcement: Why don't they just license one of the existing, proven VTT solutions?

I'm not particularly bothered by the cancellation, though. I just feel their money and effort could have been spent so much more effectively elsewhere (like finally fixing the Monster Builder!).
 

delericho

Legend
I imagine it's getting a lot harder to justify support of the VTT with a number of other groups working on similar projects (Roll20, Tabletop Forge, Maptool, etc.) and the D&D VTT's primary draws (4e tool integration) with an uncertain lifespan due to the edition transition.

If that's what they thought was the primary draw of the VTT, then they were mistaken. The great advantage they had, and that they should have leveraged, was that installer base of 80k+ DDI subscribers. Using that, the VTT, and good software to put people in touch, it should have been possible for them to get to a point that any person could go online at any time, and within 30 minutes have a group assembled to play D&D.

And, the great benefit of that is that it becomes ever-more valuable as the DDI subscriber base increases - the more people join, the more incentive there is to join, because the easier it makes it to assemble that group.

4e integration should absolutely have been one of the features of the 'official' VTT. But it's the community that was the competitive edge.

They're probably consolidating what they have in order to focus on starting fresh with 5e - all the other tools are established; the VTT is the only one that wasn't finalized.

Ironically, the VTT is also the one that was easy to repurpose for 5e. If character design is significantly different (as it appears to be), the Character Builder will need redone. If monster design is significantly different (again, as it appears to be), the Monster Builder will need redone. The Compedium will be easier to repurpose, but there will still be a massive data-entry task to be done.

I'm now waiting for the other shoe to drop: WotC's announcement that there will be no 5e version of the DDI. I would expect the magazines to go "free to view" (but also a shadow of even their current selves), that the 4e tools will continue unchanged (but receive only minimal ongoing support... and only for as long as the existing DDI base remains large enough for them to be profitable), but that there will not be any further tool development.
 

Wepwawet

Explorer
What VTT? Was there really a VTT? That's a surprise...

I always thought that it was cancelled from the start, when they realized they couldn't publish it with th realease of 4E and just channeled those resources to everywhere else they needed them.
 

DaveMage

Slumbering in Tsar
The reason this is such a colossal failure is that the VTT could have been something that was used by D&D fans of *any* edition.

Think of all the traffic WotC could have drawn to their site. Heck - make a free version supported by advertisements. Stick a picture of the D&D board games in everyone's face every time they log on. Thousands upon thousands of views!

Since 4E was announced, I've had nothing but doubt about WotC's ability to run the D&D brand. However, the VTT (after it was to leave beta) *was* something I was keeping an eye on. If it was done right, I probably would have at least tried it.

However, once again, it looks like Paizo will swoop in with their own alternative and one-up WotC. (Or is it "10-up" by now?) Of course, Paizo's is not out yet, so it could fail to materialize, but I have *way* more confidence in Paizo's ability than WotC.

It's amazing that something that could have united all D&D players is botched so completely.
 
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TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
I get all the mocking and decrying..."not again wotc!"

But, except for the apparently small numbers actually using this, is it a big deal? As noted, there lots of options, including simple things like google docs.
 


Vanuslux

First Post
All I wanted was a chatroom with a dice roller and the abiliy to put in a map and move tokens around on it without it being excessively complicated. Strange how hard that seems to be.
 

kitsune9

First Post
Well, this kind of news makes me sad. Game companies should realize that technology is going to be a big part of their table-top lines and that if they are going to survive, players need to be able to connect regardless of the distance.

One has to look at this video

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cf7IL_eZ38]A Day Made of Glass... Made possible by Corning. - YouTube[/ame]

and realize that the physical presence of players will become less important as the technology will eventually emulate and make the interactions with each other better. Roll20 is an example that is heading in a good direction of a VTT.

The next step is apps to connect the VTT with your tablets and mobile devices. You carry your rule books, dice and character sheets on your device. You go home and connect to the VTT. A camera brings all your friends into view. Maps are loaded up by the GM and they pick up where they left off.

Additional features will then make everything manipulative via touch similar to what we see from surface computing tables.

The time to invest in VTT and improve it is now as opposed to killing it.
 
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mudbunny

Community Supporter
If that's what they thought was the primary draw of the VTT, then they were mistaken. The great advantage they had, and that they should have leveraged, was that installer base of 80k+ DDI subscribers. Using that, the VTT, and good software to put people in touch, it should have been possible for them to get to a point that any person could go online at any time, and within 30 minutes have a group assembled to play D&D.

They had this. It was freely available to *everyone* with a DDI account, and you could import your characters from the CB and, if you are the DM, import monsters from the Monster Builder.

I think what was causing problems is that WotC, with their first attempt at a VT that got cancelled and then was left in purgatory for a number of years before being brought out again, ended up souring a lot of people that would otherwise be excited about the VT. In addition, WotCs work on the VT, as mentioned above, brought a big spotlight on VTs, and there are a lot more of them available now, and at a higher level (see the Tableforge Google + hangout tool that just got Kick Startered to the tune of $44k+ (edited to correct amount) for example) of quality.

The question is now, when D&D Next comes out (and I believe that there will be DDI tools for Next*), will they provide a standard export format so that 3PPs can create import tools to bring them into a 3PP VT of choice.

* I am doing this based on no inside information.
 
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