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D&D General You're Hasbro/WotC Marketing - What Do You Do for the 50-year Anniversary in 2024?

Back in 2014 when 5e was released, the 50-year anniversary was still a decade away.

Well in the blink of an eye, it seems, 7 years have passed and we're now less than 3 years from 2024.

So just like the subject line says, if you're in charge of Hasbro/WotC marketing, what do you do to mark the event of D&D's 50 year anniversary?

If you're a total cynic, it would be easy to say "6E!", but I don't think that's in the cards. I suppose it's still possible they could start in late 2022 and still manage a decent 18-month dev cycle for a 6E launch in 2024, but I wouldn't bet a single red cent on that actually happening.

Here would be my take.
  • A mild refresh with a "5.1" / errata-ed rulebooks, made available as premium "collector's editions". And I mean, really pull out all the stops. Faux leather covers, premium print with gilded edges. Increase the page count for the PHB, DMG, and MM slightly to include artwork from all 50 years of the game's run. I fully expect copies of these books to sell in the $100-$110 range.
  • In addition to the collector's editions, refresh the existing "core" books with errata, and maybe give them some new cover art (but otherwise largely left intact).
  • In the same vein, do a MASSIVE standalone "50th Anniversary Art of D&D" collector's book, once again highlighting the contributions of the game's artists. Once again, spare no expense --- Retail price ~$100-$110.
  • A hardcover compilation / compendium of the 10 best / most popular standalone modules.
  • Special edition reprints of Dragonlance Chronicles, Dragonlance Legends, and Legend of Drizzt.
  • Special edition / collector minis of the most iconic D&D characters, including making a digital set specifically for use in VTT play.
  • Set aside a modest marketing budget (~$1 million) and commission a movie production documentary that gets a limited release in movie theaters, and then distributed to a digital streaming service, highlighting the history of the game. Interviews with well-known and lesser-known media figures (Vin Diesel, Stephen Colbert, Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, George R. R. Martin, et. al.).
  • Rebuild Baldur's Gate I and II into a modern game engine (using the BG3 toolset, maybe?) and release them to much fanfare.
  • Push hard to get exclusive retail space in Walmart, Target, and Barnes and Noble to celebrate the event, with custom kiosks with digital displays, showing streaming sessions of Critical Role in the stores, and previewing the aforementioned BG1, BG2, and BG3 video games.
 

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Retreater

Legend
I'm betting they forget until the night before, then release some social media posts, and that's it.
Honestly, their targeted demographic likely doesn't care about the game's ancient history, and Wizards would probably prefer not to be viewed
as a relic from the past.
So my prediction, it's not even noticed: just like the 40th anniversary was mostly ignored.
 

Obviously it's time to blow up the Forgotten Realms again.

But seriously, the first thing:

50th anniversary deluxe dice. In a fancy case. Two versions. One has the usual suite of dice (d20, d12, d10, d%, d8, d6, d4). The other is the masterpiece set, which has all the dice you'd ever need for 5e. It comes with 8d20 (two each of four colors, for four fighter attacks using advantage/disadvantage), 4d12 (for high-level poison spray), 5d10 (four for high-level cantrips, one as a d%), 4d8 (for high-level cantrips), 8d6 (for fireballs), and 5d4 (for magic missiles).
 

Set aside a modest marketing budget (~$1 million) and commission a movie production documentary that gets a limited release in movie theaters, and then distributed to a digital streaming service, highlighting the history of the game. Interviews with well-known and lesser-known media figures (Vin Diesel, Stephen Colbert, Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, George R. R. Martin, et. al.).
I agree with this, but ideally find a more diverse group too.
 



Not too long ago I wouldn't have agreed with this, but I expect a revised 5E (Golden Anniversary Edition!). I think this could be an opportunity to fully implement their new tone on racial abilities and alignment, as well as a chance to correct some known issues.

A premium product they might consider would be a gift set containing the base rules for every edition. Obviously they probably won't be able to do full reprints, but they could do a trimmed down version similar to the basic rules of 5E. Doing it as a single book might be interesting, as you could see the direct comparison between the editions.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
One thing I think they should do - but given the recent track record, probably won't - is to get involved with and try to absolutely dominate every major gaming convention that year. Make every major convention a D&D convention whether it wants to be or not.

Displays, sample games from all editions, tournaments (using all editions), seminars by TSR/WotC bigwigs-authors-developers-etc. past and present, stupendous amounts of advertising, and anything else necessary to make it an obvious Big Deal.
 

J-H

Adventurer
Convert and republish a number of "classic" dungeons. Possibly as part of...

"The Best Adventures/Dungeons of D&D" volumes 1, 2, and 3, drawing material from all eras.

Release updated core books with errata, fixed pre-Tasha sorcerers, and probably some of the more controversial stuff that'd make me skip buying them. Yeah, I know.

Limited-edition(?) miniature line with iconic and most popular minis of all time.

New DM screen(s)

Dice packs
 


One thing I think they should do - but given the recent track record, probably won't - is to get involved with and try to absolutely dominate every major gaming convention that year. Make every major convention a D&D convention whether it wants to be or not.

Displays, sample games from all editions, tournaments (using all editions), seminars by TSR/WotC bigwigs-authors-developers-etc. past and present, stupendous amounts of advertising, and anything else necessary to make it an obvious Big Deal.
Did you ever attend GenCon when WotC (and before them TSR) had the big giant castle set up in the middle of the exhibit hall? It was a giant anchor point. Everyone wanted to hang out there. Occasionally after the convention closed, people would have nerf fights around it.

I was so sad when they stopped that tradition.
 

Remake of DL01-16, which itself will be 40 years old (well, the early modules) into a Dragonlance adventure path. As much as I dislike Dragonlance for irritating, anti-fun race designs (tinker gnomes, gully dwarves, kender, and draconians) and immediately ending the most interesting aspect of the setting (no divine magic) so that the PCs still play a normal campaign, I think it's still probably the best written official adventure series.

Actually, now that I think about it, that strikes me as incredibly depressing. 1984 should not be the high water mark.
 



Remake of DL01-16, which itself will be 40 years old (well, the early modules) into a Dragonlance adventure path. As much as I dislike Dragonlance for irritating, anti-fun race designs (tinker gnomes, gully dwarves, kender, and draconians) and immediately ending the most interesting aspect of the setting (no divine magic) so that the PCs still play a normal campaign, I think it's still probably the best written official adventure series.

Hmmm.. What other big anniversaries are in 2024?

Dungeons & Dragons - 50th
Dragonlance - 40th
Planescape - 30th
Eberron - 20th
 
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Stormonu

Legend
I have the 25th edition set they made, and I’d like to see an improvement on it.

- Slipcase containing several relics old and new
— A 16-32 page history of D&D, from Gygax’s garage to the modern day, with a half a page to a page recollections from staff past and present.
— The 5E D&D core/basic rules in a slim hardcover with a new, iconic cover (for use with the enclosed modules).
— 4-5 classic adventures, chosen from poll as “the best/most iconic adventures in D&D history” (hopefully not overlapping with the 25th anniversary set’s contents).
— Two new adventures, one 32 page, one 64 pages; the 32 page adventure takes characters on a whirlwind tour of Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Mystara and Eberron using Planescape to connect the four portions of the adventure. Big baddie at the end must be an iconic villain from D&D’s past. The 64 page book is full of 2-4 page ”Side Treks” written by contributors.
— Poster maps of the four campaign worlds and the Outlands to go with the 32 page adventure.
— A set of deluxe dice with the TSR wizard logo replacing the 20 on the d20.

Separately, a super mini set containing at least 1 of every preprinted plastic miniature made or as many as can be fit. Call it something like “Monster Manual 3D”.

And for the hell of it - boxed set reprints of all of D&D’s past campaigns - including one for those that never got one, such as Jakandor, Nentir Vale and Eberron.
 

Count_Zero

Adventurer
  • A mild refresh with a "5.1" / errata-ed rulebooks, made available as premium "collector's editions". And I mean, really pull out all the stops. Faux leather covers, premium print with gilded edges. Increase the page count for the PHB, DMG, and MM slightly to include artwork from all 50 years of the game's run. I fully expect copies of these books to sell in the $100-$110 range.
  • In addition to the collector's editions, refresh the existing "core" books with errata, and maybe give them some new cover art (but otherwise largely left intact).
  • In the same vein, do a MASSIVE standalone "50th Anniversary Art of D&D" collector's book, once again highlighting the contributions of the game's artists. Once again, spare no expense --- Retail price ~$100-$110.
I like these, though you'd need to do something special to distinguish the collector's book from Art & Arcana.

Special edition reprints of Dragonlance Chronicles, Dragonlance Legends, and Legend of Drizzt.
Make it the annotated editions of Chronicles & Legends and I'm in.

Set aside a modest marketing budget (~$1 million) and commission a movie production documentary that gets a limited release in movie theaters, and then distributed to a digital streaming service, highlighting the history of the game. Interviews with well-known and lesser-known media figures (Vin Diesel, Stephen Colbert, Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, George R. R. Martin, et. al.).

Definitely agree with this, along with getting a more diverse group of media figures - but instead of doing this as a documentary film, work with Netflix or Amazon or somebody to make it a documentary limited series - if not something like a Ken Burns documentary, than something like the Michael Jordan "The Last Dance" documentary from last year.

My additions:
  • 12 books released that year - one per month. This would include the artbook.
  • A follow-up to Tales from the Howling Portal, adapting another set of classic adventures from D&D's past.
  • Release a 5th edition version of one of the Anniversary campaign settings that hasn't already gotten a 5th edition release. So, at the moment, that means Greyhawk (arguably the setting for original D&D), Dragonlance, or Planescape, with an accompanying adventure book-length campaign for that setting, and open that up on DM's Guild. (Dragonlance would be the classic campaign, Greyhawk would be Against The Slavers, Planescape would be something really new). (This would count as 2 books for the release schedule)
    • Related to this, find some really cool artists who have never worked on D&D before to contribute something to the books. Like, I dunno, some art contributions by Yoshitaka Amano and Bill Sienkiewicz for a Planescape book. Ask the question - who has never done D&D art professionally before, and could do some amazing art for this setting? And then ask them.
  • Another Candlekeep Mysteries style anthology, where it's an editor working with a bunch of writers to create a handful of drop-in adventures that can either kick off a larger adventure or be fit into an existing campaign. Go with a mix of streamers and podcasters like Daniel Kwan, along with high-profile authors who play D&D like Saladin Ahmed.
  • An Oral History of D&D: A companion book to the documentary series, containing a collection of interviews with people who were at TSR and Wizards from the rise of TSR, to the transition to WotC, and onwards.
  • Related to the artbook, work with a series of city art museums across the country to set up a touring art exhibit of art from D&D's past - give people a chance to see the art of D&D showcased in a larger and more high profile way then you've had the chance to see previously.
  • Also related to the artbook - A few of my friends liked the Eye of the Beholder documentary but would have liked something that spotlighted the art more than the artists and life at TSR more - something like a Sister Wendy style documentary but with D&D art. That could be neat as well, possibly as a part of that documentary miniseries.
 

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