Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 10, 2014
An open letter to WotC

Dear Wizards of the Coast,

I am a customer of your company for many years, and have spent quite a lot of money on your products. I am also currently a subscriber of your D&D Insider service, providing you with a continuous stream of income. Recently I bought two of your latest adventure modules, Murder in Baldur's Gate and Legacy of the Crystal Shard. Although they were principally designed for D&D Next, which I don't plan to buy, I bought the adventures because you included conversions for older game systems. Now you sent me an advertisement for the adventure Scourge of the Sword Coast. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that in spite of announcements to the contrary, that new adventure did not offer conversions for older editions of D&D. Therefore I didn't buy it.

I do not want to fight the edition wars here. Let's just say that the editions of Dungeons & Dragons are sufficiently different from each other to each appeal to a different group of potential customers. To me it would appear obvious that serving all of those potential customers would be in your best interest. But Scourge of the Sword Coast now has me worried that you are planning to abandon support for previous editions. I am particularly anxious that you might stop supporting the tools for 4th edition on the D&D Insider website. I use the monster builder and character builder and compendium a lot, and they are the reasons why I am subscribed to D&D Insider. I would cancel my subscription if those tools were to disappear and be replaced by D&D Next tools.

I consider 4th edition a brave experiment to drag Dungeons & Dragons into a new millennium. It created a game which is very different from previous editions, and very different from D&D Next. While not everybody might like that different game, there sure are also many people who prefer that version over the others. Surely the cost of adding a few pages of conversion to your adventure modules, or keeping 4E tools running on your website, are rather small compared to the added revenue from 4E fans!

Now you might think that you can "convert" the fans of 4th edition to D&D Next by force, by offering them "D&D Next or nothing". You added some token elements from 4th edition to D&D Next so that you could claim that D&D Next is for everybody. But I can assure you that very few 4E fans were fooled by that. By offering us all beta playtest access to D&D Next, we are very well aware that D&D Next is mostly reversing the changes that made 4th edition different. If we wanted a game with old school rules, we would have plenty of options even without D&D Next. If you cut off support to 4th edition, you only create the market for the next "Pathfinder", a third party product for the customers you left behind, for example "13th Age". You simply do not have the monopoly power any more to force everybody to play the same system.

So I would urge you to realize that making ONE D&D that pleases everybody is completely impossible at this point in time. You would keep far more customers and make far more money if you supported many different editions, kept 4E tools on the website, and made adventures usable for different systems.



I would be surprised if WotC continued support for 4e after Next comes out. Not because that's a good idea, but because it's how it has always been done. I do think, though, that we will continue to see "support" for all editions, including 4th, at least as far as keeping stuff available in PDF if not in print. Likewise I see little to be gained by removing the existing 4E tools.
Your reaction is the same reaction fans of 2nd edition had when their game was flipped on its head. The same as when 3rd edition was put out to pasture. They should stop calling the different "editions" dungeons and dragons, they are different enough games to deserve their own titles.
... at least now you can hope they keep the books available as ebooks ... In contrast to 2nd Ed when they vanished them from the ebookstores to improve sales of 3rd
I played 2nd Edition and the edition changes and lack of support completely turned me off from continuing to play.

The nice thing about 2nd Ed is that the rules were mostly consistent with 1st Ed so you could easily make your own conversions.
"I would be surprised if WotC continued support for 4e after Next comes out. Not because that's a good idea, but because it's how it has always been done."

It's not done that way just because that's the way it's always been. It's done that way because it doesn't do a company much good in the long run to spend resources supporting a game that is no longer sold.

What is in their best interest is to simply drop the current product line and promote the new one. Including conversion aids in an adventure was, at most, a temporary measure to bridge the gap during the transition in order to continue on-time product release.

By simply dropping 4E, WOTC will definitely lose customers with a vested interest in the product; however, I'm assuming they hope to make up for those losses with either new players or people who were dissatisfied with 4E and switched to other game systems (i.e., people like me).
As a Pathfinder player (which I've read was based on Edition 3.5), I often wonder how much of a difference there is between these various editions.

Is it powers that classes have? Strength of NPCs?
Yup. I'm exactly there too. I have no interest in D&D Next, and if WotC discontinued their 4th Edition online tools with no sunset plan to an offline mode that I could download at least, I'd just move to a different game entirely.
And so the cycle continues.

FWIW I am looking forward to D&D 5th and played actively in the playtests. If it manages to keep the range of diversity in Pathfinder/3.5 while being simpler at the core than it will succeed....for me. Locally no one's played 4E in close to two years around here so D&D 5E's big hurtle will be convincing Pathfinder fans to buy in to it. That's going to be a huge hurtle, dependent on getting full-time DMs like me to buy in.

That all said, I completely agree WotC should continue to offer multi-edition compatibility whenever they possibly can.
@ Michael

From a very brief stint in 4th, I found that characters were completely overpowered. I was playing at level 3 but it felt like being level 7-8 or even more. The party I was in seemed unkillable. The major cause for this was the fact that they re-organised abilities into categories (at will, per turn/combat, per day) and the daily powers were in most cases game changers. Also they revamped healing to lessen the dependency on having a cleric in the party, by giving all individual players a way to heal themselves (which is also a game changer).

@ Tobold

I would be very surprised to see support continued for 4th, after Next launches.This was always the case when new editions come out, to force people to make the transition.
Thanks @Chris.

My Paladin Tank is currently 4th level and I have no basis for comparison, but he certainly feels unkillable. He's hard to hit and has a metric ton of health - plus I get a twice daily Smite Evil that just vaporises bad guys.

My son's rogue, on the other hand. Actually feeling sorry for him. Maybe when he gets some new blades.
I think the biggest difference is the class balancing. 2nd Ed used class specific kits to add interesting features (after realising that balancing by GM magic items basically didn't happen), whereas in 3.x generic powers were introduced supplementing class skills and in 4 abstracted further to dissolve more or less the classes into generics ... roughly.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool