WotC, DDI, 4E, and Hasbro: Some History

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an article worth reading.

www.enworld.org/forum/news/315975-wizard...

...
"After Vince Calouri was pushed out of Wizards of the Coast he was replaced by Chuck Heubner. Chuck basically had to manage Wizards on the downslope from the Pokemon salad days. Hasbro has been through many boom & bust cycles in the toy business and they have a standard response when it happens: cut headcount and reduce overhead. Since Wizards was de facto the only part of the business that had not been rolled up into Hasbro proper it was not insulated by the successes of other things at Hasbro like GI Joe or Transformers.

While this was happening there was a big internal fight for control over the CCG business within Hasbro. Brian Goldner who was at the time the head of the Boys Toys (i.e. half the company) division of Hasbro thought that the company was missing a huge window of opportunity to follow up Pokemon with a series of mass-market CCGs linked to Hasbro's core brands GI Joe and Transformers. These battles resulted in things being escalated all the way to the C-Suite and the Hasbro Board, where Brian lost the fight and Wizards retained the exclusive ability within Hasbro to make CCGs. The downside for Wizards is that they were forced to do things with the Duelmaster brand that they did not want to do, and it never got the traction in the US that Wizards thought it could achieve. (In Japan, by contrast, it became a huge best-seller).

Chuck left after two years and Loren Greenwood, who had been the long time VP of Sales, replaced him in 2004. He was also a visible proponent of the idea that Wizards, and not Boys Toys, should set Hasbro's CCG strategy. Thus when Brian was named COO of the whole company in 2006 and CEO in 2008, Loren had a big problem on his hands. Loren guided the company through the post 3.5e crash of the TRPG market, the loss of the Pokemon franchise, and the unwinding of the Wizards retail strategy. All of this was pretty bitter fruit for hm since he'd been instrumental in building up much of what had to then be torn down. The combination of all these things led to Loren's exit and his replacement by Greg Leeds, who is the current CEO of Wizards.

Sometime around 2005ish, Hasbro made an internal decision to divide its businesses into two categories. Core brands, which had more than $50 million in annual sales, and had a growth path towards $100 million annual sales, and Non-Core brands, which didn't.

Under Goldner, the Core Brands would be the tentpoles of the company. They would be exploited across a range of media with an eye towards major motion pictures, following the path Transformers had blazed. Goldner saw what happened to Marvel when they re-oriented their company from a publisher of comic books to a brand building factory (their market capitalization increased by something like 2 billion dollars). He wanted to replicate that at Hasbro.

Core Brands would get the financing they requested for development of their businesses (within reason). Non-Core brands would not. They would be allowed to rise & fall with the overall toy market on their own merits without a lot of marketing or development support. In fact, many Non-Core brands would simply be mothballed - allowed to go dormant for some number of years until the company was ready to take them down off the shelf and try to revive them for a new generation of kids.

At the point of the original Hasbro/Wizards merger a fateful decision was made that laid the groundwork for what happened once Greg took over. Instead of focusing Hasbro on the idea that Wizards of the Coast was a single brand, each of the lines of business in Wizards got broken out and reported to Hasbro as a separate entity. This was driven in large part by the fact that the acquisition agreement specified a substantial post-acquisition purchase price adjustment for Wizards' shareholders on the basis of the sales of non-Magic CCGs (i.e. Pokemon).

This came back to haunt Wizards when Hasbro's new Core/Non-Core strategy came into focus. Instead of being able to say "We're a $100+ million brand, keep funding us as we desire", each of the business units inside Wizards had to make that case separately. So the first thing that happened was the contraction you saw when Wizards dropped new game development and became the "D&D and Magic" company. Magic has no problem hitting the "Core" brand bar, but D&D does. It's really a $25-30 million business, especially since Wizards isn't given credit for the licensing revenue of the D&D computer games.

It would have been very easy for Goldner et al to tell Wizards "you're done with D&D, put it on a shelf and we'll bring it back 10 years from now as a multi-media property managed from Rhode Island". There's no way that the D&D business circa 2006 could have supported the kind of staff and overhead that it was used to. Best case would have been a very small staff dedicated to just managing the brand and maybe handling some freelance pool doing minimal adventure content. So this was an existential issue (like "do we exist or not") for the part of Wizards that was connected to D&D. That's something between 50 and 75 people.

Sometime around 2006, the D&D team made a big presentation to the Hasbro senior management on how they could take D&D up to the $50 million level and potentially keep growing it. The core of that plan was a synergistic relationship between the tabletop game and what came to be known as DDI. At the time Hasbro didn't have the rights to do an MMO for D&D, so DDI was the next best thing. The Wizards team produced figures showing that there were millions of people playing D&D and that if they could move a moderate fraction of those people to DDI, they would achieve their revenue goals. Then DDI could be expanded over time and if/when Hasbro recovered the video gaming rights, it could be used as a platform to launch a true D&D MMO, which could take them over $100 million/year.

The DDI pitch was that the 4th Edition would be designed so that it would work best when played with DDI. DDI had a big VTT component of its design that would be the driver of this move to get folks to hybridize their tabletop game with digital tools. Unfortunately, a tragedy struck the DDI team and it never really recovered. The VTT wasn't ready when 4e launched, and the explicit link between 4e and DDI that had been proposed to Hasbro's execs never materialized. The team did a yoeman's effort to make 4e work anyway while the VTT evolved, but they simply couldn't hit the numbers they'd promised selling books alone. The marketplace backlash to 4e didn't help either.

Greg wasn't in the hot seat long enough to really take the blame for the 4e/DDI plan, and Wizards just hired a new exec to be in charge of Sales & Marketing, and Bill Slavicsek who headed RPG R&D left last summer, so the team that committed those numbers to Hasbro are gone. The team that's there now probably doesn't have a blank sheet of paper and an open checkbook, but they also don't have to answer to Hasbro for the promises of the prior regime.

As to their next move? Only time will tell."
Some excellent background from Mr. Dancey. They definitely should have set WotC as a completely independent brand, but trying to market DnD as an 100-mil/year contender was a horrible idea, and a DnD MMORPG?? I suppose 5 years ago it might have seemed like a good idea, but I wouldn't have gone in that direction when WoW clones were dropping dead left and right (look at FF Online, for goodness' sakes!).

I always liked the idea of DDI, and it's a damn shame about that kind of a tragedy and the failure of the VTT in the beginning; all-in-all, WotC's damage control for the entire thing was just plain horrible until they had one of their main guys literally apologize directly to the players. Though I love the premises and Balance of 4E, the handling of the entire affair has just soured me on it.
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Some excellent background from Mr. Dancey. They definitely should have set WotC as a completely independent brand, but trying to market DnD as an 100-mil/year contender was a horrible idea, and a DnD MMORPG?? I suppose 5 years ago it might have seemed like a good idea, but I wouldn't have gone in that direction when WoW clones were dropping dead left and right (look at FF Online, for goodness' sakes!).

I always liked the idea of DDI, and it's a damn shame about that kind of a tragedy and the failure of the VTT in the beginning; all-in-all, WotC's damage control for the entire thing was just plain horrible until they had one of their main guys literally apologize directly to the players. Though I love the premises and Balance of 4E, the handling of the entire affair has just soured me on it.

Bah, a lot of unfair things was throown on them on the other side - like the nefarious hypocrital Paizzo 'we stick to The Man' marketting, or the insane warfare over FR 4th ed (never given a chance).

WOTC should be cut some crap and given a fair, balanced chance... they where trashed unfairly a LOT; it is also the fact that fandoms can be NASTY things.
Bah, a lot of unfair things was throown on them on the other side - like the nefarious hypocrital Paizzo 'we stick to The Man' marketting, or the insane warfare over FR 4th ed (never given a chance).

WOTC should be cut some crap and given a fair, balanced chance... they where trashed unfairly a LOT; it is also the fact that fandoms can be NASTY things.



Meh.

For every rabid hater who's loud on the internet, there's at least two guys like me who bought 4E without even considering the option of not buying the newest edition of D&D.  Brand loyalty is a powerful thing, and Wizards has a lot of it to draw on.

People who are happy about their purchase just tend to be quieter.
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Thanks for the link. Common sense has always told me WotC is dealing with a very complex financial circumstance. This finally gave me a better idea of a few specifics.

Despite the long history and incredible brand recognition of D&D, it seems that, due to unfortunate economic realities, the current caretakers have been whittled down to a very small, financially constrained group that's doing the best they can. Again, we all realized that long ago (or should have), but it's interesting to get some details.

Pretty much every disappointment I've felt with this edition (my favorite edition) has been a money issue: DDI never happened as promised, far too little support for the individual settings, sparse release schedules (at times), etc... These guys are fighting to keep our favorite brand out of Hasbro's vaults and on the shelf. With a large fan base, there are bound to be different views on how well they're doing, but I, for one, appreciate how hard they're trying, at least. Some of it is self-preservation, of course, but many forget, in the midst of their impassioned internet venting, that these guys are also gamers who love D&D as much as we do.

Again, thanks for the link.
Some excellent background from Mr. Dancey. They definitely should have set WotC as a completely independent brand, but trying to market DnD as an 100-mil/year contender was a horrible idea, and a DnD MMORPG?? I suppose 5 years ago it might have seemed like a good idea, but I wouldn't have gone in that direction when WoW clones were dropping dead left and right (look at FF Online, for goodness' sakes!).


IMO, the entire crux of the 4e ruleset is geared toward evolving DND into an MMORPG.  The rules are extremely logical and could easily be interpreted in a computer program.  The strict structure of the combat rules, movement and ranges are there for precisely this reason.

As an old AD&D/2e player from many years back, I despised the new format of 4e.  Once I started to get a handle on the mechanics, I realized that there was the potential for it to be morphed into an MMORPG with relative ease.

Imagine the revenue stream by migrating all of DND to an MMORPG with a monthly fee (like WoW).  The corporate suits are only looking at the bottom lines of the ledger.


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Some excellent background from Mr. Dancey. They definitely should have set WotC as a completely independent brand, but trying to market DnD as an 100-mil/year contender was a horrible idea, and a DnD MMORPG?? I suppose 5 years ago it might have seemed like a good idea, but I wouldn't have gone in that direction when WoW clones were dropping dead left and right (look at FF Online, for goodness' sakes!).


IMO, the entire crux of the 4e ruleset is geared toward evolving DND into an MMORPG.  The rules are extremely logical and could easily be interpreted in a computer program.  The strict structure of the combat rules, movement and ranges are there for precisely this reason.

As an old AD&D/2e player from many years back, I despised the new format of 4e.  Once I started to get a handle on the mechanics, I realized that there was the potential for it to be morphed into an MMORPG with relative ease.

Imagine the revenue stream by migrating all of DND to an MMORPG with a monthly fee (like WoW).  The corporate suits are only looking at the bottom lines of the ledger.



What revenue stream? Without a DM to actually make the game into an RPG? I mean people sometimes call MMO's 'RPGs' but there isn't any real RP there. It is a canned world with canned quests. You can interact with other PCs, which is cool, but there isn't a heck of a lot the players can do to affect the world, and you only have whatever few choices the game sticks on a button. IMHO MMOs are nothing like D&D. That leaves the actual rules of 4e as a draw? I really doubt those would translate well into a superior game experience that would draw people away from WoW, which has been designed from the ground up for that medium and had years of tweaking and perfection.

I think it is fair to say that when 4e was designed (and Ryan pretty much said as much) that the format the game is presented in was designed around the concept of being more easily able to be used in DDI.

As for DDI itself, the original 'Gleemax' vision with the 3d table and all that stuff that they pushed was just unrealistic. I mean seriously, the fact that a guy died derailed the whole project? That project was a 10's of millions of $ project that would have needed 10 guys. If one guy was basically the whole development to the extent he couldn't be replaced then they weren't even on planet Earth with what was required to start with. Go play with Maptool, that's a piece of software that is designed by VERY competent programmers and has had easily 10 man-years of work, probably quite a bit more, put into it. It isn't even approaching just the VTT part of what WotC was selling people on 4 years ago. Then you have to factor in the REST of DDI, the parts we do have (albeit much later and perhaps without some of the original features).

There's a vision there that 4e was meant to fit into with DDI, no doubt. A lot of that has come to pass, slowly but surely. Still, there's a huge distance it could go and become a real 'hub' and not just a content delivery service. Anyway, Ryan's thoughts on things are pretty interesting. The whole thread is mostly a pretty good read. He has more facts than probably anyone else around, which makes it interesting.
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> IMO, the entire crux of the 4e ruleset is geared toward evolving DND into an MMORPG.

Given that the ruleset is inextricably linked to a turn-based structure and that a turn-based MMORPG is a non-starter?
> IMO, the entire crux of the 4e ruleset is geared toward evolving DND into an MMORPG. Given that the ruleset is inextricably linked to a turn-based structure and that a turn-based MMORPG is a non-starter?



Pretty much. The only way for 4E to work as an MMO is if they made it into some sort of turn-based MMO that basically auto-ran pre-scripted adventures for you with a hub world to find allies. I can't speak of earlier editions, but of 2e, 3e, and 4e, 4e is hands down the worst version of D&D for making into a Real Time game. Between the movement rules, the Immediate actions, and forced movement, it's a fantastic Tactical game but not something that could ever be plugged into a WoW format.
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Usually, Ryan Dancey is full of crap, so this article is interesting because this actually sounds plausible. It sounds like an over-ambitious plan that went predictably sour.
...whatever
Some excellent background from Mr. Dancey. They definitely should have set WotC as a completely independent brand, but trying to market DnD as an 100-mil/year contender was a horrible idea, and a DnD MMORPG?? I suppose 5 years ago it might have seemed like a good idea, but I wouldn't have gone in that direction when WoW clones were dropping dead left and right (look at FF Online, for goodness' sakes!).

I always liked the idea of DDI, and it's a damn shame about that kind of a tragedy and the failure of the VTT in the beginning; all-in-all, WotC's damage control for the entire thing was just plain horrible until they had one of their main guys literally apologize directly to the players. Though I love the premises and Balance of 4E, the handling of the entire affair has just soured me on it.

Bah, a lot of unfair things was throown on them on the other side - like the nefarious hypocrital Paizzo 'we stick to The Man' marketting, or the insane warfare over FR 4th ed (never given a chance).

WOTC should be cut some crap and given a fair, balanced chance... they where trashed unfairly a LOT; it is also the fact that fandoms can be NASTY things.


There's some bias, this it actually paints WotC as sympathetic in most cases: hit by unforeseen consequences of what seemed like good decisions, bad luck, and outside pressure. It's a really interesting read and really explains why 4e came out so soon and many of the related problems. 

It's just a shame this didn't come out three years ago. It woud have taken a TONNE of heat off WotC and garnered them sympathy rather than ire and nerd rage. This is another instance where WotC's policy of spin, avoidance, and never talking directly to the fans bites them in the ass.

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Usually, Ryan Dancey is full of crap, so this article is interesting because this actually sounds plausible. It sounds like an over-ambitious plan that went predictably sour.



Saddest part of the entire thing?  What they pitched before, a 3D gametable, character generator, online compendium, etc, basically making the books secondary to a digital, online game run by, essentially, volunteers (i.e. DMs) is a wizbang idea if it had worked.  As in, if they had actually been given the budget and hired people that could get it done.  I mean, that's at least 15% of what made me so excited about 4th ed in the first place, because I'm the kid that grew up on Atari, Nintendo, Sega, and Playstation as my games.  I'm a digital person as far as my entertainment goes, and what they said would come to pass sounded like gravy to an already stellar system that really grabbed me.

Sadly, they'd (Hasbro) still have to take a chance, and have a good solid team of, essentially, video game developers in order to make it happen.  But as it looks right now, D&D is stuck in it's own Catch-22 hell.
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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
Some excellent background from Mr. Dancey. They definitely should have set WotC as a completely independent brand, but trying to market DnD as an 100-mil/year contender was a horrible idea, and a DnD MMORPG?? I suppose 5 years ago it might have seemed like a good idea, but I wouldn't have gone in that direction when WoW clones were dropping dead left and right (look at FF Online, for goodness' sakes!).

I always liked the idea of DDI, and it's a damn shame about that kind of a tragedy and the failure of the VTT in the beginning; all-in-all, WotC's damage control for the entire thing was just plain horrible until they had one of their main guys literally apologize directly to the players. Though I love the premises and Balance of 4E, the handling of the entire affair has just soured me on it.

Bah, a lot of unfair things was throown on them on the other side - like the nefarious hypocrital Paizzo 'we stick to The Man' marketting, or the insane warfare over FR 4th ed (never given a chance).

WOTC should be cut some crap and given a fair, balanced chance... they where trashed unfairly a LOT; it is also the fact that fandoms can be NASTY things.


There's some bias, this it actually paints WotC as sympathetic in most cases: hit by unforeseen consequences of what seemed like good decisions, bad luck, and outside pressure. It's a really interesting read and really explains why 4e came out so soon and many of the related problems. 

It's just a shame this didn't come out three years ago. It woud have taken a TONNE of heat off WotC and garnered them sympathy rather than ire and nerd rage. This is another instance where WotC's policy of spin, avoidance, and never talking directly to the fans bites them in the ass.

I don't know, I think the nerd rage was just about inevitable, though it certainly would have been blunted if a DDI delivered with all the bells and whistles had been there in June of '08. Blunted at least in the sense that if said DDI really had a LOT more subscribers they'd hardly need to be too concerned about the nerd rage of 3.5 holdouts.

Ryan is pretty fair. I think its inevitable that his Paizo affiliation skews his perspective about what the future of RPGs is like. I don't personally see PF as much of a 'lifeboat' for instance. Even he admits that they face exactly the same issues WotC does. They've claimed they want a 10 year run for PF, but it remains to be seen if its popularity will last, and if they do a PF2 it will split their customer base just as much as 4e split WotCs.

I think people overhype the amount of "spin, avoidance, and never talking directly to the fans" that WotC is guilty of. What are they spinning or avoiding? Telling you their proprietary sales figures that Ryan wouldn't tell you for his company either? They have a whole staff who's job is talking to fans, and I see guys like Mike etc are out there at cons etc talking to people. Do you mean Mike posting here? What exactly would that accomplish? Every business keeps key information to itself. Paizo may be for instance more likely to have a higher up person talk to you, but then again, they're a much smaller company.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I mean seriously, the fact that a guy died derailed the whole project?

I don't know if this is the case, but here is how such a thing might happen:

The dead guy went out with a bang (murder-suicide). He planned it -- he bought the handgun far enough in advance for his wife to find out and seek a restraining order. During his preparations, he deleted a ton of files, including the backups, emails, and planning notes. He was both the project manager and the company liaison with the outsourced development team. He was also the only person left from the original planning team. Basically, he was the only WotC employee knowledgeably affiliated with the project at the time. Take him out of the picture, and you have internal management knowing only that there is a lot that they don't know, and not a whole lot more.

Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
Interesting article, thanks Domn.

Regardless of whether 4e was planned to take MMORPG development into account or not, my experience with it is that it plays great as a PnP RPG.  It's my favorite edition so far, and I've been playing for 30 years.  I'm also very eager to see how the Neverwinter game works out and how closely it emulates 4e PnP or at least how much of the spirit of 4e it retains.

Personally, I couldn't care less at this point how well 4e performs in the market.  I have everything I need from WoTC to keep playing it for years and years to come.  If they ever decide to put the brand on hiatus and bring it back years down the road, I can live with that.  If they decide to produce a 5th edition of D&D, I'll certainly give it a try and if it works well I'll play it.  If not, I'll stick with 4e.  I just hope they keep the DDi tools around in some fashion for a long time since I use them a lot and I'd really miss them if they went away.  Worst case scenario is that I'd have to go back to doing everything on paper and that wouldn't be the end of the world to me since I've purchased all the rulebooks up to this point, Core and Essentials.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

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I doubt that if/when 5e arrives that any 4e rules/tools will be available in DDI.  They will probably move everything to 5e since they would no longer be supporting the older edition.
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I doubt that if/when 5e arrives that any 4e rules/tools will be available in DDI.  They will probably move everything to 5e since they would no longer be supporting the older edition.



Then guess what will happen? All the 4E tools will be up all over internet, for free, and no one will care about taking them down. I suppose that's when people will start realising that 4E wasn't so bad after all.
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Bah, a lot of unfair things was throown on them on the other side - like the nefarious hypocrital Paizzo 'we stick to The Man' marketting, or the insane warfare over FR 4th ed (never given a chance).

For which WotC has to take at least half of the blame. At very least not marketing 4 by badmouting 3.x and D&D holy cows in general would have caused a lot less negative feelings among their customers. They could have still axed all this holy cause, just been selling it better

Bah, a lot of unfair things was throown on them on the other side - like the nefarious hypocrital Paizzo 'we stick to The Man' marketting, or the insane warfare over FR 4th ed (never given a chance).

For which WotC has to take at least half of the blame. At very least not marketing 4 by badmouting 3.x and D&D holy cows in general would have caused a lot less negative feelings among their customers. They could have still axed all this holy cause, just been selling it better


Sorry. but while the words may seemed harsh, some truth remained. Grognardise was a problem too, peoples who felt they knew the truth on WHAT is D&D, not even GAME DESIGNERS.

Sorry, but there is a rigid minority in fandoms. The cried LOUDLy, but they may not have been true (or false).

WOTC had been trashed to have the balls to come out with the changes they felt needed and planed maybe since 3,X, but couldn't implement due to reasons. Changes a notable % of disenters but fans always wanted for D&D, as we see here from old timers like me who are for 4th ed.
I doubt that if/when 5e arrives that any 4e rules/tools will be available in DDI.  They will probably move everything to 5e since they would no longer be supporting the older edition.



Then guess what will happen? All the 4E tools will be up all over internet, for free, and no one will care about taking them down. I suppose that's when people will start realising that 4E wasn't so bad after all.

You think so?  Who will host the servers for the Compendium and CB?  Granted, you can find the old CB out there now with some updates, but that's a stand-alone product.



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I doubt that if/when 5e arrives that any 4e rules/tools will be available in DDI.  They will probably move everything to 5e since they would no longer be supporting the older edition.

Because DDI is subscription-based, keeping the 4e rules up is a way of making money from 4e players even after the edition retirement that sets it apart from all other editions. I suspect that DDI will continue to support 4e (because they want my money) as well as 5e (they want to make money from the new edition as well).
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
I doubt that if/when 5e arrives that any 4e rules/tools will be available in DDI.  They will probably move everything to 5e since they would no longer be supporting the older edition.

Because DDI is subscription-based, keeping the 4e rules up is a way of making money from 4e players even after the edition retirement that sets it apart from all other editions. I suspect that DDI will continue to support 4e (because they want my money) as well as 5e (they want to make money from the new edition as well).


I respectfully disagree.  I don't see WotC/Hasbro splitting their limited resources to support two editions of DND in DDI.  Perhaps for an interim basis, but not for any significant length of time.

But I've been wrong before.  I think.  ;)
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I see no reason that they wouldn't want to continue having people pay for the 4E tools. Next time, there won't be an OGL that needs killing(I think WotC was harsh on cutting 3.5E off as part of making a clear break between themselves and the OGL), and keeping the tools for 4E alive would go a long way towards preventing a 4E retro-clone a-la Pathfinder done through the OGL.
...whatever
I doubt that if/when 5e arrives that any 4e rules/tools will be available in DDI.  They will probably move everything to 5e since they would no longer be supporting the older edition.

Because DDI is subscription-based, keeping the 4e rules up is a way of making money from 4e players even after the edition retirement that sets it apart from all other editions. I suspect that DDI will continue to support 4e (because they want my money) as well as 5e (they want to make money from the new edition as well).


I respectfully disagree.  I don't see WotC/Hasbro splitting their limited resources to support two editions of DND in DDI.  Perhaps for an interim basis, but not for any significant length of time.

But I've been wrong before.  I think.  ;)



Its not a question of support, its a question of just leaving things up. I expect that when 5E comes along, all development of 4E DDI will end, but the tools as the exist in their final state will continue to be available, one way or another. Doing so costs them nothing.
...whatever
What would then be the incentive to move from 4e to 5e?
Come join Team Apathy! or not whatever shrug.gif
 
Yo! tm  afro.gif

 
What would then be the incentive to move from 4e to 5e?



Same as ever, its the new shiny. When RPGs were book based, what prompts people to abandon books they already possess and buy a new edition? Its the same situation. The only thing that really set the 3.5E  to 4E edition change apart was the OGL.  
...whatever
Hmm... only time will truly tell, I suppose.
Come join Team Apathy! or not whatever shrug.gif
 
Yo! tm  afro.gif

 
You think so?  Who will host the servers for the Compendium and CB?  Granted, you can find the old CB out there now with some updates, but that's a stand-alone product.





Well, I don't know who will host it, but someone industrious and, at least from then on, popular. With Virtual Tabletop and Character Builder being practically free, one would have everything he needs to play 4E quickly at hand, and tons of people who were to cheap to buy the game at the time of relevance will finally try it out.
Check out my D&D-based play-by-post game, based on exploration and roleplaying. Agora
I doubt that if/when 5e arrives that any 4e rules/tools will be available in DDI.  They will probably move everything to 5e since they would no longer be supporting the older edition.



Then guess what will happen? All the 4E tools will be up all over internet, for free, and no one will care about taking them down. I suppose that's when people will start realising that 4E wasn't so bad after all.

You think so?  Who will host the servers for the Compendium and CB?  Granted, you can find the old CB out there now with some updates, but that's a stand-alone product.


Actually you can find the Compendium and old MB as well. With enough motivation, people can make it happen. When things are readily available as they are now, there isn't as much demand. If it all got shut down tomorrow, that would be a bit different and I'm pretty sure you would see that stuff pop up all over the internet.
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> IMO, the entire crux of the 4e ruleset is geared toward evolving DND into an MMORPG. Given that the ruleset is inextricably linked to a turn-based structure and that a turn-based MMORPG is a non-starter?



Pretty much. The only way for 4E to work as an MMO is if they made it into some sort of turn-based MMO that basically auto-ran pre-scripted adventures for you with a hub world to find allies. I can't speak of earlier editions, but of 2e, 3e, and 4e, 4e is hands down the worst version of D&D for making into a Real Time game. Between the movement rules, the Immediate actions, and forced movement, it's a fantastic Tactical game but not something that could ever be plugged into a WoW format.



WoW has movement rules (you can only move at a certain speed, terrain and effects can speed you up or slow you down) immediate actions (warrior's overpower for example) and forced movement (numerous knockback effects, DK's death grip for example) so I don't seen any issues there.  Do you have any other examples of other D&D mechanics that don't/wouldn't work in WoW?  Because I can't think of a single one.
WoW has movement rules (you can only move at a certain speed, terrain and effects can speed you up or slow you down) immediate actions (warrior's overpower for example) and forced movement (numerous knockback effects, DK's death grip for example) so I don't seen any issues there.  Do you have any other examples of other D&D mechanics that don't/wouldn't work in WoW?  Because I can't think of a single one.


The only thing I could think of would be a lot of the immediate interrupts that include movement and/or attacks, since the interrupt is completed before the trigger is resolved. Things like an assault swordmage's aegis would be difficult to model, because the decision if the interrupt is taken and it's complete resolution would need to happen before the triggering attack is completed. And that would imho not work in a non-turn based environment.
> IMO, the entire crux of the 4e ruleset is geared toward evolving DND into an MMORPG. Given that the ruleset is inextricably linked to a turn-based structure and that a turn-based MMORPG is a non-starter?



Pretty much. The only way for 4E to work as an MMO is if they made it into some sort of turn-based MMO that basically auto-ran pre-scripted adventures for you with a hub world to find allies. I can't speak of earlier editions, but of 2e, 3e, and 4e, 4e is hands down the worst version of D&D for making into a Real Time game. Between the movement rules, the Immediate actions, and forced movement, it's a fantastic Tactical game but not something that could ever be plugged into a WoW format.



WoW has movement rules (you can only move at a certain speed, terrain and effects can speed you up or slow you down) immediate actions (warrior's overpower for example) and forced movement (numerous knockback effects, DK's death grip for example) so I don't seen any issues there.  Do you have any other examples of other D&D mechanics that don't/wouldn't work in WoW?  Because I can't think of a single one.




well there is one 4th edition agme in development
crypticstudios.com/neverwinter 

Players can create and share their own adventures using The Foundry creation toolset, 
on the forums questions are going around if the system is close enough to 4Th
that the foundly can be used to create adventures that can be played online instead of the VTT that wizard provides.




 
WoW has movement rules (you can only move at a certain speed, terrain and effects can speed you up or slow you down) immediate actions (warrior's overpower for example) and forced movement (numerous knockback effects, DK's death grip for example) so I don't seen any issues there.  Do you have any other examples of other D&D mechanics that don't/wouldn't work in WoW?  Because I can't think of a single one.


The only thing I could think of would be a lot of the immediate interrupts that include movement and/or attacks, since the interrupt is completed before the trigger is resolved. Things like an assault swordmage's aegis would be difficult to model, because the decision if the interrupt is taken and it's complete resolution would need to happen before the triggering attack is completed. And that would imho not work in a non-turn based environment.


Good point - any interrupt that didn't involve a decision would be fine (including common things like opportunity attacks), but the vast majority of those that do would need some modification.  

You'll never replicate a TRPG 100% accurately in a video game, and I don't think you'd necessarily want to, but that doesn't mean that you can't make something extremely close.
3 thoughts:

1) I think this revelation certainly makes WotC look better than they have looked through the lens of an outsider. You can deride them for joining Hasbro, but that opens up a can of worms of what-could-have-been.

2) I think this is a good sign for 4ed lasting longer than before. It seems that D&D will rise and fall based on its video game/MMO profits, and not on the TRPG. If WotC can monetize the brand to hit the 50 million point, it can get additional funding from Hasbro and really hit its stride.

Since 4ed is (apparently) compatible (enough) to be useful for MMOs, I don't see a push from Hasbro to make a 5ed. Rather, Hasbro will be pushing for a big video game. I think that will give the RPG staff time and space to really play with the system and make the best 4ed possible/test out 5ed options in 4ed.

3) Read below quote and continue.      

At the point of the original Hasbro/Wizards merger a fateful decision was made that laid the groundwork for what happened once Greg took over. Instead of focusing Hasbro on the idea that Wizards of the Coast was a single brand, each of the lines of business in Wizards got broken out and reported to Hasbro as a separate entity. This was driven in large part by the fact that the acquisition agreement specified a substantial post-acquisition purchase price adjustment for Wizards' shareholders on the basis of the sales of non-Magic CCGs (i.e. Pokemon).

This came back to haunt Wizards when Hasbro's new Core/Non-Core strategy came into focus. Instead of being able to say "We're a $100+ million brand, keep funding us as we desire", each of the business units inside Wizards had to make that case separately. So the first thing that happened was the contraction you saw when Wizards dropped new game development and became the "D&D and Magic" company. Magic has no problem hitting the "Core" brand bar, but D&D does. It's really a $25-30 million business, especially since Wizards isn't given credit for the licensing revenue of the D&D computer games.



So, D&D was threatened to be mothballed because of the deal made with WotC shareholders who sold stock in the Pokemon era. Who was one of the biggest seller of shares in that era? Lisa Stevens, current CEO of Paizo. 

Food for thought.

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick


Good point - any interrupt that didn't involve a decision would be fine (including common things like opportunity attacks), but the vast majority of those that do would need some modification.  

You'll never replicate a TRPG 100% accurately in a video game, and I don't think you'd necessarily want to, but that doesn't mean that you can't make something extremely close.



There's also choosing to apply a variety of on-hit effects, choosing which ally recieves a buff, choosing damage types, and choosing specific squares for abilities.

You can certainly incorporate 4E-style classes, but 4E is absolutely riddled with extremely precise choices. They can make an action game heavily based on 4E, but it's going to be even further from the original rules than DDO is from 3E.

--

Do note, this doesn't mean you can't make absolutely awesome 4E-inspired games.
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Some excellent background from Mr. Dancey. They definitely should have set WotC as a completely independent brand, but trying to market DnD as an 100-mil/year contender was a horrible idea, and a DnD MMORPG?? I suppose 5 years ago it might have seemed like a good idea, but I wouldn't have gone in that direction when WoW clones were dropping dead left and right (look at FF Online, for goodness' sakes!).

I always liked the idea of DDI, and it's a damn shame about that kind of a tragedy and the failure of the VTT in the beginning; all-in-all, WotC's damage control for the entire thing was just plain horrible until they had one of their main guys literally apologize directly to the players. Though I love the premises and Balance of 4E, the handling of the entire affair has just soured me on it.



While the idea of something associated with, but not directly pertaining to, something ruining that thing in so alien to me that I can't even begin to empathize with it, I've learned to respect it as a common frame of mind. It's too bad in this case, because 4e really is very well made.  (if that wasn't clear, what I'm basically saying is that I literally never dislike an artists music because I dislike the person, etc, so the idea of 4e being ruined by the business practices of WoTC is completely alien to me, but I respect your position anyway. )

That being said, MMO: Actually, there's no good reason not to make a DnD MMO. The cost is not on WoTC or Hasbro, but on whatever studio and publisher puts out the game, paying wizards a licensing fee, or buying the license.

Further, DnD Online is very sucessful. It wasn't for a while, due to terrible publishing by Atari (over which the studio, Turbine, won a law suit) and subsequent lack of funds to develop new content.

That was fixed by the law suit, however, as Turbine could now self publish, but Atari's name would remain on the game as before, and DDO went free to play and re-launched as DnD Online: Eberron Unlimited (before is was : Stormreach) along with a chunk of new content, including a new class and increased level cap (to lvl 20, finally).

Now, the game is constantly full of people, and all signs show that it's making more money than ever before. In fact, market research is showing that unless you're WoW or The Old Republic, free to play is the big money making model for MMOs.


The upcoming Neverwinter MMO by Cryptic will also be free to play, will be based (don't know to what degree) on 4e rules, will feature an in depth content creation suite (not the first Cryptic MMO with that feature) that is already very well reviewed, and the micro-transaction store will not sell content, but rather only optional stuff. That is, items that aren't required to fully enjoy the game, like vanity items, pets (that don't help you fight, and are just for fun), and bonus type consumables. I figure that with that they mean stuff like minor buff potions. They're not going to charge for classes, races, or quests/play areas.

It's probably going to be a huge success, judging by initial quality assesments, the Foundry (CC tool), and market research regarding F2P MMOs and what sells in the RL money store.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
What would then be the incentive to move from 4e to 5e?



Same as ever, its the new shiny. When RPGs were book based, what prompts people to abandon books they already possess and buy a new edition? Its the same situation. The only thing that really set the 3.5E  to 4E edition change apart was the OGL.  




Well, new shiny and the lack of new stuff for the old ed. Which is probably part of what you meant.


What I don't understand, is why more resources aren't being put on the digital tools. They came so close to leading the way into the future...well, ok, they still are leading the way into the future, just with what's there. But with a real, well staffed and funded, software department, they could have the VT out and ready to go, the online CB could have literally all the functionality of the old one, and then some, possibly without using silverlight in order to make use of the cloud, the monster builder could be fully functional* and all of the online tools could be fully supported on tablet and smart phone platforms, and integrate all of it so that you can update all of your e-books, on all your devices, when new errata comes out.

And then, ya know what? Paizo could sell all the damn books they want, because DDI would be spectacularly popular, (Assuming it isn't already) which would mean enough revenue that book sales could be mediocre from here to judgement day and it just wouldn't matter that much.

I mean, I sure as hell wouldn't care about having real books if I could just go on my tablet and/or smart phone and have all the books, fully up to date, plus all articles, etc, and the compendium, builder, monster builder and VT, right there.

They could even have a Steam-esque tool for pdfs, so that you never lose what you've purchased, even if you unsubscribe, and a cloud hosted sourcebook viewer, for subscribers, built into the compendium, so you can view the whole pdf with art, without just giving away pdfs for free.

Not that such a general business model would be hurt by simul-publishing free pdfs, since they'd be making money from the services, not just the rules text. Having the pdfs would not be nearly as fun or convenient and having a sub, but would keep broke fans in the game until they can afford a sub again.

but, even without that last part, the business model would be sound, and is in fact probably the best possible model, going forward.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome

Good point - any interrupt that didn't involve a decision would be fine (including common things like opportunity attacks), but the vast majority of those that do would need some modification.  

You'll never replicate a TRPG 100% accurately in a video game, and I don't think you'd necessarily want to, but that doesn't mean that you can't make something extremely close.



There's also choosing to apply a variety of on-hit effects, choosing which ally recieves a buff, choosing damage types, and choosing specific squares for abilities.

You can certainly incorporate 4E-style classes, but 4E is absolutely riddled with extremely precise choices. They can make an action game heavily based on 4E, but it's going to be even further from the original rules than DDO is from 3E.

--

Do note, this doesn't mean you can't make absolutely awesome 4E-inspired games.




For instance, I think you could do a lot of those on-hit powers and such with a system wherein you hit the clicky while attacking, and your next attack does that thing. Controllers would mostly have an easier time being converted, and some strikers would be easy as well, using the model above, but some leaders and defenders would be harder.

I could see a "Trigger Button" for classes with class features like the assault SM, though. Basically, you have a target marked, and if it disobeys your mark something flashes on the screen, and hit the appropriate keystroke, making your (modified for mmo use) punishment go off.

All very doable, it would just take some design and developement, followed by a good run of playtesting. And probably starting out with classes that are easier to model, and later branching out to the other classes.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome

That being said, MMO: Actually, there's no good reason not to make a DnD MMO. The cost is not on WoTC or Hasbro, but on whatever studio and publisher puts out the game, paying wizards a licensing fee, or buying the license.

Further, DnD Online is very sucessful. It wasn't for a while, due to terrible publishing by Atari (over which the studio, Turbine, won a law suit) and subsequent lack of funds to develop new content.

That was fixed by the law suit, however, as Turbine could now self publish, but Atari's name would remain on the game as before, and DDO went free to play and re-launched as DnD Online: Eberron Unlimited (before is was : Stormreach) along with a chunk of new content, including a new class and increased level cap (to lvl 20, finally).

Now, the game is constantly full of people, and all signs show that it's making more money than ever before. In fact, market research is showing that unless you're WoW or The Old Republic, free to play is the big money making model for MMOs.


The upcoming Neverwinter MMO by Cryptic will also be free to play, will be based (don't know to what degree) on 4e rules, will feature an in depth content creation suite (not the first Cryptic MMO with that feature) that is already very well reviewed, and the micro-transaction store will not sell content, but rather only optional stuff. That is, items that aren't required to fully enjoy the game, like vanity items, pets (that don't help you fight, and are just for fun), and bonus type consumables. I figure that with that they mean stuff like minor buff potions. They're not going to charge for classes, races, or quests/play areas.

It's probably going to be a huge success, judging by initial quality assesments, the Foundry (CC tool), and market research regarding F2P MMOs and what sells in the RL money store.



I'm a bit more skeptical about the success of this game. The market research does indicate F2P is definitly on the rise. The downside to this is the amount of competition. It's the Foundry that will truely make or break this game I believe. As for charging for classes and races, that's another matter alltogether and I'd be very suprised if they didn't follow the trend of doing so. 
 

For instance, I think you could do a lot of those on-hit powers and such with a system wherein you hit the clicky while attacking, and your next attack does that thing. Controllers would mostly have an easier time being converted, and some strikers would be easy as well, using the model above, but some leaders and defenders would be harder.

I could see a "Trigger Button" for classes with class features like the assault SM, though. Basically, you have a target marked, and if it disobeys your mark something flashes on the screen, and hit the appropriate keystroke, making your (modified for mmo use) punishment go off.

All very doable, it would just take some design and developement, followed by a good run of playtesting. And probably starting out with classes that are easier to model, and later branching out to the other classes.



Right and it ought to invoke 4e very well but I definitely think leaders and defenders would be some of the most important to work out initially.. and not take the easy way.
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Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
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I doubt that if/when 5e arrives that any 4e rules/tools will be available in DDI.  They will probably move everything to 5e since they would no longer be supporting the older edition.

Because DDI is subscription-based, keeping the 4e rules up is a way of making money from 4e players even after the edition retirement that sets it apart from all other editions. I suspect that DDI will continue to support 4e (because they want my money) as well as 5e (they want to make money from the new edition as well).



basically this. they wouldnt have to build anything new, but could continue getting cash for it for a long while