Back-catalog D&D products in electronic format(s)

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I was very excited the other day when I heard that older D&D products are soon (2013) to be reprinted in digital format and made availalble to purchase by old and new players. As an "old" player (I started back in 1985), I do welcome the opportunity to invest some of my money for this kind of products and, as a consumer, I want to share some of my ideas relating to this wonderful decision.

The old D&D books have, of course, their own value and can be sold just to those who keep playing previous versions of D&D or to nostalgic players (such as myself, who plays 4th edition). But I believe WotC has a bigger picture in mind concerning D&DNext: that is, to allow players to make the best of previuos editions and be able to use the information/rules in the new edition, or rather iteration as they love to call it. As an example, let's choose the Birthright setting, which was in my opinion one of most interesting back in the day. I could decide to run a Birthright campaign with D&DNext adapting some of the old rules, sort of "intertwining" them to the new set creating thus a whole new Birthright game, which is an "evolution" of the old one. Still, we could do this even now with some effort on the DM's part. But that's probably what D&DNext is about: doing the nasty job for DMs so that they could play Dragonlance, Al-Qadim (love this), Forgotten Realms, Eberron, and even Greyhawk without spending hours on end trying to make both ends meet.

So, in this scenario electronc versions become a staple commodity and the market is developed enough to be flourishing (notwithstandign piracy, but later on pricing). But why do we pay good bucks to buy role-playing games manuals? What's in them that has generated a collector's mania? Well, of course the contents, but also the art inside the books. That's why people buy the physical versions of the manuals. But I bet most of us is willing to buy the digital ones too. Besides, we all love a book that is searchable, with working links, and most of all adaptable to the different e-readers.

I believe that WotC should keep their promise to e-publish ALL the D&D back-catalog: OD&D, AD&D 1st, AD&D 2nd, D&D 3.0, D&D 3.5, D&D 4, and of course D&DNext. All of it. Everything. Starting with the core books and then all the sourcebooks and all the world settings. But what about format? Well, PDFs seem the appropriate choice here. Because it allows the readers to see those beautiful art I was talking about earlier. Enhanced PDFs support a lot of functions and they sustain amazing quality. But what about people who wants to read just the plain text, people mostly interested only in the contents of the books? Few years back TSR published a CD containing all the core rules in RTF. Awful to look at, especially with the physical books in mind, but it was a bold move and I seconded it. But there's no black and white here, in my opinion. Why can't WotC e-publish the books in PDFs, mobi, epub. that is all of them? The player buys the book and can choose which format download. On my Kindle I can download the mobi version. On my iPad I have even a greater choice: PDFs, epub or even mobi with the right application. I think this mental attitude"everything, everywhere" goes well with "all editions for one, one edtion for all" if you catch my drift (and my D'Artagnan reference). Most people do not take notes on D&D books, they consider them too valuable, but the "adaptable" electronic format is manna from heaven: digital notes or physical notes on the printed pages without spoiling the actual book.

Piracy. I know. But I think we learned something from the late Steve Jobs. Piracy is unavoidable and immortal. It will never, ever, go away. But I think the Apple guru got it right: people are willing to pay something for quality and adaptabilty, in spite of piracy. A good price, a third of the actual price of the physical manual for instance, could be a good choice. I'm no marketing person, but I guess that a few bucks for an out-of-print manual in multiple digital version is not a bad thing.

We love D&D and we want to keep playing it. No edition wars, rather editon love! WotC, make the right choice, allow people to fully exploit the digital formats of the D&D books. Do not leave behind anytyhing (work with more recent books and then get back to the old ones, where more work is in order). Work on how fully integrate older editions to D&DNext. And wel'll keep playing. And buying. And playing. Laughing

I prefer Gabe Newell version:

"We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem,"

"If a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable."  "Prior to entering the Russian market, we were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become [Steam's] largest market in Europe,"

If they are releasing D&D PDF books around the world, we need them translated to diferent lengages too.  And be easy for people all over the world to buy them and download them.

I would prefer for new books to be released thought, i am getting tired of this re-print of older editions filling wotc's release schedule, making a waste of time and effort for nothing and the only upcoming new book most likely having to crunch at all (the menzoberranzan book).  Nothing new was announced for the edition that is suppose to be suported for the next 2 years...
Just keep the books in the DDI IMO. It gets around the piracy issue, and a monthly fee for so much content, even if it's $10 a month is something I would personally be happy to pay.
I am currently running H1.  Having that in PDF format makes me wish I could have other scenarios in that format too.  To me the format is preferable to paper.

Regarding WotC thinking behind this announcement, I don't think its anything more than "How can we maximise profit from our back catalogue?"  But if they do it, they will get some of my money.
I imagine the future of downloads like a free-to-play videogame can be played off-line (and some servers can be rented) but pdf and DLCs are sold together.

How can I explain better? Let´s imagine D&D Insider like a free-to-play (with a creator of monsters like Spore videogame) and you would like wish buy the special pack "draconomicon" because it has got gem and planar dragons. If you buy that DLC you would received a extra gift, a pdf that it can be dragon (and dungeons) magazine articules, or "old glorys" from past edition (like "Draconomicon AD&D").

My wish is all those staff would be "retrocompatible". For example if you buy the pack "lungs or oriental dragons" you can use it for that videogame, and that staff (or parts of it) can be used in the future D&D videogames like "Newerwinter 6", "Dragonshard 2" or "D&D online 3".

Birthright settin could be perfect for a economic & RTS kindom simulator like "Stronghold" (1993) or social network game Castleville (by Zynga, Hasbro has got some business agreement with it), with a piece of sims medieval. 

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

"We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem,"

"If a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable."  "Prior to entering the Russian market, we were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become [Steam's] largest market in Europe,".


PDFs are a little different, as the manufacturing costs are so much higher. The physical cost of a computer game is measured in cents. You can buy blank DVDs for less than a buck. You're paying for two-five years of development.
In contrast, a physical book is heavier (pricer shipping) and costs much more to print. And the development costs are a fraction (a tenth of the staff for less than a year). 
So when you charge the same it hurts. And when you charge more than the price people are grabbing your books then any value of the e-book is lost. 

Pricing is going to make or break this initiative.
Rule books need to be cheap. Super cheap. Especially if they're for an old system. Plus youre not paying off development costs with old products. Setting books and adventures can be a little higher as those are products you only need one of. But a digital backup of your current core books is very handy.
Which is the other difference from Steam. You might buy a second, digital copy.   

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The compilation of my Worldbuilding blog series is now available: 

Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuilding.

I'm in the market right now for a used copy of H1: Bloodstone Pass. However, I know it's impossible to find with the cutouts. So I'm definitely buying the PDF version of this module so I can have the cutouts to print.


That being said, when they do arrive, y'all should also check out H4: Throne of Bloodstone. One of the best!  

Just roll some dice.

 

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Question: do you think that when they release the Karameikos & First Quest boxed sets that they will include mp3s of the CDs? If so, I would also love it if they offered the Shards of Eberron & AD&D First Quest album (the one from the mid-80s, not from the above box set) as mp3 downloads too, just for fun.

Just roll some dice.

 

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For this to work, imho, they will have to propose an added value to the digital format. After all, close to everything is already available on pirated channels...

What kind of added value do you have in mind, you ask ? Well, I'm thinking, and it would be a huge undertaking mostly for the campaign and modules book, can be to render them compatible with all the editions... Remember that adventure that was great fun in first edition ? Now you could buy it again for dndnext, or 4th edition, with all the rules, encounters, and so on and so forth. Just give us the ability to have all the stuff compatible for all editions would be the kind of added value I think could work... but I'm no expert, and can assuredly be wrong... I know I would be buying, and I would not buy digital books identical in every way to the physical book...

Just my 2 cents
Personally I would gladly buy digital back-copies of things. It would be great if I could get print-on-demand too.

Though I would want assurances that I won't suffer the same misfortunes as the last time they offered digital product - They decided to stop selling digital product, and decided to remove access to the digital product that had already been purchased.

As a sidenote: It would go a long way to create goodwill if they granted access to the digital product again for the people who already paid for it on Drive through RPG before they cut off digital sales and removed access. I believe I still have the receipts in my GMAIL.
Personally I would gladly buy digital back-copies of things. It would be great if I could get print-on-demand too.

Though I would want assurances that I won't suffer the same misfortunes as the last time they offered digital product - They decided to stop selling digital product, and decided to remove access to the digital product that had already been purchased.

As a sidenote: It would go a long way to create goodwill if they granted access to the digital product again for the people who already paid for it on Drive through RPG before they cut off digital sales and removed access. I believe I still have the receipts in my GMAIL.



Ouch! If you paid for something, you ought to have access to it. Paper book or electronic format, it doesn't matter. That's the basic rule.

I'd definitely want assurances that such a situation would not happen in the future.
I prefer Gabe Newell version:

"We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem,"

"If a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable."  "Prior to entering the Russian market, we were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become [Steam's] largest market in Europe,"

If they are releasing D&D PDF books around the world, we need them translated to diferent lengages too.  And be easy for people all over the world to buy them and download them.

I would prefer for new books to be released thought, i am getting tired of this re-print of older editions filling wotc's release schedule, making a waste of time and effort for nothing and the only upcoming new book most likely having to crunch at all (the menzoberranzan book).  Nothing new was announced for the edition that is suppose to be suported for the next 2 years...



I'm not sure translating old books into different languages is financially viable. D&D is primarily popular in English speaking countries, so the reward wouldn't be worth the effort.

That said the original point is absolutely right, although there is a price issue too. Some people literally have no money to put towards hobbies, so file sharing is the only way to go for them. For everyone else though, it's a matter of convenience. If you have an online store you can buy the books for at a reasonable price, almost nobody who can afford to pay for them will actually go to the effort of pirating.
Online only DDI material is useless to me. Not everyone lives in a constant wifi signal.
Apparently WotC is in the process of setting up a DrivethruRPG store to sell PDFs once again.

 Any Edition

Which is a very welcome development. There are suggestions that these are new PDFs rather than the old scans. I'm really looking forward to these.
Where was this announced? I am unable to find the information about re-issuing of the PDFs.
They mentioned it at the Gen Con keynote, but beyond that WotC has been rather quiet about this, from what I have seen.

Just roll some dice.

 

RADIO FREE BORDERLANDS:

Explore the new D&D podcast that is a celebration of all eras of the game! Discussing the loves, challenges, topics, ideas, and news of this great hobby in both a contemporary and historical view.

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This post may not last long.  On January 17, EN World reported on a DiceMonkey blog post that stated Wizards was back on RPGNow, but the blog post has since been removed.

Proof's in the pudding, though: www.rpgnow.com/product/17081/Basic-B1---...

Check out the dates on the right hand side.  Found the link through Google.
Online only DDI material is useless to me. Not everyone lives in a constant wifi signal.

Heretic!

To be fair: online only content has been extremely useful to me (thanks to my printer), even though I never use a computer at the gaming table (I find it distracting). I believe that's how much of that material is intended to be used.

The site is now live!

www.dndclassics.com

So far the list of titles is quite limited (even some of the 4th edition books previously available aren't there) but I assume the catalogue will be growing over the next few weeks and months.

Although I previously purchased The Temple of Elemental Evil and the file is showing as having been updated I am unable to re-download it, which is a shame - the new version is twice the size of the old one.

I've downloaded a couople of titles and whilst B1 In Search of the Unknown (free this week) looks nice and crisp the Greyhawk Players Guide (2e) looks to be the same quality of the previously available scanned PDFs.

I'm looking forward to more 2nd edition and Dragonlance products being added.

This is great and I've already spent too much money today. I would however like to chime in and ask for WotC to think about taking advantage of OneBookShelf's print on demand options.


I don't know who to email with this request so hopefully someone will see it.


www.dndclassics.com



Very welcome news!!! In Search of the Unknown is free for the first week!!! 
Of course they give away B1 for free. I just got it for $40.00 in new condition... lol

Just roll some dice.

 

RADIO FREE BORDERLANDS:

Explore the new D&D podcast that is a celebration of all eras of the game! Discussing the loves, challenges, topics, ideas, and news of this great hobby in both a contemporary and historical view.

http://radiofreeborderlands.libsyn.com/

Please, please, please give me a new RULES CYCLOPEDIA scan. Srsly. I want to buy it. I want to destroy the  printer at work with it. Please. My money, take it.