The new download approach is better

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Hola WotC,

I don't post here very often but I wanted to tell whoever that the latest Dragon is much more like what I expect from the company and it is a much more mature approach to digital media.

Dragon
1. It's a magazine again.  I want to collect it.  I want to read it on my digital reader, etc.
2. It doesn't read like a bunch of blog articles and product announcements stuffed together.
3. It's better quality again, well-themed, interesting material, quality art, and decent length.

Kudos and good on ya.

Dungeon
For Dungeon magazine, I want adventures that are not just fun for the party but also interesting to read.  The adventure module is, within itself, a literary form.  Weird but true.  Read B2 or S1 and you're entertained.  In the 4E modules the adventures sacrificed readability for playability with a format that was tone deaf and terribly boring to read.  Reading these ahead of time was a real slog.  

In addition, the Dungeon magazines and 4E books began to produce cheap tile-based cartography that looked like total junk.  It really lowered the perceived standard of quality.  It's the mapping equivalent of phoning it in.  Your team has largely stepped away from that practice and the current maps are looking good again.  (Good on you for moving back to traditional cartography.)

For Dungeon, give me 4-6 adventures that are fun for the DM to read in a magazine I want to collect and read on my digital whatever and you got yourself my brand loyalty back.  (Create a browsable adventure index so I can scout for an adventure for my crew easily by level or setting.)

Digital Media
The digital compilation of magazines is a good move.  Build on that to become a mature digital player like Marvel Comics, the NY Times, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, (or even Playboy).  Get me a digital archive of the old Basic, 1E, 2E, 3E, & 4E content available in a reader-friendly ways and you're going beyond rebuilding the brand to innovating. Do this and you win.  

Presenting your old content as media makes your digital presentation a powerhouse that no other RPG company can possibly match.  You've got almost 40 years of top-tier talent wasting away or pirated.  It does nothing for you if you cannot market and monetize it as media via the current subscription model.  Get me my infinite library as a usable tool with a subscription and I'm yours for life.

Create a community rating system so we can browse the library and recommend media to each other.  How many stars do I rate B2?  Who has written reviews of this content?  Who are the top trending authors in the media library?  "People that liked G1 also enjoyed this re-invention of the Giants series by Chris Perkins rated at 5 stars... would you like to see them?"  You want digital versions of the maps with and without markers... here they are.  Want the adventure art?  Here it is.  You can use our content in your own tools for your game.

Suddenly, you're a resource for every D&D player who ever lived regardless of the version they play becuase you've got the well-organized massive media library with a crowd-sourced rating system.

Enable 3rd-party tool users like Maptools, Fantasy Grounds, and PCGen.  Let them take the hits developing the tools and you provide the media to enable the community while focusing on a few key tools.  (Character generator, Monster builder, and compendium with a standardized exporter are the obvious choices.)

That is how a mature digital media company operates.  Your days of paper books are numbered.  Mature and thrive.  We want you to succeed.  Be awesome.
~P.
Howdy Puck,

I have moved this thread to the D&D Insider forum where it is more on-topic.

Thanks.  

All around helpful simian

No worries,

I want to present critical feedback in a positive way.  I'm an original redbox D&D vet and I've played every edition so far.

No BS, but fair, and positive I hope. 

~P. 
Hola WotC,

I don't post here very often but I wanted to tell whoever that the latest Dragon is much more like what I expect from the company and it is a much more mature approach to digital media.

Dragon
1. It's a magazine again.  I want to collect it.  I want to read it on my digital reader, etc.
2. It doesn't read like a bunch of blog articles and product announcements stuffed together.
3. It's better quality again, well-themed, interesting material, quality art, and decent length.

Kudos and good on ya.

Dungeon
For Dungeon magazine, I want adventures...

Digital Media
The digital compilation of magazines is a good move.  Build on that to...



Fully agree.

I expect the "Get me a digital archive of the old Basic, 1E, 2E, 3E, & 4E content available in a reader-friendly ways" will be the tricky bit. What format do WotC use?

I prefer PDF due to the ability to work across all devices with minimal fuss. Also the ability to organise them by simply putting them into folders is a must when a collection starts getting into the hundreds.

I suppose we will find out next year what the choosen format will be. I just hope it is something sensible that isn't hampered by a focus on security rather than utility.
Hola WotC,
3. It's better quality again, well-themed, interesting material, quality art, and decent length.




except it is not, is as short as it used to be when they stopped releasing the coopilation of all the articles at the end of the month, we still got 34 pages dragon magazine per month, instead of the +100 pages from 2 years ago.  The reason they decided to stop releasing coopilated dragon/dungeon magazine was because they wanted to be a inconvenience for pirates, it didn't worked...pirates just wired together the articles to form a magazine anyway...the other reason for them to stop releasing the coopilated magazine was because they didn't had enough content to justify releasing it the monthly PDF...they still don't have enough content for it...but common sense is not something that the ones in charge of the brand have anymore, after Mearls took over and Heinsoo jumped ship
the only thing i liked about the issue was that it was small.  2MB.  that and the art work.  other that that i wasn't really happy about it.  the magazine didn't really feel like Dragon as much as some articles should have been in Dungeon instead.  This isnt considering the number of pages is less than a third of what was agreed upon.  The articles are a hit or miss for me as they feel a bit too genera. - things that may or may not be useful in a campaign.  Sometimes they read as though one would have to really divert one's games in order to incorporate them - or too generic that they might be useful for a DnD Next game in the far off future.
 
the magazine didn't really feel like Dragon as much as some articles should have been in Dungeon instead.  This isnt considering the number of pages is less than a third of what was agreed upon. 



First, I'm not really interested in changing hearts and minds on the internet.  That's not my gig and I think most internet discussion is pointless.  I'm talking straight at Perkins, the moderators, and the other WotC staff.

Historically Dragon had articles that appealed to both players and DMs while Dungeon was just meat and potatoes adventures. This isn't ancient history either.  One of the very best Dragon articles was the write-up of Saint Kargoth and the other death knights of Oerth (Dragon #290, 2001).  That's DM stuff through and through and if you haven't seen it, you can probably get it from Paizo's site.  (It's some pretty scary stuff dude and it gives me screen-monkey goosebumps.)

My personal preference would be to go back to the previous model:


  • Dragon = Articles for players & DMs

  • Dungeon = 4-6 Adventures


I don't get to make the decision so I just sorta toss that out there.

Second, you're not going to hear me argue that Dungeon and Dragon mags didn't suffer when they moved online.  (We might debate that it was actually a 'plummet' rather than a 'move'.)  Paizo was doing great work.  The Adventure Path concept was hot.  Unfortunately, the move online produced some of the problems I discussed earlier and, without a dedicated staff to produce the mags, they really degraded into blog++.  

So why am I saying nice things when they're shorter and less good than they used to be and I still want them to get better?  Because I like the new direction and I want them to keep heading this way.  

I personally try to send good feedback when I see a positive change.  I see potential for more, sure, but I'm not a troll and the rest of the interwebz can make up their own minds as they like without me concerning myself with it.

~P. 
Hola WotC,

I don't post here very often but I wanted to tell whoever that the latest Dragon is much more like what I expect from the company and it is a much more mature approach to digital media.

Dragon
1. It's a magazine again.  I want to collect it.  I want to read it on my digital reader, etc.
2. It doesn't read like a bunch of blog articles and product announcements stuffed together.
3. It's better quality again, well-themed, interesting material, quality art, and decent length.

Kudos and good on ya.

Dungeon
For Dungeon magazine, I want adventures that are not just fun for the party but also interesting to read.  The adventure module is, within itself, a literary form.  Weird but true.  Read B2 or S1 and you're entertained.  In the 4E modules the adventures sacrificed readability for playability with a format that was tone deaf and terribly boring to read.  Reading these ahead of time was a real slog.  

In addition, the Dungeon magazines and 4E books began to produce cheap tile-based cartography that looked like total junk.  It really lowered the perceived standard of quality.  It's the mapping equivalent of phoning it in.  Your team has largely stepped away from that practice and the current maps are looking good again.  (Good on you for moving back to traditional cartography.)

For Dungeon, give me 4-6 adventures that are fun for the DM to read in a magazine I want to collect and read on my digital whatever and you got yourself my brand loyalty back.  (Create a browsable adventure index so I can scout for an adventure for my crew easily by level or setting.)



Perhaps I am missing the point, but I don't see what your comments on good theme and lengh have to do with the format (i.e. full digital download vs downloading individual articles). It has more to do with the desire of Wizards to create high quality compelling work and sourcing the people necessary to do so. If articles feel more cohesive it might be because you can't really pick and choose content the way you were able to with individual files.

Compare Dragon 412 and Dungeon 203 (June 2012). Really tight theme across both magazines, well delivered and plenty of content (maybe not quite the 4-6 high quality adventures you're gunning for) but still under the individual article format.

Dragon for that month still had 37 pages. This months Dragon is still only 34 pages so I don't get where your approval of the length comes from. 

I prefer the approach of having staggered articles combined at the end of the month into a full magazine for reasons many people have echoed across this forum recently.

Dragon for that month still had 37 pages. This months Dragon is still only 34 pages so I don't get where your approval of the length comes from.



Strangely, my approval comes from my personal opinions.  I'm not sure why what I think or my thought process should bother you since opinions are, by definition, personally derived.  In balance on the other hand, you can think whatever pleases you best without my approval.

~P.

i miss the days where the dragon magazine had this many articles:  wizards.com/dnd/TOC.aspx?x=dnd/4new/drto...
i miss the days where the dragon magazine had this many articles:  wizards.com/dnd/TOC.aspx?x=dnd/4new/drto...



That's a much healthier way to approach the issue and I think I have a possible solution for the problem.

Just pulling a couple Dragon hard copies off my shelf and getting mildly OCD about them:

Dragon #359, 9/2007


    • 132 total pages


      • 23 full page ads

      • 6 half page ads

      • 7 third page ads

      • 4 pages of comics


    • 100 total pages of content and possibly the zenith of the brand



Dragon #169, 5/1991



    • 120 total pages


      • 42 full page ads

      • 10 half page ads

      • Aprox 6 third page ads

      • 5 pages of comics

      • 5 pages of convention schedules & TSR product previews


    • 60 total pages of content



That is getting pretty nutty about it but the old Dragon Mags were largely trade magazines and covered book reviews, video game reviews, articles covering the entire RPG industry, and lots and lots of flogging products from every company that could buy ad space or convince someone at Dragon to review their product.  It was an industry trade magazine propped up by lots of ads that covered the geek genre as a whole from an RPG-geek perspective.  There were lots of D&D-specific articles but lots of other stuff as well.  (For example, Dragon 169 includes Marvel Superheroes stats for Ghost and Ghost Rider.)  In addition you have Letters to the Editor and none of the articles were vetted and added to a compendium, character builder, and monster tool like they are today.  (Imagine the outrage if letters to the editor appeared today.  WTF?  What a waste of space!!)

I personally would like more content as well.  I won't argue against that, but WotC cut itself off at the knees when it moved online because they're not selling ad space anymore.  That's part of the problem.  Nobody is paying the bills now but the subscribers.  The industry ads also helped subsidize the content.

Imagine if Goodman Games got to plug their 4E adventures and Amethyst Foundations 4E Sci-Fi on the WoTC site for a little bit of money?  What if GURPS or Palladium got to flog products in the pages of Dragon and Dungeon like they always did in the print editions?  (The geekarrati might scream bloody murder, but it would again monetize the brand and it's what other media companies already do.)

Quality isn't free.  If we want the page count back, WotC needs to act like a mature media company  and provide the same type of ad content you see in the Washington Post, NY Times, or Huffington Post.  It's what they did in paper and they need a mature ad strategy for the web.

Again, become a mature media company and win.

~P.
For the sake of consistency,

Dragon #416,  10/2012


  • 34 total pages

  • No full page ads

  • No half page ads

  • 4 third page ads

  • No comics

  • No convention schedule

  • No product previews

  • 32-33 pages of content


There isn't much fluff in there (Letters to the Editor, video game reviews, book reviews, sage advice, etc.).  Errata, convention schedules, comics, WotC product previews, community dialogue (forums)... all those are outside the mag now.  I might roll the comics back into the mags, but that's just my opinion.  

There's no doubt the magazines could be better and selling ad space would pay for the additional content.

The single download and final finished product (Dragon Issue X is done!) is a big deal for me.  Releasing it all at once or in dribs and drabs doesn't matter to me so much.  One single release is probably a bad idea from a media perspective because it will reduce the number of times I hit their site.

Monetizing your Media (INT check DC: 20)
Take the character builder for example.  That's your product's entry point and you want a newcomer to get there and use it quickly but you also need to pay for it.  Sell ad space there and create an ad-lite version for subscribers.  If it works for Angry Birds, why wouldn't it work for WotC's character builder? 


  • New Player - I don't subscribe but I get access to the CB.  I have to see some ads but I get full access anyway.  (Like YouTube for example.)

  • Veteran Player - I decide to pay for the subscription and now I get the mags, all the tools but most importantly, I don't need to see the ads to use the CB.  There might be sidebar ads still, but they don't interfere with my tool.

  • DM - I subscribe and I can make characters, monsters, read the mags and hit the compendiums.  I may encounter some sidebar ads but they shouldn't be offensive.


This model pays for the tools, enpowers new users, and still rewards the power user.  If the ads don't get annoying, WotC wins and I win because they can roll the ad money into additional staff and content.

~P.
Sure, because we all know that printing and distributing magazine is completly free! (sarcasm btw)

No, advertising cover printing and distribution cost, but it's not raw profit compared to digital when you have to pay for subscription for it.
No, advertising cover printing and distribution cost, but it's not raw profit compared to digital when you have to pay for subscription for it.



Perhaps, but things change.  Advertising is still income whether it is paying for paper or web server space.  

In 1991 Dragon had a staff of 11 people listed in the credits and 12 people in 2007 for the final issue. That's on par with the staff today which looks to be about 11 people.  That being said, I don't think any of these people are dedicated staff like say Erik Mona was.  (Chris Perkins, for example, does more than Dragon Magazine and is listed as leading a team of designers and developers for the D&D brand.)

Likewise, none of that includes web developers, database nerds, or custom software guys to handle the tools or manage the forums.  In addition, WotC is maintaining a website which replaces many of the things (product announcements, Con Schedule, managed play,  errata, and what-not that the magazines had done in the past.  

The primary people working the magazines right now are, in my opinion, over-commited to projects servicing the larger brand.  Long-term that is going to cause both the brand and the magazine to suffer.   

I like many things about 4E but I think it often sacrificed narrative quality for perceived playability.  Pathfinder appears (from my outsider's perspective) not to have made that sacrifice.  The other day I flinched when I flipped through the Pathfinder books at the friendly local gameshop because these look like quality books to me and the Paizo site does understand how to play as a digital media company.   Their site looks more like an RPG version of Amazon.com than a legacy RPG company site with many of the features I already discussed including customer reviews, and products from other publishers.

Ads may no longer pay for the paper and publishing.  That doesn't mean ads can't pay for something else like an ad-driven free Character Builder, additional staff, and more content.  Video game ads, book ads, movie ads, comic book ads, RPG ads...  It doesn't have to suck and it can stay within geek culture.  I don't think my players would get too whiny if they had to watch the latest Batman trailer before they could level their character without a subscription.  It works for Hulu, YouTube, and the Daily Show.  

Dragon #364 is 85 pages without a single ad and there is none of the convention schedule, catlogue, or product review fluff the magazines carried historically.  In my opinion, that was a bad decision and ultimately unsustainable.  Why WotC chose to abandon money on the table when they could be using it to build the brand is baffling to me.

~P.
There is a big problem...this is the internet...and outside of youtube, you mentioned services that IP block countries out that aren't included by the demography of their Ads,  do you really think that blocking people outside of the first world bubble is the best option?

I have encountered countless times that i can't watch content on websites because region lock... a example, i can't watch The Walking Dead episodes posted on AMCtv.com, Justin.tv and Twitch.tv have country caps on countries that they don't have ads made for those countries just to name a few.
Dragon for that month still had 37 pages. This months Dragon is still only 34 pages so I don't get where your approval of the length comes from.



Strangely, my approval comes from my personal opinions.  I'm not sure why what I think or my thought process should bother you since opinions are, by definition, personally derived.  In balance on the other hand, you can think whatever pleases you best without my approval.

~P.




That's cool. Didn't mean to step on your toes but this is a forum, not a blog.

I was hoping to trigger a discussion so that you could explain your thought process, rather than just saying that it bothered me. Like I said, maybe I was missing something so I explained what my opinion was and some "evidence" to back it up, hoping you might do the same. This might help me change my opinion or refine it through debate.
i miss the days where the dragon magazine had this many articles:  wizards.com/dnd/TOC.aspx?x=dnd/4new/drto...



That's a much healthier way to approach the issue and I think I have a possible solution for the problem.

...

That is getting pretty nutty about it but the old Dragon Mags were largely trade magazines and covered book reviews, video game reviews, articles covering the entire RPG industry, and lots and lots of flogging products from every company that could buy ad space or convince someone at Dragon to review their product.  It was an industry trade magazine propped up by lots of ads that covered the geek genre as a whole from an RPG-geek perspective.  

...

I personally would like more content as well.  I won't argue against that, but WotC cut itself off at the knees when it moved online because they're not selling ad space anymore.  That's part of the problem.  Nobody is paying the bills now but the subscribers.  The industry ads also helped subsidize the content.

...

Imagine if Goodman Games got to plug their 4E adventures and Amethyst Foundations 4E Sci-Fi on the WoTC site for a little bit of money?  What if GURPS or Palladium got to flog products in the pages of Dragon and Dungeon like they always did in the print editions?  (The geekarrati might scream bloody murder, but it would again monetize the brand and it's what other media companies already do.)

Quality isn't free.  If we want the page count back, WotC needs to act like a mature media company  and provide the same type of ad content you see in the Washington Post, NY Times, or Huffington Post.  It's what they did in paper and they need a mature ad strategy for the web.

Again, become a mature media company and win.

~P.



This I completely agree with this.

There's no reason why they cannot stick a half-page of 1/3 ad on the back of every DDI article. They already do it for the playtest, DDO and the Underdark/the website in general.

While these are good ways to push their own products, they aren't making any money directly. They can push their new line of merch. They don't even have to sell ad space to competing companies, they can have ads for the Gale Force 9 tokens, D&D iPad and Adroid apps or products made under the GSL. Conventions/exhibitions can advertise.

Monetization could be a problem since the old paradigm of "this is our readership, please pay $X" has gone out the window with page view and click based schemes (but then again so have printing and distribution costs). Why not then have a cost per magazine download from each of the advertisers?

They have years of data on individual articles to see which ones are the most popular (e.g. Unearthed Arcana may do better in terms of downloads than epic level adventures, or Character Themes may do better than Ecology of... of Demonomicon articles) and charge advertisers accordingly.
I will give you a clue, everything will Crunch will completly crubstomp the Flavor articles in terms of download and interest by a landslide...
Hola,

Ultimately, I think we're looking at a transition from physical products to media content.  Other companies have solved these problems and do pretty well but I don't think WotC will improve their content without a better advertising scheme.


  • Marvel - $50/year gets you over 10,000 comic books with new ones continously added

  • Pandora - $36/year gets you no ads for custom radio stations

  • Netflix - $96/year gets you streaming movies & 1 DVD mailed at a time


And so on...

These companies leverage a media library pretty well.  Anyhow, I think I've said enough on it for people to get my meaning and disagree or agree as suits them.

As to consumers outside the United States, being a mature media company would include addressing those concerns in an intelligent way.  

~P.
Only netflix is avaible on my country of the ones you mentioned, thought mailed movie service is not avaible here, just internet streaming.  If you want more people to get into DDI...put the damn books on it too for download!...thought DDI is kinda screwed for the next year for this...because there is no a single new D&D book out there that would make people subscribe into DDI (even piracy have ignored completly menzoberranzan and i suspect the same will happend to ed's new forgotten realms book...almost nobody care or want those books)
Hola,



  • Netflix - $96/year gets you streaming movies & 1 DVD mailed at a time


And so on...


~P.



Old Price? Or a non-US price?  I want this discount!  Last year Netflix changed their price here in the U.S.  Now, $84 a year gets you streaming movies OR 1 DVD at a time, takes $168 a year to get both, since they don't do a combo discount anymore.

But your point is still made.  through many services, a yearly price gets you a lot of content, and in comparison, WotC's content seems to be shrinking. 
"Five million Cybermen, easy. One Doctor? NOW you're scared!" - Rose Tyler
through many services, a yearly price gets you a lot of content, and in comparison, WotC's content seems to be shrinking. 



This is clearly nit-picking but the total amount of content provided by WoTC increases each month as they publish to expand their library.  Rather, it is the rate of increase that is dropping.  (Sorry, I write code for a living and I can get pedantic.  It's an annoying trait of engineering types.)

I have already spoken as to what I think WotC should do with the magazines going forward.  My personal view is that they're sitting on a gold mine of old content that appeals to 5 generations of gamers (Basic - 4E).  If they were able to stream that content, make it available as watermarked PDFs, make them browsable with advertising to offset the cost, or any other solution they would sell new subscriptions like hotcakes.


  • Old rule books (PHB, DMG, MM, etc.)

  • Old adventures (B2, S1, etc.)

  • Old magazines (Dragon, Dungeon, etc.)

  • Old supplements (campaign worlds, etc.)

  • Re-organize all the old web content (Map-a-week, PC portraits, etc.)


That content has signficant value and right now it is doing almost nothing for them.  From a geek perspective it's like the entire Beatles music catalog being out-of-print.  Why on earth wouldn't you monetize this?

Personally, it has greatest value to me as e-friendly PDFs with selectable text and images so I can easily import into my RPG tools like Fantasy Grounds.  (Exactly like Dungeon magazine for example.)  I realize that conversion is asking a lot but we did see a large effort to rework the 1E books.

~P.
Yeah, technically each new item released adds to the total content level, previously-released content drops in usability each month.

I have been discussing this with friends. WotC should release all previous content digitally. They can digitally link it to ddi accounts, or make Android/apple apps that will link with your ddi, and can access any digital books you've purchased, or have access to... And Wizards is just failing to capitalize on it. With so many people moving to tablets and smart phones, it really is the next generation platform, and wotc seems content to let it slip through their fingers.
"Five million Cybermen, easy. One Doctor? NOW you're scared!" - Rose Tyler
Exactly as you said it.
You and I are of an accord in this matter.

~P. 
isnt that what they announced in this year's keynote address?
Well...

I try not to be too critical but WotC has not always followed through well on Keynote speeches.  I think they present a "What we want to do" list and the fans hear "We promise to do this" and it all goes to hell from there.

Let's say I appreciate the spirit but their communication strategy has occasionally been inelegant.

Have you got a link to the video?

~P.