An open letter to WotC on a missed revenue opportunity with D&D Next + DDI

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Dear WotC:

 

I grew up playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but that ended when I went to college. Happily, I got back into the hobby with the 3.5 edition about 10 years ago. My regular gaming group embraced 4e when it arrived, starting a new campaign to go with the new edition, but we also maintained our existing 3.5e campaign.

 

When D&D Next came along, we participated in the playtest, checking out each new packet that was released and following D&D's new direction with great interest. When the "final" playtest packet was released last month, we made the decision to switch our existing 4e campaign over to Next, and we now have a couple sessions under our belts. We like where Next is going, and we're completely on board.

 

I feel like my group sits square in the middle of a primary D&D market segment: We're professionals aged 29-45 with more than a little discretionary income, and we like to support our favorite brands, which has included several editions of D&D. We buy books. We pay for DDI subscriptions. We play weekly. We attend national and local gaming conventions.

 

We don't require much: A quality product that's fun to play and delivers value is what we're looking for. Of course, engagement from the brand is always nice. We have been frustrated by several D&D brand product decisions over the past several years. I mention this not to call out specific instances, but rather to establish that there's a history of missed customer satisfaction opportunities.

 

When D&D Next was announced, I thought that was a pretty bold move. Existing product sales typically drop when future products are announced, so I could appreciate the importance of Next in WotC's strategy. With 4e book revenue already likely down, and an uncertain revenue stream coming from past edition reprints, I could imagine that D&D Insider was/is providing much of the forecastable revenue.

 

Of course, I'm just making an educated guess above, but what I can tell you for certain is that, with the coming end of new 4e DDI content and nothing having been yet announced for Next, DDI subscribers are going to begin canceling their DDI subscriptions. I received my renewal notice over the weekend, and I was shocked to see nothing about Next. I greatly appreciate the advance notice about Dungeon and Dragon magazines going on hiatus; thank you. But what I really wanted was to also be told how DDI subscribers would be receiving access to D&D Next playtest-compatible material. That's all it would have taken for me to renew my subscription. And I don't think I'm alone in this.

 

People are chomping at the bit for anything we can use with D&D Next. And I think many of us are happy to pay for it through the DDI product we're already supporting.

 

Granted, I don't know what the plans are for DDI beyond the end of new content, because you're not sharing that information. The Next R&D team has created all this wonderful transparency around the development of the new edition, which makes it all the more unfortunate that questions about the future of things like DDI are going unanswered in the forums. If DDI is eventually going away altogether, I understand your current strategy. But if it's not, it sure would be nice to hear why I'd want to keep my subscription active.

 

I've never worked in the gaming industry, but I can't help but think that WotC is missing a marketing and revenue opportunity with D&D Next and DDI.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Best regards,
Eric Ullman

I don't think that DDI will be "updated" to Next, but more likely be replaced with something new. The announcement that they will not be doing any further updates as of 2014 and the magazines going on hiatus as well makes me think that they are ending the contract with whomever was maintaining and updating DDI related stuff. They'll keep the servers running until something important breaks, but to me it sounds like an End of Life announcement for DDI.

 

They might do something similar to DDI for Next if Next ends up being popular and making a profit, but given the signs I don't expect any of the current DDI to be part of that.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

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