In light of the recent announcement from Wizards and the fact that we aren’t releasing a show this week so you can hear our thoughts, I thought I’d just get a case of verbal diarrhea and give my impressions.
First let me say that when news broke about 5e, I was far from shocked. Joe had been explaining to me literally 2 days previous about the Hasbro business model. To sum it up for those who aren’t as familiar, all Hasbro brand names have to make a minimum baseline every year or the upper management just kills it. I think it’s something like 50 million, but don’t quote me, I don’t have a source on that. So having that in mind you look at how poorly 4e did, and the recently influx of WotC board games, books, and miniatures to hit our local game stores and boom there it is… the desperate attempt to make their bottom line before D&D goes the way of Pokemon. And as much as some of us would like to see 4th Ed do a swan dive off of something high on to something sharp, I think it’s safe to say it would be a sad day indeed if D&D was no longer produced. (At least by Wizards, who knows maybe somebody like Paizo could buy the license? /wink wink )
So there you have it, a classic “Oh Shit!” Moment artfully disguised in a press release about making it something the fans want and can build together with the industry leaders.
Now… that being said, here’s what I think. WotC is betting on the house again, and it’s probably the third morgage, not the first. WotC has to “Out-Pathfinder” Pathfinder. I’m certainly not the one to tell you what rules to change or mechanics to tweak though, seeing as how I have a mental block when it comes to successfully engrossing myself in a d20 game. But you know who does know how to out do Paizo? The millions of gamers out there who have put millions of dollars into 3.5, Pathfinder, and the occational fan of 4th Ed. They have house rules, and sections of the books they throw out because mechanics are ‘broken’ or not fun. So WotC did the most logical thing it could have after the gamer community tried to tar and feather them, they asked for help. And if gamers raise to the cause, they just might pull this off.
Will it be a revolution in gaming, one that turns the industry on it’s head and alters gaming as we know it?!
I highly doubt it.
It will be exactly what it needs to be in order to keep books from getting dusty on the shelf. Something I’ve noticed about gamers is that they tend to hang on to their favorite game and system and scream to the world to pry it from their cold dead hands. How many people still play Vampire Masquerade? (Not that there is anything wrong with that, the 20th anniversary book is gorgeous.) How about AD&D? I know a few die-hards out there who still roll their eyes when I ask how THAC0 works again. So yeah, people will buy it and play it. I do not think it will be the legions who showed up for Pathfinder, because Pathfinder didn’t have the army that 3.5 had. But it’ll be enough to keep Dungeons & Dragons in WotC’s iron grip.
And you just watch… in 2016, we’ll all be sharing our opinions on 6th Ed.