Tuesday 28 September 2010

If you owned WotC...

Here's a little poser - imagine that Hasbro has decided to off-load certain parts of its empire and you - yes, you, my friend - have somehow inherited enough money to buy Wizards of the Coast.

What would you do?

Would you axe 4e?

Reprint the LBBs?

Appoint Jim Raggi as Product Development Director?

We often like to stick pins into WotC wax dolls but what would we do if we had control of the company? If we were the ones calling the shots? If money were no object...

I'm interested...


  1. I'd rename 4e to something like "Dungeon Encounterz: The Bored Game" and reprint B/X as a single boxed set called "Dungeons and Dragons".

    I'd also release a B/X version of Spelljammer with art by Erol Otus!

  2. I'd also reprint B/X as a single set (maybe with the long-lost Companion volume that never was), as well the AD&D Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, Monster Manual 2, Fiend Folio, and the Greyhawk box (possibly with Village of Hommlett as an extra addition to it). No changes to any of the text or artwork inside the books and definitely the original cover art on the AD&D ones (no orange spine crap). I'd declare all these products "evergreen", never to be allowed to go out of print again.

    In an effort to discourage "rules creep", other new products would consist of modular gaming additions (adventures, new spells, monsters, and magic items, etc) but there would be no new rulebooks.

    Resumption of Dragon Magazine would be a must. Definitely a non-house organ version like back in the day with plenty of reviews of and articles supporting non-D&D games.

    I'd cancel 4E and issue a public apology for it (and a retroactive one for 3/3.5) along with a solemn promise to keep never f*** up D&D again. Needless to say, the designers, art directors, etc, who such who cooked these travesties up would have their work cut out for them in pleading their cases well enough to stay employed...

  3. The LBB would sell only a very small crowd and WotC, and I, would be bankrupt by the end of the 1st quarter.

    Keep 4e, revise the GSL to attract more 3rd party publishers, that is make it worth their efforts to want to use 4e.
    Work to get the starter sets into toy stores, Wal-marts and Targets especially in time for the Christmas season.

    Start a major ad campaign touting the educational benefits of the game (and since I have Ph.D. in Education I can do this for hours on end) and as a better alternative to video games. Promote it as part of "Family Game Night".

    Throw out a free adventure every so often online.

    Try to attract not just the lapsed gamer, but the lapsed gamer with kids.

    Everyone so often, maybe once a quarter or twice a year, put out a D&D "Flashback", limited qualities of classic books at a higher price point to go after those collectors that came late to the game. Find a price point to support a limited print run without a loss. Include, separately (say as a shrink wrap) the same product as an update to 4e.

    Start a 4e playtest model like Pathfinder and don't restrict it to DDi.

    Broaden the appeal to reach the user base that has the time to play and the money to play.

  4. I think I'd buy shares of Tim's WOTC--of the options presented so far.

  5. "I think I'd buy shares of Tim's WOTC--of the options presented so far."

    Me, too, if it was all about the money. Personally, I'd happily let the D&D department operate at a loss and let the profits from the trading cards and such cover it.

    I've never been a money-focused kind of guy, though. :)

  6. Posters. There aren't enough posters of D&D artwork hanging on anybody's wall. I'd be giving them away with the boxed sets. And pay the artists accordingly (...that way some of them could afford to finish art school).

    Then I'd be pulping any products with an implied setting. Especially Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance... Ever had a book/novelization tie-in? You're gone too. Sorry Eberron.

    Same for video games.

    I'd revert to the old 'Products of Your Imagination' tag-line and set up a free website dedicated to a B/X style of exposition of 'how to', failing any other decent method of conveying the basics of the game, in order to better disseminate the appeal of a RPG.

    This would be funded through monies recouped from IP violations of the aforementioned settings.

    We would do this by monitoring the activities of members of the parasitic entity known as the RPGA, or RPGA Network, a fertile ground for future IP violations. We know where you live!

    We'd also continue to milk those 'Magic' card playing suckers. I mean, business as usual, right?

  7. I think I'd take a little bit of each posted so far:

    All old versions free for download as pdfs but available as hard copies (But at profit-making prices).

    4e becomes D&D Tactical and is used to sell minis and maybe even power cards in packs like card games.

    Company shifts from selling rules to selling adventure locations/materials.

    Flagship rules are issued that are somewhere between OD&D, and Swords & Wizardry.

    But products can be sold supporting C&C, LL, Pathfinder etc. Become a creative house, not a company hoping to be able to reboot a rules system every 5 years.

    And, yes, absolutely market it to kids and families, for every angsty teen you lose by doing this you'll gain 20 lifelong buyers of your creative products.

    Uggh, that last part sounds kind of like marketing cigarettes or something, Ok, that's enough for me.

  8. As per Telecanter, but I think theres money and exposure that we can exploit from 4e. Obviously they are going to computerise it (Neverwinter) and I think thats a good choice given the ruleset...

    But in the next iteration of Binary D&D they should market the _actual_ D&D. Somehow. Probably by focusing on the srengths of tabletop (imagination, creativity, pizza and freedom of action).

  9. First thing, go back to the beginning of 4e and get it back on track for its current fans.

    Now, since I would now own a license to print money (that's what kills me about Wizards-that's what owning the D&D brand means) I would start with the following:

    Start by issuing deluxe boxed editions of the various versions. Mark them clearly so there would be no confusion for the collectors who have helped keep the material alive by paying high prices for the collectibles.

    This would include the AD&D 1e and 2e core rules as well as all the OD&D / Basic /etc versions.

    With the masses of materials being made available form small depts to deal with 3rd party developers to support the older lines (through pdf if nothing else).

    Work with the d20 / 3.0 /3.5 fans to help promote this unique area of gaming by forming a central hub where the OGL / OGC is collected and made available as per the creators intent.

    Start Dragon Magazine back up covering all of the above along with a website to put others to shame. Encourage community amongst all the players of all the editions and encourage cross overs.

    Help FLGSs to bring attention to the hobby by having sessions of all types-play, lecture, new product introduction (video of new material coming out playing on a flat screen behind the counter to get people into new things) guest speakers at larger locations and all conventions.

    Promote the use of pdf releases and encourage virtual table top software to keep the game going where ever you are.

    Treat the gaming heritage entrusted to me with respect. Don't take a dump on it and make something just for money. Let fans vote on new material. Take pre-orders. Involve fans in play testing.

    There's more...but I'm building that type of entity right now. So I guess I wouldn't need Wizards :)

  10. Get some TV spots for D&D ads on Cartoon Network and Nick. So many of the cartoons today reference D&D (I am looking at you "Adventure Time!") that is seems to be shame there are no ads on TV for it.

    Do it as part of a whole "Welcome back to the dungeon" ad campaign.

  11. 'Products of Your Imagination' - what a great slogan that was.

    'D&D Tactical' - an ideal way to deal with 4e.

    Mind you, what I would do is re-release the Gazeteers (maybe as boxed bundles of neighbouring/related settings), re-release the Rules Cyclopedia (coming shrink-wrapped with a 'Red Box' beginners guide booklet)... and go as bankrupt as TSR.

    Sell it as something nostalgic dads can run for their kids - quality time, developing reading, problem solving, social skills, empathy, etc?

  12. Serious question: Why is re-releasing anything a good idea?

    The people that want them have them and those that don't have them and still want them are such a small population that I don't think it would be worth the cost of a print run.

    MAYBE POD would work.

  13. Yes, POD and pdf is the solution. This is the way all publishers are going and the ones that will survive.

    The specialty sets I mention are limited edition and help to boost the brand as whole back up.

    And if nobody is interested in the older material why does my aggregator site have 230 (and counting) OSR blogs listed and everybody and his brother seem to be building their own OSR release or material for it?

    There is interest in the older material. By working with the community instead of against it D&D can be the kind of company that is the leader in innovation and customer service.

    The internet has given us the power to try just about anything at low risk. It can support numbers that in the past would have bankrupted a company.

    I know the guys I would be hiring to staff my depts...sadly they have almost all passed :(

  14. And btw, your topic title caught my attention because the scenario is actually starting to play out. Hasbro has problems. Street word is they may be fighting a hostile take over or may be looking to sell and getting WotC streamlined and producing is part of that. Anybody notice how they seem to be just throwing things against the wall to see if anything sticks?

    So Wizards and D&D both may be adrift and they can't continue to run the kind of shop they are running now.

    Starter kits, boardgames...what's next? Branded beverages?...Oh wait...umm..never mind...:)

  15. Well, I would re-release each rules set from the past, specifically tied to a particular game world. AD&D would be the Greyhawk Edition rules. 2nd Edition would be the Forgotten Realms Edition. Etc. I would also branch out, building the individual world "brands" not only with RPG materials and novels, but board games. Imagine a "Merchant Caravans of the Realms" that played like a Eurogame railroad game, or a series of hex-and-counter wargames set in the Flanaess.

    I would absolutely focus on getting the games into schools as educational tools and aids. That's where your new players are going to come from.

    Advertising. That's the one thing you never cut in an economic downturn (or ever, frankly). Get on television.

    Branch out. Don't look for a single cash cow (you've already got that with M:tG). Build a broad assortment of products that over time will add depth. As long as they're good games in and of themselves, they will sell.

  16. I had a post about this topic a couple week ago on my blog.


  17. I was curious if anyone had any comments on this post from back in Feb.


    Would any of these ideas have made a difference?