Monday, January 17, 2011

The future of D&D, my 2 cents

Everyone with a blog and an interest in tabletop rpgs has put forth their speculations on what the recent moves by Wizards of the Coast mean. It seems only right that I should too. Like many, I agree that big changes are coming to the venerable old game. D&D as we oldtimey guys remember it is about to disappear. I see two models of D&D coming out of the restructuring, the "World of Warcraft" model and the "Magic: the Gathering" model. I think we will see a D&D MMO in the near future. How that affects the whole Atari computer game licensing issue is not clear to me as I have absolutely zero interest in the legal shenanigans going on between Hasbro and Atari, but I am sure it will eventually happen.

The second model is a little less clear. After all, it's unlikely WotC wants a M:tG clone to directly compete with its flagship property, so a D&D CCG would have to be different in some way. Maybe they could combine a board game with a CCG. The new fortune cards seem to be a nod in that direction. Alternatively, the D&D cards could be part of a Virtual Tabletop game. Your "character" would be a deck of cards, each of which would have a code number. You could input the number into your online account to create a bank of options for your character. It's possible you could simply buy decks online, but I think many customers would be suspicious of purely online cards. Besides, I think WotC still wants the D&D brand to appear, in some form, on store shelves. Nonetheless, I think the days of hardcover rulebooks and sweaty nerds gathered around a table in the basement playing D&D are coming to a close.

Of course, there's always Pathfinder, Labyrinth Lord, True 20, RuneQuest II, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Fantasy Craft, Castles and Crusades, Earthdawn, OSRIC, Palladium, HARP.....



velaran said...

The idea that certain types of change are inevitable is fallacious.(They're assisted by 'what can you do; it's inexorable' attitudes!) The 'rulebooks will be gone in favor of ANOTHER MMO failure' future only occurs if the fans allow it. Even if WOTC(it's still their game to lose; barely...) drops D&D, a corporation or conglomeration of fans can keep it going.

WOW is here to stay; it is this generations superficial understanding of RPGs and it is ingrained in public consciousness, and only catastrophic idiocy on Blizzard's part is likely to change this.(With Warcraft collections, Diablo 1-3, Starcraft 1 and 2, I don't see it.)

Rognar said...

I don't think WotC would ever give up the franchise. The brand is too valuable, even if the game itself is not profitable. Rather, I think they will continue to make a game called Dungeons & Dragons, just not a game that bears much resemblance to what we now think of it.

I honestly don't know if a D&D MMORPG could surpass WoW, but I'm not sure that matters. If Hasbro thinks a second or third place MMORPG will generate more revenue than a first place tabletop rpg, I have little doubt that is where they would direct their energies.

velaran said...


Oh, I'm sure they'll run it into the ground before they'd lease/sell, but you never know....(i. e. more of: 'not a game that bears much resemblance to what we now think of it.') Note however, Magic:The Gathering, a game that hasn't been tampered with significantly, if at all, had its best year EVER.('Cuz staying true to your roots, relentlessly promoting the growth of your game thru new players, having a current ad campaign[that doesn't involve misdirection, i.e. Red Box] and having pride in your product[As in M:TG] NEVER works..., right? >_<)

Second or third to what? Look how poorly DDO did when it was state of the art! See also fate of Champions Online, Warhammer Online, and even Lord of the Rings, based on relevant source material still fresh in the public mind! Maybe they can knock off Adventure Quest; seriously, it costs way too much in capitalization... And ROI will be in the basement, if not beneath it. But hey, they might be irrational enough to try it...AGAIN. They really need to concentrate on console games like Baldur's Gate and the Dark Alliance Spinoff, imo. They actually made money....

Little Tayloritos said...

If they made D&D an mmo or even consule game I personally believe it wouldnt do very well. The words dungeons and dragons are almost frowned on by most nerdy teenagers. Its become a nerdy faux pas. Wizards of the coast is probably doing some good if they reconstruct the game but I don't think a D&D MMO or consule RPG could compete with what's out there.

Rognar said...

@velaran: You are probably correct. I am no expert on MMORPGs to be sure.

@Little Tayloritos: You are also probably correct. I am no expert on nerdy teenagers either.

velaran said...

@Little Tayloritos:
Console RPGs are a market they have fared well with in the past. From Silver Box Adventures to Balder's Gate: Dark Alliance and D&D Heroes. They have a better chance here with no 800-pound gorilla blocking the door!(Final Fantasy and its ilk don't have a total stranglehold across PCs, XBOx360, PS3, Wii...) Plus, there's at least fan interest in new D&D CRPGs.(At least from the forums I've seen.) As opposed to DDO, which well, ya know got WOWed; as have all comers. Even STAR WARS is struggling for a niche, people!(And it's a different segment from Vanilla Fantasy...)

Obiri said...

Yes it will be interesting to see how Bioware's Star Wars flavored MMO will fare against the almighty WoW.

I've played a bit of DDO (very early on so I know there have been huge changes since then) and I can see why it never took off. You need a small group to do anything. Its not 2000 anymore, players now a days want to be able to solo everything.