"Monetizing the hobby"


Should be playing D&D instead
Lots of people elsewhere are hyperventilating about the news that WotC wants to find ways to encourage "recurrent spending pattern(s)" around D&D, and I want to rant about their ranting and small-mindedness.

Everyone is so focused on the existing player base and play patterns, when there's so much potential to expand the game instead. "You only need one person to buy books," they say, in apparent ignorance of the fact that games are so much more than rules and that TSR's decision to only sell rules and not accessories was viewed as a risky decision in the first place. And modern life has so much more to offer than just miniatures!

I'm not bullish on ChatGPT but I still have to admit that a ChatGPT-based hack-and-slash solo game called Unlimited Dungeon Crawls would be at LEAST as much fun as Diablo II Resurrected, if it obeyed 5E rules. And that would also be a good way for people to learn the rules of 5E (or OneD&D) well enough to slide right into tabletop play, as well as learning the content well enough to be more invested in the D&D movie Honor Among Thieves, or more willing to buy owlbear plushies and ironic accessories.

Best of all, those things would constitute a monetary stream for WotC that doesn't rely on copyright abuse and people's ignorance of copyright law. Currently WotC's income stream depends primarily on game mechanics, which are uncopyrightable, and they're actually moving away from copyrightable material such as concrete lore ("Athas is a place where no trolls exist because genocidal bad guys killed them all and wrecked the ecosystem in an attempt to deny that humans descend from halflings"). If they move toward actual services and helpful tools they'll be providing actual business value instead of just risking a copyright-misuse judgment that makes their copyrights unenforceable until rectified.

Quote: <<All of which only highlights my point: D&D shouldn't be looking to create just new players (which aren't worth much to their top and bottom lines even if they are monetized), but new DMs (which are worth a lot more).>>

This is not completely wrong but a false dichotomy. Creating both is absolutely worthwhile, and it probably is possible to create a market that encourages new players to enter the hobby. Imagine starting some kind of worldwide West Marches-type experience (again analagous to Diablo II Resurrected) where you spontaneously form a party and go dungeon crawling for a few hours with an DM (human or AI, your choice) with PCs that you've been nursing along since level 1. That playstyle is pretty rare in modern D&D but it doesn't have to be, and it is a great model for new players.


Anyway, the people (mostly DMs) who are currently paying for D&D rules are not the only people who would potentially be willing to pay for D&D experiences. Either from WotC or elsewhere.


8, 8, I forget what is for
The continued success of WotC is of concern, though. I think we benefitted indirectly from the increase in energy around 5e in a number of ways, including the rather obvious existence of DriveThruRPG and DMsGuild and the continued availability of gaming materials in FLGSs. Not to mention the existence of easy to access VTTs (since none of y'all seem interested in adopting MapTools).