Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Edition War II

Meant to post about this yesterday, but was so worried about beginning-of-school stuff that I didn't get a chance.

D&D 5th Edition has been announced, and right on time from my predictions a few years back. When I was playtesting D&D 4th Edition a few years ago (no, really! look in your book! I'm in it!), my group told the designers that there were significant holes in the system, that the fluff and flavor didn't feel like D&D anymore, that it did too much to throw away the legacy of the game, and that once they started adding new mechanical options it was going to be tough to continue balancing the game--and tougher to make those options distinct. Now, we're getting word from the new design team that all of those concerns, which were basically ignored at the time, were all pretty much right on the money and are driving concerns behind the creation of the 5th Edition game. Oh, and of course that they're kind of getting murdered in market share by Pathfinder.

Monte Cook and Mike Mearls are both working on it, so it's bound to be awesome. The game might well turn out to be the best version of D&D ever. The problem is that it will also probably have all of the same problems with the economic end of things that 4th Edition has: Wizards going for a quick buck instead of the long haul. Making money now instead of building the fanbase and enjoying their loyalty is very much the Wizards of the Coast way of dealing with the game, and the biggest part of their profit motive is based around short-term hobby gamers instead of lifestyle gamers.

Paizo, on the other hand, has taken their magazine subscription model and turned it into a very strong way of doing business as a gaming company. While Wizards is talking about an "open playtest"--which was one of the big draws of Pathfinder--that alone won't nearly be enough. They're going to alienate their 4th Edition fanbase without necessarily regaining the trust of the people they abandoned when they moved away from 3.X Edition. Their quick-money, quick-turnover way of doing business doesn't win them any points for customer loyalty, and Paizo has very much cornered the market in "customer loyalty" right now, so I wonder how Edition War II is going to pan out.

Meanwhile, Savage Worlds continues to chug along merrily, wondering why everyone over in Otherplacia is fighting amongst themselves. ;-)


beldar1215 said...

Hi Jeremy,
Speaking of Savage Worlds, did you ever write up "The Playground of the Dead" adventure? I think this would make a great Con game.

Rocky Mountain Savages

Jeremy Puckett said...

I ran a version of it for a convention a year or so ago, and I keep meaning to finish up the posting. Thanks for my next week's topic! =)

beldar1215 said...

Excellent news. I look forward to seeing this!!


Ishmadrad said...

However, while I love Savage Worlds, I have to say that the Deluxe edition generated mixed emotions between fans.

Maybe if they ran a short "open beta" some things would be different now.

Jeremy Puckett said...


Really? I haven't seen any of that in my local play group, and not very much online either. Certainly not the level of vitriol that edition changes in D&D cause. Maybe it's because the new edition of Savage Worlds is an *edition*--that is, some small changes to an existing game--while D&D "editions" tend to be entirely new games marketed with a common history and mythology.

beldar1215 said...

Don't let me down. I'm still looking for that write-up!

Jeremy Puckett said...

After the blackout day, I unfortunately suffered from a severe personal injury. PotD should be up over the weekend, though. Thanks for the interest!

Jeremy Puckett said...

So much for "over the weekend". =p

Personal injuries suck, pneumonia sucks, and graduate school entrance work sucks.