Thursday, 13 January 2011

WotC unloads financial burdens


It's all over the blogosphere. Wizards of the Coast announced in their latest Ampersand a bunch of cancellations and changes in their product line and opinions are flying everywhere.

First off, their pre-painted miniatures line has been thrown out of the window. I don't own a whole lot of their plastic, horrifically painted minis (I actually still use tokens from the original 3rd edition starter set), but I avoided them mostly because of the price, and I imagine this was a factor in their cancellation. £11.99 is a mighty price to pay for a handful of plastic figs and some bits of card. This news didn't surprise me at all.

What surprised me was their cancellations of three books: Class Compendium: Heroes of Sword and Spell, Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium, and Hero Builder’s Handbook. Clearly there's trouble a-brewin' in the Wizards offices.

It was also announced that Dungeon and Dragon would ceased to be released as compiled PDFs, as data shows that more people read articles individually. I sure do. But there has been a bit of aggrivation about this decision as people are seeing it as the death of the magazines. I disagree. First of all, the magazines died when they were discontinued in print. I don't mean the digital variations aren't magazines, but they're a different beast altogether. Where as once these flagship RPG periodicals were dripping with character, now they feel shallow and unimaginitive. However, we are progressing into a digital age where soon most treeware will become a thing of the past, instead put behind a paywall and viewed online. As part of this movement, the definition of what constitutes a magazine will also change. Now, a magazine doesn't have to be collected together in a single format like a PDF because online there is little need to do this unless for viewing offline. Wizards will soon just be putting up the articles with no compilation. The monthly model will cease to be because it's not needed. I'm ok with this. The web is dynamic and we need to learn to adapt.

The final bit of bad news came when Wizards decided that Heroes of Shadow should be pushed back to April from March and released as hardback instead of the intended softcover digest size a la Essentials. This, of course, will increase the RRP of the book. Although this irks me, Wizards is a business and it needs to make a profit. I know we sometimes like to think so, but this company isn't looking out for our best interests, it's out for money. If Wizards is going down the pan then this could be a sign of the endtimes. We'll have to wait and see.