Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wizards of the Coast to Supportive Old School Home Gamers -- "Go to Hell!"

Those who read this blog know that I am usually a staunch defender of Wizards of the Coast. While others were complaining about Wizard's release of a 4th edition of D&D, I defended the idea. Since that time, I have become very excited about 4th edition and am in the process of putting together a campaign for my regular gaming group to play when we finish our current Eberron campaign.

I am eagerly awaiting the new Red Box, the Essentials product line (which is reaching out to "recession" gamers and new games), and even the controversial Gamma World. Many are concerned about the "collectible" nature of some the power cards in GW, but after seeing the Gamma World presentation at Gen Con I am excited at the prospect.

What I am not excited about is Wizards' next "Encounters" campaign -- KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS.

Let me rephrase that.

I am ecstatic about Wizards releasing a 4th edition version of KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS, but they have just told me to f@&# off by making it their next "Encounters" adventure.

I think that the Encounters "D&D Play" events are good for gaming in general, and good for local retailers. Having weekly single encounter adventures that are run at local game stores is wonderful and promotes the hobby. Never making those products available to the gaming community at large is an insult.

I'm sorry, but I don't have 2-4 hours on a Wednesday night to go to my local game store to play D&D -- let alone the afternoon. I am an MBA student, work full-time, and have two-and-a-half year old twin daughters. I game at home. My obligations at home, those lovely little girls who I adore more than anything, prevent me from gaming "away" from home.

I have been playing D&D for over 20 years and some of my fondest memories of D&D where when I was in high school. I didn't have a large gaming group yet and would spend my time running "solos" -- I would take multiple characters I rolled up through published adventures. The adventure I most frequently solo'd? KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS.

It is likely my favorite adventure of all time. I would love to buy a copy. But I can't, nor can I go to the store and play the "Encounters." What I will be able to do is read other gamers share their experience playing the adventure with deep envy.

By making this highly desirable product available to some gamers -- those who have spare time during the week -- and not to others, Wizards is flipping a big bird in my direction and I don't appreciate it.

If they ever make any of their Encounters adventures for sale to the general public, I will be overjoyed. I'm willing to give a 6-month exclusivity period to stores even, but until then I know that I and gamers like me are not high on Wizards list. It's too bad, since I have purchased one of every book they have published over the past decade -- sometimes more than one.

Yes...that includes all of the fiction as well.

Hook a supporter up please!


Eric Lytle said...

They also made DM rewards for public play only now too. So reporting home games gets you zip, zilch, nothing, thanks for playing.
So if you aren't playing DnD in public you're not really playing, I guess.

Greyhawk Grognard said...

Color me an ignorant old Grognard, but can you explain what this "Encounters D&D Play" thing is?

I've been too busy running an AD&D 1st edition campaign at my local FLGS to hear about it, I guess. :-)

Anonymous said...

D&D Encounters is a weekly D&D game that is sanctioned by WotC and played at premier wotc Stores. It is held only on Weds. It takes about 1 to 2 hours to play each week. They hand out rewards cards for earning achievements while playing the game.

I do not like that it is only on weds and can only be ordered by stores.

Zachary Houghton said...

Well, it gets people in the stores, which I think is good. It's not in a format that I like, and it's not a system I prefer, which I think is bad.

Anonymous said...

Well, their main purpose IS to get you to go to the shops to play, since obviously you are attracted to play it.

I know we can be busy but it's either go to shop or no KOTB at all.

Christian Lindke said...

Their main purpose should be to get me into the shops to buy their merch, and then to have merch to sell me.

It should not be to create merch that I cannot buy, and that is only purchasable/usable by those who have Wednesday afternoons/evenings available.

I'm sorry, but that isn't me. I have income, but less free time.

I like 4e just fine. I like my FLGS a great deal.

Let me buy KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS 4e at my FLGS. Make it an FLGS exclusive, but don't do this "organized players only" crap. It feeds the secondary market and not the primary one.

Tim Knight said...

Are we 100% sure the "Encounters" adventures will never be available to the general public. I'm sure I heard a mumbling on a Gen Con podcast that they might be at some stage - but I could be misremembering.

I'm in the UK - we don't even have FLGS here anymore (unless you happen to live in a big city or have a university nearby).

That said I'm making the trek to the north of my county (hopefully) next month for The Red Box Games Day (which is being held in a pub, which is very civilized) for my first true taste of 4e.

Anonymous said...

Talk to your FLGS. I know of several that rehost encounters on other nights. They even do 'catchup' sessions on other nights. I've noticed WotC looking the other way when it happens.

MJ Harnish said...

Yep, WotC is really emphasizing public, in-store play using the MtG format despite the fact that D&D has traditionally been a game you play at home. Despite being a very long term roleplaying junkie and playing at cons, I cannot think of any place I'd like to play less than a crowded, noisy, and often unpleasant smelling game store.

Anonymous said...

So, just to interject with a less "damn WotC and their card game" line of thought...

The point of encounters is to provide a easy to slip into experience for people who do not necessarily have a group they play with. It's a low pressure "Come on down and play a bit..." sales hook. They want to get people who are lapsed gamers, or interested but daunted, or new to areas and without a group, or whatever into stores at a table and playing their game. There's really no perfect time for this sort of thing,

And personally, while one store in the area is rather unfriendly (and heavily board game focused anyways), the other two are actually pretty pleasant. One is a bit cramped in the play area, but they are bright, non-smelly, and not overly noisy (except on Pokemon tourney days).

Now, yes, I'd like if they offered KotBL for sale (well, more I'd like their ToEE/Homlet thing they did for rewards). But they have a system in place, and sometimes you have to be part of something to get the benefit of it. Such is life. The point of the program, as far as I see it, is to try and grow the hobby. And they view being out there in public at a a store as being more desirable to that end, than in your house. I don't necessarily agree, but I think it's a valid stance.

Unknown said...

FLGS are in trouble all over the place. This program is an attempt to bolster them a bit and thereby help grow this niche form of entertainment. The majority of players learn to play by seeing it played, not by reading a book.

If they were using the Temple of Unseen Purple Haze you would care less about the fact you don't have access to the adventure. Simply because YOU like the module and want a 4E update (which you could easily do yourself) suddenly WotC hates YOU.

By making the adventure exclusive it gives it more value than if you could simply walk up and buy it. They will likely release it down the road. If not you could always buy it on Ebay in a few weeks.

Christian Lindke said...

Anonynos and Callin,

I will be writing a post to respond specifically to your points today. Because I don't disagree with most of what your are saying, except for Callin's final sentence and one of his other thoughts as well.

Matt Y. :) said...

Well stated.

Those of us with lives outside of gaming salute you. WoTC should remember that many of its customer base is aging. They should not continue to tailor the hobby to those who can go to the game store after school.

Anonymous said...

As others said, we are not the folks being targeted by this program, but that's not an insult. We're being directly targeted and supported by EVERYTHING ELSE they do. The Encounters program, as anonyos said, is to make it easier for new or lapsed gamers to get into or back into the game. Indirectly this supports us too, by increasing the number of gamers around us to play with.

I do think it's a bummer to not be able to buy this stuff, and I do think WotC should make it available, at least eventually. But I don't think this is in any way a "fuck you." And I think it's ridiculous to interpret the Rewards stuff as an invalidation of home play. Again, the Encounters and Rewards materials are a SMALL FRACTION of what they produce, aimed at recruiting new and lapsed players. And for DMs and stores who go out and help make that happen to earn some cool exclusive freebies, even if I never get a chance to buy them, is hardly a terrible thing.

Christian Lindke said...

My strong opinion in this post led me to write a follow-up which discusses things I think they can do to improve the program from a marketing perspective.

Chief among them is that I think they need to "eventually" release the adventures for sale.

Overall, I think the program is a good one.