Other games still available as PDF shocker

Some things just demand an Onion-style headline, don’t they?

Everyone else is jumping up and down at the stupidity of Wizards’ decision to pull PDFs “because of piracy”, thereby making piracy the only way to get PDFs of their products, so there’s no need for me to repeat it. Oh, wait. I just did.

Look on the bright side, guys; Warriors & Warlocks, Mutants & Masterminds, Savage Worlds and many, many other great games are still out there and available to buy legally and cherish close to your heart.

Harr over at the ENWorld thread about this decision said it best:

Soon:

“Due to increased problems with photocopying and scanning of gamebooks, WotC has decided to stop the sales and storage of all physical and/or paper-based gaming materials from stores. WotC is currently exploring other options that do not involve letting anybody else see our intellectual property for any reason at all, ever.”

It’s easy to laugh. Wizards’ business decisions are, let’s face it, a pretty easy target. Seriously though.

This one could go either way. Whilst right now it looks like the Wrong Thing to do on every level, it could also be the start of the digital reboot Wizards’ so desperately need. No, stop laughing at the back. Hear me out.

First, a quick poll. How many of you play 4e D&D? Quite a few hands – but also a lot of hands still down. Hmm. Of those who played 4e, how many bought the pdfs? One… two….. Ok. Two. And how many downloaded them? Be honest now. One..two…three…four….. wow. That’s a lot of hands, including many from the folks who don’t play 4e D&D at all.

Look: Wizards’ PDFs were just far too over-priced. Expecting folks to pay $80+ for digital versions of the Core Rules was just silly – especially when those self-same folks had already paid about the same for Real Dead Tree versions of them. Ain’t gonna happen.

Folks who like and play D&D buy D&D. People who don’t, don’t. This might mean they snarf it from a torrent site and add it to the collection but they’re not a lost sale: they were never going to buy in the first place. And y’know why? Because Wizards of the Coast marketing sucks worse than a sucky thing from Sucklandia. If you don’t sell it, people don’t buy it, in the main.

So, it needs a reboot. The whole thing. Give us reasonably-priced watermarked pdfs. Give us our damned previous edition pdfs back and support them, not treat them like embarrassed cousins at a wedding. And no, I don’t know what that means either. Give us……..

Awww what the heck. You know the rest.

Doesn’t change the fact that this was a monumentally stupid decision though. Totally.

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10 Responses

  1. Sebastian Dietz says:

    You are right, perhaps they need a reboot of their digital strategy. But it is the way they try to do it that is just moronic. If they try to, which is not said yet.

    If I was WotC I would perhaps say “Sorry folks, but due to many people pirating our PDFs we have to rethink our strategy. We will be pulling the PDFs from the sales right now, but you have four weeks left to download any copies you previously bought. We are working on a better solution, so please give us three months and the PDFs will be back.”

    Instead they are making the impression of “Oh hell, there is this internet thing people talk about a lot AND THEY ARE DOWNLOADING OUR STUFF THERE! We have to stop it immediately and teach those bastards a lesson!”

    For me, it is a question of service and reliability. I paid for a lot D&D and AD&D PDFs. What about D&D Insider? Will WotC decide to remove all the back issues and give us the same piracy argument? Perhaps, perhaps not. It is this lack of trust in the reliabilty of WotC and the carelessness with which they alienate customers that is the problem for me. And they could communicate decisions without hitting their customers in the face, but they chose not to.

    So I will give my money to another more reliable company in the future.

  2. Kriton says:

    Wizards was to me eyes a messed up company ever since it baught TSR.

    I remember how freaked out I was when I had to buy new rulebooks for 3.5e. The fact is that ever since, I dont buy my books. I still give Wizards my money, as I buy staff like dungeon tiles and miniatures every now and then.

    But no books. The only books I baught since the release of 3.5 are the 4th edition core rulebooks. And I dont plan to buy anymore. I pay for what imo is a sane price for the product I buy.

    Still, I subscribe in DDI. The price is good for what it offers and what it promises. I hope it wont become a mess too.

  3. Sean says:

    Maybe this is a good time to pick up Warriors & Warlocks, rather then to wait for the hardcopy. I’m sure WOTC lawyers are looking real hard for a way to reverse the d20 OGL. After all most of 4th Editions competition probably comes from d20.

  4. WilliamPall says:

    WotC needs to get off their high horse and think about things from their consumers prospective. For all the points the Greywulf points out.
    Seriously, WotC needs to pull the stick outta their lower back side.

    WilliamPalls last blog post..AlphaOmega RPG

  5. Apparently I did have a lot to say on the topic…..I’ll just have to go blog it instead of a comment.

    But long story short: I hate it when a company I hate gives me a product I love and then pulls something off like this. I want to “do the right thing” and not give them money….and then I end up totally giving in anyway due to my demands.

    Reverend Lazaros last blog post..Discovering my world, and the Campaign begins…

  6. Elton says:

    How long do we have to put up with this crap?

    Eltons last blog post..More on the Orcs

  7. Dead Orcs says:

    With all due respect to my fellow bloggers, I find the hoop-la surrounding WotC’s decision a little humorous. Like ‘Wulf implied above, it’s not like the PDF download industry is that huge. I’ve never paid for a PDF I could download, when I could simply order a book from Amazon.com.

    Wizards made a decision based on money, like ALL corporate decisions are based on. For good or bad, that’s how these things work. My guess is that they used the “pirating” story, because they weren’t ready to release the marketing reasons for their decision. WotC (owned by Hasbro) is a large conservative company. My experience has been that large conservative companies don’t often make “rash” decisions. They sometimes make poor ones, but they are almost always thought out.

    Here’s the thing. The third-party…say…you know what? This is going over what I should be typing here. I’m gonna blog about it myself, lol. Check it tonight (can’t blog from the office…it’s a conservative company as well, lol).

    Dead Orcss last blog post..Con Wagon

  8. Vulcan Stev says:

    My own gut tells me that WotC/Hasbro is trying desperately to make 4e the ONLY D&D available.

    Vulcan Stevs last blog post..31DtaBBC Day 2: 10 Theories About WotC’s Boneheaded Decision

  9. Thasmodious says:

    Meh, I can’t get excited about this. How is this a big deal in any way? Every time WotC changes the brand of coffee in the office break room every blogger with the word “grognard” somewhere on their main page flies into a rage and starts a blogging echo chamber that puts the Wingnut-osphere to shame. I notice none of these same blogs are talking at all about WotCs retail initiative which could help some FLGS’s.

    I really need someone to explain why it’s some terrible ordeal they are subjecting the game world to by stopping sales of their .pdfs? If, as you suspect and I agree, no one is really buying them anyway, why continue to offer them? I haven’t bought a one, yet I have a .pdf copy of every paper book I’ve bought. How is this boneheaded or evil to shut down a stream of revenue that apparently isn’t streaming much of anything at all?

    For the record, I’m not at all including you, Greywulf, in the above comments about the bloggers. I read your take on it hoping for some sanity or at least some explanation here.

  10. drow says:

    because its *printing money*. given that the products are going to be developed regardless, it costs wizards *dick* to allow *someone else* to sell the PDFs, shouldering the costs of doing so for a percentage. no dead trees, no printers, no inventory. and in an era in which a gamer is as likely to have a computer laptop as a backpack stuffed with books (particularly as we get towards the PHB10), not having a strategy for legal digital products is insane.

    (granted, they may have one, but pissing off all your tech-savvy customers just prior to actually announcing it also makes little business sense.)

    i understand that seeing your hard work and IP show up on BitTorrent the same day it hits stores is emotionally difficult, but taking your ball and going home is an irrational reaction best left to schoolyard playgrounds.

    and the piracy argument is difficult to apply to the back-catalog products which paizo/DTRPG also sold. since those products are long out of print and of zero market value otherwise, selling *any copies* really *is* printing money.

    my 2cp, as gamer and shareholder.

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