Long-Term Test: 4e D&D, Part Three

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8 Responses

  1. If 4E had been as radical a departure with the OGL as it was with, then yes, I think you’d have seen Pathfinder regardless.

    Now if 4E was more like Star Wars: Saga Edition, then maybe not (there are changes, but they aren’t nearly as huge). Right now Pathfinder is the standard bearer for a certain style of play; as long as 4E remains an exceptions-based, powers-focused rule bay, there’s going to be strong demand for an alternative.

    I think the proliferation of d20 systems under the OGL was generally a good thing (both the consolidation of rule sets and the inevitable diaspora that followed).

    d20 got my gaming group playing systems and settings it never would have if we’d had to learn new rules (Mutants & Masterminds, Star Wars, Fading Suns) and now 8 years of hyper-familiarity have some of us trying out new rules (4E, Savage Worlds, Spirit of the Century, etc.).

    That process began before the GSL came out — the big year for us was probably 2007, when Savage Worlds Explorers Edition came out — but it has continued unabated by 4E.
    .-= Kenneth Newquist´s last blog ..Radio Active #82: Invasion of the Mario Brothers =-.

  2. Elton says:

    Yep, like I said, the dropping of the OGL encourages indy RPGs to grow.
    .-= Elton´s last blog ..Magic Spell lists of the Known Lands =-.

  3. There is no doubt that the OGL was a good thing for D&D in general and WotC in particular. It brought a new lease of life to D&D and a gaming industry that was flagging.

    The D20 system allowed game makers to concentrate on settings and adventures rather than the mechanics of the game. It also made players more willing to try different games as they already knew the rules.

    Not surprisingly, there was a boom in D20 games and OGL content. Which in turn lead to a glut of products and consumers getting bored with D20 and the extremely variable quality of the products. The market then crashed and only the strong / good survived.

    This is natural market behaviour and not a flaw with the D20/ OGL concept.

    It is also a myth to think that the OGL/D20 stopped people creating their own rules. Plenty of game designers were ignoring the D20 fashion and doing their own thing.

    But was WotC decision to drop the OGL a good thing? No – not for the market.

    It does force game produces to innovate more but it also means they have to do more work. This reduces the number of products on the market and increases the cost.

    Fewer products at higher prices are bad for any market.

    The marmite nature of 4e does give Pathfinder a boast from the anti-4e crowd but this is just a reactionary force. It is not innovation or an expansion the market. The market as a whole gains nothing from it.

    The games market, like all markets, is healthiest when there are large range of products available from a large range of producers operating with limited restrictions. A market dominated by a single large producer is not healthy.

    4e/GSL is an attempt by WotC to assert its dominance. It may be or may not be good for D&D and WotC but it is certainly bad for the market.
    .-= Chris Tregenza´s last blog ..Last Chance to Download ‘Sanctum …’ =-.

  4. Greywulf says:

    @Chris I agree – the OGL didn’t stop people creating their own rules, but it did cause the larger companies (“larger”, of course, being relative here) to jump on the d20/OGL bandwagon and stay there. For good reason too – that’s what consumers wanted.

    Yes, some folks did continue to write their own rules – and more power to them! – but that’s not where the money was. Net result: d20/OGL rose in popularity while non-d20 products dropped in popularity.

    I’m not seeing “Fewer products at higher prices” at all right now – Savage Worlds and Pathfinder in particular are very reasonably priced and they’re the ones setting price-point that others follow. I’d suggest that just as many products are coming out right now as they did in any given month in the d20/OGL days, but spread over a wider product base. That’s a good thing, right?

    “The games market, like all markets, is healthiest when there are large range of products available from a large range of producers operating with limited restrictions. A market dominated by a single large producer is not healthy.”

    That’s my point, exactly. That’s what we had (or risked having) with d20/OGL. The RPG market grew – thanks to d20/OGL – but the glut of products were for d20/OGL.

    Now, it’s diversifying. Bad for Wizards of the Coast, but good for the industry as a whole.

  5. Let the voice of a raging pitchfork wielding OGL supporter not go unheard! Raargh! :)

    What I liked was OGL products with very little or no Product Identity. That would have been a cool — reuse, remix, republish, redistribute… I’m a Free Software guy and I’m saddened by the fact that the fourth edition of D&D gives users less rights than the third edition did.

    Sure, not everybody wanted these rights. And not all of those who did were able to produce stuff I liked. But it was your right.

    Having the right to do something is better than relying on Fair Use or similar copyright exceptions.

    I am in fact saddened by this.
    .-= Alex Schroeder´s last blog ..Rewards =-.

  6. @Grey

    Its very hard to judge the size and range of RPG market. Certainly online, in PDF stores, there appears to be a large number of products and a steady supply of new producers. Plus large numbers of free products such as Microlite20.

    However, most of these are basically fan or semi-pro products. They have no real presence or impact on the market.

    If you visit shops carrying RPG products, you will see very little variety. Mostly 4e, maybe some World of Darkness or Pathfinder. Compare this to ten years ago, when you could expect to find a number of different products.
    .-= Chris Tregenza´s last blog ..Last Chance to Download ‘Sanctum …’ =-.

  7. by_the_sword says:

    I really enjoy these posts about the “guts” of gaming. I wish I had something to add, but all I can think of is, “keep up the good work.”

    The artwork is great too.

  8. Greywulf says:

    Want proof I’m not completely talking out of my hat? Read The State of the Mongoose 2009.

    @by_the_sword Thanks for the kind words!

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