Reading some stuff online (in particular over at a much more interesting blog than mine ... hehe) and the widespread general discussion about Bill Slavicsek leaving WoTC got me thinking about what really is going to happen with 4e now.
First I want to say this isn't a version war thing. I'll flat express my opinion and that is 3.0 ... 3.5 and Pathfinder are no better than 4e in really any way shape or form. That is my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Feel free to differ ... but that isn't what this post is about. Its about WoTC's poor decision making skills with how they managed what started out as a good system. Manged it right into the ground. Also its about how our group finally just couldn't take anymore.
This all started back when 4e came out obviously. In the beginning myself and my gaming groups embraced it. Having largely rejected 3rd ed in favor of just continuing 2nd ed until pretty late in the game (after 3.5 for sure) .. we thought we'll be early adopters and see what its all about. We did and I have to say it took several games with different groups (in different states no less) for me to finally have 4e click. Once it did though I appreciated it for what it was. A group tactical board game with really balanced characters and a really fine balance between players and the DM (if everyone was 100% on top of the rules and their game that is ... on both sides of the screen). So we had a good year or so of 4e (after we worked out the initial kinks and before the essentials shat hit the market) and then the rug was pulled out from under our feet. Essentials hit our group like a typhoon and we never recovered from it. Since late last year we have moved on to other game systems ... oddly enough my group has split partially in two with one half playing Vincent Bakers Apocalypse World and 2nd Edition Warhammer Fantasy. We were all heavily invested into D&D ... well beyond the PHB level. We are all 10 - 30 year D&D fans ... so the decision to take a long break (and in some cases make vows to never play anything related to 4e) was a tough one for most of us. But the game just doesn't provide for us what it was and the change was so unforeseen and abrupt, after we all really took a leap of faith and left our comfort zones in the first place to just give 4e a chance we felt a deep sense of betrayal basically. We have collectively lost any faith or trust that we had in WoTC. Clearly to us we have fully experienced that WoTC is utterly under the thumb of Hasbro and those pulling the strings have no clue about what they are doing. We made the investment of cash, and probably more importantly of time ... time to learn the rules .... really well and really think about and talk about all the nuances of 4e. That represented hundreds of collective hours of toil, blood, sweat and tears. So losing all that ... really pissed us off. Now yes, did we "lose" it no ... we didn't because we can just go back to rules compendium and stop right? Use one of the cleaned up versions of character builder that resembles the old one we learned to love. No for us we were as much suckers for new releases, new content, new tile sets, yada yada ... as anything. Once they stopped moving the game in what was a then familiar, cherished even, direction that we thought it was going in ... we just collectively lost our will to go on. The spell was broken, the magic lost its hold over us and we all realized ... we actually like to OWN our own rules. We like to just have certainty of where things are going to go. So we moved off in that direction. For good bad or otherwise that is what happened to our group and I can't help but wonder how many others have had this same experience. I hope Hasbro (I won't even bother to say WoTC anymore) comes up with a wiz bang game with 5th edition ... all that I know is I will not be an early adopter this time. I can't see myself touching it for at least a year or two ... just to make sure. I do really hope the stick a fork in 4th soon though ... I just can't stand to look at it anymore :(
Again I really do hope they are coming out with 5th ed I think that it would be a chance to start anew. I hope they finally listen to the legitimate criticism of the game by all sides (there is alot of just idle ... "its new and its not my old comfortable
" complaining and that is going to be there regardless) and just stick to the core things that have made the game what it is. Focus on creating a fun game that people enjoy playing ... first and foremost ... and give people time to embrace it before they start totally remodeling the game. If they would do that stuff alone I think they'd really gain and retain alot more support and acceptance. Anymore though ... I just wonder if Hasbro isn't going to sell off D&D. I wish they'd sell it off to Fantasy Flight or farm it out at least to FFG or Green Ronin or something ... they just can't seem to produce it in house anymore.
All this said it does seem unlikely that D&D will go new version soon, but it seems like something is up. I don't care what the supporters are saying the fanbase is really pissed ... the core 4e fans are dropping like flies. People have been citing amazon sales numbers of essentials as though that means things are going well. I think the only thing WoTC has done well for awhile are the D&D board games. Perhaps that is their plan. Tread water on the RPG and release board games to keep some interest ... for another year or two ... then around year 5 of 4th edition ... drop 5th ed. Time will tell I guess.