We can but dream. If I was in charge of Wizards of the Coast this is what I’d do. Quite possibly there’s good, sensible business reasons why they’re not doing this stuff (or maybe they will in the future – who knows?), but this is me, as a fan, saying what I’d like to see one of my favourite companies doing. Y’know, instead of messing with DDI, releasing books with far too many errors and foobaring the GSL.
In no particular order…………..
1. Fix your website
Seriously. It’s the slowest, most resource intensive, most poorly organized site I visit. And it doesn’t even remember my login between visits either – even if those visits are mere minutes apart! Get rid of that background that loads oh-so-painfully for a start. Get rid of the flash intro on the front page and put up new player friendly “What is D&D” and “Example of play” links which then lead to flash content. Put the Updates & Errata link on the front page. And that’s just for starters. If you want to know more about what’s broken, hire me. Or hire anyone else with at least one good eye. Site = ick. Fix it.
2. Release a fixed & revised set of Core Books
You’re doing new printings, so at least print ’em with the fixes in place. Offer existing purchasers a significant discount. Ideally, replace ’em for free. The change to Skill Challenges DC alone is enough enough to warrant a product recall, ferchrissakes. If this system had as much playtesting as we’re led to believe, how come we’re getting significant errors (Stealth skill, temporary Hit Points for Minions, no Minion creation rules in the DMG) hitting us in the face right now? If this was a computer game, it would be off the shelves by now. Which leads us to…………
I’ve said this before – Wizards’ is not a software house. If you’re going to release software, get someone good to do it. I’m pretty sure Bioware could knock up a 4e Character Generator (with character portrait creator built right in!) in no time. Charge $10 for it (just like the Spore Creator), and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. Make it skinnable and this creator could (indeed, should) be exactly the same one that’s used in future 4e computer games. Two birds. One stone.
Oh, and stop with these silly Bonus Tools and Rules Compendium apps. They must have taken a day to write, tops. If they didn’t, fire the fucker who wrote ’em. Embrace the community and encourage them to write apps for you – them showcase ‘en on your site. Show the world you care about your customers and don’t think of them as Intellectual Property enemies.
4. Publish books
If Wizards’ aren’t a software house, what are they? Answer: a book publisher! So give us books, and do all the things that book publishers do.
Next year, release a softcover version of the PHB for half the price, followed by softcover MM and DMGs. Release a coffee-table edition of the MM with twice the art (for twice the price). Release more fluff books like Worlds of D&D because they appeal to non-players too. Release D&D colouring books, posters, jigsaws. Get Hasbro (your bosses, remember) to make a new D&D boardgame with lots of D&D friendly minis and tiles. Heck, I still use my old D&D boardgame, and my kids love it too!
Publish paperback-sized Wizards’ Guides that cover each class and/or race in an easily readable form. Use the medium. Oh, and seriosuly, seriously get Dungeon/Dragon mag back on the shelves again. You really screwed up on that one. You’ve proved you can write great content for it, so put it back where it belongs.
5. Define your subscription model
$5/month is a good price point, so set it at that then move on. For that five bucks a subscriber should get access to the inside track – beta, prelease stuff, new monsters and officially sanctioned adventures. Yep, make the RPGA the subscription model. Pay $5 into the pot each month for access to Living Greyhawk/Planescape/Chicago/whatever. There. Done. Dragon & Dungeon are back on the newstands (or available as downloadable PDF), so that’s it’s own subcription and price plan. Simple, really.
6. Issue PDFs with your books
How hard would it be to put a unique number in each print edition? The purchaser puts that unique number into their account at wizards.com to register their purchase, and that unlocks a namestamped PDF copy of the book for their use. Each number can only be used against one account, and it’s limited to 5 downloads before having to request a reset via email confirmation. Add a dollar onto the cover price for this, and it’ll be worth every penny.
If people only want the PDF, sell ’em a unique access code for half the cover price.
Really, how hard could this be?
7. Embrace the facebook community
Gleemax failed. Move on. Get into facebook bigtime. Get a third party to create a D&D facebook app that lets people play out simple combats and advance their character. Make simple D&D facebook minigames, like those jumble-slot tile games of D&D art. Anything. Make one a month for a year, then sit back and enjoy the love.
8. Change the demographics
D&D won’t survive if you only target the age 25+ male geek gamer crowd. Get back to the roots and make the game kid friendly again. The upcoming D&D Starter Set looks promising in this respect, so get it in toy shops everywhere (Hasbro, remember?). Make D&D available to children and an appealing purchase for their parents at birthday and christmas time. What non-gamer parent would buy D&D for their kids right now? None. Make some boxed sets (with see though teaser showing a few figures), dynamic non-chainmail bikini artwork and LEGO-like packaging. Make it clear D&D is Harry Potter++++. It’s got DRAGONS!
While we’re at it, I read someplace that women read more fantasy literature than men, so study how to get into that market too. One geek girl book does not make a marketing campaign.
9. Boxed Minis
Random booster packs are fun, and I understand the economic rationale (even though I don’t agree with it – Warhammer/Citadel are doing rather well without resorting to such tactics) – but in the name of all that’s holy give us boxes of kobolds, orcs and goblins too!!! How hard would it be to put all the D&D Minis kobolds, etc into boxes of 30 figures of each race and sell ’em for $40? Instant win for the customer, instant win for the profit margin. Folks will still buy the boosters, but at least this’ll give them a healthy starter pack of the Minis they need the most.
While you’re at it – release Minis packs for each adventure. It’s a crime that there’s no Keep on Shadowfell Minis boxed set. Heck, that adventure should have come with everything needed to play, including dice and figures of all the monsters & the PCs. Then it would have made a great into to the new edition of D&D that’ll appeal to new & existing gamers alike. As it stands, a non-gamer would see this in a bookstore, find out they need dice & minis (which aren’t avaiable in the bookstore!! – at least, none near me) then put it back on the shelf. One lost sale, one lost future D&D fan & customer. Have the adventures for sale, and have boxed minis for each major adventure too, so the buyer can pick up both at the same time if they want the minis.
10. Reposition the D&D Minis game
D&D Minis is fun. It’s 4e D&D lite without the boring role-playing bits, perfect for those times you just want to play with the plastic without having to do all that tedious game-prep stuff. So make it D&D Lite. It won’t take much effort to bring D&D Minis back into the fold with it’s 4e-like combat system and simplified statblocks. Get this into more toy stores as a child-friendly non-bookstore entry into full D&D. it’s like D&D dope to the PHB’s crack. Or something.
11. OGL Fourth Edition
There’s no doubting that the 3e OGL brought the gaming industry back to life, so why stop a good thing? Ditch the GSL, release a full-on 4e SRD and watch the industry keep on growing. That can only be a win for Wizards’.
Ok. I’m done. Now it’s your turn.
If you ruled Wizards’ of the Coast, what would you do?