Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Brief Note on WOTC Republishing the 1E Hardbacks

'Shrug' - OK

Alright, maybe that's too brief.

4E players probably don't care, annoyed 3E players probably won't be mollified by books for another game, and die-hard old-schoolers won't give them the time of ... what? Wow, I didn't think they were that easily appeased.

From a business perspective I can see wisdom in catering to pent-up demand. There's a seemingly healthy old-school movement that thinks AD&D was the apex of design (exeept for the parts they keep tinkering with)? Why not put some of those old products back into print? It makes your customers happy and makes them your customers again! I think they're stopping short -why not put some of every edition back into print? Look at the prices for 3.5 Player's Handbooks on eBay! Look at the sales for Pathfinder! Why not grab a piece of that action? Put the core books for each edition back into print, some of the bigger-deal adventures (or a bundle of the old adventures in a hard or soft cover book) and make some money! Do it year by year - make 2012 the 1E revival, 2013 the 2E revival, and 2014 the 3E revival. Make it an annual celebration of each edition leading up to the 40th anniversary of D&D! Quarterly at least! Try to make everybody who has ever played the game hear about it and think about it one more time - it might turn into some money. Plus it looks to me like the opening salvo of a barrage of olive branches to soften things up for D&D Next. That's a good move.

As someone who is more D&D focused than edition-focused and who has run multiple sessions of at least 3 different versions of D&D in the past few years I'm less impressed. My 1E books are in great shape - those things last - and the extra copies of the PHB that I picked up last year were all in pretty good shape and let me tell you, I didn't spend over $12 on any of them. So even now, AD&D rulebooks are both plentiful and cheap - why would I go buy a new printing?

Gamers are notoriously cheap. Beyond eBay and used bookstores there are PDF's of everything floating around for free plus there is OSRIC so I don't even really need any of those other options if I just want rules. Assuming I am someone actually trying to play the game there are all of these other options from free to cheap that get me what I need, so why would I buy a new printing?

If I'm a dedicated old school gamer who's been unhappy with TSR/WOTC/Hasbro since Gary left then I'm probably not going to trust anything "they" do to try and convince me to play anything less than 23 years old - or 30 if I'm Truly Oldschool. I'm just going to gripe about it online for now and see what happens.

The only reason I myself might buy it is because it's helping a good cause in the most obvious and appropriate way and I'm impressed that WOTC got on board with it in this particular way. I think it's amazing and it's the only thing that's going to convince me to spend money on a reprint of a book when I already have at least 5 copies floating around the house. So somewhat to my surprise I have a thumbs up for this - a big thumbs up. Nice job WOTC.

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