Well the magazines are going away again. The final issues of both (in this incarnation, anyway) have now been published. Considering they announced the coming of Next in January 2012 I am a little surprised they lasted this long - Dec 2012 was my original guess for the end of online 4th Edition support. Instead they kept things going through the end of 2013, though with a fair amount of Next discussion creeping in. Considering we haven't had a new book for 4th in about 18 months that's surprisingly decent. I like the flexibility that started showing up this year too - a quote from the introduction to the final Dungeon is below:
Our theme this month is “past, present, andfuture,” so we’ve elected to publish three adventuresthat span multiple editions. “Lowdown in Highport”is a 1st Edition AD&D adventure tied to the classicSlave Lords series (it can be run as a prelude tomodule A1, Slave Pits of the Undercity), and it comeswith 4E conversion stats for the monsters. “Vainglorious”is a 4E adventure featuring the most iconic of allmonsters—a dragon—as its main villain. And finally,we have “The Battle of Emridy Meadows,” a 5th Editionadventure that harkens back to events rooted inthe World of Greyhawk campaign setting.That's a nice way to wrap things up: 1st, 4th, and Next. The Slavers series got a lot of attention in 2013 so it makes some sense.
Weirdly, this doesn't really bother me. Maybe it's because we've had time to digest the end of 4th and the beginning of Next. I was a lot more unhappy about end of the physical magazines at the end of 3.5 since Dungeon especially was really on a roll with the Paizo team. I was all over it back then. With 4th I've dipped in and out of it but I was running my own stuff, not an adventure path, so there was less urgency around it and frankly a PDF doesn't demand my attention in the same way a magazine does. That's probably just a thing with me, but they are not perfect replacements for one another. The magazines always felt like I needed to read them as they came in, a PDF is more of a when-I-get-around-to-it thing.
I admit I have not been reading much of them this year. I had the campaign planned out and didn't really have any loose ends to fill in but it is nice to have resources available. Again, less urgency, less immediate applicability, and there's not an object sitting on a table or shelf. With the end of 4E support this is likely to be the last month I pay for DDI. I was a latecomer to it but it was useful enough as someone running an active 4E campaign. The campaign has been intermittent at best through the fall and winter and I've written up what I need to finish out Heroic Tier in a few more sessions so I think the online resource can go away for now.
As for Next, well, the online resources I use for Pathfinder are free. I don't really need combat managers or character generators for the older editions of D&D. I don't know how much Next I'm going to play or run but after this experiment with a monthly charge for 4E support it's going to have to be pretty strong to draw me back in to that - I'm not a fan of the pay-wall for an offline game. They've been paying a lot of retro-respect lately. Maybe WOTC will surprise us and go back to a paper magazine - that would interest me.