24 May 2012

All the King's Horses and All the King's Men

I remain convinced that instead of cobbling together a golem of incompatible materials (D&D Next) in a hopeless attempt to appeal to gamers with opposing views of even the most basic concepts of role-playing, Wizards of the Coast should keep all editions of Dungeons & Dragons in print (or in PDF and print-on-demand), and, if they still believe there is a need for another edition, simply design the thing with the goal of making the best game possible for its own sake. Instead of worrying about getting everyone to play the same iteration, however, why not support all iterations? There will always be gamers who will flock to the newest edition for whatever reason, but there will also always be gamers who will never give up the edition with which they started. Creating significantly different editions of a game guarantees a fragmented hobby. The more editions that are created, the more fragmented it becomes. The solution is not another edition. The solution is to provide support for the existing fragments (i.e. keeping each edition available). The fragments do their own recruiting. If they are supported, then they also bring in new customers. Leaving behind a customer base that was satisfied is simply a bad business strategy.

If different editions merely represented newly incorporated errata, improved organization, and/or better physical components (sturdier boxes, better binding, nicer dice, etc.), there would be no such thing as edition wars, of course. We would all still be playing the same game. We are not all playing the same game, though, and D&D Next, despite the hype, will not change that. Its novelty will probably alter the balance, but it will never put Humpty together again.

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