The RPG community has a lot of choices these days. OSR, Pathfinder, WOTC, you name it there are choices. But, there is an 800 pound guerrilla in the field called Dungeons & Dragons which is currently owned and produced by Wizards of the Coast which is part of Hasbro.
To say that Wizards has caused some…stress in the industry lately is to put it mildly. They have done things that have made people angry, and not just a little angry, we are talking pissed more than you normally see people upset. Especially Gen X who is normally quiet on most fronts. It wasn’t just Gen X pissed off, but when you get them in the mix, you know you done gone and messed up. Especially when that group gets vocal…which we did.
Now, can another RPG company come in and take out that 800lb guerrilla. Maybe, I dunno, but we are going to look at it, and think about it together in the coming weeks.
First, let’s look at the version of the basic set I have. Yes, I know there was one before this, but this is the earliest one I personally have a copy of.
The book, for when it was published was pretty solid. Color exterior, some interior black and whites. And wouldn’t cost a ton to put together and retail at a price people would take a risk on for something new, and I don’t just mean the hard core hobbyists, I mean every parent with a kid would take a shot (that’s the real market that a company would want if they want to grow).
Would a book of these standards be possible to put together today? Sure, and wouldn’t be too expensive to buy.
Would it have a market?
I think in today’s market there is a desire for a much higher quality book, but that means, more art time, more art expense, higher printing costs, and therefore a much higher retail price. And if you are a smaller company, printing and taking a risk on thousands of these, and getting it wrong, is a killer. Sure, you can do a crowd funding thing, but that is for small runs, and people seriously in the sweet spot demographic.
Can a company that forms that way take on the 800lb guerrilla we discussed?
No clue, maybe they can, but if you really want to go after the big guys, you have to think big. You have to put together a high quality product at a price that huge numbers of people are willing to pay, and you have to do it in a way that attracts new people into the hobby.
I think there are some great small companies out there in the space trying to grow, and I hope they do. Can someone (one of them or some new company as yet unknown) really come along and take down Wizards of the Coast?
I certainly hope so, because I think Wizards is messing the entire thing up. I love DnD and always will, but I think Wizards is going to stifle creativity in the long term, and there is room for one or more companies to come along and knock them out of the leader spot in the field.