PDF: Please Download for Free
Continuing the D&D and ebook themes, Wizards of the Coast—who own and publish D&D—recently put a stop to digital sales of their games. That is to say, within a day, they told all resellers of WotC PDF’s to discontinue sales and to halt (for now at least) redownloads of already purchased productsBecause outside of Infinite Loop 1, redownloading purchased products is generally considered a ‘good thing^tm^’. Though WotC products are responsible for 20% of sales in eRPG’s, WotC cite rampant piracy as the reason for their move.
Of course WotC products are pirated. They’ve always been pirated. It used to be photocopied 2nd ed. books back when I was a youngster, and now it’s as easy as googling ‘download players handbook’, and you’re set.
And that’s what these dinosaur companies still don’t understand. It’s already free! It’s out there, there is nothing you can do. Not a thing. I can probably find and download every single published 4e product in less than five minutes for free!
Anyone who was giving WotC money for digital products, was doing so despite the fact that the products were already available for free!
Some people believe WotC did this to pave the way for their own online store, though I have a hard time figuring out why they would cut off a revenue stream before their own store was operational. Sure, they could be wanting to a drought before they bring the rain; but again, it’s already out there for free, so…
There’s also the ‘force people into playing 4e’ idea, which falls prey to the same logic. If people are buying WotC products, it doesn’t matter which edition, as long as the money goes into WotC pockets.
I only play RPG’s ever so often, and I’m not much of a D&D person anyway, so this doesn’t hit that close to home, but at least this has given other more forward thinking companies a chance to flip the dinosaur the bird, which is always fun, and I hope this whole debacle will drive more people into the arms of more progressive companies.
There is no way WotC will stay out of eRPG’s. It’s the future, whether they want it or not. What their plan is, is anyone’s guess, but their current strategy isn’t earning them any friends in the RPG community. If I were to guesstimate, I’d say that they’re probably looking into some sort of DRM-based solution. Because that’s where dinosaurs go to die.