Monday, January 9, 2012

Two men enter, one man leaves.

In one corner we have Wizards of the Coast warming up their new contender for heavy-weight champion of the table-top fantasy role-playing game market. In the other corner we have Paizo, continuing to train their champion Pathfinder, who dethroned the D&D brand when 4th edition alienated too many of its fans.

Only one will leave the ring.

One of the issues that I think has either been obfuscated or just plain ignored is that more than anything else 5th edition is a response to Pathfinder. Whatever else WotC may say about including older editions in the new edition's design, they won't be a priority. They can't be. The ideological gap between old-school D&D and 3.5/4th is just too vast. There is no way to bridge that chasm. No, this is a heavy weight match for the big title. At the end of the day it won't impact old-school gaming in the slightest unless part of their strategy is to reprint older editions. Nothing short of that would bring fans of all editions back.

8 comments:

Aaron E. Steele said...

So what is Pathfinder doing right?

Tim Guthat said...

Thanks for the post. I'd actually missed the announcement. If they're smart, they'll go back to the Rules Cyclopedia and use its skill system. It'll give the game a universal rule mechanic (modern), have an old school feel, and be different from Pathfinder.

@Aaron. Not 100% sure, but a lot of people really like 3.0/3.5, and didn't like the switch to 4.0. Pathfinder basically offers new 3.0/3.5 products to those players. Also, I think it's cheaper to start playing Pathfinder than 4.0 (Not sure, could be wrong).

Dan of Earth said...

@Aaron: IMHO Paizo is doing a whole bunch of things right. Initially I think they were tapped into the D&D fan base because of their previous publishing of Dragon Magazine and their many well received 3rd party products. They had "street cred" and their own recognized brand. So they were positioned in a way that some other random publisher would not have been to make a 3.5 clone work. By work I mean attract a big audience. There are a whole bunch of factors there, but then they aggressively cultivated that fan base with not just product support but establishing so much convention and store support. I think 5e will 1) need to be attractive as a system to Pathfinder and 4e players, and 2) loyalty for the D&D brand will need to overcome loyalty for the Pathfinder brand. In some ways that's the big test here. Has D&D as a brand lost enough loyalty to keep the fan base splintered at the level it currently is.

p1r8z0r said...

A ton of other bloggers are calling for the re-release of the old PDFs. I wonder if WizBros will listen?

Delta said...

I agree with the main blog post. Nicely and succinctly put.

Sniderman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sniderman said...

"At the end of the day it won't impact old-school gaming in the slightest unless part of their strategy is to reprint older editions. Nothing short of that would bring fans of all editions back."

You must be psychic!

http://trollitc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/2012_04_17_dd_1stED_Solicitation_en_US.pdf

Dan of Earth said...

haha I know! I'm surprised, but not 100% surprised. Since this is a limited print run it's hard to say what will happen in the future.