Friday, December 17, 2010

WOTC and the pulling of Crystal Keep

OK here is an interesting story first from ENWorld and reposted here for your convenience/

Not that long ago there was a site called Crystal Keep that posted a bunch of text files that contained crude reference charts for almost everything from 3.0 and 3.5 including ,uch closed content.

Politely and respectfully, WOTC sent a C&CD order to Crystal Keep something they had every right to do BTW and away went the files.

This would seem like no big deal except that those files have been up there for more than a decade and its been quite some time, what 2 or 3 years since 3.5 was out of print.

It struck some as petty and many (myself included) as essentially pointless.

This comes after a couple of other off PDF decisions including pulling all legal PDF's, suinga couple of infringers who posted on SCRIBD and pulling its old 3.5 archives.

Folks over on ENWorld have been asking why and especially why now... To save y'all a trip I'll answer here

AFAICT There are two reasons behind the PDF related decisions.

#1 is protecting IP

#2 is "edition channeling" Hasbro/WOTC was counting on an upgrade cycle to drive sales, most of the 3.5 players would move on to 4.0 and thus they'd recapture the old play base and gain some new younger players.

However a mixture of the OGL, global economic woes (the young were particularly hit) PDF warez , a different market (video games hurt TTRPG's) and the jarring edition transition (4.0 is not like older editions all that much) have all hurt sales.

There were at least some stories out there suggesting that Pathfinder was selling as well as 4.0 at a times . That that is a big big deal in an industry where its expected you were the #1 at all times.

So Hasbro/WOTC being a big organization and less than nimble they controlled what they could control.

They cut off the legal PDFs (for old and new editions) , went after that guys that posted on SCRIBD, went after Crystal Keep , and took out the old archives (which is also a cost savings measure)

The problem is that none this matters or will help.

The warez world has pretty much everything ever in PDF with a few exceptions of obscure direct to PDF releases and very obscure and expensive RPG's.

For those who don't choose to be involved in that, there are plentiful retro-clones for every edition save 2.0 (its being worked on though) and cheap books a plenty. Its even possible to find players ...

As for driving 3.5 to upgrade to 4.0 , well no. The natural 3.5 upgrade is Pathfinder +OGL not 4.0 which is a large change, not an upgrade

What we see is a company relied on a business strategy (edition upgrade) that was obsolete with the OGL and as soon as it became fairly easy to scan and download books and as such got caught behind the adaption curve.

Now this doesn't mean WOTC won't make money hand over fist or that D&D won't stay number one. Its just means Hasbro/WOTC will have to try harder and I think thats just fine.

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