Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wizards Flips the Bird at D&D Fans

So, Wizards of the Coast has really "given it" to their fans in recent weeks... and I don't mean "given it" in the good way.

Gen Can't

Remember when Wizards use to do cool shit at Gen Con?
Me neither.
First, WotC doesn't show up to Gen Con in any official capacity. Sure, there were some WotC people present at the con itself, but not specifically as a part of their job duties. There were no WotC events or any real effort at community outreach. 

I get it. I understand that WotC does not sell direct to consumers, but even a 10' x 10' booth that is there for people to "press the flesh" so to speak would have been something. It might help to meet and talk to fans once in a while, because Lord Ao knows they don't listen to them very well.

Not only that, but they've officially announced that they are no longer attending Gen Con ever again in any official capacity. PAX is now the convention of choice for any product announcements or media news, so eat it Gen Con!

So... Apparently, the world's largest RPG convention is no longer good enough because D&D is no longer just a table top brand. Well, #@&% you too, Wizards.

So, yeah, I get it. PAX is in their backyard (so they don't have to pay for employee hotels and such) and it covers a wider array of media, but it's still a shitty move to not even bother attending the major RPG convention of the year with any official presence. It's a big ole bird to convention fans who contribute a significant portion to their revenue stream, I might add.

Edit for clarity: While this particular turn of events is specific to Gen Con, the larger picture and point of this rant is not really about Gen Con. It's about Wizards of the Coast having an attitude that the table top player is becoming less and less importing in their "brand promotion" train. Wizards of the Coast should be expanding its convention presence to other large regional gaming cons (like Origins, for instance) instead of pulling out of Gen Con because they'd rather promote movies, video games or other efforts they believe will generate more revenue than the table top game (the jury is still way out on the movie front).

[ Update: This post was written before WotC announced its presence at Origins 2016, Winter Fantasy, Gary Con, etc... Kudos to WotC for listening to the fans and supporting other regional conventions. ]

D&D Adventurers League at Gen Con 2015

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forums

This past week WotC also announced it is closing down its forums. In the announcement, they state, "we feel that we must adjust our communications structure to reflect where conversations about Wizards of the Coast games are taking place."

So the subtext actually reads, "Because we suck at digital initiatives, we kept breaking the URLs and #@$%ing up the forum threads every time we switched the website design, so now the forum community is nearly dead. Also. our fan community outreach is so shitty, we're have not been able to fix our past mistakes and attract our users back, so #@$% it... We ain't paying for no servers no more."

This is clearly a cost cutting move, but it's a bullshit one. For the amount of traffic they have to manage, these forums could have been put on a relatively small virtualized environment in the cloud. By leaving the server management up to the cloud vendor, you can cut down on IT staff and still maintain an official forum presence on the Internet for a relatively small cost.

But Wizards has shown they can't manage their way out of a paper bag when it comes to online strategy and the forums are a casualty of their digital dump stat.

At the very least, they should have maintained an official Rules Q&A forum somewhere. Having Mike Mearls answer random shit on Twitter doesn't do anyone any good. I challenge anyone here to find recent tweets of his that have rules Q&A. I'll even give you a lead. He did one on Thunderwave some months back. If you can find that tweet, I'll email you a lolly pop.

The point is, you need an easily searchable place where any player or DM can visit to quickly find official rules Q&A content. An official forum is really the best place for this kind of content. Sure, one can ask a question on EnWorld or other random places on Facebook or Google+, but you're guaranteed to get 3 or 4 or 5 interpretations by random people (like yours truly) none of which may actually be correct. A revamped Sage Advice forum is the great way to fix your audience issues. You could even use a Stack Exchange "best answer" system where the most correct or most complete explanation gets top position in the thread responses.

They should be using their own forums as a way to rally the troops to evangelize the game even further than we already do. Instead, we get the middle finger.

Final Thoughts

This all just goes to show that for the D&D brand, table top truly is the red-headed bastard step child. While Hasbro/WotC sees huge dollar signs in movies and video games, they're giving less and less of a shit about the girl who brung them to the dance in the first place.

For months I've been defending their actions in this regard because I didn't think that was the case, but #@$% it, I'm done. 

Hell, even Paizo has a D&D forum. Seriously, Wizards? Should we all go over to Paizo's site to discuss D&D 5th Edition?


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