DDI Poops On Your Head Again

Heh, I guess they were worried that the chronic history of failure surrounding the D&D Digital Initiative was starting to fade.  So guess what!  The one usable piece of the DDI, the Character Builder, is being converted over into a Web app so that you can’t use it without still having a subscription.

The old one was a desktop app, so if you stopped paying WotC you could still use it and your old characters, just not get new rules updates and whatnot.  Well, that’s not a hardcore enough revenue stream.  So the new one is in Silverlight, is only delivered as a Web app, and will only save your characters to the cloud – NOT to your PC. And of course they plan to “mine your data continuously.”

That’s some bullshit right there.  And funnily enough it’s quite relevant to my real world life – this week, my company’s rolling out a Silverlight application people use to write code in.  But since we don’t hate our customers, we allow it to be installed out of browser, and also allow code to be saved to the cloud or to the user’s desktop.  It’s trivial to do – the only reason NOT to do it is if you want the people using your app to be completely dependent on you, and not be able to use it unless they keep paying you money.  Which is obviously the case.  Oh, and to prevent people from sharing it; I’m sure the plan is to force more people to buy subscriptions.

Fans are sad.  But they keep playing 4e!  Joke’s on you! You’re the enabler in this abusive relationship.  From the GSL to pulling all PDFs to the DDI, WotC has shown its clear disregard for its customers as anything other than a source of money to squeeze.  One might think that would backfire at some point.  But some people like being dependent I guess…

 

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12 responses to “DDI Poops On Your Head Again

  1. This is tangential, but I kind of wish you had post tags that were topic-based. That is, tags that denoted all the posts about how WotC is screwing their fans, or Jim Shipman’s kleptomania, etc. It’d be a great way to follow the progression of developing sagas like those.

    • Ooo, that’s a good idea. What should they be? “4e-hate” and “outlaw-jim”? Or “wotc-shenanigans”, “outlaw-shenanigans”, “catalyst-shenanigans?” I just like saying “shenanigans.”

  2. Let’s see, a solution that prevents people from cheating WotC by exploiting the subscribe-once-every-year-for-all-the-updates loophole, allows Mac users to make full use of their subscription without resorting to emulation, allows characters to be shared across computers for those who work on a desktop and use a laptop at the table (like me), reworks the architecture for easier updating, and removes the 5-per-month limit on accounts, effectively introducing an entirely NEW loophole that allows less-than-scrupulous users to share their accounts among their entire group no matter how large. Yep, terrible. How dare WotC.

    So let me get this straight.

    You think WotC is screwing its customers by making them pay for their subscription service if they want to use it? I shouldn’t have to explain the definition of subscription service.

    You think WotC is screwing its customers by preventing you from saving your characters to your PC? What would be the point? They’re storing them for you. You have access to them from ALL computers. And if that’s not good enough for you, you can always print your character to a PDF file, just like you could with the old Character Builder.

    You think WotC is screwing its customers by examining their collective use of their subscription service? The data mining is anonymous. This is not a privacy concern. You’re talking about a gaming company checking whether its customers are using Bards or Druids more often, not corporate giant Hasbro installing a video camera over your gaming table.

    Come on, mxyzplk. The half-truths and feigned paranoia aren’t attractive.

    The one legitimate complaint I’ve seen about the switch is that as it stands it looks like the change MIGHT prevent certain third-party tools from functioning at launch. That’s not even one of your beefs, though.

    This is what a ton of people have been asking for ever since DDI was announced. If there’s one lesson in marketing worth learning, it’s that there’s no such thing as a worthwhile decision that won’t make someone unhappy. You just happen to find yourself in that camp no matter what decision is made.

    • Ah, the guy who can always be counted on to be an apologist for every single thing WotC does. If it turned out they were using underage foreign labor to make their books you’d say it’s “getting young people into the hobby” and “maximizing shareholder value.” I think maybe there’s a reason every single post about this new DDI scheme up on the RPG blogger network right now shares the same concerns… But I’m sure you’re all over them for their temerity in questioning your corporate overlords too.

    • “Let’s see, a solution that prevents people from cheating WotC by exploiting the subscribe-once-every-year-for-all-the-updates loophole,”
      Cheating? Who is cheating who? The customers that pay every month for a goofy program that any other company would charge once in a lifetime? Or maybe WOTC?

      “allows Mac users to make full use of their subscription without resorting to emulation,”
      And instead of making the previous version compatible, they changed the structure altogether so they could milk the mac users also…

      “You think WotC is screwing its customers by making them pay for their subscription service if they want to use it? I shouldn’t have to explain the definition of subscription service.”
      You do understand that the current DDI version is equivalent to a non-MP PC game, non-internet based that requires monthly subscription to be playable just for the “right” (yes their obligation to update just became your right provided you pay of course, well done). I am just curious as to why there hasn’t been any pc game with the above requirements if it so natural….
      Man,you 4e defenders must be completely brainwashed.

      “You think WotC is screwing its customers by preventing you from saving your characters to your PC? What would be the point?”
      You are cunningly hiding the fact that DDI only allows 20 chars online. Saving one or two on your pc would allow you to keep some chars online and some on your pc and bypass the 20 char limit, but WOTC must milk your money somehow so they wont let you!

      “You think WotC is screwing its customers by examining their collective use of their subscription service? The data mining is anonymous.”
      Yes it is anonymous but it still belongs to the user and must be paid for, to the user before it is used anywhere. If i am giving any information regarding my activities even if anonymous i want to be paid for. Information, even anonymous one, is priceless such feedback costs money to get and WOTC has found a clever way to acquire it from stupid customers for free!

  3. I will finally be able to justify a subscription to DDI now that CB will be compatible with my computing platform of choice.

    • That’s good, but you realize that they could also make it work out of browser and save locally on Mac too right? I’m glad it adds something for you, but my point is they’re deliberately crippling it to lock you in.

  4. On one hand I prefer non-online all the time tools so that those (theoretical) times I have a computer without internet access I could futz around with the tools but… meh. I don’t really have a problem with them ensuring that you have to have an active sub to get access to their tools. While I don’t think 4e is perfect, or the end all be all of games, I don’t actively despise WotC so I’m actually curious to see how this turns out.

  5. Really? The whole “I should get everything for free because I played D&D in 1981″ thing is getting quite old. I would certainly support any effort to have a seperate and cheaper price for people who just use the Char. Builder, but I’m sure people would bitch and try to cheat that also. The fact is that it’s a small price to pay for what you get. Char. Builder, Monster Builder, Compendium, and Dungeon and Dragon magazines.

  6. The fact is that it’s a small price to pay for what you get. Char. Builder, Monster Builder, Compendium, and Dungeon and Dragon magazines.

    … Online tabletop… oh wait!

  7. There is very little value in DDI actually.
    1) Dragon magazine is complete garbage. Period. It’s not even a magazine any more but rather a few articles providing yet more unneeded and poorly playtested (and sometimes written) powers, feats, and backgrounds, along with a lot of advertising for upcoming releases that come in the form of “sneak previews.”

    2) Dungeon magazine is similarly bad. The quality of the adventures is often very poor. There’s no vision at all. The one adventure path they’ve provided in 2+ years was complete garbage.

    3) The CB and compendium are routinely not updated. Don’t hold your breath about the new online version being any better.

    4) The MB is still in beta more than a year after its release. Their last update broke some features and instead of fixing them, they spent months building a new online version of the CB. They have not updated the data files in the MB since July.

    5) Customer service sucks – they seldom provide useful information on the state of DDI and when they do it’s often vague or filled with blatant lies (e.g., Paulo explicitly stated that the new webtool was supposed to “complement and extend” the existing tools, not replace the character builder; the assassin was supposed to be a DDI exclusive, not it’s just that build that’s an exclusive; there was supposed to be an update to all the tools on Nov. 2nd, the regular monthly update…instead all DDI subscribers got was a notice that they better be prepared to renew indefinitely if they wanted to use the CB in the future)

    In short,

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