Aren’t third party D&D publishers doing fine? No, we mean third party publishers for 4e. So you can see the problem.
Chris Dias wrote this Open Letter to WotC: Save 3rd Party Dungeons and Dragons Publishers, asking WotC to do something, anything, to help out their third party business partners, please.
Of course, this reasonable request brought out the psychos of the Unpaid WotC Defense Brigade, who rebut Dias by telling him that he and his whole grey market sub-industry should consider themselves lucky to be suckling at Wizard’s teats. Bonus, one 3pp’s “lawyer” chimes in to give his opinion on how draconic business practices are the only way to go.
Surprisingly, I’m on WotC’s side on this one. Well, at least kinda. Let me explain.
Q: What do you tell a third party D&D 4e publisher with two black eyes?
A: Nothing, they obviously don’t listen.
Look, man. Wizards has been making it clear for three years now that they would like every other company to die in a fire. They pulled all their licenses from third parties. Then they abandoned the OGL, dragged their feet on putting out any kind of license, and then when they put out the GSL it had a “poison pill” clause saying you couldn’t use the new license if you were doing anything OGL. (They retracted that eventually in the face of a firestorm of criticism.) They don’t let 3pps into the DDI, they don’t promote them at all, they clearly see them as leeches upon their largess that they’re not even clear themselves why they tolerate.
So by continuing to try to publish for them, you’re really just getting into battered spouse syndrome. “Hey maybe if you just beat me a little less I can really please you!” Why are these people still trying to do it? “I know WotC still really loves us, even though they treat us so bad!”
Sorry, baby, they don’t love you. And they’re not gonna stop whupping on you. It’s time to go find yourself a new man/woman. Try Paizo and Pathfinder, they cheerfully promote their third party partners and those guys are creating large amounts of great content and selling it. Open Design, Rite Publishing, LPJ Designs, Adamant Entertainment, and many more. Heck, I have personally bought Pathfinder stuff from those guys plus Green Ronin, Sagawork, and probably some others I’m forgetting. On RPGNow there’s 4x the number of third party products for Pathfinder than for 4e.
Morrus from ENWorld seems to be the only one happy about publishing for 4e, he says “it’s great being a big fish in a small pond.” I would hope you could sell SOME copies when you slather ads for your product over every single ENWorld page all the time. And I’m glad you’re happy with “a big slice of a small pie instead of a small slice of a big pie” – but that’s not really what real companies usually try for, and it certainly doesn’t breed innovation or excellence. Try using software written for a niche industry sometime; you’ll discover where all those Nazi scientists fled to and what they’re doing with their time – Gmail it’s generally not.
You’re left with two choices – embrace the indifference, mediocrity, and occasional ass-beatings, or break up with that abuser and find a new sugar daddy, one that’ll treat you right. Come on, baby. We’ll give you what you need.