State of the RPG Union: Wizards of the Coast

Well, Wizards of the Coast is still plugging along, but it’s not looking good.

They have performed their traditional annual Christmas layoffs, this time tossing super-veterans Rich Baker (read his goodbye on the Wizards forums) and Steve Winter.

Rich had been with TSR/WotC more than 20 years and worked on Alternity, Spelljammer, Birthright, Forgotten Realms, Axis & Allies,and much more.

Steve had been with TSR/WotC for 30 years!!! He worked on Marvel Super Heroes, Star Frontiers (my first RPG), the 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set (my favorite setting), Pool of Radiance…

Of course long tenure and loyalty mean nothing to Hasbro, they are happy to fire people right before Christmas (it’s good for them financially since it’s their end of fiscal year) even when they’ve been there 20 or 30 years.  Stay classy, guys. Of course older employees make more money, so clear them out for young guys you can get to work for half the amount.

As everyone no doubt knows, they’ve hired Monte Cook and signs point to him and Mike Mearls working on D&D 5e, possibly for a 2013 release. Which I guess could be good since Mearls has been trying to make conciliatory noises at the “alienated by 4e” crowd. However, I see two bad signs.  One, Monte’s columns so far have been – strangely lackluster.  As in “fourth grade reading level” lackluster.  I don’t know why, he’s more talented than that, I wonder if there’s some strange restriction in place, but they really have been drivel.

But from what him and Mearls seem to be saying – instead of one well-designed game, it seems like they want to try to make everyone happy by making a “make your own D&D kit” instead of just making one D&D.  Which worked out so well for FUDGE. I think accommodating DIY and house rulers is great – but just be careful not to require it, guys. D&D has gone from a nice simple streamlined game in early D&D days to a hideous 500 page beast – cut that shit back. Someone should be able to play the game – not some dumbed down “beginner’s” version, but the real game – without a law degree. I like Pathfinder but the diarrhea of the rules there is getting me down too.

Also, they just got done suing Atari to get the rights back for D&D computer games, despite Atari being the best thing that’s happened to them since the Gold Box games.

Has anyone else noticed that when they go to wizards.com, the popdown at the top even says “Brands” now?  Not “Games.”  Not even “Products.”  Just “Brands.” How shit-tastic. That doesn’t bode well.

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5 responses to “State of the RPG Union: Wizards of the Coast

  1. Oh well, more meath for Pathfinder.

  2. Pingback: RPG News from Around the Net: 30-DEC-11 | Game Knight Reviews

  3. One more reason for Me to not buy WOTC products. Glad there is Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, Dark Dungeons and many other fine games to choose from. WOTC I gave you one last chance after the PDF debacle and sure enough you blew it.

  4. I have to say I agree with much of what you are saying but the layoffs are just a corporate thing. I have plenty of reasons to dislike WOTC. I have plenty of reasons to dislike corporate culture. The layoffs are why I hate corporate culture. Poor creative decisions like 4e realms is why I dislike WOTC.

    Atari losing the license is a blessing. They have not done anything good with that game in years. Never Winter Nights was a great game, but I felt the quality in story of Never Winter Nights 2 was drab. Then that last Daggerdale debaucle was released.

    I have no love for WOTC, but corporate culture will be corporate culture. Now if Richard Baker of Steve Winter get picked up by Paizo, that would be nice to see.

  5. WotC lost me with their D20 Star Wars… After the treatment WEG gave SWRPG in D6… WotC screwed up big time… But thats another subject.

    They did do something right though, the OGL… One would hope that they can see the value of OGL through all the support 3.5 received, and continues to get, along with the OSR going on using that system stripped down to bare bones and simplified in the manner of the original system. I certainly hope they are capable of removing cranium from rectum in time to survive. In this economy, gamers are much more likely to download a .pdf than go plunk down $40 for a rule book that is only the first volume for players; or spend $30 for a boxed set that only gets them started. Complicated rules libraries are better for computers to utilize, not for those of us gathered around our dining room table.

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