Hm, that’s sad news - the prepainted plastic D&D minis were a great idea and were the only thing I still buy from WotC. My gaming group has a whole trunk full of them, and we don’t play the actual minis game or 4e, we use them for battlemaps for a lot of games. I still have old pewter minis from like 15 years ago I’ve never gotten around to painting, and I don’t want to have to.
It’s also strange news – so what will they be doing instead? In the same article, they proudly announce their latest dungeon tiles product, which it would seem you’d need minis for. You could do counters, and it sounds like they are putting some out, but there’s no profit in that. Issuing counters is a “we know you have to have something so here it is the cheapest way we could make them, mostly for free” kind of play.
Do they think they’re going to get their virtual table working and declare “all gaming is virtual now, death to the tabletop?” No – not just because they’ll never get the virtual tabletop working, but because they’re still selling cards and whatnot too, and pushing Encounters, which all are tied to tabletop.
Are they going to partner with someone else to do them? If so, this is a ham-handed way of announcing it; also, WotC’s model has been “pull it all in house” since the development of 4e, moving it back out would be an unprecedented shift in strategy.
Are they getting more expensive to produce as fewer 10 year olds are willing to be exposed to toxic fumes even in China or wherever? Seems like they’d just up the price or put fewer in a box if that were the case.
Are they planning to change the sales model (sell non-randomized or singles)? Again, this is a very bad way of announcing that – you don’t say “product terminated” if you’re just changing the model.
Are they just not selling well, so they don’t really give a shit how it fits into the product strategy or game experience? Maybe. They seem to be understaffed and floundering. I suspect this is the only reason that makes sense – the margin is down and so they’re canceling them, and they don’t have the time or people or energy to bother about product strategy.Sure, they’re adding the cards, but that can be done with excess staff etc. from WotC’s card game lines.
Even with the rumors going around that what we’re seeing is rampup to a 5e – and it makes sense, the cycle’s been like 3e – put out 3e, fairly quickly put out 3.5e, fire most of your staff, trickle out products and begin on a new edition. They put out 4e, put out Essentials (4.5e) fairly quickly and fired most of their staff… But even if that were true, why would discontinuing minis fit into that plan?
[Edit: I have seen Reaper's prepainted plastic minis line but they don't have many of them. And apparently to be more 'retail friendly' they just changed their name to "Hobby-Q".]