-Daemon over at Thief on the Flats asked the question "D&D Next-Saving the Industry or Killing it?". I think there are actually three possible outcomes for 5E and 'Killing It' will not be the outcome that will happen. The three possible outcomes are...
Saving the Industry. By this I mean that new players will flock to the game, pick it up in droves and RPGs receive a sustained boom of sales similar to the early days of D&D and when 3E launched.
Nothing Happens. The industry continues on as now; it remains a niche market with the occasional spark of interest in an rpg that comes out strong. Some will continue to make money at it, while others do it simply for the love of it.
Killing It. The player base continues to fracture and less people play rpgs.
I can see outcome one or two happening, but outcome three can not happen...
Saving the Industry. This might happen. 5E could become the entry point for the rpg industry. People might be curious about "that game everyone is playing" and give it a try. The more people that play one system the more word is spread and non-gamers would get a more concentrated message being sent to them, which would lead to more new gamers playing. And from there people would branch out into other game system and genres.
Nothing Happens. Herein 5E is released and is greeted much the same as any other new rpg system. I think it will do much better than the "average" release but as for its effect upon the overall industry it will have minimal effect. It really comes down to if the industry buys into it. If the industry supports the system much the same as when 3E came out (which is highly dependent on how much WotC allows 3rd party publishers to participate in 5E) then 5E will indeed invigorate the industry. However, this is an unknown at this point and dependent on more unknown factors.
Killing it. 5E can not kill the RPG industry. If there is no industry buy-in, no one supports the system, rpgs will, at the least, continue as they already do. 4E didn't kill the industry, it just spread out where the money is going. People do not stop playing rpgs because they do not like a particular D&D edition. Instead they move onto another game or stay with their own preferred edition.
So for me the real question is ""D&D Next-Saving the Industry or Having No Effect?"