February 6, 2015

5E Friday - Lack of Product

So the "big" news from WotC last week was them letting go 2 long-time employees (editors) by eliminating their positions. A couple of weeks before this was the news that they were "cancelling" an upcoming book (Adventurer's Handbook) when they stated the book was never in the final release schedule. According to WotC, they are going light on book releases for the rpg (about 6 a year).

I have to ask why.

The obvious comparison is Paizo and Pathfinder, which sees a sustainable and high release schedule. They release several books every month to enough sales to easily sustain that many products. It is my belief that WotC is attempting an Adventure Path style of releases, sort of similar to how Paizo does it. They have 2 "events" a year that provide 2 adventures each. These adventure books are to provide the adventures along with supplemental information on setting and character abilities...sort of the same way Paizo releases setting material in the same book as the adventures.

The difference is that Paizo does their adventure paths over 6 books (with a multiple of additional material books - more setting, adventure character primers, monster tokens, maps, etc).

Princes of the Apocalypse, the first of the two adventure books from Wotc, is going for roughly $34 on Amazon. Fires of Creation, the first of the latest complete Adventure Path from Paizo is going for $16 on Amazon. In all, WotC stands to make $68 from their customers for their Adventure Path....Paizo will make $96 from their Adventure Path (plus a bunch more from all the supplemental material). It is my belief that Paizo is running a better product release system than WotC.

Right now, 5E is new...and it is looking like the company that makes it, WotC, is not planning on supporting the product. Right now, people want to spend money on 5E, but it seems like WotC doesn't want their money. I understand their fear of over saturating the market with 5E; they want to avoid the glut previous editions have had (and frankly, what I believe Paizo is facing right now - which they are attempting to mitigate with their Core Campaign). However, I feel they may be over-reacting to this fear and it will hurt them and 5E in the long run.

The thing is, and Paizo learned this long ago, adventures are not glut but still a viable product. Sure, adventures have an even greater reduced market niche, the DMs and not the players, but Paizo (with a larger employee base) is able to keep it profitable. Adventures keep their product in the marketplace and in the eye of the customer; it feels as if Paizo is certainly supporting their core product. Glut is really nothing but rules expansions, but there are other ways to release new product other than new rules. This is something WotC needs to learn.
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