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No More D&D PDFs, Wizards of the Coast Sues 8 File Sharers 501

Posted by Soulskill
from the perfectly-rational-reactions dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On April 6th, Wizards of the Coast took all of their PDF products offline, including those sold at third-party websites like RPGNow.com. From the RPGNow front page: 'Wizards of the Coast has instructed us to suspend all sales and downloads of Wizards of the Coast titles. Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles.' Wizards of the Coast also posted a press release to their website that states they are suing eight file sharers for 'copyright infringement,' and WotC_Trevor posted a short explanation about the cessation of PDF sales to the EN World Forums."
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No More D&D PDFs, Wizards of the Coast Sues 8 File Sharers

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  • [Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:25AM (#27503145) Homepage Journal

    Unfortunately, due to recent findings of illegal copying and online distribution (piracy) of our products, Wizards of the Coast has decided to cease the sales of online PDFs.

    Step 1: Point gun at foot and pull trigger.

    Wizards of the Coast has instructed us to suspend all sales and downloads of Wizards of the Coast titles. Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles.'

    Step 2: Open yourself up to lawsuits for breach of contract.

    (GMSkarka) Typical short-sighted reaction from WOTC, which makes zero sense at all, when you consider the fact that the most widely-spread pirated copies of the 4e products contain printers marks -- which means that their piracy problem pre-dated any purchases.

    Speaking as somebody whose entire income is largely dependent on my PDF sales, this really pisses me off.

    Step 3: Ignore all evidence and make assumptions in an effort to piss off both the users and the publishers.

    Step 4: Lose all profits!

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:31AM (#27503231) Homepage

    I think as people in this economy are becoming increasingly desperate, people are grasping at straws while they fail. Could this be considered a sign that there is failure approaching when a company starts resorting to litigation for income?

  • by Duane13 (1340371) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:37AM (#27503323)
    So instead of making still LOTS of money off of legal PDF sales, now EVERYONE who wants PDFs will find them on torrents. This will make the torrenting of them more prevalent.
  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dotren (1449427) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:37AM (#27503325)

    Mod parent up... that had me cracking up

    Seriously though, is there a business conference that happens annually now where presenters try to sell the audience on the benefits of alienating your customers by providing sub-par purchasing and product use options? Do they start the whole thing off with a keynote on how to use copyright to extort and sue your customers?

    I think, in recent years, its become readily apparent that a company's true customers are it's stock holders and board members. The consumers are just raw material to be milked for money in ANY way possible.

    Sorry if that went slightly off-topic, it's just frustrating to see so many product/media providers jump on this bandwagon. Whats next? Some sort of physical DRM for printed copies?

  • by tsstahl (812393) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:37AM (#27503327)
    Now the only avenue of ownership for their digital content is unsanctioned file sharing.

    All future unsanctioned copies will bear the same (at least) 8 watermarks losing TOS abusers in a sea of anonymity.

    Best viral marketing move for an RPG ever.

    ----

    And just when you thought they 'got it'...
  • Illegal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jason1729 (561790) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:45AM (#27503445)
    Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles.

    Why do these arrogant companies think they can take back what they've sold without compensation? This is ripe for a lawsuit.
  • by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@ u b e r m00.net> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:49AM (#27503523) Homepage Journal

    Trying to take things off the internet is like trying to take piss out of a pool.

    The sooner companies learn that, the better.

  • Free Business Hint (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:49AM (#27503531)
    If your demographic is largely weighted towards nerdy type males, a demographic whose mantra is 'free the information!' and who live for finding new and interesting torrents, it's probably not a good idea to put your bread and butter product in the digital domain. Just saying...
  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:50AM (#27503539)

    Step 1: Point gun at foot and pull trigger.

    WotC is such a small part of Hasbro that there is very little that they could do with through WotC that would be shooting themselves in the foot (and shooting WotC in the foot is meaningless, WotC isn't an independent entity.) I suspect, also, that WotC, or at least D&D, has been disappointing to Hasbro since the acquisition, and has never been profitable enough, and I wouldn't be surprised if they are at the point where desperate moves that are perceived as having some (though low) probability of improving the profitability in that area are warranted prior to simply cutting their losses and moving the resources elsewhere or simply not expending them at all anymore in a cost-cutting move. IOW, this may well be a natural part of Hasbro proving to themselves that D&D (except, perhaps, in the online-game form) simply cannot be salvaged as something profitable enough for them.

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MeanMF (631837) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:54AM (#27503587) Homepage
    Oh you can still get them..You're just no longer allowed to pay for them.
  • Re:D&D is dead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by evilkasper (1292798) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:54AM (#27503591)
    I think a lot of us were. All the online tools they talked of in D&D insider. The collaborative game space program that would let you play D&D with your buddies who've since scattered to remote parts of the world. I know there are programs for this but all the ones my group has tried haven't worked very well. Just try not to let the douchebag actions of WoTC ruin the game for you.
  • by Raleel (30913) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:56AM (#27503623)

    The more starsystems will slip through your fingers.

    and I was going to buy about $300 of 1e pdfs. oh well, guess I'll torrent because I CAN'T GET THEM ANYWHERE ELSE NOW.

  • Re:D&D is dead (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Metapsyborg (754855) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:57AM (#27503633)
    They are not bankrupt, but what they are doing is shattering their core userbase into many different groups. This is not the same as 1st ed vs 2nd ed players, or the players (like me) who still play 2nd and 3e.

    Hasbro/WotC completely dropped support for their OGL that they developed with 3rd edition, but many people still use that. There are many other new, creative RPGs that can easily give D&D a run for its money, and the old powerhouses like Palladium are still going strong.

    It's funny that everything you mention about 4e is in the sense of a dumbing-down or simplifying. WotC has always been obsessed with that concept but it is just not in sync with reality. Gamers love complexity and they want a system that has rich options. Why do you think WotCs attempts to turn RPGs into a kids oversimplified boardgame always fail, and the system inevitable ends up becoming more and more complex?

    As for the actual content, well WotC will never be able to top the greats of 2nd edition; that is when there was true creative talent in the AD&D universe, with settings like Planescape, Dark Sun and Spelljammer as well as the more "traditional" fantasy settings on Toril, Krynn and Greyhawk. WotC has just been living off those great masterminds and reprinting books of lists (feats, skills, equipment, classes, whatever), not creating anything of its own.
  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:06AM (#27503755)

    (GMSkarka) Typical short-sighted reaction from WOTC, which makes zero sense at all, when you consider the fact that the most widely-spread pirated copies of the 4e products contain printers marks -- which means that their piracy problem pre-dated any purchases.

    I would like to emphasize this point. I have many pirated D&D 4e books. They ALL have printers marks, not pdf seller watermarks.

    Also, no matter what your cheapass players tell you, pdf copies on a computer don't work well around the game table. There's a reason that, despite the rampant pirating we engage in, we have still purchased TWO hardcopies of the PHB, in addition to the DMG, Monster Manual, Adventurer's Vault, Martial Power, and Open Grave. Oh, and a D&D Insider subscription.

    So, despite the free availability of pdfs, I still buy hard copies- lots. I don't think Wizards is losing much on the pdfs when they halt sales, but it is certainly not going to do anything about the piracy problem (if indeed it is a problem, since it's driven so many of the purchases I've made).

    /AC so they don't sue me

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by zwei2stein (782480) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:09AM (#27503801) Homepage

    So, they remedy their mistake of releasing everything in P2P-ready format which was superior to crappy scans. I say, good call.

    What do you expect them to do? Bend over and let p2p fuck em in ass?

    And its not like people have slightest justification for doing that:

      * Crappy product? Obviously, you want to p2p it so it has to have some value or you would not waste time searching for it.
      * eeeevil drm? werent those files put to p2p woutht any crack necessary? hell, they went path of least resistance: just crappy watermarks.
      * Prices? Can't afford it? I think I am confused. Is playing d&d some basic need that all humans have inherent right to?
      * Freedom? Get GNU-RPG.

    All I see is company that made right moves (which pirate apologists say they want to happen for them to stop pirating) but was fucked by customers.

    They will be back eventually. With all the DRM they can pack. And we have 8 assholes to thanks for that.

    Here is lesson:

    Do not do zero drm. Do not offer quality material. Average person, even smart one will act like douche and offer no thanks. Whole amount of "deserved", "go party with mafiaa", "they r desprit" and such from nerds who discovered that their future d&n books will once again be crappy scans is enough evidence that they did right thing. And

  • by furby076 (1461805) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:13AM (#27503851) Homepage
    Manufacturers can tell retailers to cease and desist from selling their products - electronic or otherwise. If they had a contract which said "Retailer is paying WoTC in advance for 100 licenses of our material for X dollars" then the retailer could say "sure we will stop selling it, but we only sold 20 so you owe us the cost of 80". Otherwise they have no recourse. Yes someone could come up with a lawsuit "I spent 40,000$ creating an ecommerce site specifically for your product which you no longer allow me to sell...you owe me money". But it all depends on the contract they signed. If WoTC had in their contract "we can tell you to stop selling our products at anytime without recourse then you must do so and you can't sue us" well it sucks for the retailer. It all depends on the contract - but to say "that is crap...." without knowing the contract is baseless.

    I love it when people scream "sue" without knowing the facts.
  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:16AM (#27503895)

    That's basically what makes me shake my head in disbelief.

    First: Those books are no longer in print and WotC is not losing a dime if they get copied. Unless, and I'd consider this highly unlikely if anything, they want to roll the printing press for those items again.

    Second: It's anything but hard to get a hand on that copy. Instead of paying WotC for it, you have to hunt for it on torrents. Yeah, you could get sued. How well that works as a deterrent is evident. Not to mention that people will have zero problem with their conscience, since they could not even buy it, even if they wanted.

    Finally, and most importantly: P&P RPG enthusiasts are, if anything, packrats. They want the printed copy if there is one available, if the book is good. I've seen books that are readily available in PDF form (from other publishers) go for three and four digit sums on ebay because they can't be bought anymore. I'm in a similar boat, I want my book in my hand (ever tried bringing a laptop to a fantasy RPG session? Talk about mood killer). I won't pay 300 bucks for it, but I'd certainly go to my shop and get it if I could! So any PDF being "ripped" is not a lost sale by any measure. It's about the best advertising you can get. Players don't read the book and then toss it away like a novel. RPG books are used more like encyclopedias, perused and consulted regularely to look up details. And gamers want that in book form. Not laptop, not a copy they tossed through their printer, they want a book!

    So where the heck is the lost sale? Where is the damage?

    Or does WotC fear that people could find out their latest edition sucks even more than the previous ones and people refuse to buy it entirely, and stick with AD&D 2nd forever?

  • by MadKeithV (102058) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:18AM (#27503929)
    Or that they've realized they could be selling the downloads directly for the same price and pocket the difference of selling through a middle-man.
  • by whistlingtony (691548) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:23AM (#27504005)

    Hey Publishers! (all of them!)

    You have a problem with piracy? Perhaps it's because all of you sell the PDF at pretty much full cost of a real book. Why do you do that?

    PDFs don't have printing costs. We know you can sell them for less.
    It's handy to reference a book while playing. It's still kind of cumbersome to reference a PDF while playing... the PDF is less valuable to us.

    If you greedy BEEP would sell good quality PDF files for say.... $3, I'd drop $100 right now. If you would make old books available, I'd drop another $100 right now.

    No Way am I paying $25 for a FILE.

    You brought it on yourselves.

    -Tony

  • Re:D&D is dead (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spacefiddle (620205) <spacefiddle.gmail@com> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:37AM (#27504253) Homepage Journal

    an int of lower than 3 or corporations.

    -1 Redundant

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekboy642 (799087) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:45AM (#27504427) Journal

    This guy has it exactly right.
    One of my friends had a CD of most of WotC's books in PDF that we passed around. As far as I know, nobody actually used the pirated copies for anything but sneakily reading them in class on a laptop. We *all* trouped down to the store at least once a month to buy another book.
    Who wants to stare at a crappy PDF when you're rolling dice to kill the dragon? WotC is doing nothing but alienating their paying customers.

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kbielefe (606566) <karl.bielefeldt+slashdot@gma i l . c om> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:46AM (#27504439)

    No harm, no foul.

    Thousands of fans who enjoy their legally-obtained pdf copies would disagree with you on the "no harm" part.

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:53AM (#27504565)

    You really don't understand business do you?

    Yes, I do.

    WotC is a division of Hasbro.

    Quite.

    This means that if they don't preform, they get cut.

    Yes, it means if any operation conducted by WotC don't perform as well as an application of equal resources by Hasbro in other areas would be expected to, that operation (in a kind of ideal profit maximization theory, which firms tend to attempt to approximate in practice) gets cut.

    If D&D (as a traditional RPG) is already performing near or below that bar, then taking an action which has a low expected direct cost that might, the probability is low,improve it to reach that bar (but is likely to fail) may, assuming everything that appears more likely to succeed which has equal or less cost has already been tried, make sense as a last ditch effort to save the line before shutting it down.

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iYk6 (1425255) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:56AM (#27504619)

    I think, in recent years, its become readily apparent that a company's true customers are it's stock holders and board members. The consumers are just raw material to be milked for money in ANY way possible.

    Did you read the same summary I did? They stopped selling pdfs. The only alternatives now for a digital copy are to buy the books and scan every page yourself, or piracy. They aren't milking their consumers; they are throwing their money back at them.

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordKazan (558383) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @11:57AM (#27504635) Homepage Journal

    Your entire post is based on a truckload of faulty assumptions. I know people who bought legal D&D PDFs, they're spitting nails. Anyone who likes D&D should be spitting nails.

    Hasbro, through WoTC, is not just attacking the illegitimate PDFs but they nuked from orbit all the legitimate ones.

    You blabber about DRM - but as someone else pointed out it wasn't users who bought the PDFs that shared them on torrents, etc - it was PUBLISHERS EMPLOYEES: they all had publisher watermarks.

    DRM wouldn't have stopped that. DRM cannot stop piracy: it never has and it never will. DRM can only stop technologically inept users from making fair use. Anyone who knows any technologically inclined person (and how many D&D people don't know a technologically inclined person) can get around DRM like the DRM wasn't even there.

    4e is nothing but table top World of Crapcraft.

  • Ho-hum (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:08PM (#27504805) Homepage Journal

    I can't make an argument against this attitude that is anywhere near as eloquent as Eric Flint posted on Jim Baen's free library site.

    http://www.baen.com/library/ [baen.com]

    Jim put his money where his mouth was, and GAVE AWAY book, after book, after book. More, if you happen to be disabled, you can contact Baen Books, and they will give to you NOT ONLY the books from their free library, but their mainstream books that are in print.

    Baen books had a lot of money at stake on this gamble. But, they PROVED CONCLUSIVELY that giving stuff away free MAKES MONEY for them. Every time they released a title that had been out of print, sales of that book skyrocketed.

    Over at Baen, the author has to approve his title for the free library, and some authors don't seem to use it. Those authors who have jumped aboard the free library enjoy an increase in income.

    Baen books puts the lie to all the DRM crap, and proves the corporate lackeys to be totally wrong.

    In the case of D&D stuff - if they had any brights at all, they would allow the stuff on P2P to continue, but add some cool stuff that is NOT readily downloadable via P2P. Any intelligent individual can come up with schemes for that. In fact, it would be a small step to release P2P ready material that at the very least promotes the non-P2P, and possibly even DEPENDS ON other non-P2P material.

    It constantly amazes me that lackwit idiots run the corporate world.

    Traveling salesmen and tinkers learned this lesson before electricity was discovered, for God's sake!!!

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:09PM (#27504823)

    Fighting back doesn't mean fighting stupid. All they did was cut off a potential source of income from those fans who might have paid for pdfs. People who were getting illegal copies will still get illegal copies.

    There are better strategies for profit (although if this is about pride, rights and morals in their eyes, they can use their last penny to fight what they see as evil). By taking the product off the market to combat the relatively small number of file sharers, they throw the baby out with the bath water. They could have tried some PR and marketing campaign for the official PDF and maybe offer so sort of extra incentive to buy the product that could not be shared. It may be their legal right to stop their own sales, but it is my right to think they are reacting emotionally to unwarranted assumptions about their lost profits rather than making a solid business plan that would maximize their profit notwithstanding the fact that some percentage of the population will always be bastards.

    If you can't achieve power over everyone for perfect control of the world, you should try to make realistic strategies to achieve you true goal (treasure)instead of fighting every possible fight regardless of collateral damage and costs to you in the long run.

  • by kbielefe (606566) <karl.bielefeldt+slashdot@gma i l . c om> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:33PM (#27505195)

    I don't know why I'm bothering to correct this fallacy yet again. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment. Prices are set by supply and demand, not by direct cost per unit. Allow me to illustrate in terms of something you sell: your labor. This is your employer or contracted customer speaking, whatever the case may be.

    Hey Workers! (all of them!)

    You have a problem with overseas outsourcing? Perhaps it's because all of you want to work for an allegedly "fair" wage. Why do you do that?

    It doesn't cost you much to come to work. A few bucks for the bus and a lunch. We know you can work for less.
    Other workers are much more qualified than you. It's still kind of cumbersome to train someone less skilled... your labor is less valuable to us.

    If you greedy BEEP would agree to work for say.... $3 an hour, I'd hire 30 of you right now. If you would work twice as long, I'd hire another 30 right now.

    No Way am I paying $25 an hour for a worker.

    You brought it on yourselves.

    Sound ridiculous? That's the point. If they could generate more total revenue (pdfs and books) by lowering the price, they would do it. They are "greedy BEEP" after all.

  • Re:Ho-hum (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:38PM (#27505261)

    snip But, they PROVED CONCLUSIVELY that giving stuff away free MAKES MONEY for them. snip

    yes they proved it FOR THEM. a small publisher of novels. perhaps not everyone falls into that same group?

  • Copyright failure (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Geof (153857) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:54PM (#27505475) Homepage

    Prices are set by supply and demand, not by direct cost per unit.

    Actually, market competition pushes price toward the marginal cost of production. At least that's the theory, and it's part of the justification for copyright. In practice it seldom works out that way. In any case, they have have a copyright monopoly, so they have complete control over supply and they don't have a whole lot of worries about competition.

    What we have here is copyright failure. Copyright was created solely for the benefit of society the public. (At least that's the case in the U.S.: other countries have moral rights. But in this case we have work-for-hire for a company legally required to place profit above all else, so the moral rights issue is moot.) Here we have copyright working to do the opposite of what it is intended to do. Copyright failure.

    Mind, with illegal filesharing their control over supply is illusory. They're acting as though they had a monopoly, but they don't. Which, as so many have pointed out, is why this is so stupid.

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zwei2stein (782480) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:06PM (#27505643) Homepage

    Considering reaction of typical slashdotter (which shattered some illusions about this crowd) to this news, i think i am entitled to little rage. ANd its not nerf hate, its self righetous pirate hate.

    Yes, d&d is overpriced crap. But:

      There is business competition all over the place.
      There are even great free rulesets.
      Hell, people can play games with homebrewn rules. No books needed.
      Sumplemental materials from any ruleset can be converted to any other ruleset with little imagination. Or people can be creative (they play rpgs, creative is supposedly one of requirements)

    Yet people still want D&D while they have plenty of options (and are not shy to rationalize torrenting it)

    (And yes, anything other than basic survival is luxury. Even if we raise level, i.e. to "just" powerty or "just comfortable life", spending several hours a week on pricey entertainment IS a luxury. No sympathies here for people who can't afford that.)

    I say, publisher followed simple supply/demand law and set price that people would actually pay otherwise they would have gone bancrupt already. As far as being customer goes, simple calculation of buck-per-hour should show you how much value you get.

    Yes, they will add DRM, just like your library. And people here will cry and conveniently forget reason why it was added.

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lilomar (1072448) <lilomar2525@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:23PM (#27505917) Homepage

    How many sales do you think you would make with out the 5,000 (I assume happy with your product) pirates?

    $500 is still more than what you would make if only 20 bought your game because of the other 30 never hearing about it from the pirates, or not buying it because they didn't have a chance to try it out for free first.

  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:37PM (#27506125) Journal

    So, uhm... no? I'm just saying that PDF files cost next to nothing to produce,

    But the information in the book didn't "cost next to nothing to produce"

    next to nothing to "ship",

    Yeah, because servers and bandwidth are free, right?

    and it's kind of hard to pass around a laptop at a gaming session.

    Ever hear of a printer?
    Passing around a laptop is no harder than passing around a book, especially if you put the laptop in the center of the table on a "lazy susan".
    And, pretty much every gamer I know has their own set of books, so why wouldn't they have their own set of PDFs on their own laptop or ebook reader?

    Once again, what makes the books valuable is the information inside the books. I don't care how much it costs to produce a book or a PDF, the cost of producing the information contained in either is still the same and what you are paying for is the information.

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:43PM (#27506249)

    assuming everything that appears more likely to succeed which has equal or less cost has already been tried,

    Crux of your argument is pure speculation. Anyone can make up additional parameters to justify a bullshit argument. You might as well have said that the queen of the drow gave them an ultimatum - stop selling PDFs or her she will teleport the corporate headquarters to one of the planes of hell.

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fulminata (999320) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:50PM (#27506353)
    So in other words, you'll use their product as long as you don't have to pay for it.

    The game is perfectly playable using the three core books, just as every other edition of the game was. Just like every other edition of the game, they continue to produce more books because that's their business model: sell books.

    Also, I'm not a big fan of their online model, but it's not $15 per month, it's $4.95 to $7.95 per month depending on your subscription plan.
  • by DrOct (883426) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:50PM (#27506363)

    The REALLY insane thing here is that they've pulled even old edition stuff. I think pulling 4E stuff was also an insane move, but it at least has the illusion of making some small kind of sense.

    But to pull older out of print stuff is just removing a revenue stream. I was actually going to buy several classic adventures sometime soon (and at $5 a pop I could afford to get a bunch), and use them as inspiration for my first run at DMing a game. Now? Well I can't get them legally anywhere, so I guess I might as well hunt down torrent copies. It'll be a bit more work, but if that's the only way to get them it's what I'll probably do.

    I'd also point out that I have pirated copies of some of the first few core books. I got them initially to see if I thought I'd like the new system. I determine I would and immediately went out and bought the PHB, DMG, and MM. I've kept the PDF's because the search-able PDF's are a quick way to look up rules etc, but I still want the physical book for other things, like longer reading sessions to make sure I fully understand the rules etc. I have since bought, in hardcover a couple more books, and have considered buying PDF's of some of the other books (mostly splat-books) I'd likely use less but still might want.

    Maybe they do want people to move on to 4th edition, but this isn't going to make people do it. This is just cutting off a revenue stream for them.

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @02:16PM (#27506743)

    So a company is trying to get your money putting out addition material at regular intervals and this blows your mind. Really?

    I mean if you don't have every new book they put out, your currently purchased books stop functioning right?

    How about to say FUCK YOU to them, you just don't run or in any way shape or form use 4E?

    I mean it's like those people who are really screwing over Microsoft by pirating their software
    and letting them keep their market share rather than using linux or going to mac and actually doing something that doesn't benefit them.

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @02:20PM (#27506823) Homepage

    Yeah, because piracy is the hallmark ad campaign of the 21st century. And it's free! YAY PIRATES.

    Nice try, guy. I've never had a pirate pitch a product to me that I didn't already own through monetary exchange elsewhere.

    I have plenty of NO-CD cracks, etc, sure. I hunted those down for my convenience to preserve the media I'd already purchased, not for dubious "try-before-you-buy" practices. There's usually a "if you like it, buy it" disclaimer in there somewhere, but to me those always seem flat, half-assed dodges toward looking like something approaching respectability.

    Software pirates are not team players in the market, dude. Practically by definition.

  • by rjolley (1118681) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @02:31PM (#27506975)
    WOTC gives customers something that they want, in a relatively open format and it is still shared around by stupid dumbass pirates. Not only do they threaten to ruin the software industry, but now they are coming after my tabletop games as well. What a great digital world we live in!
  • Re:Fuckups (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @02:47PM (#27507257)

    What are you bitching about?

    Are you telling the rest of the fine gentlemen here on /. that if WotC had only released three books, the PHB, DMG, and MM, you would have been perfectly happy with their actions?

    I can't imagine how them writing extra books is really spoiling this for you. It's not like they're going back into the PHB, and writing in the Table of Contents, "Avenger: Coming soon! Druid: Coming soon! Chapters 11-23: Too bad, you don't own them!" It's not like they've pulled some Han-shot-second bullshit and altered permanently something you used to love. The sanctity of the first three books has not been spoiled: They are, as every other base set in the history of mankind, a complete set that needs nothing else besides dice and dudes to turn it into a game.

    I have many problems with WotC and there are many of their features that I choose not to support them in. Their online subscription (which provides a digital magazine plus backcopies), their shitty dice (fully functional) or their badly painted minis (that match all the fluff) don't appeal to me. There are many of their practices that I think are either counterproductive for the fostering of the community, or just vindictive, like the elimination of the SRD and the lack of PDF backcopies that this thread concerns.

    But I'm not going batshit because they published a game that, in its most basic form, is completely self-contained. The expectancies for book-ownage these days are even less than they were in 3.5. Nobody has any class features that requires them to browse the Monster Manual, as a completely normal Druid, Wizard, Sorcerer, Cleric, Ranger, or Paladin was expected to in 3.5. Nobody that takes an item-crafting feat or prestige class has to look in the DMG any more to find out what, exactly, they can actually do with them. To get the full picture on your campaign setting, there are two books (not eleven!) available for your perusal.

    Let's be clear: You own the full set. You purchased it. They have your money, and you have your complete game. Everyone should be happy about that transaction, and I'm going to hold you to it because you just told me you would have been.

    Why does the fact that they released books that you don't need and apparently don't want make you so angry? By your own admission, you got what you came for.

  • Re:[Don't] Profit! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gorath99 (746654) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @02:52PM (#27507363)

    Nice job being a dick.

    When you brought out 4e, it was supposed to be a self-contained series of books. There were three books - the DM guide, the Player's Handbook, and the Monster Manual.

    There's nothing preventing you from playing 4E with just the original three core books, just as with previous editions. In fact, thousands of gamers are doing just that, myself included.

    Then you wanted $15/month to access your online content.

    And how is it wrong for WotC to charge $15 a month for access to all the new optional content they put on their website? It's not like Dungeon and Dragon magazines were free either. Plus they had ads and came out once a month instead of every couple of days.

    Then you announced that there were more CORE books coming out. There's a release party every month now. Twelve books a year? Are you insane?

    Yes, WotC is releasing multiple core books for 4E. So what? You don't need them to play the game. And I suppose you just forgot that 3E had 2 PHBs, 2 DMGs and 4 MMs. Plus another one of each if you count 3.0 and 3.5 separately. Also, why is it a problem that WotC releases products every month? (The vast majority of which are not, in fact, core books.) You don't have to buy them you know. Are you also complaining when Nintendo is releasing a game every month? Most gamers would be delighted.

    Then you killed the SRD.

    Granted, 4E is not nearly as open as 3E/OGL/d20 was, but there is still a 4E SRD [wizards.com], and 3E is still open source.

    You see me as a cash cow. Fuck you. I'm not paying you a thousand dollars to get all the books when the full set was supposed to be a hundred - or just fifty online.

    You had to pay thousands of dollars to get all the books for 2E and 3E too. 4E is no different in that. But just as with those previous editions, you don't actually need any books beyond the 3 original core books. I know I'm having a blast playing with just those and I did pay just $50 for them.

    You're liars, you're fuckups, and I do not reward incompetence with my cash.

    You're either a liar or an ignoramus, a copyright-infringer, and you have a twisted sense of entitlement.

  • Re:Ho-hum (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @02:59PM (#27507497) Homepage

    Baen books had a lot of money at stake on this gamble. But, they PROVED CONCLUSIVELY that giving stuff away free MAKES MONEY for them. Every time they released a title that had been out of print, sales of that book skyrocketed.

    While I congratulate them for their success, I have some doubt about that business model for the future, since it works under the assumption that the digital version is a degraded one and printed one is the 'real deal'. That assumption won't work forever when ebook readers become cheaper, better and more common place, people won't continue to carry books around when they already have a ebook reader with them. And the ebook reader also either already is better or at least has the potential to become more comfortable then a real book in the future. So will there be enough people left buying things, when they could get them for free and lose nothing in the process?

  • Re:Ho-hum (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @03:25PM (#27507887) Homepage Journal

    Ahhh - but - it seems that you miss the underlying premise. Baen reacted to, and adapted to, the existing market. Such actions reap profits. (accurately anticipating, and adapting to the FUTURE market would be even more lucrative, of course) Those who are so strongly opposed to P2P and other technologies are resisting market change, and refusing to adapt. Such opposition fails to reap rewards. Worse, if they resist long enough and hard enough, they will find themselves bankrupted, and cast off from the mainstream.

    It is the customer who ultimately decides how successful a company is, after all.

    If and/or when the day comes that Baen can't make money off of the printed page, they WILL adapt. They have already proven that they are adaptable.

    A shame that Jim Baen himself won't be there to guide the company along, but he obviously set the example for his replacements.

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