Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why Wizards of the Coast has Lost me as a Customer

Okay, Before we begin  I want to say this is not about any sort of edition wars.  A lot of this talk will surround 4th Edition, but it’s not about the game, or its mechanics, or what I like or don’t like about it.  It’s more about the policies, surrounding it, the business, side of things.  largely it’s bout broken promises, A feeling that one of my favorite games, is no longer made by gamers.
Now I tried very hard to find relevant YouTube clips, and info for much of this,  it wasn’t easy, some of what I’ll discuss is almost 3 years old.
When we first started hearing about 4th edition I was excited, a new look a new game, I liked 3.5, for all it’s problems,  D&D was still in my opinion THE go-to Fantasy game system.
We started seeing previews, and web clips, funny animated shorts with a Gnome who was now a monster.  and back then everything I heard I liked…
Sadly much of what I heard, has been changed, forgotten, swept under the rug.
Read on for my horrible Rant
One thing I remember, that I was very excited about concerned Races.  It was state,d time and again, that the race you choose would be important, beyond first level,  hat no longer, would your choice of race, be just a stat bonus.  What happened to that?  Sure they have special abilities AND a stat bonus in some cases, such as the dragonborn’s breath weapon.  But still that’s one power, that you get at first level, which doesn’t scale very well. 
at the end of the day, your choice to play a dwarf or a human holds no more impact than it did in previous editions.  Now to be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with that except that its not what we were told we were signing on for.
Then there were the PDF’s the glorious PDF’s.  At first there was talk of a free PDF with your physical purchase,  I was ecstatic, I have kids, and I game a lot, book spines break down, pages get colored on, or torn , Digital copies, are a god send.  Not to mention taking a laptop with a dozen PDF’s to a session is a lot easier than taking a dozen physical books.  But then that changed too, It became a subscription, and soon the subscription became more expensive, and soon, they said “no more PDF’s”  Oh of course, I can hear it now, someone out there is yelling “oh the pirates that put them on torrents ruined it”   Sadly, every major study by any reputable source, including a dozen by Harvard prove that wrong,  not to mention you "(in theory) got a lot more for your DDI subscription than just PDF’s
What about the character visualizer? remember this? -
I Where did that go? What happened.  it’s not like they came out and said “oops sorry not going to work out, we’ll lower your DDI subscription cost to compensate”  Nope, I just quietly never happened.  think about this. DDI subscribers, are paying, a monthly fee, for vaporware…
Oh and it get’s better, speaking of Software, without even touching on the character builder, let’s look at the virtual table top
Here’s what we were promised

Here’s what we are getting:

Plenty more pics HERE
Now I will not slam the Virtual table Here,  It is by all accounts well put together, useful, well lid out.  Once again however, it is NOT what we were promised, and in truth, is not much better than many free products already available,  the argument could be mad,e that its one product, with all features integrated, instead of running several separate programs, Personally I think that’s splitting hairs though.

D&D In sider was supposed to offer additional content, Extra goodies, Bonuses, perks benefits.  It’ getting to the point however that you’ll not be able to play the game without it.  Its not there yet, but its getting close,  Look at essentials, or D&D 4.5 as I like to call it, Can you use the power cards currently on the shelves with it?  can you use the old character builder with it?  I’m not even positive the standard old style character sheets would work with it,  I’ve never had a chance to look at it, but I’ve been hearing about a lot of little changes,
The current edition has so much errata printed, that many of the Core books I did buy are almost useless.  The Players handbook alone has almost 30 pages of errata.  To date, there's over 120 PAGEs of errata for 4th edition.  That enough to print an entire book, of just errata. 
what’s more if you ask customer service a question ,it many times will disagree, with published rules and errata.  Check the forums, there are even a number of cases, where two people asked customer service the same question, and got drastically different answers.

Yet we were promised, Simpler streamlined rules.  How is 120 pages of errata, streamlined, and simple?

I want to take a moment here, to re-iterate something, my goal is not to bash 4th edition.  4th edition as a game, does its job, if you want a good old fashioned dungeon crawl, it’s rules will serve you well. 
Wizards handling of this product, or more precisely the items and accessories surrounding this product have been atrocious.

Now some of you may be saying “well I don’t care about the virtual tale anyway, I don’t want/need laptops at my gaming table”  or so what if there’s no character visualizer, I wasn’t going to use it”  that’s fine,  All I’m saying is that a lot of people ,started paying MONTHLY sums, for these things, that they are now, not getting, That the company, has gone out of it’s way, to market, these very products.  Even going so far, as to Pepper their Core books, with adds, about how much more you can do with a DDI subscription ,and the cool tools etc., and then NOT DELIVERED.
They have simply put, not done, nearly half of what they said they were going to do with this game.  even ignoring the DDI stuff, what about My races? When will the fact that I’m a dwarf be more important than the extra Constitution?  why do we have to download 130 pages of errata, in order to properly use ,the simplified and streamlined rules?  Why do you keep suing, and shutting down people who try to make tools that make it easier to play your game?
Sadly this is the end,  TSR, than wizards, than Hasbro,  The company keeps changing hands, and the Game I loved, and grew up on, is not what it once was, and I could deal with that, I can understand changing time,s a changing industry, changing editions.  However what I can’t stand, is to not trust, the company I’m buying  product from,  to be disgusted by their business practices, and to feel betrayed, by their empty words.
Ok now we get to the part where everyone says “it’s just a game, chill out dude”  It is just a game, but it’s a game that has meant a lot, to a lot of people over the years, Good times that I shared with friends, Weekends spent happily creating worlds, and enjoying the looks on my players faces, when they had a good game session, a sense of belonging for a nerdy kid. (insert stereotype here) sure it’s cliche, but it’s true, most of my good friends I met through gaming.  I met my wife through gaming.   So yes, its meant a lot to me, and I feel let down.  These games were part of my childhood, and so when a new company takes over, it’s like entrusting my memories, and my nostalgia, to that company, and to have them, do what they have done with it.  well. It sucks.  I simply don’t know how else to phrase it,  it just plain sucks 

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Apparently though they have had time to contract, oversee, fact check, write, and edit a full on console game -