519193aIt was just a few weeks ago that Wizards of the Coast announced their decision to immediately discontinue their distribution of DnD via PDF.  Which, you know, screwed over a whole lot of people who have paid for multiple downloads of WOTC content.  The publisher cited digital piracy as the reason for its decision.

Immediately, it hit the fan on the interwebs.  Fans of DnD cursed the decision.  Even those who don’t play the game hailed the move as spectacularly stupid.

Last week’s episode of The Game’s the Thing has a nice discussion of digital media in general and DnD’s cock-up in specific.  The episode features guest-host Sean Patrick Fannon, head of marketing for digital distribution giants Drive-Thru RPG and RPG Now.

Brother Fannon has a knack of getting straight to the core of an issue:  “Pirated, download copies of stuff are not lost sales.”

He goes on to explain that there are some people who just like free stuff, but these people are rarely the same people who would have bought the product.  The fact of the matter is that digital downloads of game books lead to sales of the print items.  This has been true in my case.  I purchased all three of the Savage Worlds SF toolkits.  I’ll be buying the companions when they come out.

I bought the $5 PDF of Houses of the Blooded. After toggling through it, I bought the book.

It appears clear that WOTC will eventually provide its books digitally once again, but my guess is that it will be in a proprietary format. Yuck.  The thing that makes PDF desirable is that it works across all platforms.  I’ve absolutely no interest in supporting a new, unnecessary format.

WOTC is applying 20th century thinking in a 21st century world.  Idiots.

3 thoughts on “Your Morning Head: 20th Century Thinking in a 21st Century World

  1. I participated in this argument on the RPGPodcasters yahoo group and I’ll say the same thing here that I did there. The value of PDF distribution decreases the higher your print distribution grows. RPG Net, Drive-Thru RPG, and Savage Worlds together don’t equal WotC’s sales figures, so the value of PDF sales and the damage done by PDF piracy is different (and in fact, inversely proportional). WotC made a sound business decision, one that other publishing companies (including both that I’ve worked for) have already made or are making.

  2. Sorry, but I cannot disagree more. Print distribution is universally shrinking across the board for everyone, for one thing.

    For another, I can say with great assurance that PDFs enhance the sales of print books across the board; shutting off PDF availability will not reduce piracy one iota.

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