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5th Edition Is Dead! Long Live 5th Edition!

AD&D ran from 1977 to 2000 with the two editions. Since then we have had 4 editions in 20 years that’s about five-year shelf life for an edition here lately. That is compared to over 10-year shelf life for AD&D editions.  I think it would be wise for Hasbro to keep 5th edition. But 5th edition came out in 2014, so it is about at that 5-year mark now. Hasbro has been losing money. D&D sets are coming out like monopoly each with some branded popular media as the selling point, Stranger Things, Rick & Morty etc… And then there is the survey, if you have not taken it, Hasbro has a big survey online for gamers. It sounds like they are looking to change things when you take it. I would much rather an RPG company buy the rights and take a new direction of just giving us the game we like to play. I wish somehow the rights could go to people who already put out great content with focus on just putting out stuff for existing editions instead of getting some team tasked with changing the game completely again. On top of that there has been a lot of discussion around social issues and the game, and I feel we can better address those in the community instead of just giving Hasbro money to address it with selling you a new product or profiting from your creation on their web community. Hasbro realizes they can make money by addressing these problems and that seems to be a point of marketing for them.

TSR went two decades publishing AD&D and basic D&D simultaneously. There is no reason we cannot have AD&D, basic, 3rd & 5th material all getting published and a focus on building on the games we already play. In fact, with things like OSRIC and other retro clones we essentially have that now. In a world with retro clones and a million takes on the game Hasbro offers nothing unique besides the IP identity of the name Dungeons & Dragons. They own beholders and mind flayers. A new approach to the game is a dime a dozen and everyone has one out there. Short point, I do not want a 6th edition. D&D reached a peak with 5th edition. It was not some great money maker. Just by the nature of the game it is not a place where there is a whole lot to make cash off without making us buy all our books over again. Magic cards, the other property Hasbro got when they bought Wizards of the Coast is a completely different story. It already has a model of cranking out cards every few months for people to buy. It thrives off of making new decks and cards. Dungeons & Dragons only requires some basic manuals and you are good to go. Hasbro has all but removed itself from cranking out modules like it did in the 80’s & 90’s. That was a time where a lot of the identity existed in various lines of settings which rose to popularity. A bulk of game products bought back then were often around the various realms, especially in the 90s. That model is long gone. Various independent publishers now put out their own settings and third-party material. They are essentially the ones who put out the modules we once bought from TSR. And Hasbro is not likely to go down that road any time soon. If you followed or have learned of the history of TSR you might know that this past model led TSR to financial ruin along with other bad business decisions. This led to the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast in the 90’s. Hasbro is a pretty big corporation. They have money, and the ability to do market research. Based on this market research, they will make decisions that will serve the interests of sales. This is not a case for a need of a new edition because the game is broken. This is a new edition because they are not able to create content that will make as much money as they want. In advertising you find a need, often finding that need you must invent the need and sell the solution to that need. Changes to the game are not coming from a place of demand. We the players have already made the changes to our games we needed. That is the beauty of gaming. We have put those changes out there in third party material. The real need is for Hasbro to find a new approach for this property to be more profitable. This leaves me to question how financially beneficial is the intellectual property of Dungeons & Dragons? Like a lot of intellectual properties gen x kids like me grew up with, a lot of that money has been in selling the property in films and other media. Hasbro has so far failed to do this with D&D.

I predict 5th edition will have its own Pathfinder when 6th edition come along, and maybe that is for the best. I do believe we are seeing the beginning of Hasbro approaching the end of 5th edition. I wonder what path they will take. Just like every other edition this will likely see players falling away from D&D and moving to other options in Role Playing instead of just changing the game they play.