The idea of D&D as a platform – complete with a digital store open to indie developers – is NOT an Either/Or proposition. In no way am I suggesting WOTC stop publishing game books and materials in the traditional market.
Rather, the digital platform is an additional feature/market to those traditional channels. I’ve already listed the benefits for WOTC in the previous post, so let me turn the tables a bit.
Why would independent developers/content creators want to give a share of their sales to WOTC in return for selling them in the official Approved for D&DNext digital store?
First, keep in mind this is a digital store. Digital products do not have the overhead costs that come with packaging, printing, storage, shipping, handling, etc.
No physical store sells your product for free. The store takes a share. There is also typically a distributor that stands between you and stores. That distributor takes a share. As a result, even a major content creator receives significantly less than half of the price of their product.
No online store is free. Not even eBay.
Problems with selling your product from your own website:
- Obscurity. How do people learn about your product?
- Cost/time creating and maintaining your website
- Cost/time required to meet security standards due to payment processing
- If outsourcing payment, you share a portion of all proceeds with payment processing entity
- Your product cannot legally display the D&DNext trademark
With the D&DNext digital platform, a content creator – adventure module, comic, software, etc. – receives significant benefits that easily justify even a 30% share paid to WOTC:
- Reaching the prime target audience
- Their product is “official” D&DNext material
- WOTC builds and maintains the online store
- WOTC handles payments from customers and to content creators
- Content creators have less worry about compliance with Intellectual Property laws
- Content creators are able to invest the majority of their time creating content
This concept is what Amazon and others are doing in publishing. It is revolutionizing the industry.
Some of the legal and business considerations for WOTC:
- OGL already let the horse out of the barn
- Attempting to absolutely control the D&D Intellectual Property will strangle it
- If you cannot absolutely control the IP, find a way to monitor and guide its growth
- WOTC business protection relies on trademark more than copyright
- Offering a sales platform along with the APPROVED FOR D&DNext trademark will entice game developers (and an army of indie gamers) to surrender a percentage of the sales price in return for the brand recognition
Apple offers a sales platform along with an inherent Approved for iOS “trademark” in return for a percentage of the sales price. The only difference here is perception – “computer stuff” vs printed books. Both are products based on intellectual property. Both are governed by a common set of laws. However, only one is dominating its market.
If WOTC cannot unite the community with D&DNext, the D&D trademark will continue to lose market value. Any gamer can name a number of competing RPGs without even bringing up D&D edition wars.
Yes, WOTC (Hasbro) will have to pay the independent developers the larger share of the income derived from each sale to be successful. But it will make money every time material is sold on its D&DNext platform.
- money that required no upfront investment
- money that comes with built-in market research benefits
- money that comes with premiere talent scouting for freelancers
- money that comes without any research and development costs
- money that comes with much less inherent risk than traditional business models
- money that WOTC will NOT be making without a D&D ePlatform