Future Legacy

There’s a 19-page (and counting) thread over on rpg.net about the current GAMA brouhaha (that’s the Game Manufacturer’s Association, the only trade organization for the game biz, for you non-gamers). That whole thing is vitriolic enough that I don’t want to discuss it here, but Mike Mearls opined thusly in the thread:

“I think 10 years form now, Ryan [Dancey] will be judged as the savior of RPGs.”

First I laughed out loud. Then I reflected on how Ryan did a much better job marketing Ryan than marketing D&D.; Finally, I decided to respond to Mike. Since I doubt many folks are still following this argument (and since this makes an easy blog entry), here’s my reply. Discuss.

“I say this as someone who has benefited from d20 and the OGL as much as anyone: I don’t. I think Ryan will actually be known as the guy who first saved D&D;* and then hamstrung it by creating d20 and the OGL.

As I said, I’ve done very well with d20, so I have no complaints on that score. If I ran WotC though, I’d release 4th edition next year and never add the new rules to the SRD. I just don’t think d20 has been good for WotC financially. I don’t think anyone foresaw how many new companies would start up and how much product would be pumped into the channel month after month. I simply can’t believe that this hasn’t caused WotC to lose sales. And note how 3.5 was brought out earlier than originally intended.

*For the record, I don’t think Ryan saved D&D;, but I think that most gamers will by the time 10 years have gone by. I think the dozens of designers, artists, editors, graphic designers, etc. had a little something to do with the game’s success. And Ryan had a marketing budget that was simply astronomical by RPG standards. To give you an idea, the budget for one event alone (the D&D; College Tour, which you likely have never heard of) had a budget five times that of the Chainmail game’s for its entire first year. But I digress.”

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