I’ve been pondering the fate of Dragon and Dungeon, trying to make sense of it like many gamers. Right now we don’t know what WotC has planned for its digital initiative and until we do we wont’ really be able to judge the wisdom of recent events. What I’m trying to understand is what about the digital initiative required the cancellation of Dragon and Dungeon as magazines?
I’m sure it has not escaped the notice of WotC’s higher ups that World of Warcraft is kicking D&D;’s ass up and down the street on a daily basis. The advantage of WoW and MMOs in general is the subscription model. Gamers pay a fee every month to play, while traditional RPG companies sell their fans a core rulebook and may never get any other sales from them. If WotC could get 100,000 people to pay them $10 a month, that would be way more profitable than publishing endless sourcebooks (not that I’d expect these to go away entirely either). The trick would then be to figure out what D&D; players would pay $10 a month for. This could be things like a way to play D&D; online, combined with the sort of social networking you see on places like MySpace. It would also no doubt have to include content (articles, adventures, etc.). This content would need to be a) good and b) exclusive to subscribers. I can see how planners of a digital initiative like this would look at Dragon and Dungeon and think they had to go as print products. Better to use those brand names to sell the new venture, right?
If WotC is going to do something bold, I salute them. It’s easy to do the same old thing, so if they really are trying to strike out a new direction, that’s great. No matter what their news plans are though, I would think that keeping at least one magazine going as an additional form of marketing would be a smart move. Any jackass can start a website, but creating a viable periodical today is ridiculously difficult. To take a successful magazine like Dragon and just abandon that market seems crazy. Why not use Dragon to complement the digital imitative? When the plan is revealed (this summer presumably) that’s the answer I’ll be looking for.