Question Answered

Six weeks ago I posted this:

“I think the big question is whether any of the prominent third party publishers will decide to just skip 4E and the GSL and continue to publish 3.5 material. I think Paizo is best positioned to pull this off but it would be a gamble for sure.”

Paizo announced today that they are taking that gamble. They will continue to publish under the 3.5 rules and are beginning an open playtest to lead up their own core rulebook based on those rules for August, 2009. This is a ballsy decision and I have to salute Erik Mona and company for rolling the dice. I think they are approaching this in the right way too. They are not trying to put out new rulebooks in the face of 4E. Instead they are doing what WotC did not: conducting a long open playtest. They are also making backward compatibility a big goal, so folks can continue to use their large library of 3.5 material with Paizo’s new stuff.

I’m sure that some fans will think this is a foolish move on Paizo’s part. How do you fight against the 800 lb. gorilla after all? Here’s the thing: they don’t have to. If Paizo can peel off even 20,000 current D&D; fans and make them Pathfinder fans, that’s a great business for a company of Paizo’s size. WotC is likely going to lose at least that number of fans anyway, so at the end of the day I doubt it’ll really affect 4E. I can easily envision 4E and Pathfinder both being successful for their parent companies.

Less good for WotC are the PR implications of this announcement. Third party companies have been waiting and waiting to see the new Game System License and here is a major player in the field saying, “Sorry, can’t wait any more.” If WotC is going to support third party publishing, they really want companies like Paizo as allies. Now Paizo is still Necromancer Games’ publisher and Necro says they are going 4E regardless, so if the GSL allows it Paizo will be publishing 4E books as well. That really can’t mask the shock waves this is likely to send throughout the world of third party publishing. Interesting times.

For the record Green Ronin’s position remains the same: we’d like to see the GSL before making any decisions.

10 thoughts on “Question Answered

  1. Re not being interested in yet another D&D; system: But which one are you referring to, Pathfinder (which will be essentially D&D; 3.5, maybe with a few tweaks) or D&D4e; (which will be an entirely new system)?

    Spike Y Jones

  2. Well, retro-clones seem very popular, so having a professionally produced and supported D&D; 3.5 clone is probably viable. But there are a lot of them out there – Pathfinder, True20, and all the d20-based licensed properties.

    Then on a grassroots level, there’s OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, and even all the used copies of Rules Cyclopedia and the boxed D&D; sets, and I’m sure I’ve overlooked a lot of others.

    It’s a crowded market, and someone is going to have to fall by the wayside. But I agree that Pathfinder is strongly positioned in the retro-market, so it probably won’t be them…

  3. Honestly… if Steve Kenson were designing the Pathfinder RPG, I might purchase it.

    As it is… I will look, but most likely avoid it. I will just use True20 (and occasionally, my old AD&D; 1e stuff) for this sort of gaming…

  4. I don’t know what everyone sees in True20. I love mutants and masterminds, and have even used it for D&D; adventures, but I would take 3.5 or Pathfinder RPG over True20 any day.

  5. I’m confused. Paizo IS publishing 4e stuff, they’ve even announced an adventure path. Pathfinder is the only thing “staying 3.5.” Paizo is in a position, where WotC isn’t, to allow gamers discontent with 4e to continue with 3.5 but not I’m not sure if this is as huge a PR blow as you’re supposing.

  6. I believe the 4e adventure path you speak of is through Necromancer Games, who will be published by Paizo. Paizo is doing their Pathfinder stuff 3.5


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