Friday, October 29, 2010

Will D&D 4 last?

JB over at the fantastic B/X Blackrazor asked an Honest Question:

I wanted to answer his questions, but got off track and took a while to get to my point.  But in any case here it is.

What do you think is going to be the longevity of 4th edition D&D?
Well there are a few factors to consider.

First, those older editions have appeal because they were the first editions we played. Just like the guy ten years younger than me who cut his teeth on a game that I own and played and very likely will never play again (AD&D 2nd ed).  That is not a slam on AD&D 2nd ed or it's relative value or merits but rather a commentary that I have many games that fill the same void.

I play 4e now. I enjoy it. It is really fun. 

Will I be playing it 20 years from (when I am 60?) no idea. Most likely not.  Maybe I'll go back to Chill or maybe I'll finally convince my kids that the games I wrote are just as fun as D&D.

Plus there are other factors.  D&D4 does not live in the same world as AD&D/OD&D, they left a significant cultural stamp on our collective awareness.  D&D4 has to fight against MMORPGs, the Internet, other games AND it's own legacy.  It had an uphill battle from the start.  I doubt that even the great AD&D1 (of which I am huge fan) could have fared any better.

The truth is it is not 1 single edition of D&D that will endure as time moves on, it is D&D has a higher order concept that will.  Whether the details are called "D&D4", "Basic D&D" or "Pathfinder" will only matter when you get down to the details.

Things to consider though, D&D4 is played by a lot of people.  A lot more than the Old School community I think likes to admit.  Yes there are sanctioned events (like MtG) but there are also plenty of us older gamers that are introducing the hobby to our kids and doing it with D&D4 cause that is what other kids their age are also playing.

So I guess I am saying, "don't ask us, we are old and set in our ways and will give you the answer you want to hear cause we all read the same blogs" and "ask the kids that are new to the hobby what they will be playing in 20 years."

Will D&D4 be around in 20 years?  I am surprised that people are still playing some of the games they are playing now.  But D&D4 as a system has enough going for it, and enough material, to last for 20 years.  Though I bet support for it will end when D&D5 comes out (though you can still find material for D&D 3.5 on WotC's site).

Hell I have enough games for the next 50 years and I am not even sure what we will be playing at my next game session.  It could be Traveller, it could be Pathfinder, it could even be something our GM bought the night before. 

I agree with the Grumpy Celt, we will most likely see a new D&D around 2016.


christian said...

I read that post and was really annoyed. It's another example of why I don't follow too many OSR blogs. I get it. 4e kicked your puppy and you gnash your teeth and wail in the darkness because some gamers like to try new things.

I think what JB wanted to hear was, "No! D&D 4e is ridiculous and before you know it, everyone will recognize the error of their ways and adopt B/X and love it forever!"

The more likely truth is that people will continue to play 4e long after it's gone and even if its just a handful of people, that handful will still be larger than the people playing B/X.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I agree. What many in the OSR want is for someone, I am not sure who, to come down and tell them that D&D 4 was BAAAAAAD and that WotC to rename itself TSR and only produce games they already own.

But there are others that ignore it just play what they want. If that happens to be 4e or OD&D or something else then they don't care what others do or say.

The trouble is that both sides of the edition wars sees the other as idiots and no one is willing to budge an inch. Great way to promote the hobby guys! One-True-Wayism always works.

People though should come to terms with the fact that 4e will never have the cultural impact of 1st ed. Not because of the game itself, but the times in which they were both released.

Anonymous said...

I honestly believe it really doesnt matter how long it lasts.. if you enjoy playing it then play it.

I grew up with the very first edition, in fact I still have the original 3 brown/tan book set and I will never give them up. These 3 books bring back many memories that I am very fond of, but I still play 4E. Why because just like video games they grow up and get better over time. WOW, GuildWars, Baldurs Gate, Neverwinter the list keeps growing. All of these games have their good and bad points, and everyone has an opinion... do I care no i enjoyed each of them at thier own time...and Im glad I didnt miss them growing up, or with my kids.
Bottom Line is this, get a perspective in what your doing with your time, if playing a game you consider crappy and is a waste of time then go to another one, the point being create a memory of what your doing with whatever game and enjoy it. I do.

Keith S said...

Tim said: "People though should come to terms with the fact that 4e will never have the cultural impact of 1st ed. Not because of the game itself, but the times in which they were both released."

I agree with that sentiment. First edition established the genre. 4e updated the mechanics to match the gaming vocabulary of modern players.

Will 4e last? It's already being superseded by Essentials. The game changes, but it's still the same.

The Hopeless Gamer said...

We started off on 4th Edition and have collected many of the books between my friends and myself. I could see playing 4th Edition indefinitely, or I could see moving onto 5th Edition if it looks more fun.

I'm a habitually buyer of the new, so chances are pretty good I will be buying 5th Edition when it comes out. I'm not bitter about this at all, and frankly, I don't get the bitterness people feel over the Edition wars.

Gaming Ronin said...

Maybe some 20years from now when 6th edition is out the players learning how to play today will be playing "keep off my lawn" with 4E. There are a lot of people coming into the hobbie right now that only really know 4th. Its going to be up to these people to keep the game going.

The Red DM said...


I would say that's quite likely actually. One of the reasons that 2E is largely forgotten by those who played earlier editions is that it is so much like those earlier editions.

By being so very different from what came before it practically ensures that someone will be playing it still when the rest move on.

Dennis Laffey said...

Personally, I hope people are playing 4E (and 3E, and BX, and whatever other editions/clones of D&D are out there) in 20 years.

I personally didn't like 4E, but as you guys mentioned, people playing ANY games is good for the hobby.

I think the real test came with Pathfinder, though. WotC came out with 4th, and sort of assumed everyone would jump ship from 3E with them. Didn't happen. A large segment of their player base was happy with what they were already playing.

Likely the same thing will happen with 4E when 5E comes along. WotC is gonna want 4E to just sort of fade away so that everyone will buy their new 5E stuff, but the folks that really dig the game are gonna hold onto it.

Cross Planes said...

I think 2016 for a new edition is wishful thinking. Essentials is a well thought out 4.5, where they learned enough to make it compatible. Looking at Gamma World in a similar light as Star Wars Saga Edition (especially if the Ravenloft Game is similar), I think we're seeing the foundation of the 5E development. I'd say 2013 is alot closer to reality. Hasbro has seen that new editions sell. THey've seen that new core books sell. They won't walk away from a proven revenue stream, even if Wizards balks.

UHF said...

Surprisingly... ('cause I'm a 4e fan) I'm going to say no. But I want it too...

4e has a strong digital dependence and a kill switch in the GSL (the rights to sell products can be revoked at any time).

I don't even know what kind of computer I'm going to have in the future, let alone whether WOTC will continue to support Character Builder. (Somehow, I think not.)

On the other hand I feel that if they did try to pull support for 4e, unofficial, ahem, support would spontaneously appear.

Few of us oldsters remember what it was like when we were young. There were all these old guys who played historical miniatures games. They would look down their reading glasses at us wondering why we were wasting time on this D&D thing. Where are they now?