Thursday, March 6, 2014

What Will $50 get You?

So I am slow at this. Sorry, been sick.

The price point for the first releases of the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons has been leaked by Barnes & Noble.

The Player's Handbook has a MSRP of $49.99. (link now dead)
The "Starter Set" has a MSRP of $19.99. (link also dead)
(the Escapist has commentary and screenshots)

And queue the rounds of people saying it's too expensive.

Let's look at the Player's Handbooks over the years. I have included the price, the number of pages, and the retail price. I am also including the adjusted price for inflation based on the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

AD&D 1st Ed. (1978) 128 pages, $19.95  ($71.68)
AD&D 2nd Ed. (1989) 246 pages, $20.00 ($37.73)
D&D 3.0 (2000) 302 pages, $19.95*  (special intro price, increased to $29.95)  ($27.10, $40.68)
D&D 3.5 (2003) 302 pages, $29.95 ($38.07)
D&D 4th (2008) 320 pages, $34.95 ($37.97)
D&D 5th Ed. (2014) xxx pages, $50.00 ($50.00)

Maybe $40.00 is the sweet spot on this, but $50.00 does not seem too far out to me.
Compare this to a new video game, $60.00.  Ah, but you say, you can't play D&D with just the player's book, you need at least another 100 bucks for the DMG and MM.  Well. You can't play a video game by itself either you need a system (anywhere from $300 to $400).

So really. This is not a huge expense in today's market.  It is also likely to be 300+ pages, full color with, what I have seen so far, great art.

I am planning on buying these at my Favorite Local Game Store.  I believe in keeping game stores in business and supporting my local economy. So yeah, that means I am in for at least $120.00.  I will get the starter set too.

But you know what? I am an adult. I make good money. I can drop that much on my favorite hobby, on my favorite game.

Currently the modules for D&D 5 run from $5.00 (Vault of the Dracolich) to $18.00 (Dreams of the Red Wizards: Scourge of the Sword Coast) to $30 ($18 on sale) (Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle).
I like the art and expect that the rule books will be about the same.

So honestly, this sounds fine to me.


Nathan Irving said...

I've also seen commentary comparing it to the cost of a movie. (Hint: You get more hours out of the book.) I have no problem with the price. Hardcover novels are pushing $30 retail,and those are only good for a few days.

Charles Akins said...

I've seen several people bring the inflation price into this, but I think that's bunk. I, like most people, don't look at the price of milk going up and say, "Well you know, when you consider the rate of inflation it's still reasonable."

JasperAK said...

It would be nice if my paycheck rose with inflation.

Timothy Brannan said...

Well yeah, but $50 is worth much less to me now than $20 was in 1979.

2eDM said...

I agree with Charles & Jasper. They know people are complaining about the price of the books, so why don't they just cut some of the art? Color art is nice, but it's not really needed. pre-WotC editions had very little color art, if any. Tbh,if a player is the sort of person who requires pretty pictures, they'd probably have more fun playing a video game.

Timothy Brannan said...

The art is a non-argument. All books from major game publishers have full color art these days. They could also make them softcover, but I doubt that it ever came up.

Could they cut back on the art? Sure. But also I doubt it has come up as an option.

Jay Exonauts said...

The bigger issue is can they be competitive with Pathfinder, which has taken D&D's marketshare. At $50, likely not. So a price adjustment is required to give it a decent shot at de-throning the new king.

Also, yeah, artwork is non-negotiable these days. Buyers just expect loads of full color illustrations. It wouldn't stand a chance without them.

Tim Shorts said...

My issue won't be the cost of the books, but the quality of the game. The last version had a lot of unnecessary art that inflated the page count and did not enhance the content.

And this is the OSRian in me, but it still stands, I hope they focus on the quality of the game this time around than the look of it.

5stonegames said...

Good stuff though I have a slight quibble with the inflation adjustment on the 1979 through 80's books.

1979 Workers got a massively higher % of the GDP as wages (almost double) and a family was supported by one worker typically.

In adjusted terms and with the raging inflation of the period the book still pencils out to about $40 and with lower family wage impacts do to lower housing and energy costs

The others save for the 4e one are actually a bit cheaper than that.

And yes production values are much better, that is a natural product of technology and is reasonably expected, Its simply easier to make nicer books

And JasperAK, agreed. Best that can be done is to remember that your wages as % GDP are half that of 1973 and that means are as a portion of total wealth (the only measure that really counts) half as rich as the previous generations.

Keep that in mind when you vote and if whoever is running isn't working to fix that they aren't working for you.

OK, erm sorry enough politics on Tim's Blog back to gaming.

I will say that with the economy the way it is, it will be a while before I get 5e.

I liked the playtest , it mostly hits my sweet spots and and want the game but with my current gaming and the economy $50 is too much for a read and put in a box game.

Also I have tons of Pathfinder which my groups likes a lot and as we have 4 people wanting to GM and only one wanting to play exclusively we have to alternate.

4 weeks per GM per game and of those game, none of them are D&D or D&D like.

Mine might be but I put myself at the end of the line and when I start something on my turn its not going to be 5e since my turn is before the release. This means it will be quite a few months before 5e makes the rounds.

No sense spending the money.

Jeremy said...

The problem isn't if middle aged people can afford the books, it's whether or not kids can afford to spend $150.

When I was a kid, despite my parents being lower-middle class, I had a $10 allowance a week, and my friends typically had similar ones. D&D books were relatively easy for me to afford.

Can the same be said for kids today?

Nathan Irving said...

$10 won't get you into a movie now. :/

bad wolf said...

Okay, i thought your price for the original 1st Ed Player's Handbook was high, but i couldn't find any corroborating proof for a while.

According to the price list at the back of the Holmes Basic D&D, the PH and Monster Manual were both $9.95, and the DMG was still 'forthcoming'. (I'm guessing it was closer to $14.95 initially.) Anyway, this all puts the price squarely in the $35-something in today's dollars trend that you observe for later editions.

There are other factors such as loss of economy-of-scale that might be at work--and comics readers have observed that they have risen significantly faster than inflation in the last decade, completely skipping intermediate price points (from $3 to $4 without $3.50 or $3.25 along the way).

Nathan Irving said...

Re: comic prices - 75 cents up to a dollar is the same ratio as three dollars to four dollars. I don't expect comic prices to rise by a dime every time. That said, I think they've about maxed out. I'm switching to trades, and I know many other people are too.

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