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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Save vs. Stupid Marketing Decisions

Dear Wizards of the Coast:

Did you fail your saving throw vs. Stupid Marketing Decisions?

Putting aside the fact that a promotional video for your own product shouldn't underscore all the ways it has sucked over the years...

Putting aside the annoying, lisping little Frenchie...

Putting aside the fact that even a casual D&D player knows you can't just behead a troll like that without using fire or acid to overcome its regeneration...

All of that aside, you have still made a huge and stupid blunder: You announced 4th edition before Christmas.

Goodbye, Christmas sales of 3.5 edition books.

You remember Christmas, right? The one month of the year that brings in more revenue than the previous eleven combined? Yeah, you just screwed yourself out of that money.

I know that I, for one, will certainly not buy any D&D product until 4e comes out, because it's 99% certain that it won't be backwards- compatible, and I know I'm not the only one to think like this. Regardless of whether or not I switch to 4e, since I know that 3.5 lifespan ends in May 2008, I'll just wait until the hordes of fanboys sell their "obsolete" books back to the stores. I'll bet I can get a very nice discount on them....

Seriously, that's a totally bonehead maneuver. What you should have done was wait until January to make the announcement, and then release the books in August at GenCon 2008.

See how tidy that is? You get your Christmas sales, you announce "A new edition for a new year," and you release that edition at the biggest fucking gaming convention in the U.S.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go stake out a place by the bargain bins.


  1. Oh dear. That was really very dire.

    Worse than the internal promotional videos than some wireless providers produce to boost morale..

  2. Can I cry now?

    ... The only saving grace is I can tease some of the R&D folks for taking part in the commercial.

  3. I'm not going to comment on the video, as I'm on dial-up and anything over 2KB is prohibitive to my attention span.

    However, I must object to the mentality that because 4E was announced that Christmas sales will suddenly cease. Oh sure, they'll be a little less, but if your logic holds true (and trust me, it really should), then Nintendo would not have been able to successfully launch the Game Boy Micro, a full-priced, new model of the Game Boy Advance that came out quite a bit after the Nintendo DS hit the store shelves.

    It's a slightly different situation there, but I still think that this won't impact the company as it may at first seem.

  4. Of course they won't cease, Grem. You will ALWAYS have obsessive fanboys who will rush out to buy the latest book.

    Will this decision bankrupt Wizards of the Coast and cause the cancellation of D&D? Of course not.

    Does it mean that every single new book published between now and May 2008 will have notably diminished sales? In all likelihood, yes.

    Will nine months of diminished sales, including a sub-optimal Christmas season, affect marketing and production decisions for the next fiscal year at least? I will be surprised if they don't.

    Is it a dumb decision even if no harm comes to the company? Yes, yes it is, because for the life of me I cannot see how this will increase sales, which is the entire point of advertising. "Not failing" doesn't redeem a bad decision, it just means you got lucky.

  5. I'm going to guess the average age of gamers ranges from 13 to so 22 (middle school through college), yes there are a number of us Gamer Geeks who have continued beyond that, but I think we're probably the exception rather than the rule.

    Now what's the one thing that people in that level (age) range lack the most? Money! Cold, hard cash.

    So I actually see this as a good thing. Little Jimmy might have rushed out to buy the latest module, but now having seen this video, he's going to save all his birthday money and allowances for 2008, so he can make sure to have the money to buy PHB, DMG and Monster Manuals when they come out. As well as the all the spiffy new module's that will be coming out.

    Yes, in the short term it will no doubt hurt WotC's monetarily, but I believe, in the long run, the pre-announcement will help them.

    my two cents.
    Mike: The Gamer Geek

  6. While I did laugh at the grappling segment of that video (It's a fighter hugging a troll - what's not to be amused by that?), I am pretty unsure about 4th ed. From what little I've read about it, it sounds like it could be good, but who knows.

    On a similiar tangent - they're canceling Living Greyhawk. I'm not sure if I'm really happy to see it go (hint: I don't like Living Greyhawk), or feel sorry for all its players. Either way, WotC is going to lose quite a bit of money from that angle.


  7. That frenchie is half, if not 3/4s of the that commercials suck value.

    The Narrator of any clip should not have an accent that heavy.


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