Tim Baker wrote:
Havard wrote:3) The video perpetuates the myth that multiple settings was a big problem. This is a myth.
I don't think I've ever heard anyone challenge the assumption that multiple settings ended up hurting TSR. I'm interested to hear your take.
Firstly, Tim, go to the [video] Secrets of TSR
topic, watch the awesome video made by ex-2nd Edition designers and come to your own conclusions.
We have specific evidence there that "Al-Qadim was more sucessful than Dark Sun" (despite the gold ink on products that made them more expensive to produce). It did not "suceed where Dark Sun failed". Both made a profit and Al-Qadim made more money per unit than Dark Sun.
So even if we start off with the assumption that "too many settings killed TSR" we know that any fingerpointing done against either Dark Sun or Al-Qadim is nonsense.
Now if you watch another part of the video you find out that Dragonlance Saga lost money...
...but you also find out that it was a big success.
Those two things seem to be in conflict, but if you watch the video you find out that the Saga designers made something that sold really well, but the printing company witheld essential information from them. What these designers didn't realise is that their cool products were selling at a loss. So they were not a failure either (from a fan point-of-view - and the finger has been pointed at Saga) but they were a commercial failure.
The Saga designers pulled the plug as soon as they realised that their product was leeching money.
Why someone would not want the Saga designers to realise their business model was flawed earlier on, I'm not sure. But I think that
sort of stuff is what killed TSR.
If the Saga designers had been given access to the same level of information that Jeff Grubb had when he designed Al-Qadim, I think they Saga team would have had time to go back to the drawing board, and change things so that they would not be made at a loss.
And if you listen to Jeff Grubb's Al-Qadim plan, where he designed Al-Qadim in a way where TSR can deliberately cut the product line short before it starts to loose money...without the fans feeling they have been sold an incomplete products, you can see that the D&D designers didn't just have the skill to make cool stuff...they had the skill to make economical cool stuff.
I did give up D&D towards the end of 2nd Edition and I believe that it might be possible that the tail end campaign settings (like Jakandor, Council of Wyrms, Savage Coast, Night Below and Tale of the Comet) might have had smaller fanbases than the lead campaign settings. I know that we don't have bespoke forums for all of these settings yet (that's something that frustrates me as a fan who wants to see fans of all settings supported - no matter how small the fandom is) so I would take that as possible evidence that the later 2e products might have been more of a failure.
But I have no doubt that the 2nd Edition Era was a massive success for campaign settings.
As a 3rd Edition player I attribute the success of the 3rd Edition Forgotten Realms line directly on the work done for FR under 2e.
And we know that it was a toss up between Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk getting the big support during the 3rd Edition Era, so that means that Greyhawk was also a big success. (Living Greyhawk certainly was a big success. That built on the work of 2e Greyhawk.)
MWP also had good success with their 3e Dragonlance products, built on the back of 2e work, as did Sword & Sorcery Studio with their Ravenloft line.
All of these product lines worked well for 3e specifically
because they had a pre-made fanbase.
Havard wrote:I think this mostly comes from Ryan Dancey who was the business head of the roleplaying department at Wizards of the Coast from 1998 to 2002. One of the things Ryan Dancey revealed was that TSR generally lacked good information about which of their products sold well and which sold poorly. So even at this point, much of what Rancey revealed about TSR sales was based on speculation on his part.
I try not to do WotC bashing (or TSR bashing) but I think that the one big problem I've seen from the owners of D&D is negative marketing hype.
The 3rd Edition launch was accompanied by the "too many settings killed TSR" mantra.
The 4th Edition launch was accompanied by the "3e was too complicated" mantra.
The 5th Edition launch was accompanied by the "4e was not like D&D" mantra.
All versions of D&D (even the ones I've not mentioned here) all have their own fanbases. And they all have their pros and cons. And I really wish these people would stop doing this negative hype and stick to the "standing on the shoulders of giants" approach and just say that they are "trying something new based on feedback over the last X years".