Monthly Fees for Game Books from Wizards of the Coast

Subscribe to the “Dungeons and Dragons” web site and get access to all of the material from every book they publish, or will publish in the future.  The books are in a “handy” searchable format and/or database.  In addition, there are  many other site features that appeal to gamers. Sounds great in a WOTC marketing meeting, but I see some real issues with this for subscribers.

Simply put, WOTC is not selling content or books. It is not even selling software.  It is selling a service. This service provides game rules, modules, maps and forums to meet other gamers.  As a service, it has limitations that need examination.

Buy a book from “WOTC” and the information within is yours for all time. It does not have a self-destruct system built in. I still have the very first “Dungeon Master’s Guide” I bought more than 20 years ago. Books are an enduring investment.

Stop paying for your “Dungeons and Dragons” subscription and everything goes away.

Even if you do not use the sites many other features, such as maps or forums, you still pay the same amount every month.

It is $14.95 a month for this year, what about next year? Since WOTC is the only “Dungeons and Dragons” “official” vendor, they set the price with no outside competition. The $14.95 amount did not come out  of thin air. They picked it because many MMORPG games have around  the same price point. They knew the market could bear it.  Next year, it could be raised or lowered, depending on the vagaries of the market.

Worst case, the site goes under and you have lost your “investment.” Admittedly, this is unlikely with Hasbro backing the site, but possible.

The online play features have readily available free alternatives. Though they are not as polished. I have successfully run modules with Game Table and Skype.

Even ignoring all of the above, my primary concern is this: when did gamers need a service to play a tabletop rpg?

All you need is a table, a rule set, dice, some players and a game master for a great game. The rules are not the game, the game is the players and the DM.

Everything else is optional.

Please do not misunderstand me.  If you can  live with these limitations and can afford the $179.40 per year, then by all means, sign up. All griping aside, I will probably try it for a month or two, just to check it out.

Just never, ever think it is necessary to play the game.

Trask, the Last Tyromancer



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.