Now this provides an interesting opportunity for WotC. Every new accessory, module, or other splat book created going forward could have 6 versions: B\X D&D, 1ed, 2ed, 3.5ed, 4ed, 5ed! All one has to do is edit the stat lines. Publish 5ed...and make the other editions of the same book ebook format only. This would effectively create "a one product to rule them all" approach to every game future accessory you publish!
- Shows company support for the brand, its fans and history from every generation.
- Only printing/inventorying one book (5th) which supports your current version and marketing at retail.
- Revenue up (probably double at least) for every new accessory book you make.
- Electronic versions are high profit!
- Requires a small team (minimum 3 people) for each previous generation product line to verify/create stat blocks. 3.5 edition and 4th may require 6-10 each.
- Opportunity to print hard copy "hobby only" editions of specific ebooks which have demonstrated high sales. This would let you make money 2x on the same product, support the core channel with exclusives, and minimize inventory holdings because you are producing something with known high demand.
- You are adding head count to manage stat block creation/ editing for each previous, and already abandoned iteration of the game
- Translating product to other generations may prove a time consuming task creating uneven release schedule across the line, or it could delay flagship (5th) releases if one tries a universal release date.
- It could create competition with your flagship product in the market creating a softening of 5th ed sales at retail taking your brand out of the mass market placement opportunities.
- Some previous edition(s) may not be profitable enough to maintain full support.
I could go much further into the weeds with a business plan, but I don't work for WotC and there is more than enough free genius there already.
Overall the massive profit potential, no inventory holdings and small headcount increase, from a bean counting perspective, makes it a project worth aggressively pursuing. Leveraging the creation of one item to gain sales cross such a broad spectrum of customers is an outstanding use of resources and exponentially increases your profitability on each new item made.
This is the D&D advantage and it pulls from Pathfinder's player base while reaching anyone who has, or will play the game.
From a fan/player perspective? This is mana from heaven! Whatever edition of the grand old game you like...you are getting NEW content! All generations/editions of fans are playing they same product creating a massive unified community. Sure not all will be in print, but who cares? It is NEW CONTENT for any edition of the game you like!
If I were WotC, to further advertise this and to promote the brand, I'd make e-reader covers (Ipad, kindle, nook etc) with images that look like the cover of many classic game books! (Moldvay Basic, 1 AD&D Players Handbook, 2 AD&D DM's Guide, etc.) Advertise your ebook plan, and give gamers a cool hook to be excited and proud of their edition.
Greg Leeds, give me a call if you want to talk.