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Author Topic: Will the current Woke Environment Hasten, or Delay a WOTC commitment to 6th Ed.?  (Read 3711 times)

Jaeger

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An overwhelming majority of current players and potential new players just don't care about this issue. Of those who do care, the number who LIKE it probably outnumber the people who dislike it, due to the wealth of players coming from younger generations and the dying off of older players (either literally or figuratively as they stay with a prior version of the game).

This is an interesting hypothesis.

 I readily admit that this idea is not without some basis. 5e with its inclusions of "woke lite" seems to be a license to print money. And if you look at twitter, youtube, and various online forums, the preponderance of 5e players do seem to fall into the "woke is OK" crowd.

The first counterpoint I would make would be that so far 5e is very 'woke lite'; The inclusions of the SJW narrative are very easy to ignore for the rest of the not-woke player base. The "woke" messaging has not been made apart of D&D's core identity yet in the main 3 rule books.

A second counterpoint would be what has happened to the major print comic book companies DC and Marvel since they went full woke.

If they were not owned by their respective big corporations they would have filed for bankruptcy years ago. Comic sales from them are at an all time low. The wokeification of  comics and woke versions of iconic characters do not even do close to the numbers that the original un-woke versions did.

You'd figure Marvel comics be riding high after the success of the marvel movie series. But they are not. Marvel and DC had both been steadily downsizing even before the Kung-Flu hit.

But even with Comics and RPG's being 'Geek' market products - I do admit that does not mean there is full crossover between the two respective fan bases. I use it merely as an indicator, not a 1:1 correlation.

Ultimately we'll see if the D&D audience will put up with a significant shift in tone. Or they'll do what a lot of the comic book audience has done, and just walk away.

It is worth noting though that even if the woke crowd are now the majority fans -  alienating even 30-20% of your audience with a 100% woke edition, and causing them to walk away will result in severe annual revenue reductions over time.

 And it would create an opening for a viable competitor to cater to that audience.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 10:02:54 PM by Jaeger »
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Omega

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5th ed came out in 2014. We are now a year past the usual WOTC obsession with the damn "5 year plan". So assuming they are still addicted to that stupid. Then it is only a matter of time before 6e comes out. Despite it being the most crackheaded idea ever.

Failing that, for example HASBRO saying "No. Stick to 5e". WOTC will find some other way to fuck things up more than they already are. Gradually they will have gotten rid of the few writers who were toning down the stupid creeping into the books and we will have more of these woke indoctrination booklets in the works.

Eirikrautha

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An overwhelming majority of current players and potential new players just don't care about this issue. Of those who do care, the number who LIKE it probably outnumber the people who dislike it, due to the wealth of players coming from younger generations and the dying off of older players (either literally or figuratively as they stay with a prior version of the game).

This is an interesting hypothesis.

 I readily admit that this idea is not without some basis. 5e with its inclusions of "woke lite" seems to be a license to print money. And if you look at twitter, youtube, and various online forums, the preponderance of 5e players do seem to fall into the "woke is OK" crowd.

It's funny.  Whenever I would suggest to someone on various message boards that there existed a flaw in X based on public reaction on that board (where X was either that person's favorite RPG, or the RPG that the message board was dedicated to), I would frequently be told that the vast majority of RPG players never bothered to read or visit online forums/materials/discussion of RPGs, so my perspective on play was hopelessly flawed.  That is probably a fair point.  I think it holds equally, or even more so, true for Twitter, YouTube, et al.  I have a profession that puts me in constant contact with young people (due to the present cancel culture here in the US, I'll be no more specific... but you can probably guess).  I can tell you that there are a small number (less than 10%) of the younger generation who are vocal wokesters, generally to get attention and/or provide a sense of importance to themselves.  The vast majority of the young people, on the other hand, simply roll their eyes and ignore the stupid. 

In fact, more young people than you would expect hold what could be described as right-leaning opinions, either due having been directly impacted negatively by wokeness (every time you "call out" someone in call-out culture, you are creating a potential enemy along with your self-aggrandizing display) or because in today's America, transgressive displays (the goal of every teenager) are almost exclusively clustered on the right.  Come out as gay or trans, and you are surrounded by authority figures (in schools, public institutions, the media, etc.) who will support you.  But if you really want to shock your parents and those in authority, declare support for Trump!  You'll get the same reaction an earring or tattoo would have gotten you in the 50's.

So I don't think the hypothesis is supported by anything other than the loudest voices on Twitter.  And I think we can safely say that isn't representative of the American public, or even American teens.  Hell, it'd be like asserting that RPGNet has captured the pulse of the hobby, because you never see a contradictory opinion there (and ignoring that this is true because all opposing voices are silenced, just like on Twitter, Reddit, etc.).  And WotC will be in for a big shock if they count on teens to buy the game simply because it goes woke.  Woke just isn't cool anymore...

Mistwell

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A second counterpoint would be what has happened to the major print comic book companies DC and Marvel since they went full woke.

If they were not owned by their respective big corporations they would have filed for bankruptcy years ago. Comic sales from them are at an all time low. The wokeification of  comics and woke versions of iconic characters do not even do close to the numbers that the original un-woke versions did.

You'd figure Marvel comics be riding high after the success of the marvel movie series. But they are not. Marvel and DC had both been steadily downsizing even before the Kung-Flu hit.

You might want to question your assumptions.

I don't even think most middle age adults realize where a lot of sales from both major comic companies are coming from. For example, I don't think most middle age adults have even heard of Raina Telgemeier, though her middle school graphic novels are outselling most books being published today. And I didn't make a mistake in language there - her graphic novels are outselling most BOOKS, including all comic books, these days.

I think when you're talking comic books, you're thinking superhero books. Superheroes is not even where most of the money is at these days. Not to mention, both companies are selling a lot in other languages and in other nations these days as well. The marketplace changed. It's huge, and not what you might expect.

Also, this is one of the very few topics where I have genuine insider knowledge. Neither company would be bankrupt. Neither has run a negative for any year as it's own unit other than the year decades ago when Marvel really did file. Neither is propped up by it's larger corporate owner. Both have run profitably every year for decades. While I do think woke politics are doing some internal damage to both companies, both are still doing OK with sales, though Covid did give both a gut punch as so many stores shut down. But that's unrelated to woke politics.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 10:56:02 PM by Mistwell »

Razor 007

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I guess WOTC may allow 5th Edition to live on, since it's still making good money?

They may just release a "D&D Unchained" book, and include a few pages of wokification?
I need you to roll a perception check.....

Wiseblood

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Mistwell,

I have gotten the impression that the comic shops were almost told by the big companies what to carry. Is that close to reality or am I missing or misunderstanding?

Another question: Do the numbers in the link include profit from merchandising or is it purely comic book sales?

Ratman_tf

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An overwhelming majority of current players and potential new players just don't care about this issue. Of those who do care, the number who LIKE it probably outnumber the people who dislike it, due to the wealth of players coming from younger generations and the dying off of older players (either literally or figuratively as they stay with a prior version of the game).

There's always a new generation coming into the picture. The aging wokesters are in the workforce and being replaced by... I'm going to coin them the memesters. Kids who have grown up with the internet and have a completely different perspective on social justice issues. They are going to be the new target demographic, and the wokesters trying to create content they'll enjoy are going to find they're completely out of touch. As the generation before them was.
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The vast majority of people don't care about such issues until you make them care.  Then they do.  Which is how, for example, ESPN went from losing a few thousand subscribers a month to hundreds of thousands, seeming overnight.  Kind of like a negative version of the "overnight sensations" in music that only worked hard for a decade or two before being discovered.

So yes, there is some amount of wokeness that any game can do that will not appreciably hurt their sales.  You could even argue that that the initial slice they lose is replaced, maybe even more than replaced, by those that agree with them.  The problem is that the woke never quit until they've completely won or killed something or someone manages to make them quit (AKA shareholders).  There is nothing special about a game that exempts it from this dynamic.  It is difficult to get people to give up something they like, either entirely or to find an alternative.  Unlike movies and sports, it is a hell of a lot easier to find an alternative for a game.  So the barrier to quitting is much smaller.  Will Hasbro tolerate a self-inflicted loss of 30% of the market?  Maybe.

Melan

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Hasten:
WOTC is a few personnel changes away from going full woke. It is an inevitable result of the local politics they came from, and that they now self select and filter all new hires through.
That's correct. "Seattle, WA" and "Portland, OR" tends to explain a lot of these things. WotC is a "Seattle, WA" company through and through.

[edit]Just read Death to the Minotaur, an article by John Tynes describing the company's corporate culture... in the 1990s. Now add 20+ years, and there you are.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2021, 07:53:01 AM by Melan »
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Charon's Little Helper

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Delay: WoTC doesn't get the final say about such major decisions. Hasbro does. Hasbro likely doesn't want to kill the golden goose that is 5e. Hasbro lets WoTC get away with a lot so long as D&D is profitable - but it's unlikely they'll let them do anything major that might risk that.

Chris24601

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While I previously stated I’d love them to go full-woke for my own financial benefit, my realistic expectation is that, given history, now that those in power have largely secured it, the need for destabilizing social elements is rapidly declining.

Case in point; during their rise to power c. 1917-1930, the Soviets legalized gay and transgender activities to destabilize things, once power was secured they re-criminalized both in 1933 with even harsher penalties and labeled them as subversive pro-fascist behaviors because even the Commies knew better than to really base their civilization on the preferences of a few percent of non-breeding snowflakes in their population.

I would not be surprised at all to see wokists thrown under the bus over the next few years now that they’ve exceeded their usefulness and keeping the 95% of the population that is “cis-gender” relatively docile takes precedence. Most darkly humorous of all is that those in power will likely adopt the “get woke go broke” mantra as their rationale and the right-leaning culture warriors who aren’t paying attention will declare it a win.

By the time 2024 rolls around woke may be again back on the ash heap of history and “pro-authority” the cultural message du jur of a “50th Anniversary Edition” (basically 5e, but repackaged as “D&D50”).

Because sorta like how Windows jumped straight from 8 to 10 (and [product]2000 was all the rage at the turn of the millennium) for marketing reasons, I suspect the marketing department will decide that “50th” is much stronger branding than “6e” so even if there are significant revisions (akin to the jump from 1e to 2e) it will never be called out as 6e during its lifetime (similar to how Vampire 20th Anniversary edition/V20 was never called Vampire 4e... but it’s successor is called V5/5th Edition).

hedgehobbit

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I don't even think most middle age adults realize where a lot of sales from both major comic companies are coming from. For example, I don't think most middle age adults have even heard of Raina Telgemeier, though her middle school graphic novels are outselling most books being published today. And I didn't make a mistake in language there - her graphic novels are outselling most BOOKS, including all comic books, these days.

Raina Telgameier's books are not made by "major comic companies" nor do her sales help the comic book industry in any way. It is wrong to include her sales in with the likes DC and Marvel. The same could be said about including manga sales as "comic books".

DC and Marvel sales have been dropping for several years now. Comichron shows this. They only keep their revenue up by charging more per issue. And their drop in sales corresponds exactly to the point where they went woke.

The movie industry does the same thing. When ticket sales started to drop, they raised the price. When that no longer worked, the movie industry started to only talks about global box office, which is (was?) rising.

And WotC also does this by including people who watch Critical Role into the "D&D Community" despite those people not actually contributing to their bottom line.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2021, 12:24:45 PM by hedgehobbit »

Dimitrios

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I'm not super plugged in, but I haven't seen or heard anything to contradict the claim that traditional Marvel/DC superhero comics have seen declining sales (number of books sold, not $$) for a while now. Of course the overall picture for "comics" in general is different, especially, as noted above, if you are including manga.

To get back on topic, I'll stick with my "cosmetic changes only" prediction for the next edition. Maybe I'm just overestimating how rational managers are, but after Wizards nearly killed the golden goose once, it's hard to believe that Hasbro would let them try again.

jhkim

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While I previously stated I’d love them to go full-woke for my own financial benefit, my realistic expectation is that, given history, now that those in power have largely secured it, the need for destabilizing social elements is rapidly declining.

Case in point; during their rise to power c. 1917-1930, the Soviets legalized gay and transgender activities to destabilize things, once power was secured they re-criminalized both in 1933 with even harsher penalties and labeled them as subversive pro-fascist behaviors because even the Commies knew better than to really base their civilization on the preferences of a few percent of non-breeding snowflakes in their population.

I would not be surprised at all to see wokists thrown under the bus over the next few years now that they’ve exceeded their usefulness and keeping the 95% of the population that is “cis-gender” relatively docile takes precedence. Most darkly humorous of all is that those in power will likely adopt the “get woke go broke” mantra as their rationale and the right-leaning culture warriors who aren’t paying attention will declare it a win.

By the time 2024 rolls around woke may be again back on the ash heap of history and “pro-authority” the cultural message du jur of a “50th Anniversary Edition” (basically 5e, but repackaged as “D&D50”).

I would express it differently, but I can understand that argument. I think the recent example in the U.S. is how the 1990s saw much more moderate Democrats predominate -- compared to the push in the 1960s and 1970s by the more progressive fringe. Bill Clinton was more of a uniparty candidate, and there was much less pushback against the War on Drugs and mass incarceration, and other parts of the liberal agenda. Currently, mainstream elements are trying to push "police are good" message to mainstream Democrats -- because of riots and unrest.

I think we may be close to peak partisanship, because people are emotionally exhausted from maintaining their current levels of outrage.

As far as a D&D edition - *if* things go this way, I wouldn't think all liberals would all be thrown under the bus. I think rather, that they'd keep in a few token changes to satisfy mainstream Democrats, and they'd push back against the more progressive wing as "you're never satisfied". The 50th Anniversary edition would be more like 5E Essentials -- repackaged but compatible. It would have a more old-school overall look and feel, with some token inclusions of a few non-whites and strong women.

Then again, we might have to go a little further before reaching peak partisanship. I think a lot depends on how the Republicans re-organize in the post-Trump era.

Theory of Games

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Neither:

Making a 50th edition is smart money and WotC isn't that far gone to miss the opportunity. I remember cracking open 3e for the first time and seeing a completely different D&D. Then 4e was again a different game. 5e went back to some older elements while tossing in some new ones. But, I attribute 5e's success mainly to great marketing (Critical Role, Stranger Things, Big Bang, Community, Freaks and Geeks, and a lot of plugs from cartoons like Gumball) rather than it's design.

TV's a wonderful device for creating/changing culture.

The SJWokehold will impact 6e. I could see a game with DIY Classes and Races. Alignment will be removed completely so Demons and Chromatic Dragons can be our friends :-* And, you can play gender-fluid, paraplegic, schizophrenic half-dragon, half-Tabaxi Monk/Magus/Artificer with a teleporting golf-cart --- at L1, of course.

Who wouldn't want to play THAT?!?!?