Tuesday, 7 April 2009

WOTC Poison the pdf Well

In a move of breath-taking moronism WOTC have pulled all their pdfs from online stores.
(source: Paizo, PRG.net, WOTC forums discuss this)

I initially thought this latest let's-shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot-for-Great-Justice move was a late April Fools joke. It would appear not.

One of the few sane things WOTC did in recent years was making old edition D&D material available cheaply and legally. It was a perfect example of why both the internet, and Smithian enlightened self-interest, are "A Good Thing" (pace Sellar & Yateman):

More money for WOTC, more game for customers; everyone won!

But it looks like the above was too complex an equation for the beancounters. So the orders went forth to poison the well from a moronic combination of spite and misdirected greed ("But hey, you can still buy 4E...and pay us monthly for D&D Insider. That's just as good, right? Herp derp."). Yeah, that'll totally work; because cutting off the only legal source of material makes that material wholly unavailable in an era of copy/paste and file sharing protocols.

I imagine the decision-making process went something like this:

Scene: WOTC HQ, Interior, Daytime.

WOTC pointy-haired boss: "Times are hard and money is tight. People are pirating pdfs and that costs us money. We'll have to strangle this piracy at source. Suggestions?"

WOTC minion 1: "Shut down the legal downloads operation."

WOTC minion 2: "Yeah, that'll larn them dirty thieves!

WOTC pointy-haired boss: "Excellent. Make it so!"

WOTC codemonkey: "Oook ook ak ook EEEEEK!"

[WOTC Codemonkey flings poop, spams Ctrl+X]

WOTC pointy-haired boss: "Our troubles are at an end gentlenerds."

The Internet: [censorship = damage. Route around] "lulz @ wotc. torrentz plz"

WOTC (all): *Doh!*

As for the promise of a 'new improved' WOTC downloads site: {bizarro} That'll work so well. I mean, look at WOTC's impeccable track record in online service provision.{/bizarro} Stick to making pretty cards lads; it's all you were ever good at. Leave the complex computer stuff to the clever people who actually understand computers... and rational business decisions... and internet sales...

WOTC business decisions recently are like watching a bunch of drunken chimps crash an Aston Martin in slow motion: simultaneously sad and hilarious. All we need is "Yackety Sax" as the soundtrack.

This story in one picture:
*click* "Gate locked sir."

edit: In light of WotCs forthcoming release schedule - notably the promise/threat of "Dark Sun" novel re-releases - I'm wondering if this sudden decision to hoard their old IP like a miser does his gold isn't actually part of WOTC's latest hare-brained marketing strategy. Why go to the risk and expense of trying to make something new when you can just strip mine and 're-imagine' an old success? It works for Hollywood...

re-edit: Even the non-gamer tech press think WOTC have been huffing the gas a little too hard.


  1. I wonder how they're going to stop the illegal distribution of the non-watermarked Dragon? Oops.

  2. I suspect it's more of a ploy to limit the availability of older versions and force people onto the newer, shinier (which must mean better right?) versions. A MicroSoft ploy in other words. An Excel spreadsheet told them to do it.

    I kind of hope it is (bad though that is) as it's clearly the least worst scenario. It's truly horrible to contemplate that there are people at WOTC so stupid as to swallow the sort of anti-piracy bollocks spouted by the likes of the RIAA etc. and that these people are in positions of authority in the largest RPG company on the planet.

    Oh, and I can beat your gate with no fence pic - there's a street in Smethwick (West Midlands) that I pass down regularly that has a cast-iron gate standing proud with absolutely no surrounding fence. :)

  3. @kelvingreen: Sorry, what? I can't hear you over the torrential noise. ;)

    @coopdevil: truly is our beloved game in the hands of lunatics. What can we do but tend our own gardens?

    Standalone iron gate - that's going in the Vaults. :)


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