Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Oh dear, no more WotC .pdfs for sale (violins, please).

Yes, today the internets have been in an uproar because WotC has stopped selling their products in .pdf form through online retailers like DrivethruRPG. The official word from WotC is that it has to do with a couple of folks who got busted pirating their .pdfs of the 4E PHB2.

Nevermind the fact that the 4E PHB1 was available on file sharing sites before the new edition was even released, much less available on .pdf.

SO the whole pirating excuse seems pretty weak, especially considering the fact that WotC's legal department would have to have been living under a rock to believe the old misconception that internet piracy has any negative effect on sales. In fact, there is some evidence that it actually helps sales. That is not to say that WotC's legal department has not been living under a rock, I'm sure there are plenty of nice rocks where they are from.

Personally, I could care less. I'm old-fashioned, I guess, but I like books I can hold in my hands. I like to flip through pages while sitting on a park bench or in a coffee shop or on the can. I have no interest in big 400 page .pdf game manuals, for free or for pay. They are cute for promoting a book, as in a free preview. They are wonderful for sharing homebrew stuff. Homebrew stuff, you'll note, is not typically 400 pages of full-color nonsense like a WotC book is, so you can print that homebrew .pdf quickly and cheaply and take it with you to bench, shop, and can.

Nonetheless, things like this do hold some entertainment value for me, because any time WotC does anything at all, the conspiracy theories begin to fly, accompanied by gleeful foretellings of the end of official D&D. The WotC .pdf moratorium has been interpreted as many wonderful things, among them:
1) A precurser to shutting down WotC.
2) A precurser to selling D&D.
3) An excuse to somehow grab more money by selling .pdfs themselves.
4) A sneaky way to stop selling 1E .pdfs, which are obviously ruining 4E sales.
5) A sneaky way to put online .pdf retailers out of business, making 3rd party sales harder.

Well, life is crazy, so maybe it is one of the above, no matter how bizarre that may seem. No one has suggested yet that maybe WotC just isn't sure how to handle the piracy issue, so they're sealing the hatches until they figure it all out. I think they've made an uneducated decision, but not necessarily a dumb one, provided they're using the time to get educated.

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I think they plan on selling all the PDFs on their own website. But it was a pretty underhanded move on their part.



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