The Seer Vitz

What is to become of the RPG Industry?

As transcribed by one of the loyal scribes, James A. Vitz, of the Great God James.

TSR, Inc. used to be one of the most influential companies in the RPG industry. Their Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game was a very popular product, the game most people that play RPG’s today started with. However, recently TSR, Inc. had some financial trouble and was bought out by Wizards of the Coast.

But, how does that impact the RPG industry? Well, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) is the company responsible for the Magic the Gathering (MtG) card game. In some people’s view, MtG is an RPG, and to others, myself included, it is not. To me, MtG and games like it are strategy games with fantastical elements. But these fantastical elements alone do not alone make for a role-playing game. What this means is that one of the leading RPG companies has been taken over by someone outside of the industry.

But, is this necessarily a bad thing? How will this change affect the RPG industry? Well, first of all, WotC has kept many former TSR, Inc. employees. This move was intelligent because it gave them a perspective into the RPG industry, from people who know the industry. Yet, already, many changes in AD&D can be seen or are in the works.

For example, WotC is planning of coming out with a game world based on their Magic the Gathering game. This shows that WotC is going to use the popularity of the AD&D name to bring their card game and its players into the RPG industry. This has both a positive aspect and a negative one. First, it may very well lead to insurgence of role players. People, who were formally ignorant to what a true RPG is, may realize what it is so that more people play it. Yet, on the down side, many people may be expecting a card game type and will be disappointed in this "new" idea.

Also, conventions now may be more "card-heavy" and less RPG related. This would be bad; and hypocritical. An RPG convention that is heavily into card games is somewhat of an oxymoron. Card games are not RPGs, so people going to the convention expecting many RPGs will be disappointed. Now, this is only speculation, and I could be wrong, but I believe that this is what will result. Take a look at the Dragonlance setting of AD&D. It has changed from an AD&D system, to a new system called Saga, which, ironically enough, is a based on cards! Though this move, into the Saga system, was initiated before the buy-out by WotC, it is now becoming very noticeable in many AD&D products. There allegedly are plans for the Saga system in other game worlds such as Ravenloft. Is this a push towards card dependency? Only time will tell.

In closing, the RPG industry is going through a radical change now that one of the most influential companies has been bought out. Only the players will determine whether the result of this will be positive or negative. Will more gamers come to be, or will some of the older players become disgusted by these changes and stop playing? Or, will nothing different happen, and the industry will go on as it has always gone on? We will see.

James A. Vitz
RPG Columnist