April 11, 2009

Word of Wizards - Interviews with Greg Leeds on Suspension of PDF Sales

ENWorld and ICv2 managed to get an interview with Greg Leeds, president of Wizards of the Coast to answer some questions that the gaming community had about the recent withdrawal of Wizards' PDF products.

The original interviews can be found in the links of the sites above but the questions and answers are pretty much the same. So I have paraphrased some of the key points that I think it is important for you to know.

Even so, I would still highly recommend you to read the actual interviews for yourself before forming any opinion.
  • Piracy was one but not the only reason why Wizards decided to pull off their PDFs and it was a collective decision that was not made lightly. They fully acknowledge that they don't intend to stop piracy but they don't want pirates to have an easy access to their products either. Stopping PDF sales serves the latter function.

  • Piracy has been a concern for Wizards since the release of Player's Handbook 2 and Wizards estimates that the ratio of illegal and legal PDF downloads is at 10:1.

  • Although Wizards sees the electronic media as playing an important role in D&D, they don't have plans to resume PDF sales. Improving the DDI will be a main priority and they've already adopted Kindle and E-Reader for the distribution of their novels. Wizards are still looking for alternatives for digital distribution of their products, including older editions.

  • Wizards believe it needs to protect the hobby gaming industry and by building a strong retail base, the hobby would continue to grow.


icosahedron said...

Thanks for the unbiased summary. I'm getting sick of all the people posting drivel regarding the harm that Wizard's is doing to this industry.

A simple fact is that 4e, despite its warts, is growing the market again, after stagnation with the 3e system had set in. I trust their marketing machine and the decisions it makes to do what's best for D&D much more than the random community members.

Don't get me wrong, I understand their frustration, and I can't say I'm happy with Wizard's decision, but it's their property, and it's in their interest to make it the most profitable it can be, even if that means it inconveniences a few bloggers.

At least let's give Wizards the benefit of the doubt that they honestly believe this to be the best decision.

Questing GM said...

Hey icosahedron,

Thanks! I'll take objectivity in my posting as a compliment.

I think that some of us might be taking this issue a little out of proportion. Although halting PDF sales does affect me as an Asian gamer because that would mean I have to rely on my FLGS (i.e., none) to get my books and mail/online order is still an insecure alternative for us.

But for Wizards, I heard reports that PDF only accounts for 20% of their sales. While it's quite alright to say that it was a bad PR move, it certainly wouldn't affect the company or gaming in general because even if that full 20% relied completely on PDFs, it would only be a small dent in the market that they are missing, comparatively speaking.

It all still comes down to whether customers will play D&D or not and I don't think stopping PDF sales is making it harder for most gamers really. Check out this thread at ENWorld,

Also, it sounds consistent with what Wizards is trying to do that is to support the retailer base which (if true) is something that would certainly bring back some life into the brick & mortar business which is good IMO.