So after Mr. Dancey posted his speculation, lot of folks have been talking about the end of D&D. Does it mean the end of RPGing? The end of the industry?
Frankly, D&D is a bit of an albatross around the neck of the industry. It’s the best-selling game, the gateway product. And so far, nobody seems to have been able to reap the fortunes everyone assumes naturally come with that sort of thing.
Of course, D&D is probably not going to simply die overnight. Too many have too much invested in the brand, and the conventional wisdom is that the brand needs at least a token tabletop RPG to remain viable. If Pathfinder is, in fact, going toe-to-toe against D&D, then that means D&D actually is dying, if very slowly, right before our eyes. (That’s also splitting hairs, though; saying Pathfinder isn’t D&D is a bit like saying the iPhone isn’t a cell phone.)
If this is a trend we’re seeing, and if it continues unabated, then that simply means that Pathfinder becomes the 800 lbs gorilla to D&D’s 600 lbs gorilla. I don’t see that as a major or dramatic shift in the terrain. Heck, due to name recognition, it might not even mean that D&D loses its status as the gateway product. (Now wouldn’t that be an odd looking industry? D&D focuses on boxed sets sold in Target and Wal-mart, with the assumption that the players it brings in will eventually “graduate” to Pathfinder? Since the goal is to sell online subscriptions and keep the brand alive, I could see it, but I don’t think that’s likely to be the plan, even if it is what eventually ends up happening.)
So yeah, not expecting the world to end anytime soon. Or for the industry to vanish (Do you really think Raggi gives two flips what WotC does this week?) or for the sun to rise in the north and set in the south. Even if the “unthinkable” happens and WotC ends up passing the torch to Paizo, the game that rules the industry will still have players rolling d20s and chatting about AC and hit points.
UPDATES: Destination Unknown reminds us of the real tragedy here.
Art by Friedrich von Amerling.