Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Marketing 5trategery

Not much to say about 5e yet, but a few of the marketing decisions WotC has made have caught my attention.

First, we had the Big Media Blitz: articles in the NYT, Forbes, and CNN as well as more industry-focused outlets like The Escapist. The nameplates are enough to make it clear that this is "serious news." But the content of the articles is very interesting. They're mostly written in a first-person editorial style. Even the NYT article, probably the most traditional in tone, completely lacks the usual corp-speak infested press release we've come to expect from this sort of thing.

Mingled with the Big News folks were bloggers like Dave Chalker enlisted to spread the word on the 'nets. Phase Two begins at the D&D Experience convention where Dave and the Chatty DM will apparently be running demo adventures for the new edition. Follow up comes through using the weekly Encounters program to get the new rules out there for folks to playtest.

So it's a one-two-three punch combination: Big News media outlets, the D&D blogging community, and the FLGS network. It's very corp-light, very friendly, and at least feels very interactive. It includes people many of us already have relationships with (if only as regular readers and shoppers). And WotC's out-of-pocket costs are primarily made up of flying people out to Seattle and putting them up in a hotel.

Even the apparent fumble of a lack of an announcement on the front of the official D&D web page makes this feel like a friendly, come-around-the-back-door invitation, rather than a proclamation from on high.

Making WotC seem friendly and approachable would seem a Herculean task. Doing it on a shoestring budget smacks of genius.

Somebody involved in this project clearly knows what they are doing.


Anonymous said...




Mel said...

Funny, I view the clear marketing fingerprint as a cynical, studied attempt to co-opt the community. All the talk about "one ring to rule them all" (I.e., it's all DnD) is clearly focused group talk. All the spin in the world doesn't matter if WotC isnr going to give back to the community in some meaningful way. I don't see this happening.

trollsmyth said...

Mel: Of course it's an attempt to co-opt the community. But that's leaps and bounds better than last time, when they basically thumbed their noses at the community and burned lots of bridges.

Steven D. Russell said...

I wish they would address some of their mistakes.

No ebooks when ebooks are now outselling print, I run all my games on my labtop, I don't use books anymore wizards, get the ebooks out even if they are only available via kindle and the ipad store. You have had two years to deal with this and its a continuing failure every day you not selling digitially (especially older editions).

The Spellplague debacle, rather than creating a new setting you trashed a beloved setting and then relaized it was a cash cow becuase everyone knew balder's gate and neverwinter too late.

Failure to launch a real fully integrated ready at release online experience.

oh yeah and WotC you created your own competition via canceling your licensed print magazines (which means they were always profitable), and then with the poison pill GSL which forced paizo to create Pathfinder (they were geared up to support 4e).

trollsmyth said...

Steven D. Russell: You won't get any contradiction from me on the ebooks thing, and holding the TSR license appears to curse any sort of digital offering the company takes a big hand in. (Perhaps it's a 1e style artifact?)

I did read that they're looking to offer the full range of FRealms history in the 5e version.

Aiming to bring the 3e crowd back into the fold is gutsy in large part because it's perilous. Not only might they not pull them away from Paizo (5e will have to be absolutely amazing to do that, I think), but they also risk alienating their 4e fanbase. Which is why you're not likely to see much in the way of mea culpas, even if they backtrack on some stuff.