Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Scott Rouse leaves WOTC

Being the PR guy for WOTC these past few years must have been like being the guy back in the 90's who had to make sure Bill Clinton didn't get in trouble with women while President.

That WOTC was a PR nightmare of their own making can't be disputed.  That it was Rouse's fault though is another question.  How much input he had in choosing the direction of 4e, or deciding to pull pdf's we don't know.  How much his hands were tied in dealing with WOTC's messes we don't know either.

The situation could have been as simple as:

WOTC Suit who never played D&D before:  "We need to make a new version of D&D that effectively destroys most of the 3pp market with a very restrictive token "partnership" license only a fool would sign onto because it puts all the power back in our hands, gets kids who play MMORPG's to play D&D, and changes the game mechanics and language drastically for the sole purpose that no one can legally make anything for it via the OGL.  After that, we need to do everything we can to make sure no one plays any version of the game other than our latest one, so we need to stop selling anything for any other version of the game."

Rouse:  "That will piss a lot of people off."

WOTC Suit who never played D&D before:  "Who gives a shit?  All that matters is that every buck that people spend on RPG's goes to us.  It's your job to put the best face on whatever we do. Just don't tell the truth about anything.  Spin Spin Spin.  Deny 'till you die.  Give vague non-specific glimpses of the new game. Get the suckers excited. That will hurt the 3pp's, as people stop making or buying for the old system, just like in the 3.0 switch to 3.5 days."

Rouse: "Once the truth is out about what we did, I'll look like a liar, and so will the company."

WOTC Suit who never played D&D before:  "Who the fuck cares. At that point, there will be no real competition anyhow (and I'll likely have gotten a promotion and be out of this Hasbro backwater division anyhow, for my cost cutting profit increasing measures of firing half the division after the new version is released.)  If people play old systems, they likely won't spend a buck on anything new anyhow.  So fuck 'em.  We need to get the people who still delude themselves into thinking they can't make up better shit than the piss-poor waste of paper we put out every month.  After all, it's not like some company is going to keep the old system alive, revamping the old rules, and still publish quality material for it.  Besides, people are too stupid to believe the truth that this was our plan all along, even when the truth is obvious, staring them in the face."

Rouse:  "Ok.  Sounds good.  I'm on board with the plan.  Brilliance!"  (goes to polish up his resume.)

Good Luck Scott.


  1. heh!
    I wonder if he came up with the sneaker promo idea...

  2. Whoever did the sneaker thing likely came up with the Jones Soda cross-branding thing too.

  3. They got me all pumped about 4e, and that eventually brought me back to old-school gaming.

    Thanks WOTC.

  4. "That WOTC was a PR nightmare of their own making can't be disputed."

    Sure it can. It was just a small vocal minority of gamers who weren't switching to 4e no matter what who raised any kind of stink about WotC decisions, often on the flimsiest set of excuses to do so, and it had NO EFFECT whatsoever. The edition launch was a huge success, Worldwide D&D Gamedays, a marketing event, were huge successes, so were their media events, Gencon appearances, etc. The only people who cared that they pulled .pdfs were people who hated 4e anyway and pirates who liked pristine, free printer's copies of all the books. All the noise people like you tried to create didn't have any effect, didn't bring down the "Evil Empire", destroy the edition, or put a dent in its success. Even now, you're trying to spin a personnel change as some nefarious goings-ons from the Evil Empire. And it's still not going to have any effect. And you are still trotting out the tired, discredited, dishonest schtick about MMO versions. Didn't you get the memo? The Edition Wars ended peacefully in May. Your side lost.

  5. Ouch. DrJones that was a wee bit harsh. The truth is that some people don't like change. Which is why some people are still playing AD&D, 2nd Ed, ad 3rd Ed.


    I don't believe that Wizards has done anything different than previous edition releases. They don't produce material for out of date editions. This has nothing to do with a stuffed suit somewhere. That is just normal business practice. People that don't like change don't like that practice. Its something those people will just have to deal with.

    Overall, I enjoy the game play of 4E better than 3.5. The changes are good. In fact many of the changes were released in later 3.5 edition books and in the Star Wars game. The game evolves. If you want new content, then you need to evolve with it. But there is nothing that precludes people from continuing to swim in the wonderful primordial ooze that are the previous editions of D&D.

    Did it come too soon after 3.5? Yes. Did it make WotC look a bit like money grubbers? Yes. Did WotC make terrible decisions about how they control their intellectual property with 3rd party publishers? Oh hell yes.

    The problem is not that things change. Change or Die! I say. The problem... and this is where the stuffed suit business jerks come in, is the change in openess and support of the publisher community, the complete failure of WotC to embrace technology as promised, and the complete failure to engage the player community through the digital initiative fro the start. I'm still hoping that WotC becomes more open by creating some D&DI APIs that developers can use to create a wonderful and amazing technological eco-system around D&D.

    The decisions I have seen in those areas scream Dilbert level upper management. Recent efforts like the new Community portal show some steps in the right direction.

    It makes you wonder where Scott fell in the decision making in all of this. No matter what he had a very difficult job and I wish him the best.

  6. Wow. You need to switch to decaf.

    WotC brought out 3rd edition in 2000 and 4e in 2008. There are 8 years worth of books, expansions, adventures and countless numbers of OGL supplements out there. How exactly were you betrayed by WotC? Have you read all that material? Are you not capable of taking it and adapting it on your own for a few years without being handheld every step of the way? Have all the OGL companies stopped producing material? Did 4e suddenly make all of these rules irrelevant?

    WotC made a decision that they were going to change their product, have it evolve. Some people like it, some don't. That may have been financially motivated but, and here's a big news flash, they are a business, they need to make a profit. They are the biggest name in a crowded market. They won't stay like that by standing still.

    4e is here to stay, just like 3rd edition is, and 2nd and all the older versions too. Its not a competion its just choice. Serenity rpg isn't better than star wars rpg or traveller or any other system, its just a different mechanic. You can learn something from all of them and the more choice there is the healthier the whole hobby is.

  7. I know you have your reservations about the OSR, Joe, but it looks to me from your posts that it's a better fit for you than WOTC brand gaming. At least, my own interpretation of what the OSR is, a revisiting of the root of the game. Taking it in the myriad possible new directions by pruning selectively the overgrowth of the past thirty years and grafting on new stock to see where it takes us.
    Sure, every experiment won't pan out, but we learn from failures just as well as successes, and I don't kick a man for trying something new.
    I'm seeing lots of interest in roots gaming and it's open vistas by younger gamers and first timers. They're popping up on forums and asking questions and now, the Grognards and Old Guards are feeling much more magnanamous and helpful and less defensive and put-upon. The success and expansion of the OSR has reassured them that there is a future for older styles of play. They're taking the newbies under their wings and giving advise and answering questions and sharing what they've learned over time.
    Wotc's brand of D&D is a flash in the pan, it dosen't have a long term future. Sure it's big now, and probably for the next decade, but the OSR is going to leap-frog it by recruiting the young and encouraging the Do-It-Yourself attitude that builds long term interest in the game.
    The differance between the Old School and the New is the differance between learing to play music yourself, and buying the newest hits on CD. You can only play that disc so many times before it's worn out it's appeal, but you can write your own songs forever.
    The OSR is an association of Makers.

    Also, Dr Jones, throw me the idol, I throw you the whip!

  8. Well, 4E apologists, your game's gone in four years. You were wrong about it being a success and "here to stay".

    Good riddance. Wasn't D&D anyway.


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