Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Open Poll Question Related to pdf's, as Opposed to WOTC's Ninja Market Research Disguised as a Poll

So I'm over reading Mike Mearls' latest article called Miniature Madness, and it was interesting. His opinion in the article also shows he leans old school in terms of some game style preferences. There was a poll at the end which interested me. So I clicked my answer, while wondering what everyone else would say. Then I looked for a result, to see how my answer compared to the rest. And I couldn't find the poll results anywhere.


All I got was a "Your vote has been recorded!" msg.

Maybe I'm a retard, or maybe one of my many Firefox add-ons is blocking it, but I can't find a link to the results anywhere, not even in the discussion associated with that article. If it's buried somewhere else, or right in front of my face and I'm missing it, please let me know and I'll happily eat crow. Shit, It wouldn't even be the first time today I had to.

If you're going to ask members of your community for opinions via a poll because it's an interesting topic, don't you think you ought to let us know the results? After all, without our input you would have nothing.

Of course, if it's part of some super secret market research, then the polite thing is to let us know that ahead of time, so we can decide if we want to be part of some market survey, which will affect future products, which are part of a hobby we care about.

Anyway, maybe I'm just being a prick here, but I don't like being part of a market survey unless I know about it ahead of time. Be upfront about it for Chrissake. Have a little integrity. Why do I care? Because frankly I don't trust WOTC to represent the survey results accurately if it suited their marketing needs to do otherwise. Call me paranoid, or a distrustful bastard, but they lost some credibility in my eyes. I used to work for a big company who would do marketing surveys tainted and twisted to their sales needs, or to back-up and give legitimacy (ass coverage) to previously made executive decisions (stupid ones usually). So it's not exactly unheard-of.

If you're going to add a survey as part of an article which has a discussion link associated with that article, I think it's fair for a reader to assume they'll see the survey results so they can talk about it. To go and pull this ninja marketing survey on us is basically just using us for your own purposes, without any sort of consideration or warning. No one likes being used.

Maybe I'm just pissed at myself and projecting the anger at WOTC because I keep forgetting, we aren't considered a community of fellow hobbyists by the owners of the trademark. We're just a pool of potential purchasers. If I had kept that in mind, I wouldn't have been duped. I keep forgetting, they just don't give a shit unless they can get us to buy something from them.

Anyhow, my survey. Based on his last article.

Simple question, respond in the comments below: Would you pay a subscription if that was the price of being able to purchase WOTC pdf's of older products? How much would you pay? What if the pdf's weren't portable, in that they could only be read through the interface of proprietary software?

Discuss below. Anonymous posts will be deleted on this poll and all future polls I may post, as I believe if you want to express an opinion in a poll, you ought to have the balls to attach your name to your opinion.

My take---I would never pay a subscription. I just want to be able to go to a site and buy Temple of Elemental Evil at a reasonable price for a pdf version, without any strings attached, ninja surveys required, or subscriptions or proprietary software needed.

Your take?


  1. Same here, I wouldn't pay an annual subscription fee. One time payment only. And no strings attached. I absolutely loath DRM of any sort.
    If you want to sell me a thing, fine. But I'll do what ever I want with it once I've paid for it.

  2. Nope. I wouldn't buy a subscription and wouldn't even think of buying anything that wasn't portable.

  3. It is entirely possible that they are collecting all the responses over a set amount of time to be discussed later, say for the next issue.

    I doubt it is "market research" since the sample is by no means representative of the market and Wizards would know that.

    Now to your questions:

    Would you pay a subscription if that was the price of being able to purchase WOTC pdf's of older products?
    I already subscribe to DDi now, so that answer is yes by default.

    How much would you pay?
    What I am paying now is not so bad. I would consider anything between 9.99 and 19.95 a month to be reasonable.

    What if the pdf's weren't portable, in that they could only be read through the interface of proprietary software?
    Well I work with Universities all the time and the largest textbook e-delivery, CourseSmart has no portable pdfs and your access to a book you paid for goes away in one year. Do I like it? no. Can I deal with it? yes. I prefer something I can read on a number of devices, either my computer at home, work, an iPad, an eReader. I don't care if the file is in my possession or on a server, as long as I have access to it anytime I want.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. WotC can go fuck themselves. They can sell them or suscribe them, I don't care. I have all the PDFs I need and I don't need to give them my money. And if I need to get them, I know where to go so they don't see a bloody cent of my money.

  6. No, and no.

    I use hard copies. The only time I buy pdfs is when a hard copy is either prohibitively expensive or completely unavailable. And then, I print it out and use it that way.

    If your hypothetical proprietary format site doesn't let me do that, I won't use it, period.

    As far as buying pdf's of older products, for me it's not too much of an issue, as I pretty much bought everything I wanted to buy when it first came out. One of the (few) advantages to being an old codger.

  7. No subscriptions for me. I'd pay a dollar or so for a pdf as that's what I think any pdf is worth but then I'd better be able to do with it whatever the heck I want. Not worth a subscription though.

  8. My two coppers,

    1. Would you pay a subscription if that was the price of being able to purchase WOTC pdf's of older products?

    Yes, if I could keep the file as my own. I also subscribe to DDi.

    2. How much would you pay?
    $10 is my limit. $20 (maybe) if they're giving me something else useful along with my purchases. Heck, I'm making purchases, don't suck the wind from my sails before I buy anything.

    3. What if the pdf's weren't portable, in that they could only be read through the interface of proprietary software?

    Then, NO. If I buy it, I want it for me to use, anytime, anywhere, underwater, etc.

    I like hardbacks, but I like the portability of pdfs. If I want printouts, I've been known to dry up a few squids and kill a small forest with my printer.

  9. To get me to pay a subscription fee there would have to be some benefit beyond the privilege of buying their products. Even then I'm extremely dubious.

    No way in hell would I deal with a proprietary format. That's just another bullcrap DRM scheme.

    Honestly, I'm not even sure I would buy no-strings PDFs at this point. I just don't trust these bastards not to pull the rug out from under us again.

  10. Unless I can read it on my iPad, a subscription is worthless for me. I'm big on PDFs, and all WotC is doing by removing itself as a seller of classic D&D in PDF format is making the decision to find them in another manner easier for those that normally wouldn't.

    You can find anything via Torrents these days. I'd rather do it the right way, and pay a reasonable price to WotC then troll for a torrent, but for many, WotC's decision makes torrenting classic D&D products less of a moral dilemma.

    Just my thoughts.

  11. Clearly the subscription model is what WotC wants. Given the costs for printing, warehousing, and distribution of books, I'm certain some of the business folks think digital content is the way to go. With the larger use of netbooks, smartphones, Ipads and such, I think with certain customers this would definitely be preferable to printed material. I also see this format as where the hobby is going in the future.

    The kicker I see though is that I'm uncertain if North American customers are ready for a subscription model. The digital format is definitely a market to get into. But I feel that people still prefer a one time purchase over, essentially, regular payments to access an online database. It's weird to predict what folks will maintain a subscription for. Some media seems acceptable (online movies), while others lean towards pay-to-own (music) where subscription services don't seem that popular.

    One big failure I see with a subscription model is the lack of internet infrastructure in the US. If people are paying for a subscription, they will want it any time, any where. Most users are going to be doodling around with this at home, but some will want to be reading pdfs while commuting, or whatever. Granted if you live in a major metropolitan area, you can likely pick up wifi internet from several places, but in a small town? You might end up playing over at the guy's house that has the reliable ISP with a fast connection, rather than at a place more conducive to actually running your game. Oh, and servers down for maintenance? That effectively could mean some group somewhere out there is not able to play D&D when they want to.

    Sad thing is despite what we want, WotC is in control. They hold all the keys. They can try the subscription model out, then switch to some crappy DRM, then finally settle on a PDF format. It all depends on what the customers are willing to accept. Honestly, there really isn't any real competition out there for them.

  12. Yeah, that alone would not get me to pay a subscription. If it got me something else very cool (can't think what off the top of my head, honestly, maybe also hard copies of Fight On! mailed to my door?) I might consider it, but that by itself wouldn't cut the mustard.

  13. I've posted here before, but go ahead and delete this since I am not going to bother attaching a fake name or internet handle to my posts. For what it's worth, you're right, and WotC are being pricks.

  14. Would you pay a subscription if that was the price of being able to purchase WOTC pdf's of older products? How much would you pay?

    No subscription. I'll buy goods on their own merits, not because buying 'A' that I don't want will give me access to 'B' that I actually want.

    What if the pdf's weren't portable, in that they could only be read through the interface of proprietary software?

    An especially loud "NO!" to hobbled crippleware. My money is universally accepted and easily convertible; the product I buy should be the same (overwhelming OS incompatibility issues aside).

  15. Hells no. Why should I PAY them for the privilege of being able to BUY something from them? Not only is that idea shady, it's just idiocy. Anyone who pays for the privilege of buying isn't using their head, and any person or business who would charge for the privilege of buying has no integrity.

  16. Yes. I'd pay for one month. I'd leech every PDF I could and then cancel. Truth be told, I only need about 20 to 30 more PDFs and I'm probably "set complete" anyway.

    If it were proprietary, I'd still download and wait for the crackers to be developed.

    Just bein honest here.

  17. As with Tim I have a DDI sub to help run my 4e game so I already have it.

    But I will not consider it a value add or a reason to keep DDI after my 4e game ends if I can't download the PDFs.

    In general I have no problem with the subscription idea even if it includes limited downloads per month. I already do that with Safari books and I'm happy with the service.

    Forget just WotC, I'd love to see RPGNow offer something along the lines of Safari for RPGs.

    However, without download abilities I wouldn't pay for it and for just access to TSR stuff I wouldn't pay more than $10/month.

  18. No, I will not "subscribe" to online content again. (I've let my DDI subscription lapse -- too many broken promises)

    And I would answer "hell no" to locked down content.

    In the future, I will only buy what I get to keep indefinitely.

  19. Point of clarification.

    You don't pay a subscription and then have to later buy things. I pay one price (once per year) and then I can download anything I want, whenever I want.

    I just got out of a meeting today in fact with a University that wants to do the exact same thing with textbooks and courses.

    WotC is just doing what everyone else is considering.

  20. Absolutely not to the subscription model. It doesn't work for selling old pdfs of individual products.

    And as for only being able to view them in a proprietary reader? Again, no way. That's not going to serve my needs as a reader or a GM in any way -- for these products.

    Sometimes a subscription model is useful, but not for sales of older stuff that someone will only want portions of.

    But hey, if they'd put up pdf versions of all the Thunder Rift products, I'd buy every single one of them in a heartbeat.

    Oh well.

  21. So the survey results were just published (about 50/50). Gonna update your post?

  22. I use nothing but PDFs I run my game on a laptop, I don't use any of the Books that I have, and I love the ability to copy paste. I don't mind subscriptions but i like ti to be portable and I like to have access forever.

    Steve Russell
    Rite Publishing

  23. @Bryant: Yup. Only fair. I'll even give it a new post.

  24. @Bryant---I tried to look for the results, can't find them. Where are they? Can you link to it?

  25. Nevermind, I see it. They put it up with this week;s post.


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