With the development of the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons still on the horizon, it begs the question: what happens to 4th Edition gaming in the meantime? From a accessibility standpoint, players can play any version of D&D they like – the Old School Renaissance (OSR) is evidence of that. 4th Edition was only out for four years before 5th Edition was announced, giving the game little time to find its footing.
I asked Mike Mearls, team leader for 5th Edition, about support for 4th Edition in the interim:
Mike Mearls (MM): We’re looking at 2012 as our chance to cover all the bases that 4e fans want detailed. Last year, we started by soliciting feedback on classes and tiers that needed more support, so you’ll start seeing such material roll out in the coming months.
Anecdotal evidence at ConnectiCon painted a dire picture for convention gamers interested in D&D. Although there were several Dungeon Masters ready to host a game for 4th Edition players, my friend and I constituted 33% of the entire player on Saturday and Sunday. There were only enough players to host one game, while Pathfinder had at least six or more.
ICv2’s recently released role-playing game sales for Spring 2012 reinforces the dwindling interest in 4E:
- Pathfinder: Paizo Publishing
- Dungeons & Dragons: Wizards of the Coast
- Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader/Deathwatch: Fantasy Flight Games
- Dragon Age: Green Ronin Publishing
- Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Margaret Weis Productions
As explained in ICv2’s print magazine:
“D&D is trending down, especially after the Next edition announcement,” Ellis of Rainy Day said. “That was the door closing on 4E. If they’re existing players, they’re not buying new stuff, and if they’re looking to start a game, they won’t go with something that’s going to end.”
This trend is likely to continue until 5E makes its debut, but its debut date is uncertain. Estimates are either in 2013 due to the fact that DDXP will be moving to Gen Con that year or 2014 because it’s the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. Wizards promises some exciting news at its Keynote Address, The Future of Dungeons & Dragons at Gen Con at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 16 so perhaps we’ll find out then.
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