So, why aren’t old TSR products on Lulu?

This has topic has been talked to death by people more informed about the industry than I, but I still don’t get it.

When WotC pulled the old TSR pdfs they used to sell because of “piracy concerns,” I kind of understood what they were worried about. I’ve heard about various Peer to Peer networks that people use to share/steal files, and I saw a ton of copyrighted stuff on WotC decided to pull all their files (closing the barn door well after the cows got out) and Scribd pulled much of the illegal files people put there (although you can still find stuff that obviously shouldn’t be there by the boatload).

I just wish WotC would consider making the old TSR catalog available as print-on-demand via Lulu or some similar service. They already have PDFs of everything, and they could easily have everything up on Lulu. Don’t sell the PDF, just sell decent hard copies, even if they won’t be of the same print quality of the originals. I just don’t see the drawback for them — the markets for 4e and the old stuff don’t really overlap as far as I can tell. Then there is no worry about the PDFs being shared further. I’d buy hard copies of the Holmes book, the B series of modules, the B/X books (just to have extra copies of those — I am borrowing my brother’s old copies of them now!), and other things, like the LBBs. And yeah, before you ask, I’ve seen these all online at various web sites (some in France, some I can’t tell where) and if you wanted to steal a PDF of any TSR product you could probably find them with Google and the filetype:pdf search limit. I’ve seen pretty much everything out there from Dragon magazines to the 2e splat books. But I still troll used book stores and library book sales to find old TSR stuff in print, because I want the books, not files. I can understand why the magazines may be a different situation, what with art rights probably reverting to the creators and all that.  I understand that is also why the rare White Dwarf magazine DVD-ROM was pulled from the market by Games Workshop.

Still, mission accomplished, WotC! Anyone who wants something from the TSR catalog can steal it online, and anyone who might have paid for it is left out in the cold.

Published in: on November 21, 2010 at 6:00 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A little bird told me that, basically, the people running WoTC now also happen to be the people who wrote a lot of the new game material and they, basically, just like the stuff they wrote and think its better than the old stuff and want everybody who might play to play the new version of the game.

    The little bird is someone who oughtta know.

    • Wow, that is not patronizing at all, huh? I’m glad they are protecting us from all that substandard product that actually made the game popular, and accessible to non-gamers, for a while. I guess we’ll see if they are still around in a couple years. But the little bird’s explanation certainly does make sense of the “Previous versions of D&D were unplayable” marketing we saw when 4th ed. was released.

    • Contrarily:
      Mike Merls has stated publicly on the web regarding his enthusiasm for old school D&D. He’s has run a campaign in it since 4th edition came out.

      Wizards is certainly a company (subsidiary to a corporation) and has a power structure and a policy. But the people within it are individuals.

  2. Yes, it’s like the opposite of “The audience knows what to expect, and that is all they are prepared to know.”

    Their attitude is more like “The people aren’t to know this better so we’ll make this the only thing they can have.”


    Or, to wax more Texan this morning, idjits.

  3. They only want to be associated with the old school game as far as they can use it to sell their new stuff (witness the recent Red Box and associated promotional materials.) I think they are rather embarrassed by the older editions, though, and really don’t want to put them out there as something sold by WotC.

    Even the retro-stuff they do associate themselves with has the sense of “hey, can you believe people actually used to play this way?” It’s kitsch to them, not a valid form of gaming, and they can only see today’s game as an improvement in every way… to their way of thinking, nothing at all worthwhile has been lost.

    And if you think the “we’re protecting ourselves from pirates” line was anything but a cover story, you’re probably deluding yourself. Because the pirates are gonna’ pirate anyway, and, as you say, there are alternate means of making print books available that would cost WotC nothing and make them some amount of profits. They just don’t want the stuff out there… they don’t want the competition or the “shame” of those old books.

    The current D&D branding/marketing push/etc. is all about driving 4th edition, and the older materials might place confusion in the minds of the consumer, or lead them to question why more than one (radically different) version of the game is being offered. Can’t cast doubt on the validity of 4th, now can we?

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