Friday, September 14, 2012

Milking the Ca$h Cow (One More Time)

I'm surprised I haven't read anything on my regular blogs regarding the reissue of D&D 3.5 by Wizards of the Coast...not even a wry chuckle or sardonic remark. But perhaps, like me, you folks have all been uber-busy. Hell, I don't even know if I'll make my 20 year high school reunion this weekend (though part of that might be being generally broke)...but my morbid curiosity to see how far we've all slid over the years is pretty compelling.

Anyway, I've been on single parent duty pretty much all week and work's been a total bear (AND I haven't had access to Ye Old Internet at work), so I feel I have a valid excuse for not mentioning it. But...well, I have a few minutes this morning in the quiet of sipping coffee with the wife, beagles, and baby all sleeping soundly upstairs (I'm running late for work anyway due to having to put the baby back to sleep around, no...nothing to give me sympathy about, I'd rather be doing that than going to work anyway...).

It must have been Monday or Tuesday that Diego and I were over at Gary's Games in Greenwood (part of normal constitutional around the bario) when I spotted the hardcover 3.5s coming out of their recent shipment. I thought it was pretty bizarre to tell the truth...I mean I hadn't seen anything about it or announcements that WotC was going to do this (not that I follow WotC's news boards or anything but I selfishly expect other bloggers to do so and thus keep me informed of the latest-greatest). However, in scanning back through the internet it looks like there was some mention of this as early as July regarding a "premium edition" of 3.5 being released, similar to the commemorative AD&D books.

Well, I don't know if the errata from earlier printings has been cleaned up, but these 3.5 books don't look especially "premium" to me...that is, they look exactly like the earlier issuance of 3.5, albeit shrink-wrapped and with $50 price tags (the folks at Gary's tell me the interior is the exact same). In fact, they look kind of like someone at the warehouse just found a few dusty piles of unsold books and decided to see if they could get one more cash infusion from the gullible public prior to the release of their D&D Next reiteration. The really amusing part (I really did have a good chuckle with Tim when I saw the books front-and-center on the "new book" shelf yesterday) is that they're still plenty of near-mint condition 3.5 books in Gary's used section. Previously those were being sold for $50 but now they've been discounted down to $30 or so...but wow, I can't figure why anyone would want to buy this stuff, new or used.

I mean, don't the WotC diehard supporters want to own the latest version number (whether that's 4th or the soon-to-be 5th)? Haven't the disgusted 3.5 devotees already found their niche with Paizo and Pathfinder? Haven't the old geezers like myself already decided to spurn the whole lot and either play the oldest versions and/or write our own?

To me, it's a bit pathetic (thought amusing, as said): it really does look like they're just cleaning out the closets and hoping to get a little scratch in the process...a kind of "last garage sale of the summer" kind o thang. Whether or not this is real, serious business stratagem of some sort...well, I really don't see how it can be. I mean, why would you do such a thing? How could this benefit the coming 5th edition (let alone the existing 4th?). To whose nostalgia is 3.5 supposed to appeal? Who exactly is the target audience?

I really don't get it, but it does tickle my funny bone. Maybe it is supposed to be a joke...though I wonder at whose expense?

: )


  1. They need to sell something while they develop the next edition.

    I happily picked up the 1E reprints. My originals didn't survive, and they're always fun to go back and read.

  2. There was a thread on it on RPGSite. Apparently, all of the errata is included. I'm probably going to pick these up.

  3. New covers and all the errata is included. Honestly this is a no brainer for WotC. There are still plenty of people that like 3.x and some subset of that will wan't limited edition books.

    While the market might be small there is alomst no overhead costs for them except for printing.

    While I don't want or need them for myself, my son has expressed an interest in them. He was only 10 months old when they were out the first time and I didn't get him copies.

  4. Yeah, this whole 3.5 reprint seems so damned superfluous to me. Just perplexing. But ultimately, I can't care less. More and more I feel my attention moving away from any flavor of D&D, looking at other systems to play. But then I feel guilty, like I'm cheating on D&D, and come crawling back. But someday, I don't think I'll have that "cheating" feeling, and I'll be happily playing some other system (probably Savage Worlds or Dragon Age).

  5. I tend to agree it's a no brainer here. Pathfinder is selling strong. Used 3.5 was selling for at or more than cover price. It's a way to get that some of that market they lost with 4e. Also it's a quick infusion of cash to combat the drop off of 4e material with the announcement of 5. I don't think I'll buy them but there are plenty of people who will and be glad for the opportunity to do so.

  6. Used sets of core 3.5 have been selling on ebay for $80 - $100. Several times a week, for at least the past two years (when I started keeping up with the ebay rpg market, again.) I assume those prices will drop, now that "new" copies are available.

    A lot of people still play the game.

  7. @ Fumers: Hey, I picked up the 1E reprints myself; my boy (19 months old) loves the illustrations, though he seems to prefer the PHB to the MM.

    @ Tim: Huh, they really didn't look like new covers to me, but I only own 3.0 (currently used as a doorstop) so I may not be the best judge.

    @ Everyone: While I'm sure there are still people who play 3.5 (for whatever reason) wouldn't it seem like they already own a set of the books? Sure, I bought the new 1E reprints...but then, my old copies are 30 years old and well-worn. When was 3.5 first printed? 6 years ago? Sheesh!

  8. I was about to say that I find it strange that so many people are still playing 3.0/3.5, and then I remembered that there are a lot of people still playing 2E, 1E, Basic D&D, and OD&D! So if it's not strange that the OSR exists and all those other editions are alive and well, then why would it be so odd for 3E to be just as alive?

    Should we be welcoming the 3E people into the OSR fold at this point?

  9. If I had any interest in 3.5, I'd probably pick them just for the errata (and the actual price is much lower than $50; just check Amazon.) But when I play d20, it's D&D 3.0 (of which I already have the 2nd printing of the PHB which was virtually already errata free.) In my neck of the woods (and local gaming club) there's far more people playing 3.5 than Pathfinder or 4e.

  10. I wonder if they'll come out with B/X reprints, to replace my long-lost originals, or reprints of old modules - I'd definitely buy a compendium of old modules or three.

  11. lots of people play 3.5. Sure, most will have books but new copies are nice when you are bringing new players into a group. I'm sure there are people out there buying them and enjoying them. What system or edition people play doesn't matter, I'm just happy they are still playing.

    I would never use a book as a doorstop. If anything, I'd sell it, donate it or give it to someone who would use it.

  12. I'd buy a Rules Cyclopedia reprint, but I doubt it'll happen. I've already got my 3.X books in good condition, I don't need a reprint. I'm mildly tempted to grab the AD&D reprints, as my copies look terrible.

  13. JB, 3.5 was released 9 years ago. I'm guessing they are counting on people who are a bit younger(less stable) than you for their market. Example: in the last 9 years I've moved 6 times, graduated college, stopped gaming, married, had 4 different jobs, sold my entire rpg collection, been part of 4 different stable gaming groups, started gaming again and various other big changes. They might be looking to reclaim the people who were college age in 2003 who are now in their 30s and have some spare cash. Which is kind of what I remember reading about the 3.5 group in the first place: it was so big because of a return of older gamers. I really don't think there's a mystery here. Furthermore if they can get those lapsed gamers with either 1e or 3.5 reprints then those products will serve as a bridge for the new 5e for some of them. They'll read about it and some will say, "I think I will try that" Especially with a free beta test going on. It's an olive branch, nostalgia purchase, a baited hook and an easy guarantee of income all in one.