Sunday, June 26, 2011

Layoffs at Wizards of the Coast R&D Dept.

If you haven't heard, Wizards of the Coast has laid off several of their creative/R&D staff--among the departures is Bill Slavicseck, head of the dept. From the posts I've read, it's not yet clear if he left of his own accord or not. He's married to Michelle Carter, another designer who was laid off. So he may have simply left in solidarity.

In any case, this is huge news--whether you enjoy D&D 4E or not. On the one hand, there's speculation that there's a re-evaluation of the older editions and what made them so popular (and therby, what led to the attrition of older players from the new ruleset). On the other hand, there's the rumor that Hasbro is really putting D&D on the path to boardgame-dom.

Now, I'm a fan of D&D translated into board games--for their own sake. But it's primary purpose is as a role-playing game. You may say to yourself, "I don't care about 4E" but the truth is that Wizards is the Big Kahuna when it comes to publishing RPGs and there's just no getting around the fact that this will have ripples throughout the industry.

I also wonder if any of this is fall out from Wizards losing the Star Wars license or their decision to drop their pre-painted plastic miniatures line. In the last year, Hasbro also stopped producing the popular Heroscape miniatures strategy game. And let's not forget that Wizards had already stopped supporting their OWN miniatures game rules before that.

I guess we'll have to wait and see what Wizards does next and how it will effect the rest of the RPG community--for better or worse. (Let's hope, for the eventual better!)

Rumors and speculation at the Acaeum
Props to Chuck over at Design Notes for the heads up

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