Friday, March 10, 2023

Virtual Tabletops

On my way to work this morning, I dropped the boys off down town where they could catch a bus to their school. And we were talking about our weekend plans, which include playing d6 WEG Star Wars on Sunday. Somehow, we got on the topic of WotC's planned new virtual tabletop. 

I told the boys that while the video that WotC released announcing One D&D and the new VTT looked really cool, it was probably just a money trap full of restricted content and premium dungeon terrain and in-app purchases for fairly standard monsters or character designs. It would also probably be a huge time sink for DMs who wanted to make homebrew dungeons, at least if they wanted their homebrew dungeons to look as cool as the ones WotC will be selling to them, that is. 

Both boys seem curious to check it out. The ability to zoom in and out of character view vs overhead view in a system running off of

They both play(ed) Minecraft, Roblox, and recently Garry's Mod, and the creative/edit it yourself nature of those game platforms are as appealing to them as the actual game play. It gives them aspirations of maybe designing their own games someday. So for them, the idea of spending hours working on a cool dungeon design doesn't sound so bad to them as it does to me. 

Neither of the boys seem too keen on paying for a lot of premium content, though. For Christmas a couple years ago we got them "Robux" (Roblox's meta-game currency), and they quickly realized how easy it was to waste good money on things that seemed cool one day (skins, game-passes, etc.) only to get quickly bored with it the next. 

So the idea of either paying a subscription or lots of in-app purchases in order to create cool dungeons in One D&D's virtual platform doesn't excite them. They could create the dungeons in one of the above mentioned games for free if they wanted to. Or they could copy their old man and do it the old fashioned way, with pencil and graph paper and imagination! 

This is just an anecdotal piece of evidence. I can't claim that my boys are typical of WotC's planned future audience. But if they are even somewhat typical, I don't see WotC's plans for a revenue churning behemoth coming to fruition. There are too many good enough virtual tabletops already, and I have a feeling that the novelty of using Unreal Engine 5 won't last long. Most people play video games instead of tabletop games because they want to game NOW, not spend hours creating the game space to game later. People who play table top RPGs will quickly realize that the video game nature of WotC's VTT makes it pale in comparison to their imaginations. 

Or at least, that's what I think. I could well be wrong. But this family, at least, probably won't do more than check it out for the novelty effect, then continue doing what we're doing now as far as gaming goes!

1 comment:

  1. I tend to agree. Roll20 for example is so good and so established, that I cannot imagine any of their hardcore users migrating, even if Wizards of the Coast puts a financial squeeze on third parties using D&D Beyond.