WotC, officially, cuts off its nose to spite its face
It’s true. Wizards of the Coast has officially lost any semblance of sanity when it comes to electronic distribution of its products. A little over seven months ago, I wrote how Wizards was continuing to lag behind in its digital initiative. A little over two months ago, I wrote how its poor history continued. Today, in what I can only describe as a completely delusional and irrational act, Wizards has officially stopped allowing any of its products to be downloaded in PDF format, including non-4E products, through any company, including, but not limited to, RPGNow and Paizo.
WIZARDS OF THE COAST SUES EIGHT FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Tolena Thorburn
Wizards of the Coast LLC
April 6, 2009 ‹ Wizards of the Coast LLC today filed three lawsuits in US
District Court for the Western District of Washington against eight
individuals, including named defendants located in the United States, Poland
and the Philippines, for copyright infringement of its recently-released
Dungeons & Dragons® Player¹s Handbook® 2. The lawsuits allege that the
defendants illegally distributed the Player¹s Handbook 2 via free
file-sharing websites and that these illicit uploads resulted in a
substantial number of lost sales and lost revenue to Wizards of the Coast.
³Violations of our copyrights and piracy of our products hurt not only
Wizards of the Coast¹s financial health but also the health of whole gaming
community including retailers and players,² said Greg Leeds, President of
Wizards of the Coast. ³We have brought these suits to stop the illegal
activities of these defendants, and to deter future unauthorized and
The complaint alleges, among other things, that one or more of the
defendants purchased digital copies of Player¹s Handbook 2 and then
illegally posted the copies onto popular file-sharing sites for free access
and download by the general public.
Then this on RPGNow:
Wizards of the Coast has instructed us to suspend all sales and downloads of Wizards of the Coast titles. Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles. We are in discussions with Wizards about their decision to change their approach to digital sales of their titles and will post more information as we have it
And finally this from WOTC_Trevor on ENWorld:
Hey all. I wanted to step in and shine a mote of light on the subject. First off, this cesation of PDF sales has absolutely nothing to do with the Internet Sales Policy. I know it’s the 6th of April and I can definitely see how the two would appear linked, but the truth is, this is a completely seperate matter.
Unfortunately, due to recent findings of illegal copying and online distribution (piracy) of our products, Wizards of the Coast has decided to cease the sales of online PDFs. We are exploring other options for digitial distribution of our content and as soon as we have any more information I’ll get it to you.
It’s times like these I just want to slap whomever makes these decisions upside the head and tell them to face reality: Pirating happens! That’s right; it happens!
It’s an unfortunate side effect of the business. If you release something that people want, then there will always be people willing to steal and give it to them for free. And this is not a new phenomenon. Before Wizards was releasing their material in PDF format, people used to scan in the books and make them available for download. They’ve always been out there and they always will be. All this does is drive yet another wedge between Wizards of the Coast and what is slowly but surely becoming a less loyal fanbase.
Oh and this can’t really be about money. Seriously. Because if Wizards thinks they’re actually losing a lot of money in “lost sales” because of this, then they must expect it to have been number one on the Wall Street Journal‘s list of top non-fiction books last week instead of number four, right? It’s number 14 this week. Now, I’m not naive enough to think that this pirating doesn’t cost Wizards any money, but there’s no way it costs them enough money to warrant pulling all of their electronic material and going home.
More than anything, I’m mad because of this. It’s infuriating to think that a company could have had such a great relationship with its customers for so many years (I’m refering to 2000 – 2008 with the release of 3rd edition and the generous availabilty of the material to other companies to help enrich the genre) to pulling everything away and basically saying, “Don’t f*** with us or we’ll take it away from you.” Maybe the last eight years were just a setup…