WotC halts sale of pdf's through RPGNow/DriveThruRPG

David J Prokopetz

Social Justice Henchman
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I'm not saying it's right, but the PDFs on the filesharing sites had to come from somewhere.
WotC products were turning up on file-sharing sites within days of release long before they started offering PDFs. All it takes is for some enterprising scofflaw to cut the spine off the book, dump the resulting stack of loose pages into a duplexing, sheet-fed scanner, and find a way to kill time for about an hour. When it's done, they've got a full-colour PDF - it'll even be searchable if their scanner has decent OCR software. Yes, that kind of hardware doesn't grow on trees, but it only takes one person doing it once to make that book a permanent resident of your favourite file-sharing network.

(Heck, the PDFs of the 4E core books you'll find on the filesharing networks aren't from RPGNow or DriveThru at all. Somebody at WotC leaked the digital masters - illicit copies were being distributed electronically before the books had even been printed.)
 
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chris field

New member
Banned
First off- I was planning to buy the 2nd Edition Monster Manual from RPGnow this week, mostly because of the excellent threads on this site about it.

Not doing that now, so that's money out of WOTC's pocket, and into the pocket of my local used book store, assuming I can find a copy.

Second- that's really going to hurt RPGnow's business, and I hope that all the publishers reading this follow my lead and start releasing alot of their own, independant stuff to keep up traffic, (and to take advantage of customers wanting to send their cash on SOMETHING and suddenly having less options).

Third- if you're a customer who'se been thinking of making a PDF purchase of a non-WOTC gaming product, but have been holding off, go buy it from RPGnow or DriveThru. They'll need the business and will certainly appreciate the vote of customer confidence.

Fourth- this might actually help alot of small press publishers. With WOTC out of the game, our products will be climbing the sales ladder. I'm hoping (selfishly) that a few of my products crawl back into the Top 100 in a week or two, when the dust settles, and people can no longer purchase WOTC material on site.

Fifth- fuck Wizards of the Coast.

Sixth- twice. Hard. With no reach around.

CHRIS
 

Wil

Rivetgeek
Validated User
Problem is, that's in general illegal. You cannot use civil procedures, or changes in contract law to punish someone who hasn't violated the terms of the contract. IANAL, bu7t this is one of the big things Harvard Law is using against the RIAA.
The DO have the right to stop sales now. But the sticky part comes in stopping the downloads of already purchased products. If you do that, you've broken a contract and while AFAIK it's still a wiggy part of law, it could open both Drive Thru and WOTC to suits for fraud. This is especially true when you consider that the pdf market is an international market and alot of other nations are abit more skeptical about US piracy claims.
I agree with you completely. So what the consumer does is rather than tangle with WoTC, go find the product they legally downloaded on a torrent site and download that however many times they would be allowed in DTRPG. Just make sure you save your purchase receipt and don't seed the downloaded files and you're golden :D
 

Mailanka

Honest Eshu
Validated User
First off- I was planning to buy the 2nd Edition Monster Manual from RPGnow this week, mostly because of the excellent threads on this site about it.

Not doing that now, so that's money out of WOTC's pocket, and into the pocket of my local used book store, assuming I can find a copy.

Second- that's really going to hurt RPGnow's business, and I hope that all the publishers reading this follow my lead and start releasing alot of their own, independant stuff to keep up traffic, (and to take advantage of customers wanting to send their cash on SOMETHING and suddenly having less options).

Third- if you're a customer who'se been thinking of making a PDF purchase of a non-WOTC gaming product, but have been holding off, go buy it from RPGnow or DriveThru. They'll need the business and will certainly appreciate the vote of customer confidence.

Fourth- this might actually help alot of small press publishers. With WOTC out of the game, our products will be climbing the sales ladder. I'm hoping (selfishly) that a few of my products crawl back into the Top 100 in a week or two, when the dust settles, and people can no longer purchase WOTC material on site.

Fifth- fuck Wizards of the Coast.

Sixth- twice. Hard. With no reach around.

CHRIS
e23 doesn't have a lick of D&D on it, and does quite well, thankyouverymuch. The nice thing about the PDF market is that you don't have to deal with as much overhead as you do in the brick-and-mortar market (not "no overhead", just less per book, in any case). They'll make do just fine with White Wolf books, and Shadowrun, and all the rest. These tend to dominate DTRPG in any case.

And you don't need to get mad at WotC. They're either doing something very smart, or very stupid. If they're doing something smart, expect these problems to go away: they're consolidate in a new location, offer your old downloads to you for free on the new site (maybe even better: none of this "five downloads and its gone" crap), and continue on as before, in which case you have no reason to get upset, or they'll lose a big chunk of change to the pirates and through lost PDF sales, in which case they get their just rewards and there's no reason to get upset about it.

Either way, any perceived problem with fix itself in short order, as these things generally do.
 

Monkey King

Stay classy
Validated User
You can get copies of pirated PDFs that never went online for sale as a PDF. It's harder, especially for obscure titles, but I've heard of cases where a pirated PDF went online before the hard copy had even hit the streets. Given D&D's enormous popularity, even if WotC stops all sales of all PDFs, it won't curb piracy. It'll just curb sales. I'm sure they know this.

While this might have something to do with piracy, I suspect it has more to do with a general strategy to increase WotC's piece of the pie. WotC is trying very very hard to turn RPGs into big bucks, something I applaud heartily, and I've been very pleased with their strategy thus far. I'm not sure where they're going with this, but I expect it involves consolidating who is selling their PDFs and how much they're getting for them.
The three main core books for 4th Edition D&D were up on torrent sites before 4e even launched. Apparently someone got their mitts on a printer's copy and leaked it to the web. Wizards doesn't have the resources to go around and shut down sites willy-nilly like the RIAA, so this can't be simply an anti-piracy measure. I can't imagine how this is going to be profitable for them in the long run, though. Those online PDF vendors can't be taking that much of a cut.
 

Wil

Rivetgeek
Validated User
Before WotC ever sold products as PDFs, people were simply scanning the books and putting the scans on filesharing sites. Those PDFs were everywhere then, too.

At most, selling the products as PDFs causes them to hit filesharing sites a few days sooner.
Comparing scans to high quality PDFs is apples to oranges. I have some Exalted books I purchased in PDF format, and the quality is better than I would ever expect a scan to be. Already having the files in PDF format saves the person who wants to share the files the time and effort of scanning it, it also might encourage some people to do so.

Look, I'm not saying that this is the only, or even primary, reason WoTC would change their policy in this way. I'm not saying I agree with the decision if it is one of the reasons. But I think it's somewhat likely that it had an impact.
 

Kastor Krieg

Harano
Validated User
Third- if you're a customer who'se been thinking of making a PDF purchase of a non-WOTC gaming product, but have been holding off, go buy it from RPGnow or DriveThru. They'll need the business and will certainly appreciate the vote of customer confidence.

Fifth- fuck Wizards of the Coast.

Sixth- twice. Hard. With no reach around.
This. Mostly "help RPGnow and DriveThru to get through this shitstorm". "Fuck WotC" can wait until we're sure that it's a WotC deliberate fuckup and just not sth that got de-synched when they began rolling with it. Maybe, for example, they were supposed to give an alternative today and something went wrong? Let's wait and see.

But if it's just the corporates going "we don't give a flying one about DriveThru and their customers", then fuck them until they bleed. And then some.
 

Brad J. Murray

VSCA
RPGnet Member
Validated User
So, for people who prefer PDF:

BEFORE
* some would buy
* some would steal

NOW
* some will steal
* some will buy a book

I guess WotC is betting that the new book buyers represent a big chunk of new cash. I suspect they also think piracy will decrease, though I don't see how that follows -- if anything demand just went up.
 

Mailanka

Honest Eshu
Validated User
The three main core books for 4th Edition D&D were up on torrent sites before 4e even launched. Apparently someone got their mitts on a printer's copy and leaked it to the web. Wizards doesn't have the resources to go around and shut down sites willy-nilly like the RIAA, so this can't be simply an anti-piracy measure. I can't imagine how this is going to be profitable for them in the long run, though. Those online PDF vendors can't be taking that much of a cut.
Hell, even the RIAA didn't have those kinds of resources. I mean, it's not like you can't still get music online if you want.
 

Mailanka

Honest Eshu
Validated User
So, for people who prefer PDF:

BEFORE
* some would buy
* some would steal

NOW
* some will steal
* some will buy a book

I guess WotC is betting that the new book buyers represent a big chunk of new cash. I suspect they also think piracy will decrease, though I don't see how that follows -- if anything demand just went up.
There are two problems with this formulation.

The first problem is that some people like the books enough to buy a PDF, but not more. These people can't buy a PDF, so they just won't buy.

The second problem are with people like me, who want both a hard copy and a digital copy, and will pay for both. I own, legally, a copy of both for WotG, several GURPS books, several WoD books, and so on. I like them, and I don't mind paying twice. If you wiped out PDFs, these people wouldn't get my money.

Putting a PDF online is as close to "free money" as you're going to get. Yes, it facilitates piracy, but eliminating the PDFs doesn't discourage piracy either, it just lowers the quality a little and slows it down a tad. That's why I expect this is a temporary measure. WotC has to realize that eliminating all PDFs isn't an option. PDFs are the future, especially as eReaders become more commonplace and popular. Eliminating them completely is like saying "Meh, electricity is just a fad."
 
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