Posted on April 6, 2009 by Matt-M-McElroy
Posted on the front page of DriveThruRPG.com:
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. If you would like to let Wizards know your opinion on offering D&D titles for download, we suggest the D&D Message Boards found here.
This…did not go over well with folks who regularly purchase pdf versions of Dungeons & Dragons from these websites. There was no press release from WotC, no advance warning, not one word for hours. Speculation on various forums including RPGnet, ENWorld and other sites continued for some time.
Then “WotC_Trevor” at Wizards Community posted:
Hey all. I wanted to step in and add shine a mote of light on the subject.
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.
Not much of an explanation and really, really lousy customer service. One of the great things about buying pdf editions of the books was DTRPG offered up to 5 downloads of purchased material. So, if your hard-drive failed or you got a new computer you could legally download a backup copy of the book. Now, all of the people who had legally purchased pdf editions of these books are unable to download the books they paid for. Again, the reaction from fans was not pleasant and this certainly did not earn WotC any goodwill from these customers.
Suddenly a new press release appeared on the Wizards Press Page:
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® Player’s Handbook 2. The lawsuits allege that the defendants illegally distributed the Player’s 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.
So, apparently these folks did enough damage to WotC sales revenue that they are willing to permanently shut down all revenue from legitimate pdf sales from now on. Does that seem a little odd to anyone else or is it just me?
Having pdf editions of the books available legally on DTRPG and other legit sites offered customers a way to give WotC money for these products. Now, that money will go elsewhere, either to other RPG products or video games or wherever, it certainly won’t be going to Wizards of the Coast.
Pirated copies of the books will still be available, if not increased. People want digital editions of these books. They are handy to have on the laptop (much easier to carry than a stack of hardcover books), they are often searchable and occasionally have other features. Pirates are going to continue to torrent the content, if they have to scan them in, so what? They will do so. The only folks who won’t be able to get digital versions of the books are those who want to buy them legally.