Business of RPGs
By Anthony Valterra
GAMA has come and gone for another year. For those of you who do not know
what GAMA is, it is an annual convention of game manufacturers, distributors,
and retailers. Once a year, we all meet in Las Vegas in the fabulous Orleans
hotel to attend seminars, announce deals, negotiate new deals, and gamble
away money. All in all, the event is a great deal of fun, and this year
was no exception. Wizards of the Coast unveiled its new Star Wars
trading card game (TCG), which met with wide acclaim for its game play.
On the RPG side of things, which, of course, is my arena, we confirmed
that miniatures and Avalon Hill are now both a part of the publishing
division, which also includes RPGs, magazines, and novels.
we had an open meeting for all d20 publishers, and attendance was high.
Once again I had to dispel the "Wizards is going to cancel the d20
license" rumor. This rumor, which seems to appear about every month,
just will not die. However, I think the announcement of d20 Modern may
be the final deathblow to the rumor. (You can read more about that in
started on the topic of trade dress. Trade dress is the identifying
look of a product or brand; think of McDonalds' "golden arches"
or the Olympics' five interlocking rings. When we released D&D,
we expected that people would try to tie their products closely to ours,
and White Wolf's Creature Collection was exactly what we expected.
As time went on, though, we noticed that some company's products began
to look even more like ours until they became almost indistinguishable
from ours. Our trade dress was being trampled upon. I made it clear that
we would not ask anyone to change the look of a product line they had
already established. We are asking only that new lines try to avoid our
trade dress, and, if we create a new line in the future, we will specify
what our trade dress is in advance.
subject was violations to the license and the fact that we are still seeing
them. In fact, we see two common violations out there. The first is using
the Player's Handbook rather then the System Reference Document
(SRD) while designing a d20 product. The problem with designing by the
Player's Handbook is that there are certain names or descriptions
in the Player's Handbook that have been left out of the SRD deliberately
because we want to protect them. The second violation comes from working
under the assumption that since material from the Player's Handbook,
Dungeon Master's Guide, and the Monster Manual is
part of the SRD, it must mean that everything Wizards of the Coast
produces is free to be used. This usually comes from an error on the part
of the freelance designer and merely is not caught by the publisher.
and early the next morning (8:00 AM, which is really early by Las Vegas
standards), we had the d20 Modern meeting. We were surprised and pleased
when 27 people showed up. We announced that we are planning on opening
up d20 Modern in the same manner that we did Dungeons & Dragons.
Any company that wants to be a part of the d20 Modern network is welcome
to join and can receive the rules early so that they can have product
out as soon as they want after November. After that announcement, the
rest of the con was filled with excitement from an array of manufacturers
wanting to do a variety of Modern products. The potential for d20 Modern
really seemed to increase with each person who expressed interest in the
on Thursday morning, we made our last big announcement. The Dragonlance
campaign setting will return to the world of Dungeons & Dragons
via a partnership with Sovereign Press. One of the original creators of
the Dragonlance world, Margaret Weis, along with frequent contributor
Don Perrin will work with the Wizards of the Coast design team to create
a D&D campaign book for 2003. Once again, we were pleased by
the enthusiastic response.
the RPG team had an excellent GAMA. Our offerings to the conventioneers
were greeted with unexpected, gratifying, and wholehearted support.
Category Manager Roleplaying Games
Wizards of the Coast
more information about the SRD, please visit our d20
main page. You can read more about GAMA at their site: www.gama.org.
Also, check out the press releases for both the Star
Wars TCG and the
to the D&D main news
more articles and news about the new D&D or check
out the D&D
for a lively
discussion of all aspects of the D&D game.