Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Online Service Delayed Indefinitely.

I am a very angry man today!


Like many of my brother geeks, I flocked to my local hobby store on June 7th to buy the new Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Players Handbook. In part because of positive reviews of the new game from several podcasts that I watch and or listen to such as the Totally Rad Show and The D6 Generation. Both shows gave glowing reviews of the game, and I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly. I love the new Players Handbook, I love the new races and classes and the entire new feel of the game. In fact, it is how much I think they succeeded with the design of the game that makes me so angry at how totally they failed to handle the launch of the online service, DnDinsider.


The prospect of the DnDinsider service was what put me over the top. For those unfamiliar with what it was supposed to be, it was a series of  online tools that would allow you to play the new game online via a virtual tabletop with integral voip chat. The tabletop was supposed to be a beautiful 3d rendered environment with effects and a rendering of your individual character designed in a 3d character visualizer. It sounded so damn cool!


Let me explain here that I am a 40 year old man with 3 kids and a 50 hour a week job. ( not to mention this blog and a podcast to boot ) For me the chance of being able to get a role playing group together on a regular basis is just this close to 0. So for me the chance to play the game online combined with how awesome the new 4th Ed seems had me truly thrilled.


For the past two days I have been reading my book during lunch breaks, in the can, even at stop lights just waiting for when I would have time to sign up and start playing. That was supposed to be tonight. Only now I find out that DnD Insider is not ready, has no release date AT ALL currently and may never be released with all the promised features.


Worse, I did not find this out when I tried to follow the information in the back of the book. The website listed www.dndinsider.com does not in fact exist except as a redirect to the main D&D page. There is no place to sign up, no place to get information and no where on the main page giving me the information that I just got screwed. I can understand delays, they happen with any software, but they should be letting people know what is going on, and they should not have promoted the availability of the service on launch day when they knew they could not deliver.


Only by breaking out my search-fu and scanning the net ( The only official word from WOTC to date ) did I find out just how completely this launch has been botched. And to top it all off it turns out that WOTC knew TWO MONTHS AGO that this would happen. Yet when I went to the game day event I, like everyone else was handed a nice little flier promising me 10 day free trial to help convince me to buy the books.


I can only hope that the word gets out and people raise some serious hell about this. Sure its just a game, but its also a horrible way to treat your customers, deliberate false advertising and just plain wrong. It wouldn’t be so bad if the game itself sucked, then I would just shrug and chide myself for making a bad purchase. But the books and the game are so good it hurts my heart to see how bad the launch has been handled.