The answer is most likely the bean counters and management at the VP and higher level have revenue targets that must be met and the percentage of expenses to revenue must be low so that profits are higher. They probably also have a “lean business model”. This means doing more with less and teams are made as small as possible to get the work done. Of course, that is just a guess based on my experience working for a publicly traded company in an unrelated industry.
Of course, from my perspective in the trenches, the bean counters often count the wrong beans.
So, I get it, WotC, now a part of Hasbro, is a publicly traded company and the stockholder’s expect lots of dividends for their investment. I have often wondered why the boards of publicly traded companies don’t further increase their profits by paying their presidents and CEOs less? I am sure that market forces have an influence on this, but why does anyone need more than a million dollars a year in salary, stock options, and benefits?
The problem for the fans who want these out of print items, who can’t afford the gouging on eBay, so they can’t get things they want. A good example is Chainmail and the original LBBs for OD&D. Yes, I know you can get the basic D&D rules, which I have, but it is not the same as having the originals. Also the Player’s Handbook is not available in PDF for 1st Edition AD&D, like the other rule books. It was before WotC’s meltdown a few years ago over a handful of people sharing their PDFs with others. I don’t recall if Chainmail and OD&D were available or not. I spent a lot getting PDFs to rebuild my manuals lost to the great water leak incident before I managed to get hard copies of them all.
It would be very helpful to have the Player’s Handbook available in PDF for those wishing to conduct 1st edition games online, so their players could buy it, thankfully, OSRIC helps with that. The Monster Manual (MMI) is another I don’t see available now, this would only be needed by DMs, but again OSRIC helps.
For any of the old manuals, modules, etc. that were once in PDF, it is not that hard to make them available for sale again. Unless there is some technical aspect about the watermarking process that DriveThru RPG, RPGNow, and D&D Classics that require re-working the PDFs. I know that the Player’s Handbook is not as high a quality of the other manuals that were re-released. Yes, a cleaner scan, etc. would be nice, but I would pay WotC for a legible and usable scan before I would spend tons of money on eBay for something I would be reluctant to use at the table.
Yes, I could scan an expensive hard copy and make my own PDF, but I would have to use a flat bed scanner for one sheet at a time, and based on what my company charges customers for my time (I only wish I made $150/hour), it would be very expensive. Plus, I could do a lot of game prep in that amount of time.
Since WotC turned to members of the OSR for help with D&D Next, it only makes sense to me that WotC turn to fans with skills. I am sure there are D&D players with technical skills that would trade their time for a hard copy of the original rules or at least a free copy of the PDFs they helped create. This would minimize the expense in time for WotC that only requires putting the PDFs on D&D Classics. Granted, they wouldn’t make millions of dollars, but they would make more than enough to cover the salary of the person(s) who coordinate getting PDFs of old resources on D&D Classics.
Problem Solved! I don’t have the skills or the equipment to make decent PDFs, but I am sure there are lots of others out there who do. In the world of publicly traded companies, having a solution for a problem or complaint that you bring, is a big step in getting action.
I don’t know anyone at WotC or personally know anyone who knows anyone at WotC. I’m just a 36+ year player and lover of the game who would like to buy copies of the modules and other things I didn’t have the money to buy when I was in high school.
Does anyone else think this is a good idea?