So apparently this is a thing, whether we need it or not.
“Wizards of the Coast”, the makers of “Dungeons & Dragons” (currently on its fifth edition) have paired up with Curse Gaming to produce… something we already have, which is an online information source for D&D 5e. One need only do a quick Google search, and you will find plenty of online resources for pretty much every edition of D&D, including fifth edition.
So why are we getting “D&D Beyond”, then? Greed.
You see, WotC can’t be happy that there are other companies producing digital content and resources for their game, so they decided to join up with Curse to produce the only ‘official’ digital resource for 5e, in “D&D Beyond”. Because then they can shut down those sites and programs that are using unlicensed D&D content, and stop selling licenses to competitors who have licensed the content they provide.
Basically, I believe WotC wants to dominate the digital roleplaying resources market, much as they dominate pen-&-paper roleplaying, collectible card games (through “Magic: The Gathering”), and so on. Which is fine, that’s what corporations do, after all. But when you smother legal competitors who are already established in the market, such as Hero Lab, that’s when I have a problem with it!
Full Disclosure: I have purchased Hero Lab, and make use of it for “Pathfinder”, as well as other roleplaying systems.
What it comes down to here is this: WotC saw a market they weren’t in, and decided to take it over, which normally I wouldn’t have too much of a problem with. If WotC were just going up against companies providing unlicensed content for D&D, I would actually be cheering them on, in their fight to defend the D&D brand.
But that isn’t what is happening.
“Wizards of the Coast” instead sold licences to companies like Lone Wolf (the makers of Hero Lab) and others, to produce digital content for D&D through their existing products… and now wants to bring out competing software to effectively shut down those former business partners. That isn’t just wrong, it is downright predatory!
I get it, I really do. WotC want to make a buck,and they see bucks they can make in this digital marketplace. But there is such a thing as doing business on a level playing field, something WotC is not doing. Instead, they bring the full financial backing of the giant of the Toy and Gaming fields, Hasbro, into this fight, which makes this a battle no other competitor can possibly win.
Once “D&D Beyond” goes Live, I expect a whole lot of people will abandon Hero lab and other, similar products. Sure, the “Pathfinder” folk will stick around, but with D&D 5e currently dominating the pen-&-paper market, will the scraps be enough to keep these smaller companies alive? I’m not sure it will be.
In the end, I expect Lone Wolf (among others) probably feel fairly betrayed by WotC right now.And I wouldn’t blame them in the least, should they take this fight to WotC, in return. Remember, “D&D Beyond” is a new product, that is sure to have bugs that might hamper its launch. If you think Lone Wolf and other such software designers in the market won’t take full advantage of those bugs to make WotC look bad, then you don’t know how cut-throat the gaming industry can be.