News of layoffs at Wizards of the Coast are all over the net but no has noticed how many online related staff have gone.
Amongst those going are the VP of digital gaming, a director of digital games and the online community manager. I suspect that a lot of grunt staff on the D&D Insider and other online projects are also going. Paying the price for the failure of WotC to deliver the online elements of 4e they promised (see Oy! Hasbro! Developing Software Is Harder Than You Think for why it has failed).
No doubt the general poor reception of 4e hasn’t helped this situation but the root cause is the same. WotC made the classic business mistake of over-reaching themselves on a new product that involved significant investment in a non-core market, i.e. online tools. Wizard’s join a long list of companies to have run in to trouble after betting heavily on the success of a new product.
I predict that WotC will now retrench. Plans for D&D Insider will be cut to what is currently available plus a finished version of the character generator. They may be foolish and try to save money on the content of the Dragon & Dungeon but this will drive people away from D&D insider. Something they cannot afford to happen.
We will probably see an increase in the milking of the cash cows, so expect more 4e books being produced, blowing my “size of 4e prediction” out of the water (see D&D – History and Growth). If sales don’t pick up and WotC become desperate, I wonder how it will before we hear talk of 4.5 edition?