On November 16, 2010, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) will release its long awaited update to the D&D Insider Character Builder. The fourth edition of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) offers many thousands of options for character, so this software is practically necessary for players of the game.
This new version has plenty of new features, including the debut of the long overdue Dark Sun and Essentials options. One interesting new feature is the software no longer allows players to save their characters on their computers, instead characters are saved to a “cloud” and are accessible from any computer. In fact, the whole program is online, with nothing to download yet the cloud feature may be a source of ire for some fans.
Up to now, it was common for a player would buy a one month subscription, download the program and use it offline to his heart’s content, printing out his character whenever he wanted. A few months later, if the player wanted it, he would buy another one month subscription to get the latest version of the builder, with all the newest errata. Apparently, WotC tired of such shenanigans, so once this update becomes official, only a player with an up to date subscription will be able to build characters with their software.
I appreciate WotC is just trying to make a buck here but it seems they’re trying to shut out the players that don’t have the $6 (or more) a month for a subscription fee. I guess the best comparison is to online games but D&D doesn’t really stand up well in this regard. To play D&D, you already need to spend $40 on books, if not $100 or more, at least as much as the initial purchase for any online computer game. Whereas online games have to maintain servers and provide new content justifying the monthly fee, most of the content of D&D is provided by your friends sitting around the table (which certainly requires bandwidth).