I've got to love the marketing and management geniuses at WOTC. After one of the worst marketing campaigns I've ever seen a major company mount for their new fourth edition of D&D, they've managed to top themselves. Their online service, D&D Insider, was supposed to be ready to go when the fourth edition of D&D released in early June. Of course, none of the promised features were really ready, except for their online only versions of Dungeon and Dragon magazine -- and a very incomplete rules compendium. Missing were all the major (and interesting features) like the character builder, the character visualizer, the dungeon builder, and the all-important central feature of D&D Insider -- the online gaming table.
It has been an additional two months now and WOTC has made a big announcement about D&D Insider. It's a new feature. No, not a beta version of online gaming table or even the character builder or the character visualizer. The new feature is WOTC is now ready to charge you for what little there is available. No more freebies, it's time to pay them a monthly fee for their lackluster efforts. Admittedly, their post 4e online-only versions of Dungeon and Dragon magazine haven't been bad, but the monthly fee for two PDF magazines and access to the very incomplete rules compendium is just a bit less than I used to be able to get the Dragon and the Dungeon magazine in print for. Pay more, get less.
I hope people stay way in droves, but I'm sure enough people will be happy to pay for PDF only copies of Dungeon and Dragon magazines that the bean counters controlling corporate decision making will see this as a win for the all-important short term investors in Hasbro stock. When will the core features promised for D&D insider arrive? WOTC apparently doesn't know. Nor do they know how much they'll up the price when they do. I'm just not impressed.