"Stop. Just Stop"
Go read this now. This is a very well thought out open letter to Wizards. I still need to process it more. It is a lot to think about. In a nut shell the author tells Wizards that they are solving the wrong problem. Wizards thinks they can make money and "fix things" by creating a new edition.
But perhaps they can do even more by just supporting the editions that people are already playing and enjoying. Essentially their "planned obsolescence" methodology doesn't work. Why? Because no version of D&D is obsolete. They are all playable and enjoyable. Sure there are good and bad in each. But each has provided me with great fun in my 30 years of gaming. If 4E had not been released, I would still be playing 3rd. They same goes for any other edition.
My favorite part is probably the section she schools them about publishing. For a publishing company (which Wizards is essentially), they are surprisingly behind the times. I've harped on this for a long time. Paper is dead. Digital is in. Wizards core demo is the nerd culture. You know... the ones with the smart phones, tablets, and Macbook Pros running Ubuntu. The reason why all (and I mean all) of Wizards content is available for download through BitTorrent is because people want this information electronically!
While you're at it, get them on people's kindles and ipads while you still have a chance to control that content. If you refuse to have them be available this way, players will always get them the way they are getting them now, illegally.
Duh people! You do realize that I would PAY to have this electronically. You do realize that people have recreated entire adventures for newer editions with new graphics and artwork for free as a labor of love just to keep it fresh for the times?
Shen they first announced DNDNext, I thought that they would create a set of meta rules to allow edition mashups. This was interesting to me. I thought that would be really neat. That would have allowed them to create content that could work with any edition. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that a set of meta rules would probably just not work.
After playing the play test I know that DNDNext is JADNDE (Just Another DND Edition). Each time a new edition has come out I have seen both sides of the coin. No edition is perfect. But each edition has also been incredibly fun to play for me. At this point I wonder if its worth it for me to invest in a brand new edition or not. One the one hand, I know I'll probably have fun playing it (I've enjoyed all of the other editions), but I could just as easily move to Pathfinder.
The one thing the author didn't mention specifically is community and eco-system. In the digital age community and eco-systems built around content are what is valuable. It is not the content itself. Why? Well anyone can make an RPG that is fun to play. Not anyone can pull in hundreds of thousands of players that have brand loyalty and sink tons of personal time playing and tweaking the game.
Your best idea... ever was the OGL from 3rd Edition. It was the closest you have ever gotten to truly supporting and encouraging a huge community and eco-system. Your failure at capitolizing on that may be your undoing. Get with the program and start rabidly support ALL of your players and ALL of your editions. There is no reason why you can't continue to develop, tweak, and improve any of all of the current editions. There is also no reason why you can't provide every single edition from any point in time to your fans through digital means.
There is no reason why you couldn't support 3rd party developers creating content for all of those editions that can also be provided digitally and taking a cut. Have you seen how much money Apple is making?
What if people could design classes, races, monsters, adventures, artwork, minis, using your system and either provide it for free or charge for it through a D&D store where you can take a cut?
Get with the program. There is gold in them thar hills that will also make your fans very happy. Stop trying to convince us that the game we are having fun with now isn't any good and let's all work together to make it better.