Is D&D Insider worth up to 8$ per month?

Recently WotC’s Randy Buehler has revealed the plans for the future of DDI. In the near future we’ll no longer get Dungeon and Dragon for free, but we’ll have to pay to be able to access Dungeon, Dragon and the Bonus tools. A one-month-subscription will set you back around 8$ but the monthly price will be reduced to around 5$ if you subscribe for a whole year.
If we were talking about the printed Dragon and Dungeon from earlier (better?) times, I would subscribe at once, no questions asked. But since we are talking about digital magazines, I am more than skeptical. I don’t have any hope that Wizards is going to surprise us with a completely revamped and better website for DDI. And the current D&D website is not only looking outdated but it’s usability is subpar also. A digital magazine isn’t a bad thing in itself, but when you take Wizards’ history of failures in the digital domain into account, the future of Dungeon and Dragon looks grim indeed.
The other features you’ll get for your subscription is the D&D Compendium  and the so-called Bonus tools. The latter are minor tools that they should have given us for free. They are nothing I would want to pay money for. The D&D Compendium could be interesting, especially if you plan your adventures on the PC. But like the rest of the D&D website, the Compendium is badly designed and lacks usability. By the way, while I was writing these lines, the Compendium didn’t work but I got the following message:

Server Application Unavailable

The web application you are attempting to access on this web server is currently unavailable. Please hit the “Refresh” button in your web browser to retry your request.

When DDI was first announced I was thrilled, but after the delay of the Character Visualizer, Character- and Dungeon Builder and the D&D Gaming Table and the utter failure of Gleemax, I fear that DDI was a good idea on paper only. Although Randy Buehler is teasing us with Dragon and Dungeon exclusives I am sure that I can resist the temptation. And so will a lot of D&D fans all over the world. To answer my own question: No, DDI is not worth up to 8 bucks per month as long as Wizards doesn’t show us that they can really pull this off.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

8 thoughts on “Is D&D Insider worth up to 8$ per month?”

  1. Agreed. I don't think I'll ever be using any of the DDI features other than Dragon and Dungeon. Even so, I'm reluctant to pay for them considering the exchange rate.

  2. I like the content for Dragon and Dungeon, so I'll be signing up. Whether or not the rest of the DDI content will be worthwhile, I can't say, but I'm fairly happy that we're waiting for a better product rather than bitching about a low quality one.

  3. I've just heard about the Barbarian playtest slip. I have a feeling that they will present us with the barbarian class when DDI is subscription-only. Why give the fans something for free, when they can pay? 😉

    What makes me angry is that they expect us to pay for something we have no idea they can really pull off properly.

  4. What is amazing is that they can't make it work – there are a number of usable tools out there for online gaming tables that were hacked up as free, open source or shareware projects, but WOTC, with their budget, can't seem to get a team together to produce a decent product.

  5. I agree with Mike. There are several -free- tools out there for 4th edition that seem better than the bonus tools. Since my campaign is played 100% online (with teamspeak and an open source prog called gametable), these tools are a major help…but I don't feel I need to pay for the WotC ones when the free ones suit my needs.

  6. The only thing that could drive me to try the DnD Insider is the tabletop application. But it won't be available to Macs. Dragon is nice, but you'll be able to get the material hardcover later, so for me it's moot.

    <abbr><abbr>Daniel Anands last blog post..Fantasy Grounds</abbr></abbr>

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