Hey Wizards of the Coast! Where Are My Apps?

This is a questions that has been bugging me for almost a year now.   Why have Wizards of the coast not made any Dungeons & Dragons apps for the iPhone?  The way I figure it, the iPhone was released in June, 2007.  The 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons came out in June of 2008, making this edition 2 years old next month.  So, where are the iPhone apps at?  Shouldn’t we have an official Dungeons & Dragons Character Sheet, or a Dungeons & Dragons Initiative tracker, a virtual dice app or something for the iPhone from them by now?  Anything?

I know that Dungeons & Dragons is a paper and pencil game – that is one of the things I love most about it.  I can get a gaming session rolling with just the bare bones basics if need be.  However, I know many gamers out there always travel with an iPhone or an iPad.

Wizards of the Coast does offer a subscription service called Dungeons & Dragons Insider that gives its subscribers access to a wide range of tools that they can install on their Windows machines or use from their web browser, making all aspects of Dungeons & Dragons easier for gamers. I have a Dungeons & Dragons Insider subscription for the Dungeon Magazines and the Dragon Magazines.  These are amazing and full of great advice as well as adventures you can use.  I personally don’t think Wizards of the Coast is charging enough for them.

Now, I don’t want to turn this into an operating system holy war over which is better, Windows or Macintosh. (Macintosh is clearly better.)  Simple math tells us that there are more Windows machines out in the world than machines running the Macintosh OS, so I don’t fault Wizards of the Coast for focusing on the Windows platform.  Truth be told, I have tried all of these programs on friend’s computers and they are all good and very helpful. Never the less, with all the iPhones in the world I find it shocking that we the players of Dungeons & Dragons don’t have any official iPhone apps.  I am not asking for earth shattering apps, but it seems like Wizards of the Coast could easily put together a couple of the more basic things that Dungeons & Dragons gamers want.

29-year-old working as a facility manager and living on the final frontier in Juneau, Alaska. Writing, reading, computers, drumming and playing some Dungeon & Dragons top my interest.

11 thoughts on “Hey Wizards of the Coast! Where Are My Apps?”

  1. Considering that the full range of DMs [Adventure] Tools haven't been finished yet, I doubt that any Official WotC iPhone apps will be forth coming soon.

  2. I'm not an iPhone person (I have personal issues with Apple), but I too find it somewhat amazing that they haven't created some sort of iPhone apps. Of course with WotC's record (it seems to take them many tries to get something out that's halfway even right or useable) with anything computer based, you might just have to count yourself lucky that they haven't yet.

  3. "Wizards of the cost" (2nd sentence) Is that a typo or Freudian?

    No need to discriminate based on OS: in the old days you could do Java (I can't believe I just said Java is "old days" but I guess it is a dog years thing) but now that Mac are using the same chips, cross-platform games are easier. (References: Steam is now out for Mac, StarcraftII will be out for Mac, and some of the other Steam games are being rebuilt for mac.)
    .-= Joe´s last blog ..Random Inn Rumors =-.

  4. The answer is simple: Wizards does not understand the computer market. They cannot even properly manage their brand in the PC gaming space (as a computer gaming license – unlike the health pen-and-paper product — D&D is dying a slow, painful death).

    How are eTools working out for you?

  5. @Joe, Thanks for catching the spelling Mistake. I have corrected it. No it was not a Freudian slip. Just a missing "A".

    I don't know if programing games for the Macintosh OS is the easiest thing, or if it has gotten easier for developers. John Carmack of id Software (makes or games like "Wolfinstine" and "Quake") has said before that programing games for the Mac is not an easy process. That it does not help that Steve Jobs hates games. (his words not mine). Gaming has never been a high priority for Apple. It seems like it's always been working on ways to stream line productivity.

    My personal opinion of STEAM coming out for the Macintosh is just numbers. More and more people are using the Macintosh Operating System every day. It just makes sense to start programing and porting games over to the Macintosh.

    As far as referring to Starcraft II which is developed by Blizzard. Blizzard has always made a Mac and Windows version of their game available.

    Don't get me started on Halo either. That was supposed to be a Macintosh game.

    @Walker, Since this story was posted I have done a lot of thinking and a lot of talking regarding Wizards of the Coast software development.

    We have to remember that Wizards of the Coast is a gaming company that designs games to be put in books. They do great books with great art and that does translate into great games.

    They have never been a developer of software. So it's understandable that their business model does not revolve around software development.

    I will stress again that one of the things I love most about D&D is that it is a paper and pencil based game.

    Still, it seems like a huge revenue lost for Wizards of the Coast that they do not have any iPhone apps out after two years. But that's just my opinion.

    I sure would love to be a fly on the wall inside their offices for just one day.

  6. I'd advise everyone not to make iPhone apps even if you love macs. 1st: You can't port things to the iPhone. So you can't use the same code for flash, web, blackberry, pre or android.

    2nd) Apple can make you delete your application at any time, no appeal, no explanation, nothing. Remember the GSL rage? The appstore conditions make it look open and cuddly…the first edition of it.

    While I don't think a WotC app would get censored the fact it COULD happen is bad for devs: Suppose there is another moral panic & Apple starts getting 'D&D on the iPhone is corrupting kids' letters. How long before WoTC's application

    gets the boot?

    3) So what if you spend a few grand writing an app and it gets rejected? For example:
    http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2009/11/schille… and http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2009/11/respect

    and just on general principle: http://www.marco.org/142242516

    Really what WoTC should do is make a web application that works in webkit: Then you will be able to use it from the iPhone, Pre, Android and other web browsers. It can be done: http://echobazaar.failbettergames.com is pretty complex and everything but the mouse overs works on both the Pre & Android phones.

    Apple can't block it, and you get a wider audience anyway.

    .-= Canageek´s last blog ..An Update to my BRP Advantages =-.

  7. @Canageek, Here are my thoughts on this.

    Your first issue. "You can’t port things to the iPhone. So you can’t use the same code for flash, web, blackberry, pre or android."

    Apple knows from "experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.

    This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features. Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms."

    Your second issue, Apple store conditions. Who knows how WotC feels about this. They are not saying anything about their views of iPhone development. But if i where to venture a guess I would guess that most of the design of D&D 4E was done on Apple Macintosh computers and I would be that the staff that works for WotC that plays the game are bummed they don't have mac or iphone apps.

    Your third issue, you spend a few grand writing an app and it gets rejected? Well you kind of answered that in number 2 "I don’t think a WotC app would get censored ". If wizards of the cost spent a few grand and build one or two official WotC D&D apps they would easily recoup their cost. I would think with the install bast they would be silly not to make that investment. I would make it. If the worst thing that would happen is the lost of a few thousand dollars? Yes I would take that Pepsi challenge any day. The revenue potential is to great. To many people are showing up to game night with their iPhone or iPad to ignore this.

    But the software that WotC has put out is so… is so…. It's like the design department and the software department don't talk to each other.
    .-= youseph´s last blog ..Appholes =-.

  8. So sorry, what is the problem with a webapp that works on iPhones & iPads? Wasn't apple's origional stance that iPhone apps should all be web apps? Didn't they refuse to put out an SDK for a long time to try & push that?

    Also: Bull on the cross platform bit: I'm currently using a cross platform web browser, IRC client, twitter client and normally use a cross platform IM client. Why? Becuse they are better then any other software out there. Apple is banning cross-platform applications for the same reason Microsoft tried to kill Java in the 90s. Application Barrier to Entry. Look it up, there was a very detailed court ruling on it.
    .-= Canageek´s last blog ..An Update to my BRP Advantages =-.

  9. @Canageek, The problem with web apps? There is not so much a problem as their is just another element that has to be accounted for.

    "I brought my phone to the game because it has my character sheet on line. What? You don't have an internet connection here? damn". I use the internet just about every time i plan an adventure with my group. but we don't always play in the same location and not every location we play at has internet access available to us. Other then that I am perfectly fine with it.

    As for the iPhone originally only wanting to accept webapps. I recall the story a little differently. They did not have an SDK available at the time of launch. It was not that they were trying to make people only use the browser.

    As far as the Cross platform bit. You really think a cross platform app runs just as good as one written nativity?
    .-= youseph´s last blog ..Appholes =-.

  10. I'll use Firefox over any other browser on the market. Pidgin works better then any other multiIM client. KVIRC and X-Chat are both cross-platform clients and a touch better then mIRC in my experiance. Thunderbird is my email client.

    I think they may be a bit harder to write, but yes, you can make damn good applications corss-platform.

    Normally I agree on webapps, on-computer apps are better by far, but if I was investing money in a product I wouldn't want the slightest chance that someone could kill it without explanation.
    .-= Canageek´s last blog ..An Update to my BRP Advantages =-.

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