Over the weekend, Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) hosted the D&D Creator Summit, a highly anticipated event where notable tabletop developers and content creators were invited to discuss upcoming projects and books for the popular fantasy tabletop role-playing game. However, instead of being a celebration of the future of Dungeons & Dragons, the summit was marred by technical issues, inadequate communication, and concerns over diversity and inclusion.
The D&D Creator Summit was conducted as a hybrid event, with some attendees participating in-person and others attending virtually. Writer and podcaster Daniel Kwan reported that the virtual sessions were plagued by technical issues, including problems with video and audio feeds. This prevented many virtual participants from engaging fully with the content being presented and raised questions about WOTC’s ability to manage such events.
In addition to the technical difficulties, the event seemed to be overshadowed by a focus on advertising upcoming D&D products rather than fostering a genuine dialogue between the creators and WOTC representatives. While the summit did cover recent developments such as the recently announced virtual tabletop, many participants felt that WOTC missed an opportunity to address crucial topics related to the future of the game.
A particularly perplexing aspect of the D&D Creator Summit was the discussion surrounding the future of the game, specifically the naming and branding of the next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons. During the event, WOTC revealed that the term “One D&D” was merely a placeholder, referring to the integration of 5th edition, the new Virtual Tabletop (VTT), and D&D Beyond. However, when it came to the next version of the game, WOTC made a surprising decision.
Instead of naming the upcoming release as “One D&D,” “6th Edition,” or even “5.5,” the company has chosen to continue calling it “5th Edition.” This decision comes despite the announcement of new rulebooks and a revised Core Rulebook set to release in 2024. This peculiar naming choice has led to confusion and frustration within the D&D community, as it muddles the distinction between the current game and the upcoming revisions.
Another major concern raised during the summit was the accessibility of the new D&D Virtual Tabletop (VTT) being developed by WOTC. The VTT will be built on Epic’s Unreal Engine 5, which, while visually impressive, can be taxing on older machines. This could create a barrier to entry for players with limited resources, effectively excluding them from experiencing this latest development in the D&D world. Despite WOTC outlining a roadmap for the VTT, no concrete plans were shared on how they intend to address this issue.
Another area where the summit fell short was in its approach to diversity and inclusion. When asked about their commitment to hiring and promoting marginalized individuals within the company and involving diverse voices in the creative process, Jontelle Leyson-Smith, WOTC’s Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Philanthropy & Employee Experience, provided a somewhat generic response. While Leyson-Smith emphasized the importance of hiring the best people for the job, she failed to address the need for specific actions to increase diversity within the company.
Moreover, the impromptu Q&A session between WOTC representatives and creators highlighted the company’s struggle to rebuild trust with the community after the controversial OGL 1.1 event. Although Executive Producer Kyle Brink addressed some concerns, many questions related to safety, mental health, and financial equity were left unanswered.
The D&D Creator Summit concluded with a glimpse into the future of D&D, including a new revised Core Rulebook set to release in 2024. However, the overall sentiment of the event was that WOTC failed to address the most pressing concerns of the community. While the summit did provide some insight into upcoming projects, it exposed a significant disconnect between WOTC and the creators who help drive the success of Dungeons & Dragons.