ICv2 caught up with Scott Rouse, Sr. Brand Manager for Dungeons and Dragons at Wizards of the Coast at GAMA to ask about D&D 4th Edition.  In Part 2, Rouse shares plans for the 4th Edition launch and Game Day, marketing and advertising for the launch, and talks about the potential effect of the new release on the hobby market.  In Part 1, we talked about changes to the d20 system license and how that affects other publishers:


You’ve had a lot of interest in the new launch at the show?

Yes, we’ve had a lot of activity at our booth.  We had a seminar on Tuesday where we talked about some of our launch plans and product offerings.  People were literally piling out the doors.  We had to add a second session today for the people who weren’t able to fit in the room yesterday.


Everyone is really excited about 4th Edition.  I think it’ll be a real invigoration for the hobby for the summer.  We’re seeing tremendous preorders.  We’re seeing a lot of excitement on the message boards, so we’re really looking forward to the release of the product.


We’re going to have D&D Game Day, which will be happening on June 7th, the day after the release of the three core rule books.  Our goal is to have, simultaneously, 3,000 stores across the world running D&D 4th Edition events.  We’re already seeing a lot of interest from the hobby stores that are ordering the kits, and they’re going quickly.  Retailers who haven’t ordered yet should get a hold of the folks at the RPGA to order your game day kit.


The roleplaying category has been slipping a little in the last few years.  What does the 4th Edition mean to the macro trends in the market?

It’s going to be like 3rd Edition was; another point of reinvigoration of the category.  With the release of 4th Edition, not only do we see a lot of old hobby gamers coming back to stores, but it’s a great opportunity to reach the next generation of gamers.  Through our efforts in D&D Insider we have a great opportunity to reach out to that MMO playing younger gaming generation.


There’s a lot of great MMO games out there.  I play them.  I’m a big fan of World of Warcraft, and I think younger players that enjoy that experience would enjoy D&D, and in many ways 4th Edition is allowing us to give them some of the themes they’ve become used to in computer-based games.  D&D Insider allows us a chance to deliver the D&D game system in a familiar format.  For examples, with D&D Insider, character creation is a much easier process.  Also we’ve streamlined the game.  We’ve made the game play quicker around the table.  There’s more action, less of the game stoppers--down times whether to have to stop to look up a rule in book or having to stop because your party members ran out of spells and it’s time to stop and rest.  We wanted to take some of those show stoppers out of the game. Also we wanted to make the dungeon master’s job easier (make it easier for them to run a campaign), because DMs are the life blood of D&D.  They’re the folks who hold the game groups together.  If we make the job easier, it’ll be easier to recruit new DMs and we know that we can grow the hobby.


What kind of ad support have you got behind the launch?

We have a pretty significant campaign, with print, online as well as some TV advertising.  We’re actually filming a TV spot in Seattle.  You may have seen the Beholder at Gen Con last year made an appearance in Seattle.  The shoot is a very fun, tongue-in-cheek, taking this obviously very fake monster (it’s absolutely huge, it’s 13 feet tall), and driving it around to generically iconic locations so the Beholder is at a city bus stop, it’s going to go to a coffee shop, a games store, the beach, a farm and even makes an appearance at the roller derby and makes a big payoff for the spot: “On June 6th, 4th edition will be everywhere.”  This will be running on some cable networks including G4 and Sci Fi.


The first part of our marketing efforts in print, online and TV are meant to migrate that existing D&D player to 4th Edition.  They’re really low hanging fruit.  They’re already playing the game, they’re familiar with it.  Then as we get later in the year, we’ll start to reach out to a broader audience for the acquisition marketing.  That will mostly be a print and online campaign.  We may revisit TV at that point.


Can you talk about how big a spend or how many impressions in terms of the TV campaign?

Our total marketing spend is about $2.5 million for the launch of 4th Edition.  That would be all the media combined plus our Game Day event.


Where’s the online advertising going to appear?

It’s going to be on a lot of hobby gaming sites, places like EN World, ICv2, trade outreach as well as consumer outreach.  And then as we get farther into the year and into that acquisition push, we’ll go broader, looking at some of the younger skewing sites, gaming sites as well as lifestyle sites.


I would say this year more than ever we’re putting a greater focus into online advertising.  Not only does it allow us to reach a broader audience and a global audience, but we’re seeing the venues for print advertising dry up.  There are still some core hobby publications, but we’re seeing that we have to reach into some of the broader publications, starting with looking at Geek and some of the computer gaming magazines.  But, as you get into that broader reach the cost per thousand goes up quite a bit.  A big push this year for online, but we’ll certainly have some print efforts.


For Part 1, click here.