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 And the current D&D website is not only looking outdated but it’s usability is subpar also.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.