t was a long year, but a good year. If you’ll indulge me a bit, I’d like to take a moment to look back at 2013 and talk about where we’ve been. Let’s touch on some of the highlights in the world of Dungeons & Dragons over the past twelve months.
To start with, our playtest of D&D Next has blown all our expectations out of the water. I placed my bet on a hundred thousand people taking part in the playtest by the time we were done. In the end, we nearly doubled that number.
The Lords of Waterdeep iOS app grabbed the number-one slot in the iTunes app store. It had the highest average review rating of all iOS games for the month of November and was nominated as Game of the Year 2013 by Pocket Tactics. The board game’s appearance on the TableTop web series also exposed it to hundreds of thousands of new fans.
The live D&D game at PAX, featuring DM-to-the-stars Chris Perkins, once more filled the Paramount Theater in Seattle with several thousand gamers—while over a hundred thousand more watched online.
Thousands of people played in our events at Gen Con, creating a new high-water mark for D&D at the show. Our new digs in the gaming hall were pretty sweet. As well, the Sundering launch party (a.k.a A Night with D&D) was a great chance to mingle with gamers and devour a giant Drizzt-themed birthday cake.
The Big Bang Theory focused another episode on the game. About sixteen million people tuned in to watch it.
A band of intrepid D&D players, including a number of members of our R&D team, raised over $22,000 for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, taking part in a twenty-five-hour gaming marathon for the Extra Life fundraising campaign.
Working with the KRE-O construction toys team, we announced our plans to return D&D to the toy aisle for the first time since the 1980s. The first wave of products will hit stores starting in early in 2014.
We launched two new and very different types of adventures as part of D&D Encounters—Murder in Baldur’s Gate and Legacy of the Crystal Shard—in which we gave fans the ability to play different editions and participate in the events of the Sundering. Through the Sundering Adventurer’s Chronicle Facebook app, players could even impact the future of the Forgotten Realms by reporting the outcomes of their game.
And most importantly, throughout the past twelve months, people all over the world gathered around tables, rolled dice, and played D&D.
The point of all this isn’t to brag—though I’ll admit there is some bragging here. But I’m also unbelievably impressed with what the D&D team has done this year. It’s been fun watching some of the projects I mentioned above start with a phone call or email, expand to a meeting or three, and end up with something exciting unleashed upon the world.
So, I’d like to take a step back and personally thank everyone on my team (all of whom do the hard work around here):
- Thanks to Dan Gelon, Kate Irwin, and Jon Schindehette for their superhuman ability to manage D&D artwork, put up with the rest of R&D’s nitpicky comments, and keep our artists producing amazing work.
- Thanks to Rodney Thompson, Rob Schwalb, and Bruce Cordell for soldiering on with their design work. It was no accident that we crushed our goals for positive feedback thresholds in our playtest surveys.
- Thanks to Jeremy Crawford, Chris Sims, Peter Lee, and Scott Fitzgerald Gray for developing and editing our text, and making it so that people can play the game rather than wander lost through confusing rules.
- Thanks to Chris Youngs, Ben Petrisor, and Tom Olson for helping to shepherd a great round of D&D video games to market, and for laying the groundwork for an even brighter future.
- Thanks to Chris Perkins and Greg Bilsland for keeping us all on track, on our toes, and ever moving forward.
- Thanks to Matt Sernett for being the guy who always has the answer for the latest bit of D&D trivia—or knows where to look for it.
- Thanks to Nina Hess, Fleetwood Robbins, and James Wyatt for bringing the Sundering novels from the barest hint of a concept to six of the best books we’ve ever published.
And thanks to all of you—especially those of you who participated in the playtest—who helped make 2013 such a successful year for D&D. Onward and upward!
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He led the design for 5th Edition D&D. His other credits include the Castle Ravenloft board game, Monster Manual 3 for 4th Edition, and Player’s Handbook 2 for 3rd Edition.