I'm not normally at the forefront of this kind of news, but because I have the Wizards columns on RSS feed on the side there (I was actually only trying to get the DM Experience column, but I never mucked around with the feed to figure out if I could filter it as such) I saw the announcement less than two hours after it went public. That's pretty good for me.
I'm referring, of course, to the announcement by Wizards of the Coast that they are officially working on the fifth edition of D&D. I made a quick reference to it in the comments section of my last post, but otherwise spent more time reading what I could on the announcement and a few gamer blogs rather than adding my own input to the mix. Of course now, nearly 24 hours later, I can't resist.
First, the obligatory "how interested am I in this announcement?" I'm not sure. While the design direction certainly sounds more appealing than early previews of 4e did, at the same time, I'm really not in the market for another system, as I've said many times before. I've been fairly heavily invested in the d20 system--various iterations, which have contributed to my heavily house-ruled preferred variant--and I don't feel like my investment is amortized. Certainly I'll pay attention to the game as it nears release, but I don't--at least at the moment--have any plans to actually pick it up.
Second, the timing. 4e has only been out since June 2008--so about three and a half years. That's an absurdly short product life cycle given the history of editions in this game, and it strongly suggests that 4e "failed" in some way for WotC to consider replacing it so soon. This isn't also hard to imagine given that the player base has become increasingly splintered, and Pathfinder--which is basically a minor revision to the last edition of D&D--seems to be knocking huge holes in D&D's sales. Add to that the noise of the OSR blogosphere (regardless of whether or not that's actually a large number of gamers, they do manage to make a lot of noise), the failure of the GSL to attract and sustain very intensive third party involvement, and the dissapointment in general of a large number of fans who felt alienated by the design principles of 4e, and it's not hard to think of it as a failure, despite the large number of fans who clearly quite liked it too.
Of course, it is possible (although I believe it to be unlikely) that it's not considered a failure by WotC management at all, and because of Hasbro's strategy of continually pushing for more profits, that we'll always see new editions coming out after this short of a window from now on, regardless of how successful any edition is or isn't.
Huh. Although I recently swore off ENWorld again, I'm tempted to make a small reappearance to broach that particular topic and see what comes of it, if anything.