Ok so the big news today is that Wizards of the Coast is back in the PDF business after a long hiatus. They have about 80 out-of-print books from various editions of Dungeons and Dragons on sale at RPGnow, DrivethruRPG and a dedicated site, DND Classics (which seems to be running on DrivethruRPG’s servers).
The good news is that DrivethruRPG said the PDFs will be re-scans of a higher quality than those available before and more books will be added soon.
The bad news is that all three sites are experiencing the digital equivalent of sold-out. Demand currently is so high that their servers are overloaded with traffic. I managed to get in RPGnow just for a couple of minutes before the site became unreachable again.
I can report that prices seem reasonable, although I wasn’t able to browse for long and I wasn’t looking at the big core books, which will probably be priced more than accessories/adventures. There’s rumour of some freebie classic adventures out there.
As to why Wizards chose this time to return to the PDF business, I’d wager it has something to do with the long development process for DnD Next, which will not be out for some time. With DnD Next stealing the spotlight from 4th Edition (not that 4th Edition sales were a spectacular story of success ever), the company is in need of an income stream until it’s ready to roll out, and out-of-print products can take advantage of the RPG scene’s current hunger for old school material. If the PDFs are successful (they will be, judging from today’s crazy demand), Wizards may rethink their whole strategy and make more lines available as digital products. Hell, they were wrong to pull out in the first place; digital delivery is the future.
Still the why is not as important as the fact that those books are out and the list will hopefully grow soon! I can’t wait to get my hands on certain Al-Qadim and Ravenloft sourcebooks once again (can I say “get my hands on” for PDFs?). Now if I can only figure out a way to get Drivethru to work…