I am glad that Wizards of the Coast is using their experiences running Magic: The Gathering events over the years to improve they way they run Dungeons and Dragons organized play. I even think that the D&D Encounters model, short adventures that can be run in two hours and tie into a larger campaign story, is an ideal structure to use in game store based play and to use in game store demos. It also gives me a sense that Hasbro is dedicated to promoting the hobby when they support endeavors like this -- that empower the hobby market and allow it to generate interest. I am certainly happy that they are making videos that show examples of what gaming really looks like:
What I am not excited about is that they seem to be limiting the D&D Encounters program to game stores alone and not offering the adventures (with their cool maps and supplies) to the gaming public at large -- after a delay to allow the game stores some exclusivity naturally.
You see...I am a bit of a completist. When I play a role playing game, I like to own all of the adventures and as many of the products for the game as I possibly can. This is especially true when the products come with well designed maps that I can use repeatedly.
By offering the Encounters adventures solely to the game store, Wizards is encouraging the eventual development of an underground market for these adventures and the merch that accompanies them. This is a bad thing, and ignores a potential revenue stream.
Not every gamer has 2 hours on a Wednesday that he/she can spend out of the house playing a game in a store. Some gamers are home bound and can only play in their own homes. They might be parents of small children. They might be married. They might have graduate school. They might have jobs that prevent them from going to stores during normal operating hours with any regularity.
What about these gamers Wizards?! What about those of us who would be willing to pay, and use, these products in our home games?
Sure, I'd be willing to wait 6 months -- or a year -- to wait for the whole Encounters storyline to be played out in the stores. This would give the stores a period of exclusivity that might encourage those who do have the time, but might not otherwise go to local stores (who are the lynchpin of the business) otherwise.
Thing is, I'd really like these to become available commercially at some point. Throw those of us who buy our stuff at FLGSs, but who are limited to gaming at home, a bone here!
We're the hobby too.