In September 2007, the venerable Dragon met its demise. Scott Rouse, Senior Brand Manager for D&D, wrote in a press release: “Today the internet is where people go to get this kind of information… By moving to an online model we are using a delivery system that broadens our reach to fans around the world.” Much to the horror of Dragon‘s readers, this announcement, followed by Lisa Steven’s confirmation on Paizo’s website, revealed that WotC did not renew Paizo’s license to produce the Dragon and Dungeon magazines. When asked about Rouse’s comments, recent editor Erik Mona wrote “the audience was outraged and remain quite hostile to Wizards for making this decision. The magazines were still viable.” In 2006, the magazine’s total paid circulation was 41,220.
To some, the death of Dragon magazine did not come as a surprise. “D&D was dead when Third Edition came out,” says Christina Sills, owner of Wildgate Games in Deltona, Florida, over the phone, “so when Dragon was done, it just proved what we already knew.” The divide between gamers who remained loyal to their editions of the game throughout the years only widened with the release of Third Edition. Many “old-school” gamers, who enjoyed the golden years of Second Edition, saw the direction Adkison took with the D&D brand as overtly commercial. Adkison, who turned Magic the Gathering into the world’s bestselling collectible card game and transformed WotC into a multimillion-dollar company, also personally oversaw the revision of Second Edition after the company acquired D&D. His intention to make D&D more amenable to video games and overhaul the rules to “reduce complexity” succeeded in broadening the game’s audience and rejuvenating Dragon‘s dwindling circulation at the turn of the century, but also alienated a generation of players.
At GenCon 2007, WotC previewed a primitive 3-D chat-room called “D&D Game Table” as part of D&D Insider, the new subscription feature of WotC’s website that will allow players to play D&D online. Little did players know, however, that Dragon too would be going the way of online chat-rooms. “The electronic ‘magazines’ may be modern and efficient and the way of the future,” remarks freelancer Scott, “but I will never peer at my byline on a computer screen and feel like King Kong on cocaine.”Online messageboards bemoaned WotC’s decision, and hobbyists everywhere mourned the conclusion of Dragon‘s print run. “We can’t get this kind of stuff for our games anywhere else,” says Sills, “It’s really sad.”On October 1, 2007, Dragon #360 was released in digital format within the confines of D&D Insider. No one really knows the reasons behind WotC’s decision to slay the Dragon and bury the Dungeon; the details may remain unclear for many years to come. One thing is certain, however: Dragon magazine represented the best the RPG industry had to offer, and will remain a legend among role-players until the last die is cast.