Today I was one of the hordes of people who signed up this weekend. I was able to log-in and look at the D&D Beyond Beta pages. The honestly I poked around a lot but there was not much to see. At this stage, expectations were not high to see much anyway. Most people expected that we were likely to only see existing SRD stuff anyway so there is not much to report there anyway. SRD wise navigation was smooth and fast and the program felt solid. I look forward hopefully to the addition of more hyperlinking from the spells and monsters section of the program.
I will not bash it too hard as I have taken the part of several Alphas and Betas over the years and know that the end result can look vastly different from what you get at the outset. The interface looks clean and I can see when it is done that it is likely to be an intuitive product. The rest of my thoughts on my initial impression I can slot into a few positives and negatives.
The layout is nice with 5 main tabs separating the content. The Compendium, Spells, Items, Monsters & Forums. This gives you the ability to get to what you want to quick and simple. Additionally, they have quick links to both their Facebook & Twitter along the top bar near your profile.
Another positive is they claim they will not need to ever wipe any content from now to when the program goes live. So between the time of Phase 3 and launch any homebrew stuff you do will not vanish. This as well is good news for the Forums.
At this stage, the single biggest positive is the FORUMS. With WOTC having shut down their forums some time ago it is good to see the return of D&D Forums. Currently, the majority of the conversations being had pertained to pricing and other expected topics of that nature. But I have already seen threads of looking for groups taking shape. This can only be a positive for the D&D community as a whole.
Other that this the only other large positive I got from my exploring and Forum hounding was that the CURSE team is very intent on making it work offline. This is good news for many. Other than that what do we know? Honestly not much, Here are two of the FAQ answers that have me worried, though.
Will I need to pay a subscription?
A small monthly subscription will be needed to manage more than a handful of characters and to enable more advanced features, like homebrew content integration. At this time, we don’t know exactly how much the subscription will cost, but please continue to check dndbeyond.com for the most up-to-date announcements and information.
How much will it cost?
We don’t have exact pricing nailed-down, but you will be able to buy official digital D&D content for all fifth edition products with flexible purchase options. You can pay only for the D&D content you need. If you only play fighters, for example, you’ll be able to just pick up the stuff you need to track swinging that two-handed sword
So these two things alone confirm that to access the full content of D&D Beyond you will have to play a monthly sub. As well as much like I speculated you can expect a Fantasy Ground style or worse yet Micro Transaction Style of purchasable content from D&D Beyond.
My final thoughts.
I think thus far what we have been shown looks solid. But the ball will be in WOTC court when it comes to pricing. I think that WOTC needs to come to understand digital content transactions better for this to be the success that it could be. The possibility to see this project be dead on arrival is very strong with the history of WOTC well-known history of Pricing and Subscription costs. As of this post, I still find myself hopeful but concerned. What do the rest of you think?