WotC has recently put up a podcast of Acquisitions Inc. attempting to convert their 4E characters into a version compatible with DnDNext. A fairly decent way to promote the upcoming version and get players of 4E behind the latest edition being worked on. However, there is a short minute and a half (16:00 to 17:35) where Mike Krahulik brings up a question about needing to plunge into DnDnext.
"Like, I already felt like I could do with whatever I wanted with these rules. So I don't understand why I need a new set of rules that I do with whatever I want with."
It's a straightforward question. The response is something I think the WotC staff feels wholeheartedly. They don't want people to be marginalized for playing older editions, especially 4E. They want to make a very inclusive edition that can get everyone around the table. Yet, I still feel that trying to crank out another edition will mean pushing that product, and also mean trying to get as many players on board with it.
Support for 4E will likely evaporate. Players are going to have to decide to take the plunge with the new books or be lumped in the folks that are lovers of past editions. I am rather boggled why WotC is even bothering to release an new print version of 3.5 with DnDnext on the horizon. Especially as DnDnext is to be the great unifier of all editions.
So with one foot in developing a new game, and another shuffling around with releasing older rules and material, I wonder what role DnDnext will have on gamers tables. Will it be heralded as a new edition like 3.0 and 4E, or will it peter out like D&D Essentials?