I'm going to use an example, which is almost always a bad idea.
I'm going to use an example because it shows the extent of the problem, it shows that the problem still happens now today, and it shows that I haven't exaggerated or distorted the problem. If you have a blog you know what happens if you use an example: people comment on the example, not the point. You go "You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a community affected by global climate change" and someone will comment "My cat's breath smells like cat food". Try not to be distracted from the point by the example.
So, This Happened
A relatively successful independent game designer (not I nor anyone I have much history with) wrote a short, satirical tale.
In his tale, he described a hypothetical indie designer writing a game that (depending on how you interpret the tale) is either very niche or very bad. The imaginary designer complains--to comic effect for the hundreds of people who shared the tale--that D&D is making their niche or bad game harder to sell. The Take is a joke at the imaginary niche or bad designer's expense. That's it.
Now, there are lots of things to say about the story here:
- D&D does take up a lot of space in the industry
- An indie game can be successful, though.
- "Success" can be defined in a variety of different ways.
- Independently-produced games have, in the past, competed with D&D in significant ways, even financially. They've even out-competed D&D sometimes. How?
- For an individual designer, financial success might be more likely with a niche game than working for D&D.
- Many things WOTC does are actually unfair. Which ones?
- Many critiques Indie designers have of D&D or its fans are unfair. Which ones?
- Indie culture does have some self-defeating characteristics. What are they?
- Games are not a meritocracy but to what degree can quality be said to exist or matter?
- What things that aren't "quality" do still matter in getting to (any definition of) "success".
- Does popular accessibility ever become quality?
- What if you do have a niche game and know it? How do you define success for that?
- The indie game creator who penned the original take responded to critics with, basically "I don't have to talk to you because you're not successful and/or have no structural power".
- The critics responded to him with, basically, "I don't have to talk to you because you are successful and/or you do have structural power".