News of Hobby Japan losing the license to D&D and planned releases being cancelled was a shock to the Japanese D&D community. This led to numerous calls to keep D&D in Japan, including a petition to Wizards of the Coast. A few months later WOTC announced that they’d be releasing 5E in Japan directly. The price point actually dropped from ¥6,000 to ¥5,500 per book, with the starter and deluxe play sets being competitively priced.
As I mentioned in my write up about Game Market Fall 2022, Wizards is putting a lot of effort into promoting D&D. Most recently was a Magic: The Gathering Players Convention in Yokohama where there was a D&D booth with 10 minute trial sessions.
— マジック：ザ・ギャザリング (@mtgjp) March 4, 2023
That’s on top of the commercial they released:
I was recently making the hobby store rounds in Tokyo and was surprised by the presence of D&D. The Yellow Submarine TRPG shop in Akihabara has two areas of D&D books, and most other game stores had at least a few copies. Official stands for the books were also present, and what really surprised me was the video display at Suruga-ya. The video from that display is also available online:
While the book art is the same as the English versions, they have been changes tailored for the Japanese market. One of which is the change from Imperial measurements to Metric. There are a several fan made cheatsheets out there helping with conversion estimates. There’s also special versions of the starter set characters with a different layout and manga style illustrations.
Hobby Japan did a wonderful job with D&D from third to fifth editions, but the attention to new players WOTC is giving is next level. The official website, while more spartan than the English version, has sections about how to play and the requisite product listings, but also “Why to Play D&D“, which includes an item about mental health and learning empathy. The general tone of that page is the benefits for children to play D&D.
From what I’ve seen the first print runs already sold out, with a new restock just happened at the end of February. D&D doesn’t make it on the Yellow Submarine top 10 TRPG sales list for 2023/2/23 to 2023/3/1, but it does make the monthly top 30. The Player’s Handbook is 14th, Starter set 18th, Deluxe Play Set (essentials in the US) 20th, Monster Manual 22nd, and Xanather’s Guide 27th. A lot of Sword World on the chart, along with some Double Cross, Advanced Fighting Fantasy, Bloodorium, Yu-myo-kishi, Uma Musume TRPG, game magazines, Cthulhu, Kutulu, Nechronica, and Shinobigami.
I was originally a bit surprised by the release with D&D One slated for 2024, but their approach may work. It certainly coincides well with the D&D movie. While I’ve mostly played with an older crowd, one of the DM’s from the recent Player’s Convention mentioned in a tweet that the audience there was on the younger side. I’m looking forward to seeing where this all leads.