Honestly, the announcement of a new edition is not much a surprise to anyone who followed what’s happening around the brand in the last years. Even articles on the Wizards homepage implied that there are great changes in the making, and to include all of those a new edition seems a logical answer.
There are several things to take in account : the so called “edition wars”, Pathfinder, MMO-s (like World of Warcraft) as well as Wizards own design decisions turned 4E D&D much less a success ad 3,5 D&D was. They are right in the assumption, that the player base shattered, but based on the two articles I don’t see if they have a direction they plan to go. But at least they try to appease their fans, which will be a great work for I wish great success !
Players may even join the design process which is awesome !
Based on what I see I guess they have to take a step backward, toward the 3.x editions, but keeping some thing from 4E as well. They should find their own faults with the last edition, as well as answer the current challenges for the industry or the only thing they will reach is the further breaking up of the player base instead of holding the potential players together.
I guess it will be a long design process, and hopefully it will involve several non-tabletop projects. I think Heroes of Newerwinter on Facebook or the incoming Neverwinter Nights 4 has great marketing value, but both is based on the current edition, as well as the board games, which seems a little bit counter-productive in the light of a new DnD edition. I hope we won’t face another edition war.
For a less serious note, you may check out this homorous article about the predicted fictional 5E DnD release : here. I hope it won’t come true.
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros