So a rumor dropped today like a neutron bomb all over twitter (first dropped by @criticalhits) that Wizards would cease publication of the core 4e books, and concentrate on Essentials. This was reported by Mana Nation, a Magic fan site. You can read the original post here.
As you can imagine, everyone is up in arms about this. My suggestion, as with every rumor, is to take it with a grain of salt and analyze the situation.
First and foremost, is Essentials. Essentials is a program designed to lure new players to the game. It is meant to introduce people to D&D with simple presentation and class builds. I get that, that’s fine and dandy. But once you have those players, you’ll want them to advance past the Essentials newbie stuff, and towards the big boys D&D.
But what’s the problem with that? Well, I don’t know about you, but my PHB1 is horribly marked up with pasted paper, pencil marks, and 2 stealth rules thanks to all the errata that’s been pumped out. Do you want to sell people that are new to your game a book full of contradictions and mistakes? I wouldn’t. I’d pull it off the shelves too. Monster Manual 1? I’d pull it and update the math on at least the solos. Those chromatic dragons seem a bit off, no? While you are at it, all the DMG errata regarding skill challenges and the page 42 table could use some updating as well, no?
After all, if you are going to eventually want these people that are new to your game to buy your $40 books, you want to give them a proper set, no?
So I wouldn’t worry too much. My gut feeling tells me that while the books may leave the shelves for a bit, WOTC prefers to intro the game to new players through Essentials, and then graduate on to the hardcovers later… and to newer prints, with up to date rules.