This is probably a necessary step for Wizards, in light of several things I read recently on EnWorld this morning. This article, in particular, suggests that Wizards / D&D were in significant peril following the failure of DDI's virtual tabletop feature. Thus, in order to keep the D&D brand in Wizards' hands and alive, something had to give.
So that's... an interesting and not-unexpected sign. Sadly, I fear that I will not partake in 5e. The issue I have is really with WotC's publishing strategy of supplement bloat (which was made even worse under 4e's "everything's core" philosophy). To quote... well, myself, in a speculation thread on Enworld:
WotC has lost me as a customer as a result of their supplement-driven mentality. If they produce a core that I like, they'll run it into the ground with player content supplements. As a player, I don't have the disposable income to buy said supplements (be they books or subscriptions) to keep up with the Joneses, and as a DM, I'm not willing to deal with the crap that comes with said supplements (mechanically if allowed, dramatically if disallowed). If they produce a core that I don't like, then I could care less. It's essentially a business model problem; they could do wonderful, wonderful game design (hypothetically), but a constantly expanding game is something I have no interest in anymore. But that's what they'll build, because that's where the money is.So... best case, they'll release something superior to 4e, keep the brand alive, and keep producing more gamers. Like it or not, D&D is kinda the flagship tabletop RPG, and as it goes, so goes the hobby to some degree. Worst case, they'll refragment the playerbase, lose lots of money, kill the brand, and the hobby will die with it as a commercially viable (and therefore living, growing) entity. Pathfinder would then be the last best hope... which would be OK mechanically, but it doesn't have the name recognition of "D&D", and I don't think it could save the hobby. Likewise, the various other 'largish' RPGs like White Wolf often lack the mainstream appeal of D&D, and are often not found in bookstores like 4e and Pathfinder. So... I hope it does well, but not because I intend to play it.
In other news, the development of the Trailblazer Monster Book is bogged down in the lycanthropes, but is pretty much complete other than that. They're currently looking at a release this spring. That one I probably will buy; the art's going to be awesome, and maybe they'll fix some of the bugs we hit using 3.x monsters with TB (still sorry about the impossibility of beheading that hydra, guys).