This morning, to little fanfare, Wizards of the Coast released a pdf of their most popular version of Dungeons & Dragons on Drivethrurpg. This is the first time a non-basic rules book (B/X, Rules Cyclopedia, BECMI) has been released to pdf through OBS since WotC lost their fear of the digital market two-years ago.
This release could mean a number of different things. The most hopeful is that WotC has finally fully embraced the digital market and gotten over their fear that all pdfs will be sold once and than pirated ten billion times. The other is that the sales for the collector's editions that have trickled out over the last two-years have finally begun to slump and WotC is looking for a new revenue resource for its older material. Personally, I think it is a bit of both. The overwhelming success of the Elemental Evil Player's Guide on OBS has shown that the market isn't only there but utterly enthusiastic. My only hope is that the EEPG's print-on-demand success will cause WotC to re-evaluate things and offer other products up as POD (Rules Cyclopedia damn it!!!).
Right now I am interested in two hypotheticals that can potentially branch out of this release. The first is the release of the core books of the other editions of D&D to OBS and other digital services and the possibility of POD ability with those releases. The second is how a complete explosion of the old rules back on the market in affordable/easily obtainable ways will affect the 3rd party market and in particular the OSR. My personal opinion is that there will be little effect, however, I cannot deny that there does exist the potential for people to stop supporting "OSR 1e Clone" in favor of flat out 1e.