Ok, let's try this again...
Why does a new edition of D&D matter?
Well, the answer comes down to brand and brand recognition. You see, when 4th Edition first came out, the game did pretty well. It was the way the new game that was designed that caused sales to dry up quickly. How they tried to address the problem with the Essentials line only served to frustrate and divde the existing 4th Edition customer/fan base.
Of course, a big thron in WOTC's side was it's previous edition which resulted in a very successful 'spinoff'. Pathfinder gained may of the fans/customers who left D&D behind as the the 'new' D&D proved to be largely incompatible to its predecessors. It wasn't an incorrect decision and, if the Pathfinder RPG had never been created, it could have worked. However, the OGL gave rise to many other alternatives as well. All of these, along with Pathfinder, have served to erode D&D's marktet share and Pathfinder now owns the larger market share in what happens to be a dwindling market.
Regardless of this, D&D is still the most recognizable brand when it comes to roleplaying games and generally the only one known to the uninitiated. The decline of D&D is also a symptom of what has been happening with the hobby and not only due to the poor reception of 4th Edition. Reasons for this are many and among these, Video Games and Computers are surely a factor. For this reason, it is perhaps more important that D&D carries on, if only to act as a banner for potential new gamers to flock to.
For the rest of us, there are other reasons why a new edition matters. While there are some of us involved in the hobby that don't care much beyond 2nd edition (if even that), we have been blessed with the OGL which gave rise to the style of games we might prefer. Some of us are also comfortable with borrowing ideas and concepts from other systems. There are even some that have borrowed from 4th Edition. A new edition with perhaps a few new twists is not necessarily unwelcome, even if we won't play that game itself. Like or not, it will be something that gamers will be taking a look at. Besides, with a new edition being readied, things are certainly different this time around, and WOTC can ill afford to 'screw it up' though. 4th Edition strayed away from previous editions considerably and with OGL games flourishing, WOTC can ill afford to do he same with 5th Edition.
D&D is a trendsetter for our hobby -- At best, success could mean a bit of growth in our hobby which hasn't been seen for a few years.
To be continued in Part 3...