For those who don't know, it's their new initiative to reintroduce the Forgotten Realms as the default setting for D&D Next, undoing some or most of the damage that was done to the setting by the Spellplague and the Time of Troubles (third time's the charm!). They're certainly doing what they can to grab folks' attention:
ICv2 has a two-part interview with WotC's Head of Publishing and Licensing for Dungeons & Dragons Liz Schuh, and Laura Tommervik, Sr. Brand Manager for D&D. In it, they discuss the plans for the "transmedia gaming event."
The year-long event kicked off yesterday, with the release of the first of five novels that will support the story arc, The Companions by R.A. Salvatore. The series of novels will reach its conclusion next June with a novel by Ed Greenwood, and soon thereafter (at and around GenCon) we'll see the official launch of D&D Next and the Forgotten Realms setting. I confess I haven't read a FR novel in 15 years, but I ordered this one, just to see what they're doing, after all, I was a huge fan of the Realms for many years. I may or may not get the rest of the series.
There will also be a mobile game app, comic books, and miniatures, but the capstone of the thing seems to be a special sort of organized play that will actually incorporate how players across the world handle the adventures. They're short on specifics as to the methodology, but they've set up a website that allows players to tell WotC how a given adventure was handled. They'll then presumably aggregate the results, and the most common, most interesting, one that catches their eye, etc. will be incorporated into the canonical history of the Realms.
It's a neat idea, in its way, although I have my doubts as to the practicality of the methodology. Still, if it turns out the way they're planning, it should be interesting.
Also interesting is the fact that the adventures will be compatible with 3.5, 4E, and D&D Next (you get the crunchy game-bits from an online download). Does this mean they don't have confidence in D&D Next? I don't think so. I think it's an admission that they would not get as firm support for a playtest rules set as they would for a "real" rules set, so they're simply covering their bases and not trying to alienate any of their large groups of supporters. And throwing the 3.5 players a bone is an especially nice touch.
Of course, I'd love to see a 1E conversion in there as well, but you can't have everything.