Naturally, being the internet and being this fine hobby of ours, there is no lack of anger at all this. Some folks are upset at the timing, so soon after Gary Gygax's death, some think the idea of being given a "diploma" silly (yes, you do get one, if you do this--I imagine its about on par with one from McGruff the Crime Dog's safety course) and others are angered at this sort of presentation:
White Wolf is giving away free copies of the award-winning Exalted Second Edition! We’re offering you an opportunity to break out of the Dungeons & Dragons cycle, and graduate to a new kind of fantasy game. We’re confident that once you step up and experience Exalted’s world of epic fantasy and larger-than-life heroes, you won’t ever want to search another 10 x 10 room again.
Why play a rehash of the same old game, when you could be exploring Epic Fantasy Re-Imagined all summer?
Now, personally, Exalted isn't my cup of tea: I dislike the system, and have no particular affection for the setting. Based on its material, presentation, and many of its fans' reactions and attitudes, I've often called it "Powergaming for Powergamers in denial". But while I suppose I can see the perceived slight/insult to adherents of D&D, I have to say, Exalted will likely get some new players out of this, especially those who don't want to make the jump to 4th Edition. Many of the folks they piss off with this would likely have an allegiance to D&D anyhow, or may not be interested in Exalted. Those who do take them up on it--well, 2500 books is a pretty good distribution in which to find some new adherents. But let's face it: "Your game sucks; ours is (pick one) better/artistic/more mature/incredibly powerful but not powergaming/the only true treatment of the genre/all of the above" has never, as far as I can remember, elicited a positive response from gamers. "Expand your horizons" or something inoffensive like that would still have had the basics of the idea implicit in it, without causing this whole crapstorm.
But hey, D&D Experience is over, right? We have to be outraged at something until Something Else happens!
I suppose, if anything with all this, I take issue with the idea that Exalted is somehow a "graduated" RPG from D&D. Try as I might, the only category I can think of in which Exalted might be a graduation is the (possibly NSFW) Dirty Ol' Perv one. Then again, D&D can hold its own in that, too (1st Edition Monster Manual, anyone?).
If any of you out there decide to take them up on this, email me with a proud pic of you and your diploma. And if it works out for you, or you plan to take advantage of it, good for you! Drop me a line and we'll get something up here.