A December 9th articles says Dungeons & Dragons, “…is really under-monetized.
This is the link to the article on Comicbook.com. You can find similar coverage elsewhere. I’m not going to rehash the entire article here, but I want to comment on one thing I think a lot of RolePlaying Game pundits are missing. (*Spoiler Alert: I am NOT going to say “Oh, just play Old School Renaissance.”)
Here’s the link to the article:
WotC wants/needs to make more money for parent company, Hasbro.
This may come as a shock to some, but WotC is Hasbro’s property. Dungeons & Dragons, as much as we all truly love it, is no different to Hasbro than Hungry Hungry Hippos or Acquire. They won’t give a second thought about dropping it like a hot rock if it stops making the kind of money they want to see coming in. That’s the underlying foundation of what this meeting with Hasbro and the article is really about. This was WotC basically trying to wow the Hasbro stockholders.
The recent dip in Hasbro stock prices was largely pinned on Magic: the Gathering and D&D sales declines. If I had stock in Hasbro, I would be nervous, too. Long time gamers have seen what we thought were perfectly healthy companies in the industry fall apart seemingly overnight. D&D isn’t being threatened with extinction yet.
If WotC doesn’t show that they can produce? D&D could be gone. Or WotC could be downsized. Or D&D could get handed off to Renegade Games, the other Hasbro RPG company. By the end of Fiscal Year 2024, D&D could look a lot different and I don’t just mean the edition changes.
The other thing I think we’re overlooking.
I understand what they’re doing with the four quadrant brand. They want us drinking from our Taco Bell promotional D&D cups, wearing the latest shirt with a beholder on it, while watching the new Forgotten Realms TV show before we hop online and play the RPG or whatever Baldur’s Gate MMO video game that just came out. It’s nothing new, really. Look at what they have done in the past with My Little Pony, for example.
It’s good that they want to make money. As much as I chastise them about their practices, I get that WotC employees have families to feed. I’d want to make my brand, my company’s game the hottest thing on the market too if I was getting paid by WotC.
But here’s the thing we’re overlooking: WotC is wanting to put all the money in their own pockets. They don’t want to hand money off to game distributors, game stores, third party Virtual TableTop licenses, websites such as DriveThruRPG, and Amazon. Odd for a game that is played mostly in person, but they’re looking to change that.
They have specifically said that Dungeon Masters are 20% of their profits. They aren’t worried about us DMs and the rabid fanbase that buys every book and boxed set without question. They want more “players” spending money on D&D products. They seem to be disregarding the DM: the person that puts the session together.
Look at what they don’t seem to be concerned with.
They’re not worried about basic things like, the game itself. I really got the impression they’re solely concerned with the brand. They want to blow D&D up into a fad. While we’re headed into see the newest D&D movie, let’s pick up our D&D scented toilet paper.
The game? There’s a roleplaying game? Ohh you must mean the video game. Or their VTT/video game that uses the Unreal Engine. Have you seen latest the Elf Sorceress skin in the shop? She’s cool, but her back bling is pretty mopey. (*That’s what microtransactions look like in Fortnite, btw.)
WotC seems less concerned about the actual RPG than they are about getting money flowing in from merchandise, video games, and movies. This also means they could give a rip less about what goes into the actual RPG. All avenues lead to their (subscription) website which will be D&D Beyond with a different name. I suspect the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual might be buried behind some sort of paywall and the print copies with seem novel because of the canon rules changes online. (*That’s just speculation, though.) They want players especially to be coming back for more.
What they’re not addressing speaks volumes.
The other thing WotC seems to be dodging the issue of the Open Game License. I realize they wouldn’t mention it to stockholders, but I think it’s becoming more and more obvious. They don’t intend to have an OGL for the next edition. The current (5E down to 3E) will still remain. One D&D will likely not if I have to guess.
I really get the impression that they’re aiming to have no one outside of WotC and their licensees to be making D&D content and selling it. They will literally control everything and all funnels flow straight to them. They want players spending money on officially licensed D&D products, not the DMs Guild or a third party site. Just my take, though. Nowhere in the discussion of quadrants did we hear anything about fan based products.
Basically, if you want to make D&D content, it’s going to be like the pre-OGL days of T$R. You can make new D&D content for free and distribute it privately. If you want to do things for older editions the OGL will still be valid and sellable, but it won’t be useful for the One D&D and all of its digital hoo-ha.
I’m not trying to dis WotC. I mean, yay D&D. Right? We still love the game. It’s what the folx at WotC are counting on. We’re all walking dollar signs to them.
One last thought before I go.
Has WotC stopped to consider the people that run their RPG? No, not the writers. Have they thought about Dungeon Masters? If we’re a solid game-buying crowd and they begin neglecting us in favor of other avenues of income? They think there’s a DM shortage now, just wait.
They also don’t seem to be concerned about game content, which is odd. They can only promote the equivalent of a Christmas ornament for so long before the fans realize the thing is hollow. If there’s no content and fewer DMs driving that content, what are they thinking is going to happen?
I guess if we thought the AI art craze was bad we’re really going to sh🦆t bricks when the AI DM craze takes off. Don’t think they’ll do it? They want more players spending money. D&D is becoming a virtual tabletop experience using the Unreal Engine. There’s already supposedly a DM shortage. I dunno. What if?
Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. If I suddenly turn up missing, we’ll know my theory about AI DMs hit too close to home. (LOL!)