At the Wizards of the Coast headquarters in Renton, Washington (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
Hasbro, the parent company of Wizards of the Coast, is reorganizing its business structure to further expand the audience for Dungeons & Dragons.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Wizards of the Coast, based in Renton, Washington, had sales of $ 816 million in 2020. This is an increase of 24% over 2019. Much of the negative impact is due to record sales at Dungeons & Dragons. the pioneering fantasy role-playing game and Magic: The Gathering, the trading card game that Wizards brought to the card in the 1990s. D&D saw sales increase 33% from 2019, while Magic sales increased 23%.
This can be attributed in part to a nationwide boom in toy and board game sales. According to the NPD Group, much of the money that might have been spent on live entertainment or vacations in 2020 was used for hobbies or buying toys.
Other games on roughly the same track as Magic, like the Pokémon CCG, have seen huge peaks of interest themselves.
Just kidding from a small retailer: Pokemon cards are so hot right now that our * distributors * are scalping * to * us *! It has now become essentially impossible to sell Pokemon cards for MSRP. I have never scalped anything TCG in my store and I have no plans to start now. I’m pissed off.
– Kelsey Lewis (@ Kelleswin) February 18, 2021
This continues an upward trend for Dungeons & Dragons in particular, which had its best year ever in 2019. D&D is currently more popular and profitable due to its increasing mainstream visibility than at any other point in its 37 year history (i.e., a story about it in the Wall Street Journal, of all things) and the continued proliferation of popular live play shows like Critical Role, Acquisitions Incorporated and Dimension 20.
The WSJ further reported that Wizards’ D&D Beyond app, an official digital toolset and companion for D&D players, doubled its subscription numbers in 2020. At the same time, the virtual tabletop website Roll20, which is independently but officially licensed to publish Dungeons & Dragons, was releasing material, seeing a 300% increase in the number of games played on its website. As it turned out, many people relied on socially distant D&D campaigns to reach them by 2020.
Even so, Hasbro reported an 8% drop in sales in 2020, partly due to COVID-19 closing the retail market for part of the year.
As a result, the company’s reorganization will put a new focus on Wizards of the Coast assets. Hasbro’s new corporate structure divides the company into three departments, one of which, Wizards & Digital, is a new housing for Wizards’ real estate. The declared focus is on expanding Wizards’ existing games, creating new ones and monitoring digital licensing. This also includes a brand new company logo for Wizards of the Coast.
Oh, and there’s a new Wizards of the Coast company logo! pic.twitter.com/bj9e8wkdFP
– David M. Ewalt (@dewalt) February 25, 2021
This includes two new, unnamed D&D video game projects. They are to be directed by Hidden Path Entertainment in Bellevue, Washington, the creators of Defense Grid 2 and CounterStrike: Global Offensive, and OtherSide Entertainment in Boston and Austin, who are currently working on the Shock 3 horror RPG system. (By the way, if you didn’t know someone is doing a system shock 3.)
The two games join the upcoming Dark Alliance, an action role-playing game based on RA Salvatore’s long-running series of D&D fantasy novels, announced back in 2019 and currently slated to be released later this year. Dark Alliance is currently being developed by Montreal’s Tuque Games, which Wizards of the Coast acquired in full in October 2019.
Hasbro also announced that it will continue to provide crossover content for Magic: The Gathering. Last year saw the debut of new cards that introduced some of the monsters from the Godzilla franchise as well as the characters from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” to the Magic multiverse via the rotating, limited-edition Secret Lair card sets.
(Which means that somewhere in the world, at least in theory, there was a magic game: The gathering where Negan fought Mothra. What a time to be alive.)
Both Games Workshop, the UK company that makes the Warhammer 40,000 franchise, and Middle Earth Enterprises, owner of the rights to JRR Tolkien’s works, have entered into creative partnerships with Hasbro. There are already plans for a major expansion on the Lord of the Rings theme for Magic.
Long story short, if, like me, you’re old enough to remember a time when Dungeons & Dragons was a basement hobby for strangers and you’re a little crazy about its newfound cultural significance: buckle up . If Hasbro finds its way, we haven’t seen anything.