Hasbro, the parent company of Wizards of the Coast, is rearranging its business structure in order to continue growing the audience for Dungeons & Dragons.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Wizards of the Coast, based in Renton, Wash., posted revenue of $816 million for 2020, a 24% increase from 2019. That bump comes in large part from record-setting sales for both Dungeons & Dragons, and the long-running collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. D&D saw a 33% boost in sales over 2019; Magic’s sales grew by 23%.
This can be partially accredited to a nationwide boom in toy and board game sales. According to NPD Group, a lot of the money that might have otherwise been spent on live entertainment or vacations in 2020 got redirected into at-home hobbies instead, like new board games or toys for kids. Other games in roughly the same lane as Magic, such as the Pokemon CCG, have seen huge interest spikes of their own.
This continues an upward swing for Dungeons & Dragons in particular, which had its previous best year ever in 2019. D&D is more popular and profitable right now than it’s been at any other point in its 37-year history, due to its increasing mainstream visibility (i.e. a story about its popularity running in The Wall Street Journal, of all places) and the continued proliferation of popular live-play shows like Critical Role.
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 saw a 300% increase in the number of games played on its site. In other words, a lot of people turned out to be relying on socially-distant D&D campaigns to get them through 2020.
Even so, Hasbro as a whole reported an 8% loss of revenue in 2020, which it partially blames on COVID-19 shutting down the retail market for part of the year.
As a result, the company is reorganizing to put a new focus on Wizards of the Coast’s assets. Its new corporate structure will see the company split into three departments, one of which, Wizards & Digital, is a new housing for Wizards’ properties. Its stated focus is to continue to expand Wizards’ existing games, create new ones, and oversee digital licensing, which also comes alongside 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’re planned to be headed up by Hidden Path Entertainment in Bellevue, Wash., makers of Defense Grid 2 and CounterStrike: Global Offensive, and OtherSide Entertainment in Boston and Austin, which is currently working on the horror-RPG System Shock 3. (By the way, if you were unaware, somebody’s making a System Shock 3.)
The two games join the forthcoming Dark Alliance, an action-RPG based on R.A. Salvatore’s long-running series of D&D fantasy novels, which was announced back in 2019 and is currently scheduled for release at some point later this year. Dark Alliance is currently being developed by Montreal’s Tuque Games, which Wizards of the Coast acquired outright in October 2019.
Hasbro also announced that it plans to continue bringing crossover content to Magic: The Gathering. Last year saw the debut of new cards that introduced both several of the Godzilla franchise’s monsters and the characters of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” to the Magic multiverse, via the rotating limited-edition “Secret Lair” card sets.
Both Games Workshop, the British company that makes the Warhammer 40,000 franchise, and Middle Earth Enterprises, owners of the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, have entered into creative partnerships with Hasbro. Reportedly, there are already plans for a full-on Lord of the Rings-themed expansion for Magic.
Long story short, if you, like me, are old enough to remember a time when Dungeons & Dragons was a basement hobby for strange people, and are slightly weirded out by its newfound cultural prominence: strap in. If Hasbro gets its way, we haven’t seen anything yet.
Originally published at https://www.geekwire.com/2021/hasbro-reorganizes-support-big-growth-dungeons-dragons-magic-gathering/ on .