Hasbro Has Angered Its D&D Fans; Does It Matter?

All is not well in the land of Dungeons & Dragons. Wizards of the Coast, and its owner, Hasbro, are receiving push back from its D&D fans. Before I get into why, let me take a moment and express just how vital Wizards of the Coast is to Hasbro, According to a Motley Fool article:

It’s hard to overestimate how important Wizards of the Coast is to Hasbro. According to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, it accounts for just 22% of Hasbro’s annual revenue — but produces a staggering 72% of Hasbro’s profit.

“A Big Change Could Be Coming for Hasbro: Should Investors Worry?,”Motley Fool January 17, 2023

D&D is the world’s most popular role-playing game. It was first published in 1974 and purchased twenty-three years later in 1997. Hasbro, in turn, purchased Wizards of the Coast two years later, in 1999.

So important is Wizards of the Coast to Hasbro that the CEO of Wizards of the Coast, Chris Cocks, was elevated to the Hasbro CEO position upon the demise of Brian Goldner.

It is, therefore, surprising Wizards of the Coast has been under intense criticism since Cocks left in February of 2022. In November, Bank of America accused Wizards of the Coast of over-producing new cards. That charge resulted in a number of negative stories in the press. Here is a quote I ran in my article on the subject, “Hasbro Gets Blindsided by Bank of America:”

An oversupply of Hasbro Inc.’s “Magic: The Gathering” cards is hurting the ecosystem for the fantasy trading-card game, “destroying the long-term value of the brand” and threatening sales, BofA analysts said in downgrading the stock on Monday.

Shares of the toymaker slid 9.2% during regular trading, putting the stock on pace for its biggest percentage decline since Oct. 26, 2020. Hasbro HAS, 4.41% was Monday’s worst performer in the S&P 500 Index.

Hasbro is making too many ‘Magic: The Gathering’ cards, analyst says in downgrading stock, Bill peters, marketwatch, november 15, 2022.

Now we are told that Hasbro has angered the D&D ecosystem with a decision, later retracted by Hasbro, to monetize any company providing products based on Dungeons & Dragons. This is a departure from the previous policy, which took a more laissez-faire approach.

Under the new terms, anyone creating content with use of Hasbro intellectual property, and selling that content for profit, would need to report to Hasbro on everything it is selling — and inform Hasbro of its annual revenue from such sales if it exceeds $50,000.

“A Big Change Could Be Coming for Hasbro: Should Investors Worry?,”Motley Fool January 17, 2023

As I read this latest contretemps, my mind returned to the Scrabulous kerfuffle of 2007. Scrabulous was a Scrabble knockoff that was played online. It was featured on Facebook, and quickly attracted a fervent fan base that loved its use of the Internet to enable players to communicate in real-time while they played. It was an early use of social and gaming components.

Hasbro saw Scrabulous as an impingement on its intellectual property rights. It therefore took legal action, and forced the company owning Scrabulous to change the game’s name to Lexulous.

At the time, there was a lot of anger aimed at Hasbro by Scrabulous fans who threatened never to play Scrabble again. Now, 15 years later, Scrabble is still a highly popular game, and I don’t know about you, but I had just heard of Lexulous when I wrote this article.

The bottom line is that there may be some angry people in the D&D fan world, but I bet this all goes away, just like it did with Scrabulous.

6 thoughts

  1. 3rd on ”out of touch”. And not just you, everyone in toys seems to be out of touch.
    (Why else would stocks be doing that badly? And no you cannot keep blaming ”corona” or ”ukraine” or ”logistics issues” forever as a scapegoat. Clearly no one has learning anything from Toys R Us or any of the other dead toy retailers)
    Hasbro is out of touch with everything they’re doing, from DnD to Transformers to Furbies to Monopoly to My Little Pony to Nerf to losing the Disney princesses to whatever. I can’t come up with a single thing Hasbro did well the last 5 years. And now they’re actively ruining their biggest cash cow while everything else tanks the company. How do they even do that? It has to be intentional. If it wasn’t, more would’ve rallied behind Altafox when they made their move.

  2. Yeah clearly the author AND hasbro has NO CLUE who their actual fan base is and what they like. But fail after fail after fail at Hasbro, its no surprise that they have contempt for their consumers and still employ these subpar CEOs and managers. Millenial and Gen Z buyers can see through the BS that corporate shills peddle.

  3. Seconding the out of touch and uninformed opinion. Just… yikes. Even a casual browse of the internet can show you that large companies that in many ways drive D&D’s sales are walking out of their role in the community. Obviously upsetting a bunch of customers does little in this day and age. The ROG community has of late thrived becauze of the way the OGL functions and the alternative products it had launched. If that goodwill heads elsewhere, so to will a ton of the free press Wizards used to get. Companies are making their own versions and this will at best splinter the once unified culture, at worst create another top dog to dethrone D&D.

  4. Here’s the thing, I don’t think this will go away and be forgotten like the Scrabbulous thing. This isn’t a squabble over trademark infringement a Facebook game, it’s a grab at the community that have been producing content for the mainstream version of the game.
    And honestly it’s largely sketchy at best. 3rd party creators were given an agreement they were told was irrevocable only for there to be an attempt to revoke it. With that agreement they were able to freely use and refer to DnDs SRD.
    DnDs expression of the rules of the game.
    The Scrabble thing also shows you cant copyright the rules of the game.
    The community is revolting and creators are putting together their own rulesets. This is going to massively impack the larger TTRPG for years, not just a small corner of it playing some little know other version of the same thing.

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