D&D General Adam Bradford, Lauren Urban, Todd Kenrick Leave D&D Beyond

They join lead writer James Haeck, who left a couple of weeks ago. Adam Bradford is the D&D Beyond co-founder, and VP of Tabletop Gaming at its owner, Fandom. Lauren Urban is DDB's Community Manager. Todd Kenrick is the company's Creative Manager.

D&D Beyond, launched in 2017, is currently owned by Fandom (previously known as Wikia), after it acquired the company in 2018 from previous owner Curse, a Twitch subsidiary.

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According to Cam Banks, creator of DDB owner Fandom's Cortex, all three received offers elsewhere which they could not turn down.


 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Dausuul

Legend
I feel like you've not actually read Cortex Prime if you think we're talking about small ad hoc changes or tweaking monsters' hit points. It's more akin to the ability to gut D&D's vancian magic spell system and replace it with a blood magic system, while also introducing a mechanically game-able high stakes horse racing sub-game because for some reason 4 of your 5 player characters decided to take back stories that revolved around racing horses for money, and D&D doesn't really have deep systems for running such a thing besides slapping movement rates on mounts.
That is what you're talking about. It is not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is exactly what I said: The occasional tweak to a monster's stats. Maybe a custom magic item now and then. That's all.

The stuff you describe above is light-years beyond what the typical GM--at least in my experience--wants to bother with. They have zero interest in modding and customizing the system. If they change anything, it's an ad hoc response to a specific thing that bothers them: "These monsters are tougher than I feel like they should be. I'll cut their hit points from 30 to 20."

That's why it is absurd to say that anyone who has ever GMed is a game designer, or that the moddability of Cortex Prime is some kind of huge selling point that could make "100% of Cortex Prime revenue" exceed "D&D Beyond revenue minus licensing fees." (Which was the claim that started this whole debate.)
 

Depends why they don't want to bother with it. I agree most GMs don't want to bother with it. I'm confident that if the system made it easy for them to do so, they might consider taking advantage.

Do we even know what D&D Beyond's revenue is? I asked previously, how/what does one pay for it? Is there a per player subscription fee? Do DMs pay? How does Fandom even get payed from D&D Beyond?

Edit: I just signed up to assuage my curiousity. The hero tier subscription price is really cheap. I'd be shocked if Fandom was rolling in D&D Beyond cash as profit. There is no golden goose in this equation.
 
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Dire Bare

Legend
Depends why they don't want to bother with it. I agree most GMs don't want to bother with it. I'm confident that if the system made it easy for them to do so, they might consider taking advantage. Do we even know what D&D Beyond's revenue is? I asked previously, how/what does one pay for it? Is there a per player subscription fee? Do DMs pay? How does Fandom even get payed from D&D Beyond?
Does Fandom get paid for D&D Beyond? Yes. Not from WotC, but from us, the users.

You pay to access each title, usually something like $30 to unlock a book on D&D Beyond. You can also unlock additional features with a monthly subscription, here's a link: Subscribe - D&D Beyond. They also sell cosmetics like fancy digital dice.

What is their total revenue? Only Fandom knows, they aren't going to be sharing that data with anyone other than perhaps WotC. But, you can assume they are making money, otherwise they would cancel the service.

How does the revenue for D&D Beyond compare to the upcoming Cortex RPG and supporting digital tools? Again, all we can do is speculate, Fandom won't (nor should) share that data with us. It's a safe assumption that they'll get a higher user base with D&D Beyond than they will with Cortex, even if Cortex is a great RPG with fantastic digital tools.
 

Does Fandom get paid for D&D Beyond? Yes. Not from WotC, but from us, the users.

You pay to access each title, usually something like $30 to unlock a book on D&D Beyond. You can also unlock additional features with a monthly subscription, here's a link: Subscribe - D&D Beyond. They also sell cosmetics like fancy digital dice.

What is their total revenue? Only Fandom knows, they aren't going to be sharing that data with anyone other than perhaps WotC. But, you can assume they are making money, otherwise they would cancel the service.

How does the revenue for D&D Beyond compare to the upcoming Cortex RPG and supporting digital tools? Again, all we can do is speculate, Fandom won't (nor should) share that data with us. It's a safe assumption that they'll get a higher user base with D&D Beyond than they will with Cortex, even if Cortex is a great RPG with fantastic digital tools.
Wizards gets most of the price of the digital books, and at least a piece of the subscription fees
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Wizards gets most of the price of the digital books, and at least a piece of the subscription fees
Yup. There would be no reason for WotC to give Fandom the license if it were otherwise. Or, well, Curse at the time, who were bought out by Twitch, who was bought out by Amazon, and then sold to Fandom . . . .
 

lkj

Hero
Wizards gets most of the price of the digital books, and at least a piece of the subscription fees

So, eh, as far as I can tell no one in that thread works for the company. I don't know why they are so confident about how the revenues are split, but I'd be stunned if DDB had ever shared the details of their licensing agreement. I'm pretty sure that's just speculation. Sure, it's reasonable to assume that WotC is taking a cut of everything-- why on earth would they not? But I don't think it gives us much insight into how much of a cut or how much money DDB are making. What probably does is that DDB has been expanding quite a bit over the last year, and, even as recently as a month or so ago, Adam was lamenting they were having trouble hiring all the people they want to hire.

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Oofta

Legend
So, eh, as far as I can tell no one in that thread works for the company. I don't know why they are so confident about how the revenues are split, but I'd be stunned if DDB had ever shared the details of their licensing agreement. I'm pretty sure that's just speculation. Sure, it's reasonable to assume that WotC is taking a cut of everything-- why on earth would they not? But I don't think it gives us much insight into how much of a cut or how much money DDB are making. What probably does is that DDB has been expanding quite a bit over the last year, and, even as recently as a month or so ago, Adam was lamenting they were having trouble hiring all the people they want to hire.

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Not being able to hire enough people is frequently an issue, especially with fast growing tech companies. It doesn't really mean much one way or another.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
So, eh, as far as I can tell no one in that thread works for the company. I don't know why they are so confident about how the revenues are split, but I'd be stunned if DDB had ever shared the details of their licensing agreement.
Yeah, I've never seen a licensing agreement that doesn't include an NDA.
 

lkj

Hero
Not being able to hire enough people is frequently an issue, especially with fast growing tech companies. It doesn't really mean much one way or another.
True enough. But it does match up with Adam saying that DDB have done better than they ever anticipated. But, since that's just a general statement, I figured the fact that they are expanding is a better indication that they are indeed doing well enough to risk expanding their team.

But yeah. Still speculation. I get the impression Adam wouldn't say the company had been doing well if it wasn't. Just doesn't seem like his MO. That said, again, speculation.

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Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
So, eh, as far as I can tell no one in that thread works for the company. I don't know why they are so confident about how the revenues are split, but I'd be stunned if DDB had ever shared the details of their licensing agreement. I'm pretty sure that's just speculation. Sure, it's reasonable to assume that WotC is taking a cut of everything-- why on earth would they not? But I don't think it gives us much insight into how much of a cut or how much money DDB are making. What probably does is that DDB has been expanding quite a bit over the last year, and, even as recently as a month or so ago, Adam was lamenting they were having trouble hiring all the people they want to hire.

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The OP of the linked thread wrote that they asked DDB customer service and the answer was that part of the money from subscriptions goes to WotC.
 

lkj

Hero
The OP of the linked thread wrote that they asked DDB customer service and the answer was that part of the money from subscriptions goes to WotC.
I was responding to that link being evidence for "Wizards gets most of the price of the digital books, and at least a piece of the subscription fees"

So, yes, the latter is true from that thread. But it had to be. The subscription allows one to share WotC material among lots of friends, so I had just taken that as a given.

And-- to be clear-- I think that WotC probably does take a large chunk of the book purchases. But I don't really know. And I have absolutely no idea what cut they'd get of subscriptions.

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Staffan

Legend
I don't know what this even means. "More amenable?" How can a game be "more" or "less" amenable to tweaking monster stats? Does 5E sometimes hit a blue screen of death when you reduce a monster's hit points, and I've just been lucky that it's never happened to me?

Besides, choosing a game on the basis of "it helps me to make small ad hoc changes" is like choosing your car on the basis of how easy it is to put air in the tires.
Cortex Prime isn't really an RPG. It's an RPG construction kit. You can't sit down with just the book and go "OK, tonight we're going to play Cortex". Instead you first have to decide what sort of stats to use for your game, how to handle damage, and all sorts of other things. It makes doing those things fairly easy, far easier than making up a game from scratch, but it still requires quite a bit of prep work before getting to the table.

I think it's a great fit for Fandom, who are likely to want to use it as a basis for a whole lot of licensed properties, as it's flexible enough to work for a variety of things while still keeping enough similarity between games so it's easy to move from one to another.
 

Cortex Prime isn't really an RPG. It's an RPG construction kit. You can't sit down with just the book and go "OK, tonight we're going to play Cortex". Instead you first have to decide what sort of stats to use for your game, how to handle damage, and all sorts of other things. It makes doing those things fairly easy, far easier than making up a game from scratch, but it still requires quite a bit of prep work before getting to the table.

I think it's a great fit for Fandom, who are likely to want to use it as a basis for a whole lot of licensed properties, as it's flexible enough to work for a variety of things while still keeping enough similarity between games so it's easy to move from one to another.
That's not exactly a hard decision. It takes only a few minutes more than the setup that already happens such as "do you want to use any house rules" or "what sort of campaign do we want to play"?

I think to some degree it's easier for people who've played the previous Plus games. People who've played a few of those games can easily say "let's play with Values and Relationships" and know exactly what that does to the type of game they'll play, but that decision might take a bit more reading and experience for someone who's picked up Prime as their introduction to Cortex. But that's really true of any new RPG.
 

Staffan

Legend
That's not exactly a hard decision. It takes only a few minutes more than the setup that already happens such as "do you want to use any house rules" or "what sort of campaign do we want to play"?

I think to some degree it's easier for people who've played the previous Plus games. People who've played a few of those games can easily say "let's play with Values and Relationships" and know exactly what that does to the type of game they'll play, but that decision might take a bit more reading and experience for someone who's picked up Prime as their introduction to Cortex. But that's really true of any new RPG.
It's probably easier for people who have played previous games, but I do not feel I'd be ready to run Cortex Prime as is. To use a more concrete example, it's like the difference between running Edge of the Empire and Genesys. I could do something that comes really close to Edge using Genesys (IIRC, Genesys doesn't have talent trees in the same way), but it would be a lot of work, and I'd have to make lots of calls about how "magic" (the Force) works, and stuff like that. It would certainly be less work than building a game completely from scratch, but more than having a finished game.

There's also the issue of ease of use at the table. In a complete game, I usually have one thing to reference. When I find how damage works in Edge of the Empire, I know that those are the damage rules. If I want to find how damage works in Cortex, there are like three ways it can work, and if I want to check on a detail on those rules, I need to make sure I'm checking a detail in the right sort of rules and not the wrong kind.
 




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