D&D 5E Alphastream - Why No RPG Company Truly Competes with Wizards of the Coast

teitan

Legend
More or less with the addition that Hasbro/WoTC is trying the leverage D&D brand recognition to horn in on the multimedia franchise pie occupied by Disney/Marvel
It's interesting as far as developments but I don't think D&D is as strong an IP as Marvel/DIsney. While the novels were popular, outside of Driz'zt, D&D doesn't have character recognition to bank on to drive a similar style of franchise and the different worlds aren't recognizeable enough to really be connected to D&D as a franchise. Not much really separates FR from LOTR except maybe a more Raimiverse (Hercules/Xena) vibe that could be present). There was an argument made that Iron Man, Thor and Cap were B-list Marvel characters when Marvel launched their film franchises but they weren't really. They were still recognizable and Captain America had been an icon of comic books for over 50 years before his film launched and most arguments again him were similar to arguments about Superman, lacking relevance in a post 9-11 world but that was largely becuase people weren't familiar with his re-invention under Ed Brubaker going on at that time or even familiar with comics in general by then because of the id 90s crash. He had been reduced, in pop culture, to jingoism and Nazi imagery for a WWII storyline was difficult to pull off and was "needed" with the Red Skull announced as the main villain. Plus the stink of the early 90s Matt Salinger film blah blah (sound familiar?). But each of those characters were still KNOWN outside of comic books from T Shirts and action figures and animated series appearances.

D&D has... Driz'zt and the cartoon from the 80s plus a couple of really bad D to Z list movies, in reverse order. They haven't had a media blitz of nostalgia with the popular animated series to really properly revive that to bank on that recognition in spite of having the rights to license it out etc now. They didn't work out an action figure line in house, just one Driz'zt figure that was online sales only and then handed the license off to NECA who are producing a line based on the old school LJN figures (smart move there by NECA). What characters do they have to sell the idea of a D&D franchise beyond the game and video games? The novels even are limited to Salvatore and a much delayed DL book.

Banking on D&D to sell the ideas of worlds of adventure with no pay off of a meeting, except maybe as a planescape style adventure of popular characters, which is part of what sells Marvel as a franchise, the promise of meeting, would be incredibly difficult to pull off without recognizable characters. When Iron Man's end credit stinger hit people were buzzing about Avengers, right off the bat, Nick Fury, all of it because as much as people were trying to claim Marvel was launching off B-list characters, Avengers was/is, even then, just as recognizable as X-men or Justice League/SUper Friends. The media implied that it was a gamble to even launch with these characters since Marvel didn't have their "superstar" players. So playing with a Multiverse like D&D? A Forgotten Realms movie, a Dark Sun movie, a Ravenloft movie, a Dark Sun movie and then into Planescape to pull off a Marvel style media gambit? Huge gamble with an even bigger risk of loss. The toylines could do this, Transformers, GI Joe, Mask? Perfect for it. D&D not so much.

Now a Forgotten Realms series that gives us likeable characters that builds to a planar adventure in the third installment that glimpses the other worlds through Sigils doors? With a shot of Jason Momoa on Dark Sun (just an example) or Johnny Depp with a Spelljammer docking into in the Rock of BRal? That could build out the franchise in such a way but it is a slow burn, a slow build to create a media franchise and create enough genre diversification to keep D&D branded films coming out for a while but no guarantee interest in the brand can carry for that long since D&D seems to wane in popularity significantly with every other edition.

Another thing they could have done was use Hasbro to relaunch those old LJN figures in a toyline with modern updating, for an animated movie, since they own those characters, rather than letting NECA do them. Then do a more adult line (which is probably happening anyway), with the new movie and sprinkle in characters like Minsc, Forgotten One, Cattie Brie, and others to keep the line moving. Then they could compete with Marvel.
 

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Hasbro isn't the owner of Renegade Studios, but there is a partnership. This is a different thing. Of course I wouldn't be surprised if Hasbro wished to acquire WoD, one of the most popular RPG franchises after D&D.

D&D is popular because is it about the own fandom creating their own fan-fiction. This is the essence of the TTRPGs, this total creative freedom.

And the videogames Baldur's Gate and Newerwinter Nights helped a lot to promote the fame of the IP, not only the cartoon from the 80's and the failed movies.

A famous character is not enough for a movie to be a smash-hit. Conan the barbarian is famous, but that movie with a shaved Jason Momoa has fallen in the oblivion. And even when a movie works later the sequels show signs the team starts to be burnt, losing that special touch.

A action-live Ravenloft movie, or teleserie, is possible, with a good story and the audence doesn't need to know the lore.
 

teitan

Legend
Hasbro isn't the owner of Renegade Studios, but there is a partnership. This is a different thing. Of course I wouldn't be surprised if Hasbro wished to acquire WoD, one of the most popular RPG franchises after D&D.

D&D is popular because is it about the own fandom creating their own fan-fiction. This is the essence of the TTRPGs, this total creative freedom.

And the videogames Baldur's Gate and Newerwinter Nights helped a lot to promote the fame of the IP, not only the cartoon from the 80's and the failed movies.

A famous character is not enough for a movie to be a smash-hit. Conan the barbarian is famous, but that movie with a shaved Jason Momoa has fallen in the oblivion. And even when a movie works later the sequels show signs the team starts to be burnt, losing that special touch.

A action-live Ravenloft movie, or teleserie, is possible, with a good story and the audence doesn't need to know the lore.
The Renegade studios games are standard licensing affairs. Renegade wanted to make games based on those toy lines, Hasbro said ok, here are our lawyers, work with them.

Those video games were popular but hardly house hold names. The re-releases didn't exactly light the video game world on fire a couple years ago and they are just the names of cities. With video games, unless it was a Phenom like Mario, Tomb Raider, Sonic or the like is it really a household name like Captain America? Not really. Just having a video game that was popular, especially a PC game in the day when PCs, especially gaming PCs, were still incredibly expensive to get into, isn't enough.

You're right, being a well known property takes more than being a well known property to make a hit movie. That was exactly my whole point. The problem with the Conan movie was multitude. Let's start with the first: it wasn't Arnold. It was nothing like the Arnold movie, of which only the first was a well regarded hit. The second stunk the place up like the turd that it is. Before the movie came out there had been hints of Arnie returning to finish the story, which had been appropriated for the Kull movie with Kevin Sorbo a few years before. So it was hampered. Secondly it was after a long dormant period of Conan where the last thing we saw in pop culture was, aside from the Dark Horse comics, a poorly received John Carter mash up toyline and the weak Ralph Moeller TV series. The Dark Horse comics started off very good but were limited to comic book shops and therefore not in front of the casual readers who may pick them up off the comic rack at a pharmacy or grocery store. While Europe has a different model for comics and graphic novels, the European market at the time was different as well. Comic books, especially in America, are not a guarantee of anything, especially in the market of that time, unless the monthly is successful enough to get a trade published and on the shelf and that doesn't promise a thing. There was the D20 RPG from Mongoose and then the Conan RPG they did without D20 but all that faded. The last bit that was an issue with the movie was... Momoa. He was coming off GoT sure, he was cast off the strength of that role. People went expecting Khal Drogo. They got... Aquaman.

But it was the beginning of a marketing blitz for Conan, also a bad idea. I would say that Conan, now, is in a much healthier place for a modest movie than he was when the Momoa movie came out.

WHat the cartoon has that could be used is nostlagia. WHat's hot right now? Again? Masters of the Universe. Transformers is poised to come back again in a Bumblebee sequel that will make use of Beast Wars characters. GI Joe toys are hot, hard to find, and in demand. Reviving the animated series with a toyline and a new series or movie that ties into the toyline by LJN more strongly, especially since WOTC/Hasbro have shown interest in the IP in that way with Witchlight, would have been great business. I think this new D&D movie will be big, don't get me wrong, and it will set up for sequels, but it won't get Marvel. Marvel is lightning in a bottle that no one has managed to recreate in multiple attempts and only The Conjuring has made some sort of success, without the crossover, and Godzilla/Kong has truly pulled off, and that after all but being pronounced dead when the pay off film was released and still might be.

I think you're more fanfictioning what you would like to see than what is possible. The only thing that makes Ravenloft unique IS the lore. Strahd is 100% Dracula with D&D trappings. We have several movies and TV shows that are contemporary or within the last 20 years that are recent enough that looking at Ravenloft people would see "rip off" and see the latest actual rip off. We have Castlevania, Van Helsing, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Witcher, Solomon Kane, Seventh Sun, Last Witch Hunter. All but the last would look visually similar to Ravenloft and thematically similar. Strahd is the entry point so we've now entered... Castlevania and Jackman's Van Helsing.

The settings that I think would work best at movies are Forgotten Realms, Sword Coast, for the very recognition you do call out, the underdark for a sequel and then to the Planes in the third with Planescape as a bridge concept to tie the movies together, like I said, but no crossovers. The a Dark Sun film could work and Eberron. Each is different from the other with little crossing over in ideas and concepts. Visually they stand out from each other and from other properties while still saying D&D. I think concepts like Spelljammer may be too esoteric.
 

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