WotC D&D's Best Year Ever - But Hasbro's Goal Is For D&D e-Sports

We frequently get told that Dungeons & Dragons is having it's best year ever, which is awesome news for our hobby. Hasbro's Chairman, Brian Goldner, reiterated this to CNBC in an interview. But Goldner raised a new "e-sports" dimension to D&D's future growth.

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 16.22.18.png

He talks about the Magic: the Gathering online "Arena" which had more than a million beta signups. But then he goes on to talk about D&D. CNBC says "... Hasbro's goal over time will be to build fantasy games like "Dungeons & Dragons" into esports properties "ripe for esports competition" as consumers increasingly choose digital gaming over standard board games."

What that means, exactly, I'm not sure. I'm not 100% sold that the article interpreted his comments correctly. Certainly card games could be imagined as e-sports, and I'm sure some kind of competitive D&D spin-off could be imagined, too, though what form that would take is anybody's guess. Some kind of PvP battle arena? D&D isn't currently viewed as a competitive game, and this could refer to other games based off the properties rather than bringing the tabletop RPG itself to e-sports. However, we shouldn't forget that D&D has had plenty of competitive tournament play at conventions over the years, so this isn't as surprising a move as one might think.

My guess - if this refers to D&D - is that this doesn't affect the tabletop RPG, but is about creating brand new online competitive games based on IP like the Forgotten Realms (although referred to as simply "Dungeons & Dragons"). But your guess is as good as mine!

You can watch the full interview over at CNBC.

The interviewer comments that he thought Dungeons & Dragons was a "so-so brand", and was surprised that it was called out in Hasbro's earnings report.

"We're also building a suite of digital games around Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: the Gathering. Our Magic Arena product is underway in a closed beta, we've had more than a million people sign up, and we're very excited about launching that later this year. So you'll be able to play Magic: the Gathering or Dungeons & Dragons on a mobile device or online as well as face-to-face."

Goldner goes on to say:

"Well, once you build this mobile game, we're also seeing that just with the analogue game, people are watching us on e-sports, we have about a million viewers a month watching a Magic: the Gathering game, and people watching Dungeons & Dragons on Twitch, and so we think over time we build this to be more of an e-sports property, it's a very immersive game, and it's global and ripe for e-sports competition."

It'm not clear whether he's referring to D&D as e-sports, or whether he means M:tG as e-sports and D&D on Twitch.

Competitive D&D play, such as the RPGA's D&D Open Championship which began in 1977, and which became the D&D Championship Series in 2008 (it ended in 2013) involved teams of players competing to score points in adventure modules. WotC brought it back for D&D 5th edition at Origins Game Fair in 2016.

Our own Mike Tresca talks more about D&D competitive play's history in his article Could D&D Ever Have an eSport? "Thanks to its wargaming roots, tournament play was well-established by the time D&D came along. Tournaments were associated with wargaming conventions. The first large-scale D&D tournament took place at Origins in Baltimore, MD on July 25-27. An estimated 1,500 attended, with 120 participating in the D&D tournament."

And one should not forget NASCRAG, the National Society of Crazed Gamers, which ran D&D tournaments from 1980-2011, before moving to Pathfinder instead.

NOTE - for some people if you're viewing this from the news article, something wonky has happened to the comments, and only the first 12 comments are currently showing. If this applies to you, and you want to read the comments, head to the thread here.

log in or register to remove this ad


Ah corporate executives - they know the buzzwords but they often don't know what they're talking about.

An "esports" model for D&D would be quite different from one for Magic the Gathering or Overwatch or whatever because ... D&D isn't competitive. It's cooperative. So you can't actually have a league and have a model like that because it's nonsense.

OTOH - spectator D&D already exists and figuring out how to tap into that model is an opportunity. People like to watch D&D livestreams and tapping into that could be a good way to raise revenue. Imagine Hasbro hosted livestreams where they sell advertising - if you can build up the viewership it could be a decent bit of money.

I suspect that's what he's talking about when he talks about "esports" - he's either dumbing it down for the mass audience by using a familiar term that is close to what they need to do, or his people have dumbed it down to him and he's just repeating the analyses he's been given. Either way, I suspect that Hasbro will be trying to dip into the livestreaming business around D&D - it would be kind of dumb of them not to if they're also getting into the eSports business in other areas.

Keefe the Thief

That reminds my of my old boss who resided at the top of our building. Once a year, he would get "I'm your friend" boss syndrome and wander around the building aimlessly, talking to surprised and frightened employees. He always told everyone those strategy bits that had nothing to do with their deparment, like "expanding into more international markets" to the local sales division.

I could see the Hasbro CEO doing something like that - a line of thought like: D&D=fighting, eSports=fighting&money, conclusion: put esports into D&D= money.

I highly doubt that he really knows what he is talking about.

Remove ads

Remove ads


Remove ads

Upcoming Releases