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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.
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

Wrathamon

Explorer
Most of the classics were competitive tournaments run at conventions ... mix this with entertaining casts and I would watch it.
 

AriochQ

Explorer
It sounds like someone who is just trying to repeat things other people have told him without fully understanding all the concepts involved. I am willing to bet he has very little idea what D&D gameplay is actually like. He groups MtG and D&D together and then makes broad statements concerning both, which is ludicrous to those of us who understand how these games differ. He just knows someone told him D&D has really good growth and lots of people are going online to watch people play. Therefore, we should be making money online through D&D.

MtG could turn into an eSports phenomenon pretty easily. D&D is probably not worth the effort. Any attempt to make it a eSport competitive game would result in a product not resembling D&D. (I realize there were competition events in the past, but they were never a core aspect of D&D. They are, at best, an aside in the history of D&D.)
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
It's not. But according to some, the sky is falling and "o noes this is teh end of D&D"! Change is bad! Young whippersnapper enjoying our old man's game is bad! Panic!
Not to put to fine a point on it, but I think many people are concerned.

Because as soon as Hasbro finds that they need to LEVERAGE the INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY by SYNERGIZING with COLLATERAL IP FOR NEXTGEN by ensuring that PROFITABLE IP ISN'T SILOED in order to BUILD ENGAGEMENT AND EYEBALLS THROUGH GROWTH HACKING via CUSTOMER-CENTRIC approaches, you can see that this PIVOT TO VIDEO is just an expansion of WoTC's CORE COMPETENCIES by Hasbro since the whole TTRPG field is RIPE FOR DISRUPTION.

TLDR- the attention of the higher ups isn't always a good thing; I hope things work out, but it's a lot easier to destroy a brand than it is to catapult it into new markets.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It's not. But according to some, the sky is falling and "o noes this is teh end of D&D"! Change is bad! Young whippersnapper enjoying our old man's game is bad! Panic!
Or is it just people looking for an excuse to trash D&D now that it's "going mainstream lamestream" and so is no longer "cool". To paraphrase Syndrome from The Incredibles, if everyone is a geek then no one is a geek. :hmm:
 
D

DQDesign

Guest
As I wrote in another thread, wotc is lucky to currently manage the D&D brand. The fact that the game, the tabletop rpg game, is out since middle 70s means instead that a lot of people are concerned about it, and feel that it is a precious thing to be preserved. In other words, I don't think D&D can be managed as any other IP, especially by people who not created it in first place, apart from which company was more kissed by luck.
Using dnd IP to promote the new mtg Ravnica set that will be out in winter could be ok, transforming dnd IP into mario kart or wii sport surely not.
 

Zarithar

Registered User
Or is it just people looking for an excuse to trash D&D now that it's "going mainstream lamestream" and so is no longer "cool". To paraphrase Syndrome from The Incredibles, if everyone is a geek then no one is a geek. :hmm:
From my perspective it's just another form of gate keeping. Outcasts and nerds should know better.
 
Wow, just as I thought Hasbro knew how to run D&D they pull this stuff + the blatant cross-marketing ploy with Ravnica. Will 2018 be the year when D&D 5E jumped the shark?

Don't get me wrong, I love e-sports, I'm a big fan of competitive CS:GO. But e-sports has nothing to do with IP, it's all about the game mechanics. The D&D game mechanics are thoroughly unsuited for competitive play, while the brand, settings etc. simply have nothing to offer. If Hasbro tries to push D&D as an e-sport it's going to be a very expensive failure that might sink the whole game alongside.

Good thing Pathfinder 2 is coming out soon, I need a lifeboat!
 

Zarithar

Registered User
For clarity... this is a response to the person who posted the cover to Dream Park :cool:
Not quite as far off as it seemed when I read this as a 5th grader many years ago. Great book... and very prescient. This might as well be the prequel to Ready Player One. Did you read the sequel? Not quite as good, but was kind of cool because it focused on Inuit mythology and lore rather than the usual fantasy fare.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
D&D isn't competitive. It's cooperative.
Apparently, you've never had an evil DM.

D&D e-sports won't be player vs. player. They'll be party vs. DM. There will be two modes: story and battle. The DMs will role-play the players into each battle, and then become adversarial once combat starts.

And I, for one, will be willing to watch some of this go on. And some advertisers will get their money's worth.
 
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Gladius Legis

Explorer
Wow, just as I thought Hasbro knew how to run D&D they pull this stuff + the blatant cross-marketing ploy with Ravnica. Will 2018 be the year when D&D 5E jumped the shark?
What they'll probably do is cobble together a 6e that's intentionally more video-gamey and then release it about 10 years too early and we're back to WOTC repeating its 4e mistake but even worse.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
What they'll probably do is cobble together a 6e that's intentionally more video-gamey and then release it about 10 years too early
Right now would only be about 6 years too early. ;) 10 years seems like the legit D&D ed lifecycle, is what I'm saying.
and we're back to WOTC repeating its 4e mistake but even worse.
The only thing that could make it worse would be success. Imagine if some intolerable not-D&D-like-4e-was-not-D&D 6e did come out that tapped into some lucrative on-line-subscription model and raked in money like an MMO?

(I realize there were competition events in the past, but they were never a core aspect of D&D. They are, at best, an aside in the history of D&D.)
Tournaments were kinda a big deal in the early days of the game, and a number of beloved 'classic modules' were originally created for 'em.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Most of the classics were competitive tournaments run at conventions ... mix this with entertaining casts and I would watch it.
Yeah. I have no desire to watch Critical Role or stuff like that but watching tables try to navigate a Tomb of Horrors style tourney module and outwit the puzzles, traps, and monsters would be interesting and may be something I'd view now and then. Not sure a 5e style system would be my choice for such things though.
 

flametitan

Explorer
I watched the source interview. The written article is based on misquoting. He was referring to Magic: The Gathering Arena as a possible E-sport, but in the same paragraph mentioned D&D livestreaming.

There won't be a D&D E-sport, at least not in the foreseeable future.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
Tournaments were kinda a big deal in the early days of the game, and a number of beloved 'classic modules' were originally created for 'em.
The C series was all tournament (Competition). See also the RPGA series (some of which were reprinted later in other sets).
 

Lylandra

Explorer
Umm... How... What... Huh.
I think this has no impact on the tabletop game, but I think we see where their eyes for licensing are focused. There is no e-sport compatible digital offering right now.
The competitive game will take the RP out of the RPG. There are a couple of ways to go for a competitive digital D&D (I may have thrown up a bit in my mouth)
1) PVP - A straight up digital battle royale IP friendly to take iconic D&D characters and have them battle to amuse the Dungeon Master. Either free for all arena ie. Drizzt and Raistlin Majere fight on the Castle Greyhawk map or team based like counter strike or Overwatch. Who would make this game? What development compant would pay for the IP? How would it not be a clone of already more popular FPS/ fighting games with a reskin? I can imagine a suit looking at Overwatch and thinking 'we have characters, they have characters, why is this not a thing? I feel sullied.
2) MOBA League of Legends or Dota clone. If they want to keep the concept of a party more than individuals. I see no developer champing to make this.
3) Competitive dungeon runs Blizzard had some success with Mythic Dungeon runs as competition. So hearkening back to tournement play they could have pre-rolled characters running through an increasing difficulty dungeon setting for time. The problem is this developed out of an already popular MMO and has a baked in audience. I don't see Neverwinter being able to handle this.
This reeks of corporate speak and not any formal plan. I wouldn't worry too much. But then again, Hasbro brought us Battleship the Movie!
1) and 2) sound actually realistic and I think I'd give both systems a try. A MOBA a la Heroes wouldn't be that far off since you can use your ideas from 1) - using iconic characters from differnt settings - to form an unlikely team and fight against a second team.

I cannot see anything regarding esports with the current TTRPG D&D "engine" however, even if that wouldn't mean PvP but competitive dungeon runs. Because the d20 system is so random and too much RNG is the death of esports (you want skill to matter, not chance).
 

Pauper

Villager
D&D e-sports won't be player vs. player. They'll be party vs. DM. There will be two modes: story and battle. The DMs will role-play the players into each battle, and then become adversarial once combat starts.
You've pretty much described "Dice, Camera, Action!" So the future is already here.

--
Pauper
 

AriochQ

Explorer
?

Tournaments were kinda a big deal in the early days of the game, and a number of beloved 'classic modules' were originally created for 'em.
And, as I am sure you already know, many early D&D players came from wargaming backgrounds, so they were heavily into competition. That faded over time as the base expanded. How many competition modules have you played in recently? Gary Con had a competition AL event last year. Before that, I think the last one I played was in 1987.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
I'm pretty sure he is talking about D&D IP as esports, not the actual game.
This would make more sense, and likely be more profitable.

You could build a slew of "heroes" taking 4-5 iconic abilities or spells and use those as loadouts, and have them battle in a MOBA or Overwatch style game.

Those games can make a lot of revenue.
 

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