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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.


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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

jgsugden

Legend
At some point they'll evolve D&D away from the pen and paper RPG we love. Another company will pick up and create something that is the spiritual successor to D&D and we'll continue on.

That time was when 4E was released. D&D made the correction and they will do so again in the future once they repeat their mistake.
 

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Von Ether

Adventurer
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.
I read them all and yeah, see a lot of parallels to the future of reality TV, professional wrestling, Internet celebs/streaming and ARG. The only thing Dream Park didn't see was the return of nostalgia.
 

SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
At some point they'll evolve D&D away from the pen and paper RPG we love. Another company will pick up and create something that is the spiritual successor to D&D and we'll continue on.
Actually, I'll probably just keep playing 5e if that happens. Too old, and tired of updating my campaign world through the various system incarnations. (Basic, 1st/2nd, 3rd, Pathfinder, 5e)

5e (once it has psionics) has enough to keep me occupied for the duration.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
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.
What? You want us to view the source before making wild comments about the end of D&D as we know it? Clearly, you do not understand true fans sir!
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I am guessing the Hasbro's Chairman, Brian Goldner has a lose definition of "esports" in the views "pay to watch" spectator sport since. When they talk about viewship and expanding digital... I just think they are talking about making games like Critical Role pay per view on a twitch and run on the D&D Beyond platform. It has player buy in, subscriptions, and competing shows for ratings which are really the only metric people out side of the community understand. They don't get how D&D works as a cooperative community and that 2 good D&D shows don't tend to be competitors but instead tend to be guests and endorsing each other. Its technically possible to have players build characters and death match battle royal but character design and battle tactics are only parts of the game. Its not really the D&D experience people watch unless these elements are backed up with some good player role playing and well written GM story telling.

They might make some spin off D&D game in the Forgotten Realms universe but D&D is not league of Legends or DOTA. Its better to have good/interesting characters, good player roleplay, good team work battle tactics/coordination, and a good GM story than to make a spin off D&D movie, show, or game focusing only on one or two of those 4 parts.

...That's my take on it anyway.
 

Keefe the Thief

Adventurer
I love it when new information pops up that invalidates the original take on something but people just come in, read the OP and post anyway.

"Guys he didn't actually mean D&D when he said esport!"

"Something something Leage of Legends!"

...

Though I would kill for a D&D-themed map for DOTA. Vecna as the secret shop, Tarrasque as Roshan etc.
 

Ymdar

Explorer
Sounds like a good strategy. We just have to be sure to implement a cross-functional block chain supply stream that maximize thorough input variables of increasing nature. :erm:

Ah, the glories of boss-speak.
I suggest implementing an AI with machine learning algorithm as well to maximise input from games.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I love it when new information pops up that invalidates the original take on something but people just come in, read the OP and post anyway.

"Guys he didn't actually mean D&D when he said esport!"

"Something something Leage of Legends!"

...

Though I would kill for a D&D-themed map for DOTA. Vecna as the secret shop, Tarrasque as Roshan etc.
Well to be fair these threads go quickly. It was 5 pages long when I started writing my post...work was done... finished post on break and it was on page 10. That said the updated information basically confirmed my guess so even if I am behind on the information curve I was actually correct for a change.
 

gyor

Legend
This just fuels my fears after the release of Ravnica. Listen, I love MTG. I met my wife playing MTG. But D&D is not MTG and I don't want D&D to become MTG. My fear is that someone at Hasbro has decided that MTG makes more money, so they should combine D&D with MTG and that will somehow make it more profitable. If that is where they're headed, I'd rather Paizo somehow got the D&D brand. :-/
Watch the dragon talk with Jeremy Crawford, Tito, Shelly, Kieth, and Wyatt.

Jeremy made it clear that all the MtG metasetting details like mana, colours of magic, and so on were stripped out, so it's just another D&D setting, not MtG metasetting warping the D&D cosmology. If you weren't familiar with MtG it's sounds like you wouldn't even know that MtG was the origin of the setting.
 

VengerSatanis

High Priest of Kort'thalis Publishing
Only read the first hundred comments, but has anyone considered the natural competition between players and DM? Doesn't have to be ruthlessly adversarial...
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
This kind of my take, as well. A1 through A4, C1 through C3, all of these were tournament modules - the A “slavers” series even had point values based on your actions within the areas of the scenario, and the team who got the most points won the tournament. It’s not the “standard” for D&D today, but I could see an event strictly timed in this way, cameras focused on multiple tables, cutting with deft editing to the funniest or most high-energy moments or moments where someone messed up royally, all within a two hour program plus commercials (for video games and the new WotC Adventure Path that season, of course!)

...but that’s my pipe dream version of it, of course.
That is D&D TV I'd watch now and then. Real meat grinder dungeons that annihilate the foolish and laud the clever with eternal D&D glory! Hire this man Hasbro!
 




Mistwell

Legend
I love it when new information pops up that invalidates the original take on something but people just come in, read the OP and post anyway.

"Guys he didn't actually mean D&D when he said esport!"

"Something something Leage of Legends!"

...

Though I would kill for a D&D-themed map for DOTA. Vecna as the secret shop, Tarrasque as Roshan etc.
What new information are you referring to?
 


Harzel

Adventurer
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."
The last bit about consumer behavior was the thing that struck me
as most odd when I first read this. However, listening to both the
2017 and 2018 interviews I heard nothing even approximating that last bit, nor did I hear
him say anything this direct in terms of characterizing Hasbro's "goal over time".
So I think it is worth noting that this is a quote from the CNBC article,
not from Goldner, even though the way the article is written implies he said that
or something to that effect. You might or might not agree that that is a reasonable
interpretation of what he said, but it is certainly not a direct quote from the interviews.
 

Xavian Starsider

First Post
D&D as an eSport? I can be a competitor! I think I will either join the Roll20.com team or the Chesex team. Who will offer me the better sponsorship?
 



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