D&D General Dan Rawson Named New Head Of D&D

Hasbro has announced a former Microsoft digital commerce is the new senior vice president in charge of Dungeons & Dragons. Dan Rawson was the COO of Microsoft Dynamics 365.

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Hasbro also hired Cynthia Williams earlier this year; she too, came from Microsoft. Of Rawson, she said "We couldn’t be bringing on Dan at a better time. With the acquisition of D&D Beyond earlier this year, the digital capabilities and opportunities for Dungeons & Dragons are accelerating faster than ever. I am excited to partner with Dan to explore the global potential of the brand while maintaining Hasbro’s core value as a player-first company.”

Rawson himself says that "Leading D&D is the realization of a childhood dream. I’m excited to work with Cynthia once again, and I’m thrilled to work with a talented team to expand the global reach of D&D, a game I grew up with and now play with my own kids.”

Interestingly, Ray Wininger -- who has been running D&D for the last couple of years -- has removed mention of WotC and Hasbro from his Twitter bio.
 
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EpicureanDM

Explorer
OK I’ll bite. I’m listening. Why do you say that?
If your sales have been consistently good, or have declined by an acceptable amount, you don't put additional stress on the design team to make more books. They're hitting their revenue targets, they know what they're doing, don't mess with success. But if your sales haven't been good and you're looking at a revenue shortfall, you've only really got one lever to pull: you've got to publish more books and make it up in volume. But you aren't going to start investing more money in your design and production teams. They're already underperforming. So you'll compromise on quality a bit in order to put a larger volume of products in front of your customers and hope they bite.

You might, for example, repackage some previously published material under the guise of updating it and put it in a slipcase to boost the retail price a little. If you're on a design team tasked with raising more revenue with the same resources, that's a smart play. You might publish adventure anthologies filled with stand-alone freelance content, so that your editorial and production resources aren't stretched trying to harmonize all that disparate, unconnected content. You might produce a new starter set with less content compared to the previous starter set in order to churn up a little revenue from your completionist whales.

The only definition of "weak book sales" that really matters is WotC's internal definition, meaning the sales and revenue figures that senior management expect to see. They don't and won't care if the decline is due to quality. They just want the numbers to go up. If D&D's numbers were stable or rising at the old publishing pace, we might not see an increase in pace or volume. It's possible, but making new, good-quality D&D books isn't like adding another production line to your factory. So it's possible that the increased volume of products is because D&D's going to the moon.

But look at what's making up the additional volume: retreads of previously published material - both 5e material and legacy material - and consumer products like a new Starter Set. Publishing a new Starter Set is a warning sign, especially this one since it has less content (conserve resources!) and is not compared favorably to the Starter Set you produced eight years ago. If the design team can't produce a better Starter Set after eight years of experience and feedback, then it feels like they're rushing something out the door to make a buck.
 

If your sales have been consistently good, or have declined by an acceptable amount, you don't put additional stress on the design team to make more books. They're hitting their revenue targets, they know what they're doing, don't mess with success. But if your sales haven't been good and you're looking at a revenue shortfall, you've only really got one lever to pull: you've got to publish more books and make it up in volume. But you aren't going to start investing more money in your design and production teams. They're already underperforming. So you'll compromise on quality a bit in order to put a larger volume of products in front of your customers and hope they bite.

You might, for example, repackage some previously published material under the guise of updating it and put it in a slipcase to boost the retail price a little. If you're on a design team tasked with raising more revenue with the same resources, that's a smart play. You might publish adventure anthologies filled with stand-alone freelance content, so that your editorial and production resources aren't stretched trying to harmonize all that disparate, unconnected content. You might produce a new starter set with less content compared to the previous starter set in order to churn up a little revenue from your completionist whales.

The only definition of "weak book sales" that really matters is WotC's internal definition, meaning the sales and revenue figures that senior management expect to see. They don't and won't care if the decline is due to quality. They just want the numbers to go up. If D&D's numbers were stable or rising at the old publishing pace, we might not see an increase in pace or volume. It's possible, but making new, good-quality D&D books isn't like adding another production line to your factory. So it's possible that the increased volume of products is because D&D's going to the moon.

But look at what's making up the additional volume: retreads of previously published material - both 5e material and legacy material - and consumer products like a new Starter Set. Publishing a new Starter Set is a warning sign, especially this one since it has less content (conserve resources!) and is not compared favorably to the Starter Set you produced eight years ago. If the design team can't produce a better Starter Set after eight years of experience and feedback, then it feels like they're rushing something out the door to make a buck.
but we know this hasn't happened.

They literally have run out of books. Due to supply chain and unprecedented demand not everyone that wanted a book was able to buy one. They had to increase the size of the print orders because no one ever thought D&D would regularly pop into the top 10 of Amazon, all categories.

We also know that the new starter getting review bombed by people who don't need a starter set doesn't matter. Because the new starter is for people starting, not people who have played for 40 years.
 

I think the new starter set is just a place holder since the old one is now out of print. We will definitely see a new starter once the rules are updated to what's coming. I don't see this as a sign of trouble but a strategy to on board new players once the new stuff is out. We aren't getting really any more books than we have been currently. WotC seems to be staying the course. Regardless they would dumb to just not support the game in between by not releasing new material.
 


EpicureanDM

Explorer
They literally have run out of books. Due to supply chain and unprecedented demand not everyone that wanted a book was able to buy one.
That's what I'd say, too, if my sales numbers were down and someone was asking me to explain myself. It's the same sort of tactic that gives us the "Funded in twenty minutes!" headlines on Kickstarter campaigns.
We also know that the new starter getting review bombed by people who don't need a starter set doesn't matter. Because the new starter is for people starting, not people who have played for 40 years.
You don't think that the D&D design team is interested in selling to its existing customers? If that's true, this Spelljammer and Dragonlance stuff seems misguided.
 


That's what I'd say, too, if my sales numbers were down and someone was asking me to explain myself. It's the same sort of tactic that gives us the "Funded in twenty minutes!" headlines on Kickstarter campaigns.
Do you think the supply chain crisis is a Hasbro invention in order to oversaturate the D&D physical book market?

Or would a more reasonable position be that the near decade-long record sales at a time when the pandemic and other crises have overlapped created an environment where projecting sales became more difficult than at any point in modern history?
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
But you aren't going to start investing more money in your design and production teams. They're already underperforming. So you'll compromise on quality a bit in order to put a larger volume of products in front of your customers and hope they bite.
This is where your entire analysis falls apart: they've been beefing up their design team with extensive hiring. They are literally investing here.
 

EpicureanDM

Explorer
Do you think the supply chain crisis is a Hasbro invention in order to oversaturate the D&D physical book market?

Or would a more reasonable position be that the near decade-long record sales at a time when the pandemic and other crises have overlapped created an environment where projecting sales became more difficult than at any point in modern history?
If you want to take WotC's press releases at face value, that's fine by me. I try to focus more on the products they're producing.
 



Micah Sweet

Legend
That's what I'd say, too, if my sales numbers were down and someone was asking me to explain myself. It's the same sort of tactic that gives us the "Funded in twenty minutes!" headlines on Kickstarter campaigns.

You don't think that the D&D design team is interested in selling to its existing customers? If that's true, this Spelljammer and Dragonlance stuff seems misguided.
I'm not convinced it's isn't.
 

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
They've said this will be the starter at launch for the D&D2024
Do you have a link to this statement? Not that I don't believe you, but I have heard people say this, and I have not seen it that I can recall. I would think a new 2024 Starter Set would make more sense, even if this one is compatible with the 2024 core rules. If nothing else, new branding in line with the 2024 editions.
 

Do you have a link to this statement? Not that I don't believe you, but I have heard people say this, and I have not seen it that I can recall. I would think a new 2024 Starter Set would make more sense, even if this one is compatible with the 2024 core rules. If nothing else, new branding in line with the 2024 editions.
This is going to take a while. It was in replies to the Target launch
 


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