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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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Could this have anything to do with the 2024 golden anniversary core, a brand new starter set as well as their online tools?
I mean, that's part of it, bit the ramp up has been going on for a few years and includes other products in the meantime.
Throwing money at a problem isn't the same thing as investing.
Hiring people to work on projects is literally investing in those projects. On the most basic level of defining words. You just spun a whole wild scenario about trying to get more product with fewer resources...but that is not the case. They are putting more resources into making print game products.
 

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UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
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.
This is nonsense! If poor quality product is not meeting sales targets, then more poor-quality product will not change things.
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.
It is possible but a doomed strategy and pure speculation.
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.
Yest they will if they have the brains of a hamster. D&D is a discretionary purchase. You do not need it to live and within D&D product lines anything outside of the core rulebooks are even more discretionary. It depends completely on goodwill and reputation to sell its products.
Now it is perfectly possible that Wizards management are doing what you are saying but they are not a movie company yet and they depend on the reputation of the game at this time. They tank that reputation at their peril.

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.
D&D has been rethreading material since day one, how many Greyhawk releases have there been? How many threads on ENWorld have there been re-releases or possible re-releases of old material; Planescape? Dragonlance, Dark Sun?

Now you may say that the quality has been declining and I cannot argue with you because quality is perception in a product like this. I do not think it is much better nor worse. I still find things I am interested in and purchase that. So far, I have been really disappointed.
The only other metric is sales and here we have little to go on but there is evidence that revenue is rising. Since WoTC has not yet morphed into a TV-Movie company we can conclude that so far, the game is selling.
 



Yes, and people also called it 5e during the playtest. Then it actually came out and Next was dropped and 5e became official.
The difference is they never claimed it was going to be a revision rather than a complete overhaul. It was explicitly always going to be very dfferent from 4e. It was designed specifically to be very different.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter

By any reasonable definition of edition, 5E is way more than the fifth edition of the game. TSR and WotC have always pulled shenanigans with the terminology, whi h is why theybare avoiding it now. They poisoned the well.
That's not what poisoning the well means. And, as pointed out earlier, fans called it 5e long before WotC did. So blame the fans I guess?
 


EpicureanDM

Explorer
This is nonsense! If poor quality product is not meeting sales targets, then more poor-quality product will not change things.
I agree. But all they know how to do is make books.
It is possible but a doomed strategy and pure speculation.
I also agree, both on the strategy and the speculation.
Yest they will if they have the brains of a hamster. D&D is a discretionary purchase. You do not need it to live and within D&D product lines anything outside of the core rulebooks are even more discretionary. It depends completely on goodwill and reputation to sell its products.
Now it is perfectly possible that Wizards management are doing what you are saying but they are not a movie company yet and they depend on the reputation of the game at this time. They tank that reputation at their peril.
The new person setting the revenue targets for D&D is a former e-commerce tech executive with an MBA, not someone who treasures his 1e Unearthed Arcana with notes scribbled in the margins. He will need to rely on people lower down on the food chain to advise him about quality. If you think, as I do, that the recent quality of D&D products is poor and sales are probably down as a result of those efforts, this new VP isn't going to be getting good inputs from his subordinates. They're the ones producing the underperforming products.

The numbers have to go up or he won't get his bonus. This new VP doesn't spend much time at any one company. D&D's goodwill and reputation only need to last until he moves on. He's got to get the numbers up, whether or not that includes an improvement (or reduction) in quality.
The only other metric is sales and here we have little to go on but there is evidence that revenue is rising. Since WoTC has not yet morphed into a TV-Movie company we can conclude that so far, the game is selling.
What matters is how the revenue is rising. What is selling? Are you selling a bunch of Starter Sets, but not seeing that translate into sales of the PHB? Your short-term revenue is up, but the long-term prospects aren't good. Does the D&D team get to include revenue from dice or accessories in their figures? As you say, we have little to go on. I don't look at D&D's recent books and see strength. I see confusion and uncertainty.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I agree. But all they know how to do is make books.
They appear to be working on other revenue sources.
I also agree, both on the strategy and the speculation.
So, you agree that your surmises are pure speculation.
The new person setting the revenue targets for D&D is a former e-commerce tech executive with an MBA, not someone who treasures his 1e Unearthed Arcana with notes scribbled in the margins. He will need to rely on people lower down on the food chain to advise him about quality. If you think, as I do, that the recent quality of D&D products is poor and sales are probably down as a result of those efforts, this new VP isn't going to be getting good inputs from his subordinates. They're the ones producing the underperforming products.
First, I do not agree that the recent quality of D&D books is down or poor by any metric. I have been largely satisfied by my purchases.

Secondly, Neither, you nor I have the numbers as to revenues or profits but from what I have read they have called out rising revenue and profits from D&D at investor meetings. As far as I know there are SEC rules about that stuff.

Thirdly again you nor I have any idea whether Mr Rawson has marginalia on his 1e Unearthed Arcana nor is that the sole criteria for judging whether the current products are any good. For the record, I don't, I never bought into the AD&D product line.

Finally, what evidence have you that D&D is under performing? saying so does not make it true.
The numbers have to go up or he won't get his bonus. This new VP doesn't spend much time at any one company. D&D's goodwill and reputation only need to last until he moves on. He's got to get the numbers up, whether or not that includes an improvement (or reduction) in quality.
That is a pretty strong accusation, do you have a specific reason to level this charge.

What matters is how the revenue is rising. What is selling? Are you selling a bunch of Starter Sets, but not seeing that translate into sales of the PHB? Your short-term revenue is up, but the long-term prospects aren't good. Does the D&D team get to include revenue from dice or accessories in their figures? As you say, we have little to go on. I don't look at D&D's recent books and see strength. I see confusion and uncertainty.
Hmm, so everything said by a Wizard's employee is a bald faced lie because you said so?
 

They appear to be working on other revenue sources.

So, you agree that your surmises are pure speculation.

First, I do not agree that the recent quality of D&D books is down or poor by any metric. I have been largely satisfied by my purchases.

Secondly, Neither, you nor I have the numbers as to revenues or profits but from what I have read they have called out rising revenue and profits from D&D at investor meetings. As far as I know there are SEC rules about that stuff.

Thirdly again you nor I have any idea whether Mr Rawson has marginalia on his 1e Unearthed Arcana nor is that the sole criteria for judging whether the current products are any good. For the record, I don't, I never bought into the AD&D product line.

Finally, what evidence have you that D&D is under performing? saying so does not make it true.

That is a pretty strong accusation, do you have a specific reason to level this charge.


Hmm, so everything said by a Wizard's employee is a bald faced lie because you said so?

I agree it's doubtful sales are down, but disagree that the quality hasn't been dropping, mostly on the lore front because they at least usually play test the mechanics, which they really should start doing for lore as well.

Look at the massive issues Spelljammer has, I almost wanted to cry, for bad reasons when I saw it, its the best product for art and material quality and possibly the single worst in terms of mechanics (character options excluded as those were good), and content.

I suspect given all the free monsters released that could have gone into the product itself, the fact that the Spelljammer rules feel oddly incomplete compaired to BG: DiA or Ghosts of Saltmarsh, that the goals for this slipcase were vastly more ambitious then wht we got, but that the price began to spiral out of control and a huge amount of stuff had to be cut from it to keep the already expense product from going higher.

Planescape likely faces the same issues, although their is still time to fix it.

If Ray was let go, its likely over this.
 


Totally disagree on the content, might not be enough for you but what is there is solid and very fun.
That's my take on the Spelljammer set we got - a good little adventure with a bestiary and some player options. It's pretty good at what it is. My issue with it is that "a good little adventure with a bestiary and some player options" != a campaign setting, at least to me.
 

darjr

I crit!
That's my take on the Spelljammer set we got - a good little adventure with a bestiary and some player options. It's pretty good at what it is. My issue with it is that "a good little adventure with a bestiary and some player options" != a campaign setting, at least to me.
I get that. I do wish it had more along those lines.

Opening it up in the guild was nice, some cool things there.

I hope WotC does more with it.

Also a friend wrote an adventure with me as “co-author” that’s going up soon, mainly play test and gave feedback.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I agree it's doubtful sales are down, but disagree that the quality hasn't been dropping, mostly on the lore front because they at least usually play test the mechanics, which they really should start doing for lore as well.

Look at the massive issues Spelljammer has, I almost wanted to cry, for bad reasons when I saw it, its the best product for art and material quality and possibly the single worst in terms of mechanics (character options excluded as those were good), and content.

I suspect given all the free monsters released that could have gone into the product itself, the fact that the Spelljammer rules feel oddly incomplete compaired to BG: DiA or Ghosts of Saltmarsh, that the goals for this slipcase were vastly more ambitious then wht we got, but that the price began to spiral out of control and a huge amount of stuff had to be cut from it to keep the already expense product from going higher.

Planescape likely faces the same issues, although their is still time to fix it.

If Ray was let go, its likely over this.

Totally disagree on the content, might not be enough for you but what is there is solid and very fun.

That's my take on the Spelljammer set we got - a good little adventure with a bestiary and some player options. It's pretty good at what it is. My issue with it is that "a good little adventure with a bestiary and some player options" != a campaign setting, at least to me.
What this says to me is that on content we are on reasonable minds may differ territory.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
The new Starter Set, as mentioned above, was a product requested by Target, who also paid for a 3-month exclusive to sell it, because the previous various box sets for 5E were big sellers. That is why that product exists. WotC did try to widen the net on it to older players by using the characters from the 80s cartoon in the artwork (not in the actual adventure) because nobody ever went broke selling Gen X their childhood back to them.

The UK magazine isn't something "WotC is trying". It's not made by WotC. It's made by a UK-based company who paid to use the D&D license, and who are assuming the risk on it.

I like the Spelljammer set a lot. I think the adventure is fun and the bestiary is good. The character options are good except for the hadozee which is obviously total head-shaking debacle. The rules (or lack thereof) for actual Spelljammer travel, combat, and encounters are pretty pathetic. I mean, basically they didn't even try. I like the adventure and the monsters enough that I don't care, but in terms of presenting a "setting", those "mechanics" do let it down.
 


UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
It’s still selling well on Amazon. Reviews seem good for the content, not just Amazon.

For an adventure it’s doing good. I hardly think it would if it had “massive issues” for people generally. But that’s just my take.
I have it, I was got it as a gift, but I have not read it yet, so I have no strong opinion, other than I am not impressed with the DM screen. Usually, I am a big fan of DM screens.
 

darjr

I crit!
The UK magazine isn't something "WotC is trying". It's not made by WotC. It's made by a UK-based company who paid to use the D&D license, and who are assuming the risk on it.

It’s more than just a simple license, though it is indeed a license. WotC has branding all over it and see this.

7EE8BEBA-F041-4244-9D26-D8726E70F538.jpeg


I do think that hachette is probably taking most of the risk on it.

But to it being a test, as far as I know it’s only being released to a test market, hence the “testing the waters”.
 

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