D&D 5E Hasbro Acquires D&D Beyond For $146M

D&D owner WotC and D&D Beyond have announced that the online tools platform is being acquired by WotC.

DDB’s (former) owner was Fandom, which acquired it in 2018, and which also acquired the Cortex Prime TTRPG system recently. Fandom is producing a range of licensed games using the Cortex Prime system starting with the recent Tales of Xadia: The Dragon Prince RPG. Several DDB core staff members and founders moved on to other projects last year.


This move has been widely expected for some time. The purchase figure being circulated is $146 million. By comparison, when WotC purchased then-D&D owner TSR in 1997, it did so for $25M. Hasbro later purchased WotC for $325M.

D&D Beyond was created in 2017 by Curse LLC, a company owned by Twitch. Fandom purchased Curse in 2018. WotC will be the third owner of the platform.

In other news, back in November WotC applied for a trademark for 'Atomic Arcade' for a variety of electronic gaming applications, and earlier in the year, rumours spread regarding WotC’s plans for its own virtual tabletop platform (VTT) following a survey in which they gauged opinions and allegedly showed off graphically rich 3D screenshots.

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Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) today announced that it is acquiring D&D Beyond, the leading digital toolset and game companion for the Company’s groundbreaking fantasy franchise, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, from Fandom. Fandom, the world’s largest fan platform, has owned and operated D&D Beyond since 2019 and has grown the direct-to-consumer business to be the leading role-playing game (RPG) digital toolset on the market with close to 10 million registered users. This strategic acquisition, for $146.3 million in cash, will further strengthen Hasbro’s capabilities in the fast-growing digital tabletop category while also adding veteran talents to the Wizards of the Coast team and accelerating efforts to deliver exceptional experiences for fans across all platforms.

Since 2017, D&D Beyond has helped to power DUNGEONS & DRAGONS tabletop play and deliver the brand's eighth consecutive year of growth in 2021. Over the last three years, the royalty paid to Hasbro by D&D Beyond has represented a significant contribution to the fastest growing source of revenue for DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. The strategic acquisition of D&D Beyond will deliver a direct relationship with fans, providing valuable, data-driven insights to unlock opportunities for growth in new product development, live services and tools, and regional expansions. As part of Wizards, the brand’s leadership will soon be able to drive a unified, player-centric vision of the world’s greatest role-playing game on all platforms.

“The acquisition of D&D Beyond will accelerate our progress in both gaming and direct to consumer, two priority areas of growth for Hasbro, providing immediate access to a loyal, growing player base,” said Chris Cocks, Hasbro Chief Executive Officer. “Hasbro’s gaming portfolio is among the largest and most profitable in the industry, and we continue to make strategic investments to grow our brands, including in digital.”

“This is the perfect next step for the talented D&D Beyond team, who built a transformative digital product that engaged and delighted millions of D&D fans around the world,” said Perkins Miller, CEO of Fandom. “We can't wait to see what this team will do next as an integral part of the D&D franchise, and I look forward to investing in more brands and products to super serve Fandom’s 300 million+ global fans.”

“D&D Beyond has been one of our most valuable partners in the digital space for the past six years and we’re excited to bring their best-in-class talent onto our team,” said Cynthia Williams, President of Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming. “The team at D&D Beyond has built an incredible digital platform, and together we will deliver the best-possible DUNGEONS & DRAGONS experience for players around the world.”

Hasbro’s continued investment in Wizards of the Coast’s digital growth for its two iconic franchises, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and MAGIC: THE GATHERING, is representative of the significant opportunity in PC and mobile gaming, an industry that represented over 3 billion players globally and $129 billion in revenue in 20211. With the launch of Magic: The Gathering Arena on PC in 2019 and on mobile in 2021, Wizards has built a unique ecosystem of best-in-class tabletop and digital play to create deeper player engagement and satisfaction and grow revenue across all expressions and regions. Similarly, with more than 80% of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS fans having already played the game virtually in 2021, aided by online digital platforms such as D&D Beyond, this acquisition accelerates the game’s ability to penetrate new markets, gather valuable consumer insights and provide players with the best DUNGEONS & DRAGONS experience on all platforms.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and the receipt of certain regulatory approvals, and is expected to close during the second or third quarter of 2022. The transaction will be funded out of cash on hand and is expected to be immaterial to revenue and earnings per share in 2022 and accretive to earnings per share in fiscal year 2023 and beyond. The transaction has been approved by both Hasbro’s and Fandom’s Boards of Directors.


 

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Russ Morrissey

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Yes, interesting. In general it's probably good to have Beyond under the WotC umbrella. But I'm worried about two things.

First, that they will be too protective about Beyond data. Right now my table use AboveVTT that work seamlessly with Beyond, and is very easy to use while having just the right amount of features. No need to be coding savvy or spend two weeks learning unintuitive stuff to prep a few scenes.

And second, that Wiz go for an overly complex VTT to compete with Foundry, Roll20 etc, or make some system hogging 3D mess. Or that their VTT will add another subscription level to Beyond to be able to use it fully.

But we'll see.
I think wotc would have a lock on whatever we call vtts had they developed the amazing tech demo surface table vtt that came about during the 4e era years ago when bleeding edge hardware was barely capable of supporting vtt needs but software development takes a lot & requires constant improvement. The VTT market has a good number of robust offerings with their own strengths under continuous development with dedicated users used to the quirks of their choice so making a vtt at this point would be a lot like making a new web browser. I wouldn't be surprised to see wotc buy or put out a basic vtt but they are joining very late.
 

Hussar

Legend
Joining late might not be a bad thing. Some of those vtts are hampered by legacy issues. Fantasy Grounds, for example, still has no sound support. Hell it doesn’t even have font support.

Think about that for a second. The most expensive vtt on the market cannot support two fonts at the same time.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Joining late might not be a bad thing. Some of those vtts are hampered by legacy issues. Fantasy Grounds, for example, still has no sound support. Hell it doesn’t even have font support.

Think about that for a second. The most expensive vtt on the market cannot support two fonts at the same time.
Joining late while needing to protect a ruleset that accounts for a huge chunk of their income makes innovating within vtt space not so easy.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Joining late might not be a bad thing. Some of those vtts are hampered by legacy issues. Fantasy Grounds, for example, still has no sound support. Hell it doesn’t even have font support.

Think about that for a second. The most expensive vtt on the market cannot support two fonts at the same time.
I am a big fan of Fantasygrounds but I think they made a big mistake in pursuing map making and not updating the UI. I kind of hesitate in recommending FG due to UI issues.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Joining late while needing to protect a ruleset that accounts for a huge chunk of their income makes innovating within vtt space not so easy.
To be honest I think that Wizards would be better off buying a promising VTT and integrating that. If I was in charge I would be looking at a cloud based VTT with a thin client for the DM and players.
 

Oofta

Legend
Isn't Dndbeyond working pretty closely with Foundry right now?
Somebody else may know, I don't do VTT anymore. I know Roll20 had an unofficial integration but it wasn't using any kind of official API,it worked by screen scraping.

As I said somewhere, I wouldn't be surprised if WOTC complicated implementing an API because of licensing fees and issues. Once brought in house my bet would be that they build the public interface.
 

People tend to get really salty about paying for the same content multiple times across multiple platforms. That’s not “asking for free content” that’s a reasonable request to not be charged multiple times for the same content.
I always chuckle at this.

When you buy a book you don't get a movie for free. DnDBeyond is clearly a different medium of information.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
People tend to get really salty about paying for the same content multiple times across multiple platforms. That’s not “asking for free content” that’s a reasonable request to not be charged multiple times for the same content.
It's not just content though, is it? It's enormous amounts of expensive labour. You're paying for the service, not the words.

If you just want the words, input it all yourself! You already have the words; all you're missing is the labour.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Hard disagree. I mean, I get it. If people want to justify buying the PHB (and every other book) in three different formats (physical, BBD, VTT). Go ahead. Knock yourself out. It’s your money to waste. I’ll keep not using BBD until I can access content on their platform that I’ve already bought.
It's not justifying it to say that it takes labor to move that content into those different platforms. The work it takes to create a book is different from the work it takes to put that content onto DDB is different from the (vast amounts of extra) work it takes to integrate that material into a VTT.

It's almost like buying a book and then asking for the video game based on the book to be given to you for free because you bought the book. How do you expect the folks doing all of that work to get paid? They aren't doing it for free.
 

Joining late might not be a bad thing. Some of those vtts are hampered by legacy issues. Fantasy Grounds, for example, still has no sound support. Hell it doesn’t even have font support.

Think about that for a second. The most expensive vtt on the market cannot support two fonts at the same time.
Though if we're being honest, WotC does not have the best track record for building things intended to stand the test of time.

I'm looking at you, Silverlight...
 


Jer

Legend
Supporter
Though if we're being honest, WotC does not have the best track record for building things intended to stand the test of time.
In all honesty this is a problem for just about every single company out there. The web is a mess.

The companies that you perceive as doing it right and standing the test of time are constantly working to keep their applications up to date and spending all kinds of resources to make sure that they're keeping up - including completely revising how they do things fairly regularly. The problem that Wizards has historically had with this stuff is that they're not a tech company - non-tech companies often drastically underestimate just how much work it takes to keep a complex public application functioning (especially if their IT folks are mostly used to maintaining internal private apps - which can also be beasts to maintain and also fall behind the times but you can force your employees to use it as is and work around the flaws until you can budget in money for changes. If you're making an app for the general public the constraints are all very different).
 

In all honesty this is a problem for just about every single company out there. The web is a mess.

The companies that you perceive as doing it right and standing the test of time are constantly working to keep their applications up to date and spending all kinds of resources to make sure that they're keeping up - including completely revising how they do things fairly regularly. The problem that Wizards has historically had with this stuff is that they're not a tech company - non-tech companies often drastically underestimate just how much work it takes to keep a complex public application functioning (especially if their IT folks are mostly used to maintaining internal private apps - which can also be beasts to maintain and also fall behind the times but you can force your employees to use it as is and work around the flaws until you can budget in money for changes. If you're making an app for the general public the constraints are all very different).
I wasn't really thinking of any specific company. Just noting that the dependency on Silverlight was a really, really unwise move; the future of Silverlight was already dubious in 2010, when they first announced the move to that platform, and people were calling the platform dead just a year later. This further compounded the issues caused by the horrific murder-suicide on their tech team, among other behind-the-scenes issues that plagued 4e and had nothing to do with the actual design of the game. (Seriously, 4e got dealt just about the worst possible hand imaginable: launching at the start of a recession that took out one of the major bookstores of the time, the aforementioned murder-suicide crippling their tech development essentially permanently, having to push the books out the door a little earlier than maybe they should have, hitching their digital-tools cart to Silverlight only for it to be deprecated shortly thereafter; the list goes on. Some of these issues were self-inflicted, like the idiotic handling of the GSL which directly drove the creation of their greatest and most dangerous competitor, but quite a few were either unforeseeable or not something one could reasonably expect to have to prepare for.)

My overall point, though, still stands IMO. Getting a crack at designing a fresh VTT so that it can be free of legacy code issues is only valuable if you have the expertise, resources, and time to build a clean foundation yourself. If not, you're just swapping one set of legacy code issues for another. WotC has not, thus far, demonstrated that it does have the expertise or resources for this sort of thing, and I am disinclined to believe that a company with so few staff that a single person being on jury duty can seriously delay important projects is able to offer the time either.
 





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