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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darjr

I crit!
Sum up for those of us that will never watch a product update video
Not much so far. But they have been busy on this for at least a few months.

And Joe is getting a kick saying “The official tool set of Dungeons and Dragons”

His enthusiasm is very high.

Keep in keeping on for now. Supposed to be more info next week…… bleh.

WotC bought the team and the approach.
 





Grantypants

Explorer
What do you think this will mean for third-party who want to sell their books on the Beyond Marketplace? I'm thinking especially about the larger third parties like Kobold Press or Goodman Games, not the official collaborations like with Penny Arcade or Critical Role.

On the one hand, I can see this making that easier. If part of the contract between Curse or Fandom and Wizards was an exclusivity deal, Wizards could.now just decide they don't want to follow that anymore. They could also theoretically offer third-party publishers better sales terms now that they don't have to give Fandom any cut of the sales.

On the other hand, now that Wizards has its own online Marketplace, does it really want to antagonize the FLGSes or Drive thru by going into more direct competition with them?
 

First info from the FG perspective, from Doug Davison in response to a post on the FG Forums;
Wizards of the Coast will be making a public announcement at some point in the near future about Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds, but you don't have anything to fear. Our license already includes a clause which allows all our customers to keep a copy of any purchased content regardless of the status of our license. We are also allowed to keep a copy of all the licensed content we produced on our servers for customer support. This means that you would be able to redownload and install them even if we were ever to lose our license with Wizards of the Coast. We don't currently have any concerns of that happening.

Wizards of the Coast views our community as a valuable thing and they don't want to do anything to upset or disrupt that. We currently have a license which renews with Wizards each year and they intend to continue this.
 

What do you think this will mean for third-party who want to sell their books on the Beyond Marketplace? I'm thinking especially about the larger third parties like Kobold Press or Goodman Games, not the official collaborations like with Penny Arcade or Critical Role.

On the one hand, I can see this making that easier. If part of the contract between Curse or Fandom and Wizards was an exclusivity deal, Wizards could.now just decide they don't want to follow that anymore. They could also theoretically offer third-party publishers better sales terms now that they don't have to give Fandom any cut of the sales.

On the other hand, now that Wizards has its own online Marketplace, does it really want to antagonize the FLGSes or Drive thru by going into more direct competition with them?
The other digital platforms have had 3P content so I think it has been a resource and architecture issue for DDB. DDB requires a lot of coding to support it's automation, and much of that is probably dependent upon specific strings or trait names. 3P stuff rarely follows the exact same naming and string conventions as WotC does. I know with FG this causes a lot of 3P stuff not to have as much automation. I suspect it would be worse with DDB.
 

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
Isn't Dndbeyond working pretty closely with Foundry right now?
It's been referenced off-handedly here, but the interaction between Foundry VTT and DnDBeyond (DDB) is not core to Foundry VTT. There are two (that I know of) free add-on modules a Foundry VTT DM can install. These modules are created by community developers, and connect to the DDB API, authenticate the user's purchases on DDB, and pull the information into Foundry VTT. The modules are still undergoing development, and some advanced features require Patreon membership for the dev. For non-DDB users considering Foundry VTT, there is a very robust D&D 5e base system that is built off the SRD.

TL/DR: There is no official partnership between DDB and Foundry VTT.
 


Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
GREAT! Woah, and thank god.

I've bought hardcovers and DDB copies of every 5e WotC book.

I was afraid that if WotC made a competing in-house service, it would invalidate my previous digital purchases.

Now I think their future is secured.

This also is good news for those of us who have a tolerate-hate relationship with Fandom. I swear, Wikia's websites, revenue models, and priorities get worse and worse with every year. I can't stand that one of the founding wikis of NIWA - ZeldaWiki.org - was somehow purchased by Fandom, the antithesis of the whole purpose of the Nintendo Independent Wiki Alliance (it was to create nonprofit alternatives to the schemes of Wikia). They did this at the same time as buying D&DBeyond - it was by buying out Curse's assests (such as Gamepedia), who had somehow gotten their hands on ZeldaWiki.org.

In any case, it comes down to Fandom being… well, not a good actor in the, errr, fandom space.

So I'm super glad WotC has allowed D&D Beyond to flourish and grow while they focused on making great games, and now that they are a centerpiece of Hasbro's business, Hasbro can allocate the proper resources to actually support digital tools. Back in 4e it was one bad stroke of luck after another with the D&D Digital Toolset, and ultimately it came from not being able to "show their work" to daddy Hasbro. They promised 4e would sell because it would tap into the digital market. What they didn't realise was to tap that digital market, they needed a game that would sell (as much as I ADORE 4e - I loved it to death!!!). 5e gave us a game that sold, and allowed the digital market to grow around it. Now they can use that well-grounded revenue stream to beef up the digital platforms.
 


Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Now, let's just hope that 5.5 or 6E is backward compatible with 5E
It will be. I'm 99% sure of it.

At least as backwards compatible as 3.5e was with 3.0e, or Pathfinder 1e was with 3.5e, or 4Essentials was with 4e. Or 2e Revised was with 2e. Or 2e was with 1e, honestly. They'd be shooting themselves in the feet to make a complete 1-1 replacement that meant all our previous purchases were no longer valid. There will be a phasing out of 5e content for its half or full-step successor, that will take several years to do so.

I wouldn't be surprised if we get reprints like Curse of Strahd Revamped that just update the modules to be fully compatible with 5.5e. But they'll certainly be MOSTLY compatible.
 


beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
I think this purchase makes it more likely that the upcoming Anniversary Edition is mechanically compatible with 5e. Why buy a character creator and compendium when you know it's going to be obsoleted soon?

Well it depends on how much they believe they'll get from new book sales, and how much they can charge for an updated character creator vs. how many people they'll lose to other RPGs.

However, I'm guessing that D&D's demand curve is pretty inflexible.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Well it depends on how much they believe they'll get from new book sales, and how much they can charge for an updated character creator vs. how many people they'll lose to other RPGs.
However, I'm guessing that D&D's demand curve is pretty inflexible.
The biggest competitor to D&D has always been ... D&D. It's very easy to just keep playing the current edition when a new edition comes out - you already have the books. That was true when 2nd edition came out and it's even more true today when the OGL exists - you don't even have to use the used book channel to find the old books anymore. Heck Wizards currently sells every edition of D&D EXCEPT 5e on DM's Guild because they recognize that fact and have finally figured out how to skim some money off of it.

The other dirty secret is - after 10 years they can put out a new PHB with different art, errata, and a few rules fixes that go beyond eratta (like moving the Ranger options from Tasha's into core), call it the "50th Anniversary Celebration" and it will sell just as well as an actual 6th edition would. Throw in a Monster Manual that has the new presentation for stats and new art there too and you have 2/3 of the money they'd make from a new edition. The DMG is a harder sell without some major reason to buy it without changing the rules, but don't underestimate the draw of having a consistent set of books :)
 

It's been referenced off-handedly here, but the interaction between Foundry VTT and DnDBeyond (DDB) is not core to Foundry VTT. There are two (that I know of) free add-on modules a Foundry VTT DM can install. These modules are created by community developers, and connect to the DDB API, authenticate the user's purchases on DDB, and pull the information into Foundry VTT. The modules are still undergoing development, and some advanced features require Patreon membership for the dev. For non-DDB users considering Foundry VTT, there is a very robust D&D 5e base system that is built off the SRD.

TL/DR: There is no official partnership between DDB and Foundry VTT.
Yes, It has been mentioned as unoffical and not blessed. Could be shut off as an abuse of the API. Could be left alone. Could be blessed.
 

Wizards had decent forums for a while too, until they didn't. Moderation can be a non-issue for a while, until it becomes an issue. I watched forums back in the day go from fun places to hang out to cess pits that eventually got shut off because the folks running them just couldn't keep up with the garbage.

So it all depends on how much money they want to spend on forum moderation. Once the costs outweigh the benefits the forums will get dumped. The trick is how beneficial they see having forums that they moderate vs. just using existing social media.
You can't necessarily moderate away a forum's problems either. Forums can devolve into pretty hostile places without any posters technically breaking any rules.
 

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