WotC Hasbro Bets Big on D&D

During today's 'Hasbro Fireside Chat', Hasbro's Chris Cocks, chief executive officer, and Cynthia Williams, president of Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming mentioned D&D, and about betting big on its name. This was in addition to the Magic: The Gathering discussion they held on the same call.

Hasbro.jpg


The following are rough notes on what they said.

D&D Beyond
  • Leaning heavily on D&D Beyond
  • 13 million registered users
  • Give them more ways to express their fandom
  • Hired 350 people last year
  • Low attrition
What’s next for D&D
  • Never been more popular
  • Brand under-monetized
  • Excited about D&D Beyond possibilities
  • Empower accessibility and development of the user base.
  • Data driven insight
  • Window into how players are playing
  • Companion app on their phone
  • Start future monetization starting with D&D Beyond
  • DMs are 20% of the audience but lions share of purchases
  • Digital game recurrent spending for post sale revenue.
  • Speed of digital can expand, yearly book model to include current digital style models.
  • Reach highly engaged multigenerational fans.
  • Dungeons and Dragons has recognition, 10 out of 10
  • Cultural phenomenon right now.
  • DND strategy is a broad four quadrant strategy
  • Like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or Marvel
  • New books and accessories, licensed game stuff, and D&D Beyond
  • Huge hopes for D&D
What is success for the D&D Movie
  • First big light up oppourtunity for 4th quadrant
  • Significant marketing
  • They think it’ll have significant box office
  • It has second most viewed trailer at Paramount, only eclipsed by Transformers
  • Will be licensed video games, some on movies
  • Then follow up other media, TV, other movies, etc.
  • Bullish on D&D.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Aren't those considered microtransactions?

Yes, but they aren't problematic microtransactions. The real problem in the disucssion is that since microtransactions have been used badly by vidogames, folks have a strong negative reaction to them, even when they aren't actually a problem.

Microtransactions become a rip-off if they impact game play - if the basic way to "win D&D" would be to pay WotC a continuing stream of small chunks of money.
 

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Maybe the next generation of players are going to play with laptops and apps but Hasbro should worry about to avoid a possible buble. Do you remember the "interactive television"? Nobody does it, it was before internet started to be used by the masses.

Altought Hasbro had got a really good idea about the VTTs, other videogames studios could to copy the path, at least to recycle things of failed titles. For example EA Games could reuse elements from Sim Medieval and Sims 4 to create a new VTT, but this also share the same cosmetic elements of other titles, one of them a life simulation, a survival, and a farming simulation. When I say multicompatible I mean if you buy a pack of cosmetic elements: skins, clothing and/or furnitures these can be used in different titles.

Other idea is selling a physical product with digital content, for example the pack of miniatures of planar dragons, and then with the DLC you have got the monster stats (from all editions) and the "virtual miniature" (graphic figure).

And the no-English market may differet because players from other countries may have got a different adquisitive level.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
to play dnd one set of dice is necessary, multiple sets of dice are helpful; physical dice you'll own for your whole life (and the planet will own them for longer), digital dice you might lose with your subscription.
To use D&D Beyond, you don't need to use their online dice roller at all. If you choose to, a basic set of digital dice are included. You don't have to purchase dice at all to use the service. I doubt this will change. They do offer a LOT of different digital dice sets, and you might be tempted by some of the neater ones . . . .

a physical magazine you can keep or recycle, sell it later if you want; digtial subscription benefits (some of them, at least) disappear end when you stop paying
Yeah, but . . . . selling off your old magazines isn't something most folks do. It is nice to be able to go back through your collection without having to be a current subscriber, but again, most folks don't. This kind of change doesn't have a huge impact. Also, we don't know if there will even be "magazine" content as a part of a subscription . . . we don't even know if there will be a subscription . . . if there is, we don't know how it will work. Content subscriptions can be set up to allow access to back issues unlocked while you were a previous subscriber, even if you aren't a current subscriber. Also, sometimes there are download options so you can store your "magazine" back issues on your own hard drive.

physical minis you own, and though I never got into it, painting minis seems to be creative and fun and I imagine it would be a nice activity to do with friends. Digital minis you have to purchase on a proprietary system are not something you own. I guess learning how to design a 3d virtual mini might be fun and creative.

If you are into physical minis on an actual tabletop . . . you are not in the target market for a 3D digital tabletop. So why worry? It's unlikely the future of D&D Beyond will REQUIRE using a digital 3D tabletop with virtual minis. In fact, I'm pretty confident whatever D&D Beyond evolves into, it will support "theatre of the mind" play, without minis and battlemaps of any sort, physical or digital.

And there are companies working on AR solutions to actually blend physical and digital elements. ARcana is a good example, it uses AR to project a digital 3D map on the physical table, and you can use your physical minis to interact with it! Will WotC use such a system? We'll see, but the possibilities are getting cooler every year!
 

To use D&D Beyond, you don't need to use their online dice roller at all. If you choose to, a basic set of digital dice are included. You don't have to purchase dice at all to use the service. I doubt this will change. They do offer a LOT of different digital dice sets, and you might be tempted by some of the neater ones . . . .
Yep, you get the basic set of dice for free and then they toss in a set sometimes as either a subscription bonus or as a pre-order bonus for a new book. Personally I'm up to 18 sets of dice without ever buying a set on its own. I think I've had the master tier subscription going for 3 years now and I've probably pre-ordered 5 books that came with dice. I want to say one of the sets was even given to everyone for free as thanks for using the platform. It's not a bad system and if it's not for you, it's easy to ignore. Some people at my table use them with Beyond20 and others use the Roll20 system.

Edit: removed the reference to master tier subscription since I think they give subscription bonus dice to people with the player tier (I forget what it's called).
 


I don't want to ban the microtransations, but they should take care. If there is an abuse in the begining can be very good for the economic goals, but in long terms the prestige of the brand could suffer a serious damage. And in the digital market there are lots of rival companies.

And Hasbro has to think about when a 3PP has been the first one to develope a new idea. Let's use as example the franchise "Batlezoo Eldamon" by "Roll for Combat". Maybe Hasbro should hurry for an interesting partnership deal before "Roll for Combat" started to talk with some company of the entertaiment industry. What can offer Hasbro? For example a child-friendly animated production, and the merchadising of the creatures. Hasbro should be watching the possible tendencies among the 3PPs.

My suggestion for the VTT is to can play a solo mode, something like the Facebook game "Heroes of Newerwinter", as a hook for potential new players. Or this could be an independient game but recycling the same graphics.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Stuff like that can impact other players espicially when there's a drastic difference in quality between the free stuff and paid stuff.

Non American here alot of schools here have uniforms part of the reason was so the kids in $300 trainers don't rub it in the face of those who can't afford it.
American here, and the public charter school my kids go to basically have uniforms (because it is public, they can't make you buy from any specific company, but have very specific dress code rules that have the same result, just choice of vendor). I'm a bit sceptical that it does much to eliminate jealousy, bullying, or feelings of inadequacy. Kids are going to know who comes from wealthier families. It isn't like the school can dictate where families vacation, what cars the parents drive, what families spend on birthdays, etc. Mostly, it makes enforcing any kind of dress code much easier for the school. (Most) parents like it because it makes clothing your kids much easier (and cheaper--you don't have to be poor to appreciate not spending a lot of money on children's clothing).

But I find this weird to use as an analogy for TTRPGs. Perhaps a specific group of friends might institute a rule so nobody has to feel pressured to spend a lot just to join the game. But arguing for banning certain types of luxury gaming supplies in the name of egalitarianism is misguided. Real world societies that have pushed that have attempted to enforce that level of egalitarianism would like have banned the entire hobby as a privileged luxury.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Yes, but they aren't problematic microtransactions. The real problem in the disucssion is that since microtransactions have been used badly by vidogames, folks have a strong negative reaction to them, even when they aren't actually a problem.

Microtransactions become a rip-off if they impact game play - if the basic way to "win D&D" would be to pay WotC a continuing stream of small chunks of money.
Alot of what gets sold as cosmetic microtransactions now would have been content that was freely added to the game before selling microtransactions got popular. In most long running franchises you can actually see this trend - where cool suits and equipment skins were available as part of the game itself and then in the next version they suddenly put them behind a microtransaction paywall.

The reaction you are seeing from most people is them realizing big mega corp is screwing them over with microtransactions, even the cosmetic ones. They just do a terrible job of communicating that. There are more issues around microtransactions than pay 2 win. It's just pay 2 win is the easiest to see and complain about offender. There's no realistic path for pay 2 win on VTT, but that doesn't mean all the other microtransaction issues go away.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
You will be able to "report" people on the OneVTT for badwrongfun. Guaranteed...
Maybe if they have a find-games service, similar to Roll20. But even then I doubt they'll kicks DMs off it for not allowing certain player options.

As for games not using any WotC game-finding service. Nope. There will be no reporting mechanism in the VTT to report "bad DMs." They don't have it in D&D Beyond, why would they have it in the VTT? Why would they want to take on the very unprofitable and goodwill-destroying roll of refereeing their customers' private games?

You really think--you GUARANTEE--that WotC will allow a player to report that their DM won't allow them to play a specific species, class, or use certain feats or spells, or any specific option whether microtransaction or core to the base game...AND that WotC is going to cancel that DMs subscription?

Yeah, I'll happily bet against that not happening. Would agree for you and I to both put money into escrow on this bet.
 
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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
These won't be 3PP, they will be 1PP. And people will expect to be able to use what they buy from WotC in a service owned and operated by WotC, and their $$ will trump the DM if there's a conflict. As a (blech) publically-traded company, Hasbro/WotX has to bow to the greed of their shareholders.
How?

Sure, I doubt they are going to code in a mechanism where a DM can ban certain functionality.

Are they going to force me to accept any player into my game? DM's won't have a choice over who can and cannot play in there games? Because so long as I have to invite someone into to my game, as long as I can remove people from my game, then the players expectations are going have to adapt to the preferences of the DM and other players.

If anything, it will be the opposite. The VTT will likely have a few toggles to certain rules, like how you deal with encumbrance, milestone v. XP leveling, whether certain variant rules will be used. But beyond that, it will be up to the D&D and other players to agree on how they want to run their games. And if the group decides, "no annoying" minis or skins that don't fit with our campaign, then enforcing that is as simple as not allowing anyone who refuses to comply with that preference into their game.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yeah, I'll happily bet against that not happening. Would agree for you and I to both put money into escrow on this bet.

Mod Note:
No. Don't go there.
You are attempting to "win" a discussion on the internet. That's not a great way to have good discussion on the internet. So, please stop. Accept that you two disagree, and move on, without trying to force the issue, please and thanks.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I think Hasbro is referring to this four quadrant model.

https://www.somametrics.com/four-quadrants/

I'm pretty sure not. The four quadrants for this purpose are TTRPG, TV/Movie, Videogame, and Merch, as noted by others upthread, IIRC.

Despite the angst here, I think the "undermonetized" comment really applies to how little is being done with media, computer games, and merch.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I'm pretty sure not. The four quadrants for this purpose are TTRPG, TV/Movie, Videogame, and Merch, as noted by others upthread, IIRC.

Despite the angst here, I think the "undermonetized" comment really applies to how little is being done with media, computer games, and merch.
I think that the 4 quadrant model mentioned by @Jason Criscuolo can be mapped to the categories above.
 



The VTTs could be a buble. One-D&D should allow other type of modes, for example the classic fantasy wargame, or a skirmish PvP. Other idea is the mode "computer-DM" where the players are the heroes in a quest created previously by other, and the DM is the computer AI.

The marketing strategy has to be realistic. If you want the brand to be known and popular, then don't kill the goose of golden eggs. Don't ask too much. The players also have to pay bills and taxes.

* If they are going to launch to the market LEGO D&D... why not D&D Playmobil also?


 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
The VTTs could be a buble. One-D&D should allow other type of modes, for example the classic fantasy wargame, or a skirmish PvP. Other idea is the mode "computer-DM" where the players are the heroes in a quest created previously by other, and the DM is the computer AI.

The marketing strategy has to be realistic. If you want the brand to be known and popular, then don't kill the goose of golden eggs. Don't ask too much. The players also have to pay bills and taxes.

* If they are going to launch to the market LEGO D&D... why not D&D Playmobil also?


Online VTT play across the internet might wane, but I doubt it will ever fade without the development of something like those startrek teleporter commuter station doorways that sometimes show up. In person VTTs
1671202315291.png


Checking that map, that room is 20x50. Touchpoints show me where PC minis are so I can move the FoW clearing token under them but we've mostly switched over to just using the digital tokens & just using touch to indicate locations like "I move here" since then.

If all of those printed terrain battlemats & physical terrain bits have managed to stay around for so many years then physical in person "hybrid" VTT use should too. The biggest hurdle for it is the current lack of off the shelf tabletop tv+touch overlay sensor. Making a tvbox like that one is not hard if you have some tools* like a saw & drill along with bit of knowhow or willingness to cross your fingers but it can be a high bar for some.


*I even used shelving brackets as corner pieces for ease & stability!
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
American here, and the public charter school my kids go to basically have uniforms (because it is public, they can't make you buy from any specific company, but have very specific dress code rules that have the same result, just choice of vendor). I'm a bit sceptical that it does much to eliminate jealousy, bullying, or feelings of inadequacy. Kids are going to know who comes from wealthier families. It isn't like the school can dictate where families vacation, what cars the parents drive, what families spend on birthdays, etc. Mostly, it makes enforcing any kind of dress code much easier for the school. (Most) parents like it because it makes clothing your kids much easier (and cheaper--you don't have to be poor to appreciate not spending a lot of money on children's clothing).

But I find this weird to use as an analogy for TTRPGs. Perhaps a specific group of friends might institute a rule so nobody has to feel pressured to spend a lot just to join the game. But arguing for banning certain types of luxury gaming supplies in the name of egalitarianism is misguided. Real world societies that have pushed that have attempted to enforce that level of egalitarianism would like have banned the entire hobby as a privileged luxury.

Just pointing out that these luxury items do have an impact on others.

The school system here was a larger cultural thing and generally Americans are more obsessed with money. Bit different here.

That's had fliw on effects on society for example. These items also raise expectations as there's videos on YouTube so it has flow on effects.

Personally I don't care to much if you buy all that stuff but I don't think the impact is 0 on others.
 

Belen

Adventurer
Always assuming the worst is getting old.
Not really. This is what a lot of folks feared when they took over DDB. They will micro transaction it as much as possible.

They have also, effectively, cut out Amazon and other discounters as well as the FLGS as you can now buy the books at full price with an extra fee to get the digital version. It just makes sense to buy the books direct.
 

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