WotC Hasbro's CEO Reports OGL-Related D&D Beyond Cancellations Had Minimal Impact

Hasbro held a quarterly earnings call recently in which CEO Chris Cocks (who formerly ran WotC before being promoted) indicated that the OGL controversy had a "comparatively minor" impact on D&D's revenue due to D&D Beyond subscription cancellations. He also noted that D&D grew by 20% in 2022 (Magic: the Gathering revenues grew by an astonishing 40% in Quarter 4!) WotC as a whole was up 22%...

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Hasbro held a quarterly earnings call recently in which CEO Chris Cocks (who formerly ran WotC before being promoted) indicated that the OGL controversy had a "comparatively minor" impact on D&D's revenue due to D&D Beyond subscription cancellations. He also noted that D&D grew by 20% in 2022 (Magic: the Gathering revenues grew by an astonishing 40% in Quarter 4!)

WotC as a whole was up 22% in Q4 2022.

Lastly, on D&D, we misfired on updating our Open Gaming License, a key vehicle for creators to share or commercialize their D&D inspired content. Our best practice is to work collaboratively with our community, gather feedback, and build experiences that inspire players and creators alike - it's how we make our games among the best in the industry. We have since course corrected and are delivering a strong outcome for the community and game.
 

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Companies try to maximize profits. You can call that greed if you want, I call it business as usual.

I call it greed because it is greed, especially when it is carried out in this fashion. That you simply accept them doing it doesn't really change what it is. It's just a refusal of acknowledgement.

I'm not excusing the OGL 1.1 or .2 in any way, shape or form. It was a bone headed move. Was it motivated by a profit incentive? Of course it was.

Yeah, and I feel like this is hard to hold if you think it was just an ignorant mistake but that them trying to destroy the 3PP wasn't intended. It makes more sense if they were trying to get all the profits they could that they would see the 3PP market as something they could fully bring under their control.

As far as shutting down all 3PP, there is zero evidence that was ever their intent. There were posts that claimed both that WOTC wouldn't write anything new, just copy other people's work. Simultaneously, all 3PP was going to be shut down. That is what I was referencing.

I don't really get where those comments come from, but even those comments aren't really contradicted by the idea that they wanted to destroy 3PPs because when you take them out of the equation, you don't need to copy anybody anymore.

Really, there is more proof of intent in their actions that they wanted to wreck up and basically vassalize the whole 3PP market around D&D than the alternatives because the conditions in 1.1, 1.2, and the VTT Policy are as such that it basically demands it. Why destroy the OGL if you don't want to take full control of everything around you?

It really feels like a lot of people want to avoid the whole "intent" question because it makes it harder to go back to how things were before, because once you try and decipher intent, only the worst ones really remain.

I don't blame companies for wanting to make a profit. I just think there's a lot of assumptions that HASBRO is evil just because they're a big company.

I think that being a big company doesn't necessarily make you "evil", but how you choose to go about making your profits definitely does. In this case, carelessly hurting a lot of people for no real gain and pissing everyone off just to try and drive a few bucks into your hand definitely comes across as "evil" of the "neutral" variety.
 

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EthanSental

Legend
Supporter
The moment when you know that further dialogue is unlikely to be productive. I wish you well, but I encourage you to consider the possibility that other perspectives exist and can also be valid.
Good point and reminder cause I walk that fine line of hitting “ignore” but want to stay open to listening to others points of views so it’s not the classic echo chamber. It’s all in how the viewpoint is presented and how it’s comes off while reading replies.

As far as dropped subscribers, if, big if, it’s 50k at master tier of $5 a month and no one did re-up, that’s 3M in yearly revenue. I didn’t look to see the WoTC revenue numbers in the call….anyone know what it was? I was just curious if that worst case 3M as % of the total.
 
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If WotC could increase their profits by 20% at the cost of nuking the market and forcing 70% of companies out of business, that would certainly be a necessary action for WotC.
No, it would not be "necessary". All actions are choices. Even publicly owned companies have choices, and let's not have anyone repeating facile myths about them always having to do the most short-term profitable thing by law - that's complete bollocks.
 

And the pedantically correct but totally irrelevant response for this particular thread goes to .... wait for it .... Ruin Explorer!!! 🎉
Thank you!

Normally I'm handing out that prize so it's good to receive it for once! Now I'd like to thank my parents, Mr and Mrs Explorer, AO for creating the Forgotten Realm in which we dwell...
Did I say it was an "innocent error"? No. I said the decision was made by clueless management. Which ... yes ... probably includes multiple people.
I'm aware - that was directed more at other people in the thread.

My point is that this wasn't a plan to squash 3PP. It could have easily been based on poor judgment, dismissing people who knew better.
It doesn't really matter if the plan was to crush 3PP if the action they were suggesting would have crushed 3PP. It just illustrates ignorance/stupidity on the part of the people involved if there's a bunch of unintended fallout.

Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they were cackling like a villain in a bad movie, plotting how they're going to somehow crush every other TTRPG in existence. But given Occam's Razor between that and corporate incompetence? I'd bet on incompetence.
There's no reason it can't be both incompetence and some degree of desire to actively damage other businesses which might be characterized as malice. I've worked in corporate environments too and I've seen them go hand-in-hand a number of times. Indeed, malice I think can easily lead one into incompetent decision-making modes, rather than vice-versa.

Personally I think logic dictates that we keep an open mind on whether it was purely idiocy (which suggests a real level of recklessness that is arguably more dangerous than malice), purely malicious (unlikely in the the extreme - it does happen, but it's become rare in modern business), or some mixture of both. I'm certainly not making any specific claims as to the mix.

Actions speak louder than words, though, and they pulled back from the brink and in fact turned a 180 and moved in the opposite direction. I genuinely applaud them for that! But I remain, and I think reasonably, concerned that they could ever have gotten into the position they did. Especially as Kyle was clear that something D&D Shorts said was true - that WotC had been planning this for a long time, this wasn't something cooked up just recently. That they were going for such a terrible idea even with many months or even years of planning is astonishing and speaks to a very odd culture, which has hopefully been laid to rest again for another 10-15 years. It last emerged, imho, with the idiocy around 4E and particularly the original, poison-pill GSL. I guess we should start being concerned again when D&D's 60th comes up!
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
As far as dropped subscribers, if, big if, it’s 50k at master tier of $5 a month and no one did re-up, that’s 3M in yearly revenue. I didn’t look to see the WoTC revenue numbers in the call….anyone know what it was? I was just curious if that worst case 3M as % of the total.
WotC overall is over $1.5 billion, and Magic is over $1 billion of that. So, 1-3% for D&D, worst case, maybe?
 


BlueFin

Just delete this account.
It really feels like a lot of people want to avoid the whole "intent" question because it makes it harder to go back to how things were before, because once you try and decipher intent, only the worst ones really remain.
Thank you, a perfect way to describe it. The whole "intent" question is one of those "inconvenient truths" and it's easier just to try to ignore it. Unfortunately I think those that don't want to ignore it seem to be in the definite minority now. People think they have the outcome they want and now just want to forget, but I can't help feeling that there is more to come, albeit probably not for a couple of years when everything has settled and 1D&D and wotc's VTT come out. When people like Kyle Brinks say words like "there aren't any plans to do xyz", it is perfect politician speak and I personally take that as an admission that there may not be now, but there sure will be later. But yeah, I'm cynical.
 


EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Thank you, a perfect way to describe it. The whole "intent" question is one of those "inconvenient truths" and it's easier just to try to ignore it.
It's also incredibly difficult to actually prove intent, or even make more than vague speculations at it. There's a reason intent is required for a large number of both criminal and civil legal cases, e.g. defamation, murder, etc. Given we have nowhere near the resources or data available to us that would be available in a proper court proceeding, yeah, I can't say I blame anyone for deciding not to bother with the intent question. It has nothing to do with treating it as an "inconvenient truth," and everything to do with it's just not worth the effort for pure speculation.

Better to focus on the tangible wrong done. And, if evidence should arise that does in fact indicate intent, all the better.
 

BigZebra

Adventurer
I call it greed because it is greed, especially when it is carried out in this fashion. That you simply accept them doing it doesn't really change what it is. It's just a refusal of acknowledgement.
This feels a bit detached from the world. All companies are "greedy". Acting like WotC is special in this regard is strange. I am sure if you look at the companies from which you buy stuff in your daily life, you will find companies being much much more greedy than both WotC and Paizo.
Paizo and WotC show their greed in various ways. Paizo's pay for artists and freelancers are known to be quite low in the industry. Why? Because of greed. WotC show their greed in other ways. I am not sure one is "better" than the other. Why? Because they are both companies. Granted WotC is a publicly traded one of the sort (or part of one anyway), and thus their greed might be more open and clear (which actually might not be a bad thing IMO).
Obviously you do yo and fight "the battle". But if what you want in life is to push back on greedy companies, there are much much much better places to spend your time than the company that makes a dragon game (cloth companies, Apple, etc.). I know you can be concerned about more than one thing in life, but man it feels so "partisan" and PF-fan like mentality.
 
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