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Is D&D Entering a New Golden Age?

Sales of the hobby game market are on the rise, with tabletop role-playing games increasing along with other tabletop games. With a new Wizards of the Coast CEO in place who values Dungeons & Dragons as much as Magic: The Gathering and a movie on the horizon, we're starting to see signs that D&D is doing very well indeed.

[h=3]The Hobby Market is Doing Well[/h]ICv2 reported that the hobby market is hitting eye-popping numbers:
Sales of hobby games in the U.S. and Canada topped $1.4 billion in 2016, reaching $1.44 billion, according to a new estimate compiled by ICv2 and reported in Internal Correspondence #92. That’s a 21% total growth rate over 2015, with rates of change ranging from 17% for the slowest-growing category to 29% for the fastest-growing. Growth rates were pulled higher by more rapid growth of hobby games in the mass channel, especially in collectible, board, and card & dice games.
Of those categories, collectible games grew the most, followed by hobby board games and role-playing games. Role-playing games increased the most, by 29%, from $35 million to $45 million. Of the top five RPGs, Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition and Pathfinder retained their first and second position, respectively.

Ancillary RPG markets are doing well too, like non-collectible miniatures. Non-collectible miniature sales were up from $175 million to $205 million, a 17% increase. Star Wars X-Wing led the charge, followed by Warhammer 40K and D&D's Nolzur's Marvels Minis, high-quality unpainted miniatures produced by Wizkids.

Unsurprisingly, Hasbro is benefiting from this bump.
[h=3]Hasbro's Games Are Doing Well[/h]Hasbro topped $5 billion in revenue for the first time:
Net revenues for the full-year 2016 increased 13% to $5.02 billion versus $4.45 billion in 2015. Excluding a negative $61.0 million impact from foreign exchange, 2016 revenues increased 14%. As reported net earnings for the full-year 2016 increased 22% to $551.4 million, or $4.34 per diluted share, compared to $451.8 million, or $3.57 per diluted share in 2015. Adjusted net earnings for the full-year 2016 were $566.1 million, or $4.46 per diluted share. Adjusted 2016 earnings exclude a pre-tax $32.9 million, or $0.12 per diluted share, non-cash fourth quarter goodwill impairment charge related to Backflip Studios. Adjusted full-year 2016 net earnings compares to 2015 adjusted net earnings of $445.0 million, or $3.51 per diluted share, which exclude a pre-tax gain of $9.6 million from the sale of the Company's manufacturing operations in East Longmeadow, MA and Waterford, Ireland.
Hasbro gaming increased by 23%, reflecting the hobby games market trends:
Hasbro's total gaming category, including all gaming revenue, most notably MAGIC: THE GATHERING and MONOPOLY, totaled $518.7 million for the fourth quarter 2016, up 11%, and $1,387.1 million, up 9%, for the full year 2016. Hasbro believes its gaming portfolio is a competitive differentiator and views it in its entirety.
Note that last sentence. Hasbro experienced a decline in Magic: The Gathering sales, and it's likely the leadership team was eager to share other good news in its gaming segment. That would turn out to be beneficial for D&D.
[h=3]D&D is Doing Well[/h]Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner did something unusual -- he mentioned Dungeons & Dragons on an investor call. For years, D&D has been overshadowed by Magic: The Gathering's success when Hasbro reported out Wizards of the Coast's wins to investors. The shout-out alone on the Q1 investor call says something about D&D's success:
I also am very happy to see very strong growth for brands like DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and Duel Masters. So, the team at (46:34) has gone to a new storytelling modality for MAGIC and, obviously, impacted the quarter. But they've also done some very good work around DUNGEONS and storytelling and in engagement with that audience. So overall, I would expect that our face-to-face gaming business will continue to perform at a high level and the team's done an absolutely stellar job at both the social media oriented games, as well as some more of our classic games.
Hasbro seems to have a renewed interest in what they term "face-to-face" and "social" games, thanks to its launch of the Hasbro Gaming Crate that focuses on getting people to play together -- a staple of D&D. This is of course Wizards of the Coast's specialty. Investors are noticing.

Jim Cramer on Mad Money led the segment with an old D&D commercial and mentioned the RPG along with Star Wars as brands that allow Hasbro to "bring imagination to life." Cramer interviewed Goldner, who had some nice things to say about D&D:
...and our games business, a raft of great games. Dungeons & Dragons up 50%, Monopoly was of course up, and then of course Magic: The Gathering was up. So great strength in games, 6% growth, 20% growth in the gaming category overall...both Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons are on our Twitch programming... Dungeons & Dragons did a very special Twitch channel that they launched with the fans. We've had millions of views on Twitch around Dungeons & Dragons. We're seeing the brand really in resurgence.
So what does this mean for the future of D&D?
[h=3]The Future of D&D[/h]D&D's demographics have shifted, according to the Daily News, with more female and older players:
While Wizards of the Coast, which manages the D&D franchise, won't share sales figures, reps tell the Daily News that Millennials (ages 25 to 34) presently make up the largest group of D&D players, followed closely by those aged 35 to 44 and 18 to 24 — and up to 30% of these gamers are girls.
The success of Pathfinder, the Old School Renaissance, mainstream fantasy media, and the nostalgia of gamer kids reaching the 35 to 44 age range in creative fields like movies and television is likely a major factor in the renewed interest in D&D. Todd Kenreck explains on Forbes:
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won 11 Oscars in 2004. 16 million people watched the premiere of season 7 of Game of Thrones this year. A serious interest in cinematic fantasy storytelling has steadily reached a fevered pitch and with the game D&D itself seeing a tremendous resurgence, this the perfect time for a Dungeons & Dragons movie or series that puts acting and story first. Like comic books before them, D&D the role-playing game is filled with stories, art, characters and world building that have been largerly left unused by television or film...The game has had impact on so many of the writers, actors, directors and show-runners making television and film today that is might not be a matter of if, but when.
Will Joe Manganiello pull off a film that does D&D justice? A confluence of events -- the rise of social gaming, nostalgia for D&D, and the increasing accessibility of the D&D brand thanks to live streaming -- might be the perfect time for him to pull it off.
 
Last edited:
Michael Tresca

Comments

mach1.9pants

Adventurer
Man I hope the DnD film is good, there is so so much potential for mega bucks from good DnD films. Even if it means a Drizzt trilogy.
 

Chuck Ocenasek

First Post
With recorded play like Critical Role and Titansgrave. We are beginning to see RPGs pushed to new groups beyond the typical beck beardy types that use to represent the game. With this inclusivity comes more money and popularity.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
There's definitely a confluence of factors. WotC did a really good job with 5E; media interest has helped mainstream the hobby; WotC has marketed (and continues to to market) 5E very well outside the existing player base; and geek media is now mainstream anyway - superheroes, Game of Thrones, etc, plus - as mentioned above - all those geek gamer kids from the 80s are now running things. It all combines. A strong D&D movie (if that's possible!) would be wonderful.
 



Aldarc

Legend
There's definitely a confluence of factors. WotC did a really good job with 5E; media interest has helped mainstream the hobby; WotC has marketed (and continues to to market) 5E very well outside the existing player base; and geek media is now mainstream anyway - superheroes, Game of Thrones, etc, plus - as mentioned above - all those geek gamer kids from the 80s are now running things. It all combines. A strong D&D movie (if that's possible!) would be wonderful.
Yeah. D&D is undoubtedly also benefiting (by extension) from what some are describing as a board gaming renaissance.
 

Most likely. Gaming is more popular than it’s been in ages. But I think the term Golden Age also comes from the experiences of the people involved. Which is why a lot of times we don’t recognize our Golden Ages until they’re past. As awesome as gaming is, here and now, it’s hard to match that against when I was a kid, gaming with friends, back in the day. But all nostalgia aside, I think we are in a wonderful place for gaming, and it will hopefully just get better and better from here.
 


"While Wizards of the Coast, which manages the D&D franchise, won't share sales figures, reps tell the Daily News that Millennials (ages 25 to 34) presently make up the largest group of D&D players, followed closely by those aged 35 to 44 and 18 to 24 — and up to 30% of these gamers are girls."

Sigh. And as we work to get more female gamers into the hobby, we still have media calling adult women "girls".

And on topic, I think the game started to enter this new "golden age" shortly after the three core books released almost three years ago and everyone realized 5E was selling way more copies than expected.
 



ArchfiendBobbie

First Post
I hope that the DnD film does very well. It may help our game a lot.

But, yeah. I think we're in a new golden age.

Sigh. And as we work to get more female gamers into the hobby, we still have media calling adult women "girls".
This is likely to never go away, sadly. Or if it does, it'll be replaced with something worse.

I agree with you on the books.
 

TerraDave

5ever
Hobby games are doing well, as games. Though I do look forward to Eurogame the Movie, I hear the meeples are great.

In all seriousness, the D&D movie is more of a threat then an opportunity.
 

silentdante

First Post
if they can succeed at making a Conan the Barbarian type of D&D fantasy movie and not a Lord of the Rings type of fantasy movie, i think it could do well. just a great little group sword and sorcery movie with a "main" character as a focus but all the group fleshed out.
 

if they can succeed at making a Conan the Barbarian type of D&D fantasy movie and not a Lord of the Rings type of fantasy movie, i think it could do well. just a great little group sword and sorcery movie with a "main" character as a focus but all the group fleshed out.
Just be very, very glad that they did not use the idea behind the new Jumanji movie for a D&D movie.
 

As good as D&D is doing, I still miss and think 3.0/3.5 was the best edition in terms of rules, and in terms of fluff, 2nd Edition will always be the best. I feel like 5e is...extremely too light on all sides. Rules and fluff.
 


I hate terms like "Golden Age" and "New" is even worse.

That said, I think D&D and gaming in general is reaching mainstream acceptance like never before, and part of what goes along with that is success.

So, yes :)
 


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