D&D General No, Hasbro Is Not Selling D&D

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I wasn't going to comment on this rumour in article form--despite a 20-page-and-counting thread about it--but it seems some clarification is needed as it's all over social media and the usual click-bait YouTube channels.

First off, Dungeons & Dragons is not being sold. That's the short version.

WotC, including D&D, is Hasbro's most profitable division and, as many put it, it's 'golden goose'. Despite an article on Pandaily being entitled "Hasbro Seeks to Sell IP “DND” and Has Had Preliminary Contact with Tencent"--and much of which is a close copy of a recent YouTube video rumour--buried halfway down the article is the important paragraph:

A Tencent IEG (Interactive Entertainment Group) insider revealed that Tencent, represented by its overseas business department IEG Global, is in negotiations with the aim of acquiring a series of rights including the adaptation rights for electronic games such as DND.

That means they wish to license the D&D IP to make video games. WotC licenses the D&D IP all the time--that's why you see all those D&D lunchboxes and plushies and t-shirts and miniatures and foam dragon heads and, indeed, movies and video games. Licensing an IP is not buying an IP. Modiphius is licensing the Star Trek IP for their TTRPG; Modiphius hasn't bought Star Trek. I published the Judge Dredd TTRPG for a couple of years, but I didn't own the Judge Dredd IP.

Tencent, incidentally, owns 30% of Larian Studios, who made the recent Baldur's Gate 3 video game--under license, of course (Larian didn't buy D&D either). Tencent is a massive Chinese company known for venture capital, social media, mobile games, internet services, and more, and is one of the world's largest companies. Tencent Games is a division of the company. It has stakes in a lot of companies.

So what does WotC have to say? "We are not looking to sell our D&D IP". The following statement was sent to outlets who reached out for clarification:

We regularly talk to Tencent and enjoy multiple partnerships with them across a number of our IPs. We don't make a habit of commenting on internet rumors, but to be clear: we are not looking to sell our D&D IP. We will keep talking to partners about how we bring the best digital experiences to our fans. We won't comment any further on speculation or rumors about potential M&A or licensing deals."

So, to be clear, Hasbro is not selling D&D to a Chinese company. They are in--as always--talks to license their IP to various companies for various purposes, including electronic games, movies, and lunchboxes.
 

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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
the ‘would never sell’ is in the context of ‘for a reasonable price’. If Elon Musk offered them 20B for D&D, they would sell it, they would be stupid not to…
But no one who wants D&D has the money.

That's the context of "would never sell". WOTC has to sell the idea to a buyer.

There is likely only a handful of buyers who WOTC could sell the idea of owning D&D who has the money AND would go through with the sale. And a handful is pushing it.
 

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mamba

Legend
Conversely, the folks who insist that it would be ludicrous and stupid for Hasbro to sell off it's "cash cow" also don't really know what they're talking about.
a company that is selling off the parts that make money while keeping the ones that lose it will not stay in business for long, esp. if only a few do the former… so yes, I feel confident in saying they won’t sell their cash cow.

If they are in a position where they have to sell / close anything to stay afloat, that will happen on the Hasbro side - that or the C-suite making that deal sell off WotC and end up on the WotC side of things as part of the deal, that has happened before (not with Hasbro / WotC, in general)
 

But no one who wants D&D has the money.

That's the context of "would never sell". WOTC has to sell the idea to a buyer.

There is likely only a handful of buyers who WOTC could sell the idea of owning D&D who has the money AND would go through with the sale. And a handful is pushing it.
"So you're saying there is a chance?"

I jest but the same was true with TSR & WotC, and WotC and Hasbro. In neither case were there many potential buyers. I think Microsoft is by far the most plausible buyer for either WotC or just the D&D IP, to be real, especially given Hasbro and Microsoft's relatively close links (most of Hasbro and WotC's upper leadership is ex-MS).

I'm not suggesting they are selling it, just pointing out it's very rare to see more than a handful of potential buyers for a company like WotC or an IP like D&D.
a company that is selling off the parts that make money while keeping the ones that lose it will not stay in business for long, esp. if only a few do the latter… so yes, I feel confident in saying they won’t sell their cash cow.
The issue is it's not a simple binary like that. Hasbro has a lot of IPs and a lot of products. WotC is currently doing pretty well where the others are not. This will probably not continue forever, and if you are going to sell, it's much better if you can get a good price, and thus a big injection of cash into your business (avoiding future trouble), than to have to fire-sale something after it becomes unsuccessful. Sure if you always sell off successful bits that's not a long-term way of operating, but equally "he who dies with the most toys wins" isn't a sustainable strategy either - yet it seems to be the one pursued by some companies - Electronic Arts, for example, which like Hasbro, seems like it would die before selling off an IP.
 

mamba

Legend
But no one who wants D&D has the money.

That's the context of "would never sell". WOTC has to sell the idea to a buyer.

There is likely only a handful of buyers who WOTC could sell the idea of owning D&D who has the money AND would go through with the sale. And a handful is pushing it.
there probably are not a lot of candidates, yes, but WotC is not even looking to sell…

If you offered them crazy money for it, they would probably jump on it, outside of that there currently is no sale to be had
 

mamba

Legend
The issue is it's not a simple binary like that. Hasbro has a lot of IPs and a lot of products. WotC is currently doing pretty well where the others are not. This will probably not continue forever, and if you are going to sell, it's much better if you can get a good price, and thus a big injection of cash into your business (avoiding future trouble), than to have to fire-sale
theoretically yes, but it is not as simple as that either ;)

First off, they have many more brands struggling than not. While some may recover, it is highly unlikely that all will.

Having to revive 10 struggling medium size brands to bring in the money of the one successful large brand you sold off to be able to afford that is a daunting prospect.

This also assumes that D&D has peaked. Given the investment in DDB and VTT, Hasbro does not seem to think so. If you want to buy D&D you will have to buy those parts too, at which point we are entering the crazy money territory as the VTT has cost a lot with nothing to show for yet.

Finally, even once the brands are successful again, their profit margin will be a fraction of D&D’s.

So selling off D&D to then have to manage to save several struggling brands that even at the best of times performed much worse than D&D is just not a feasible approach, especially if your strategy the last few years was to heavily invest in D&D to grow it and that investment has to yet pay off (VTT)

Some years down the line, when everything on the D&D side has played out (2024 core, VTT), who knows. Right now, I very much doubt they would sell (except for crazy money)
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
"So you're saying there is a chance?"

I jest but the same was true with TSR & WotC, and WotC and Hasbro. In neither case were there many potential buyers. I think Microsoft is by far the most plausible buyer for either WotC or just the D&D IP, to be real, especially given Hasbro and Microsoft's relatively close links (most of Hasbro and WotC's upper leadership is ex-MS).

I'm not suggesting they are selling it, just pointing out it's very rare to see more than a handful of potential buyers for a company like WotC or an IP like D&D
The toy and games industry on the big money corp side is down right now.

Entertainment on the uptick is streamable stuff...and D&D.

The market doesn't have the big money buyers like the 90s and 00s.
 


Retreater

Legend
Where is this "AI" argument coming from?

PanDaily is not some new website that just popped out of the ether. It's a regular source for smartphone news, for instance. It's an Asian tech website that's written by people who don't seem to speak English as their first language and who don't publish according to American journalism standards.
IIRC, the story was originally picked up by a company called "Snow Leopard" which has very low journalistic standards and likely utilizes AI to scour the Internet for stories. It created an aggregate story and put it into a somewhat readable format. PanDaily got ahold of it, and the story ballooned to its current state.
 



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