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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Oofta

Legend
But how is it negative to suggest that D&D is being sold, or might be? Is it supposed to imply that it's "damaged goods" because they did the wrong thing with the game?

I think the negativity comes from those who think WOTC is doing a poor job of supporting D&D, or that it would be a better game if HASBRO weren't involved. Throw in a general distrust of large corporations who's missteps generally get far more attention than missteps from smaller companies. D&D is a big target because it's popular for a TTRPG so people are going to hate on it just because it's big.

You get people to click both who agree with the haters, and people who disagree who simply get outraged. It's a win-win for the person speculating and by and large a lose-lose for the general public.
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Not really the point I was making though.

If you are going to sell a business, the best time to sell that business is when that business is riding at it's highest. You never want to sell a business that's failing. So, all these folks who talk about how D&D is failing so, it's in danger of being sold off, really don't have a clue what they're talking about.

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.
Putting the sarcasm aside, this isn’t as astute as you might think. The analogy is off.

The business is Hasbro, and D&D is an IP. You might sell Hasbro (or shares thereof) when it’s riding high; but you don’t divest it of your best performing asset while keeping the underperforming remainder to flounder.

So yes sell a company when it’s riding high. Make a profit. Gut your company when it’s low, and you end up with no company.

Selling D&D would not be an astute move at this time.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Putting the sarcasm aside, this isn’t as astute as you might think. The analogy is off.

The business is Hasbro, and D&D is an IP. You might sell Hasbro (or shares thereof) when it’s riding high; but you don’t divest it of your best performing asset while keeping the underperforming remainder to flounder.

So yes sell a company when it’s riding high. Make a profit. Gut your company when it’s low, and you end up with no company.

Selling D&D would not be an astute move at this time.

Contradicted yourself there D&D is riding high so your own post its a good time to sell.

There's no guarantee OneD&D or VTT will pan out. They might hope that.

Probably means if they did sell it would be st said crazy price.

I don't think they are selling it. Youtube drana is exactly that generally treat unsorted youtube stuff as opinion.

Storm in teacup anyway. Original rumor was clearly signposted as opinion.
 


Kannik

Hero
Hasbro tends to be an IP black hole. They very rarely let an IP go once they have hold of it. Even if it's an IP they don't care about and have zero plans to ever use again, they'll hold onto it and refuse to sell just to keep anyone else from having the rights.
And this isn't just common to Hasbro; it's not uncommon for companies to hold onto IP rights tightly even if the thing is languishing into obscurity. As a longtime fan of FASA's Renegade Legion, and someone who hosted/ran the mailing list for a long time, every couple of years someone would seek out to find who had the IP and speak to them to license or buy the IP rights. Every successive company that has owned it has not been willing to entertain the idea one iota.

It may not be valuable now, but it might be in the future, or it might prevent a competitor in the future, or some other rationale (I am not business-adjacent, so others with actual expertise and experience please chime in), and so unless (again, my take on it) you've got an offer that is astoundingly large that would nearly guarantee no regrets later on they're not even willing to consider it.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Putting the sarcasm aside, this isn’t as astute as you might think. The analogy is off.

The business is Hasbro, and D&D is an IP. You might sell Hasbro (or shares thereof) when it’s riding high; but you don’t divest it of your best performing asset while keeping the underperforming remainder to flounder.

So yes sell a company when it’s riding high. Make a profit. Gut your company when it’s low, and you end up with no company.

Selling D&D would not be an astute move at this time.
It might be for the shareholders and the execs, all of whom would make a windfall from the sale and could then move on. Why would those people care what happens to Hasbro after that?
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Read it properly.

I did the big fish is MTG.

If WotC got a stupid price for D&D I coukd see them selling it. MtG is probably selling Hasbro itself.

As long as you used that money to generate more money than what you think D&D will earn.

Personally I wouldn't buy D&D for what they would likely want. Opportunity cost essentially.
 

Remathilis

Legend
This debate reminds me that most people here do not have perspective to what the D&D brand is worth. On the one hand, everyone is up in arms about how much D&D(TM) has control over the RPG space (to the point D&D is used synonymously with other d20 or even RPGs in general) but on the other hand they think D&D has almost no brand recognition outside the game stores and hobby shops they frequent. Even before 5e's latest wave of popularity, the brand was known for an 80's cartoon and toy line, three mediocre movies, and a score of popular video games. Let alone its recent popularity with a cult-classic movie, Stranger Things references, and streaming.

Hasbro might be dumb, but they are not stupid. They are aware that even if D&D is a bit player compared to their other brands, there is NO reason to give any of that leverage away. At the very least, even if the RPG game disappeared tomorrow, they could sell T-shirts, mugs, and novelty pins with the name on it for perpetuity. Furthermore, there is almost no dollar amount that Hasbro could be tempted by to sell the brand that is synonymous with RPGs to the larger world just so THEY can reap the benefits of selling t-shirts, mugs, and novelty pins with the brand on it. Put another way, Jell-O might not be the biggest seller in Heinz's collection of brands but be damned if Heinz would sell the name to any other company to capitalize off of the fact the world calls gelatin desserts "Jello".

There isn't any amount of money that would make Hasbro willingly part with the brand, and any company willing to put up the kind of funds that would make Hasbro consider giving up a lifetime of residuals on T-shirts, mugs, and novelty pins isn't the kind of company that would have the brand's best interest at heart. (No way a company like Paizo could afford it).
 

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