Podcast #279: Hasbro Layoffs and D&D's Future

Morrus, PJ, and Jessica discuss the Hasbro layoffs and how they affect Dungeons & Dragons and the RPG industry as a whole

This week, Morrus, PJ, and Jessica discuss the Hasbro layoffs and how they affect Dungeons & Dragons and the RPG industry as a whole. In the news, Baldur’s Gate 3 advent calendar, rumors of a Baldur’s Gate TV show on Netflix, Paizo and TYPE40 kickstarting a Wayfinder Compass replica, and more! Plus a brand new sketch about the Four Horsemen of the Modern Apocalypse.

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News

Kaz the Minotaur comes to 5e for his 35th anniversary https://www.enworld.org/threads/kaz-the-minotaur-comes-to-5e-for-his-35th-anniversary.701565/

Nominations for Most Anticipated RPG of 2024 are open https://www.enworld.org/threads/nominate-your-most-anticipated-rpg-of-2024.701616/

The MCDM RPG on Backerkit https://www.backerkit.com/c/projects/mcdm-productions/mcdm-rpg

Paizo and TYPE40 announce launch date for the Wayfinder Compass high-quality prop on Kickstarter https://www.enworld.org/threads/pai...date-of-wayfinder-compass-kickstarter.701610/

Legacy of Worlds and Adventure League New Season https://www.enworld.org/threads/an-...cy-of-worlds-and-ddal00-14-proxy-hunt.701566/

Baldur’s Gate 3 Advent Calendar https://advent.baldursgate3.game/

EN World thread on the BG3/Netflix show rumors https://www.enworld.org/threads/baldurs-gate-3-live-action-series-talks-at-netflix.701612/

The Electric State on Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1192053011/the-electric-state-roleplaying-game

Games Workshop pay staff £2500 bonus each https://www.theguardian.com/busines...staff-2500-bonus-as-half-year-profits-rise-12

EN Publishing’s Dungeon Delver’s Guide for Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition makes Polygon’s list of Best TTRPG Books of 2023 https://www.enworld.org/threads/dungeon-delvers-guide-in-polygons-best-ttrpg-books-of-2023.701622/

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Hasbro Layoffs

Hasbro laying off 1100 employees – D&D layoffs confirmed https://www.enworld.org/threads/updated-hasbro-laying-off-1-100-employees.701567/

Hasbro Quarterly Reports https://investor.hasbro.com/financial-information/quarterly-results

Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk #272: Blades in the Dark (discusses the Hasbro financial situation following the Q2 2023 report during the news segment) https://morrus.podbean.com/e/272-blades-in-the-dark/

Wizards of the Coast founder and ex-CEO Peter Adkison comments on Hasbro’s layoffs https://www.enworld.org/threads/wotc-founder-peter-adkison-on-hasbros-layoffs.701609/

Sly Flourish on Mastodon https://chirp.enworld.org/@slyflourish/111584330033721946

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Don’t forget to join the Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1033145023517295/ and join us on Discord at https://discord.gg/VAuxX8M

Ask your Listener Question on Twitter, email morruspodcast@gmail.com, or contact us on TikTok at TikTok

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Hosts: Russ “Morrus” Morrissey, Peter Coffey, and Jessica Hancock

Editing and post-production: Darryl Mott

Theme Song: Steve Arnott

Malach the Maleficent played by Darren Morrissey

Check out all the media content from EN World at http://enliverpg.com
 

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott

Abstruse

Legend
I am thinking eventually Hasbro will dump wizards to appease the board, if that 300M isnt made up.
They won't because Wizards is propping up the company at the moment. They're the only profitable division of the company. The reason Alta Fox wanted Wizards spun off is so that shareholders of Hasbro would get shares of the new stand-alone Wizards of the Coast, thus meaning all the profit that WotC's making will go into shareholder dividends and not keeping the lights on for the rest of Hasbro's operations.

Also it's odd to me that Hasbro keeps getting singled out (or the people who don't read past headlines on social media and blaming Wizards of the Coast for the layoffs) for doing this when it's almost every company doing it. Growth must be constant or else the business is dying. Doesn't matter if a company is continuously profitable, it must be more profitable than it was last year or even last quarter. The line must always go up, growth must be eternal. It's what's caused a huge problem for Netflix - By the time of the pandemic, everybody who wanted a Netflix subscription had one so the market was saturated. Without new subscribers, though, the line doesn't go up. So they started raising prices and canceling shows and adding ads to the service in order to squeeze out more profit...which meant that they lost more customers than the new policies got them in profits. Combined with fewer people stuck in their homes so don't feel the need to pay ever-increasing monthly fees for a service they're barely using, it's creating a spiral for Netflix that culminated in the other tactic: Layoffs. Specifically shuttering their entire animation division.

Because it's an easy way to make the line go up. Lay off a bunch of employees and their salaries are no longer on the expenses for future earnings projections. Without their expense but with the projected sales and revenue the same, it makes the profit higher. It's also commonly done during the holidays because it gets those salaries off the next fiscal year's reports. It's not just Hasbro doing this, it's the vast majority of corporations who aren't experience organic growth. And unless something is done to regulate the market to prevent this "Line Go Up or Die" mentality, it's going to keep happening.
 

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darjr

I crit!
I gotta say. It's gotta be some kinda of place to be that the one branch propping up the whole enterprise is awash with it's own serious self inflicted errors. And then to gash wotc with these layoffs on top of it.
 

Abstruse

Legend
I gotta say. It's gotta be some kinda of place to be that the one branch propping up the whole enterprise is awash with it's own serious self inflicted errors. And then to gash wotc with these layoffs on top of it.
I haven't dug too deeply into the numbers, but I think a lot of the propping up is coming from Magic: The Gathering Arena.

The focus on D&D is because the "undermonetized" realization is still stuck in their craw. D&D has brand recognition that companies would do unspeakable things for, but the only real product is the TTRPG which isn't easy to monetize. You can't get eight-figure revenue out of a niche hobby that requires reading multiple 300+ page rulebooks. So they're likely going to keep chasing tie-ins until they find one that sticks (that doesn't require them paying another company...BG3 hit big but they're sharing profits with Larian while their in-house D&D licensed game Dark Alliance 3 faceplanted hard).
 

Superchunk77

Adventurer
I haven't dug too deeply into the numbers, but I think a lot of the propping up is coming from Magic: The Gathering Arena.

The focus on D&D is because the "undermonetized" realization is still stuck in their craw. D&D has brand recognition that companies would do unspeakable things for, but the only real product is the TTRPG which isn't easy to monetize. You can't get eight-figure revenue out of a niche hobby that requires reading multiple 300+ page rulebooks. So they're likely going to keep chasing tie-ins until they find one that sticks (that doesn't require them paying another company...BG3 hit big but they're sharing profits with Larian while their in-house D&D licensed game Dark Alliance 3 faceplanted hard).

2024 "D&D" all hinges on the VTT. If they get the subs, it could do well for a time, but then Hasbro will try to monetize the crap out of it with micro transactions until people get fed up and move on to something else. The lifespan of digital video games like this is pretty short.
 

CommodoreKong

Explorer
2024 "D&D" all hinges on the VTT. If they get the subs, it could do well for a time, but then Hasbro will try to monetize the crap out of it with micro transactions until people get fed up and move on to something else. The lifespan of digital video games like this is pretty short.

Yeah given how impressive the 3D VTT looks I'm sure Hasbro spent a ton on it and they're expecting it to make a lot of money for them, which means a lot of micro transactions.

If the VTT doesn't do well it's hard to say what the future of DND is. I do see them scaling back if that happens.
 

Abstruse

Legend
Yeah given how impressive the 3D VTT looks I'm sure Hasbro spent a ton on it and they're expecting it to make a lot of money for them, which means a lot of micro transactions.

If the VTT doesn't do well it's hard to say what the future of DND is. I do see them scaling back if that happens.
"Scaling back" is what got us 5e in the first place so I'm not particularly worried. The only thing I'm worried about is people proclaiming prematurely that "Dungeons & Dragons is DEAD! Wizards of the Coast FINISHED!" like what seems to be all the YouTube clickbait videos are saying. Mostly because people who don't follow TTRPG news and just play the game will likely eventually catch wind of it, decide D&D is "over", and give up on TTRPGs altogether. Or new players will assume that it's out-of-print and no longer being made so why get involved in a hobby that doesn't have a future? Made worse by, as discussed in the podcast, many people not understanding D&D is just one of many TTRPGs and isn't a generic term for all roleplaying games.

D&D is too valuable a brand for Hasbro to drop support for entirely. Worst-case scenario is being put in a "holding pattern" like in the mid-2010s of releasing just 1-2 books a year just so that there's something going on with the brand the same way Disney and WB just needs some comic book to come out from Marvel and DC so they can mine the IP for movies, video games, licensed material like t-shirts and backpacks and underoos, etc.

It's also highly unlikely they'd sell off the D&D brand because it's potentially worth a lot more money than anyone would reasonably pay for it. Large corporations tend to be much more likely to sit on a product line or brand or IP and do nothing with it just in case they decide to do something with it in the future rather than sell it off to another company who definitely will do something with it.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I doubt that WotC is going to get separated nor closed.
D&D isn't their cash cow - Magic the Gathering is... but D&D is the #2. Both have lots of out-house media.

Either way, the layoffs are a jerk move, oft repeated, but always resulting in fewer hire backs... and more freelancers.
 

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