WotC [Updated!] Hasbro Laying Off 1,100 Employees

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Just announced, Hasbro will be laying off an additional 1,100 employees after laying off 800 earlier this year. Some will be laid off this week, some over the coming months. People affected so far include Mike Mearls, Dan Dillon, Amy Dallen, and others.

CEO Chris Cocks commented that “headwinds we saw through the first nine months of the year have continued into Holiday are likely to persist into 2024”. An email to staff, also published in the Wall Street Journal, said:

While we’re confident in the future of Hasbro, the current environment demands that we do more, even if these choices are some of the hardest we have to make.

I know this news is especially difficult during the holiday season. There is no sugar-coating how hard this is, particularly for the employees directly affected.

The issues appear to largely affect Hasbro’s extensive toy sales business. Various folk working on D&D at WotC have started making statements which indicate that layoffs are happening right now:
  • D&D designer Dan Dillon: “Well. Today was my last day at Wizards. Not sure what's next.”
  • Graphic designer Trystan Falcone: “To everyone at WotC getting cut today & especially my fellow D&D team members: May your talent & passion be recognized and rewarded by the lucky teams that snatch you up. You are irreplaceable. To other studios, we are losing incredible folks. Scoop them ASAP. It’s Hasbro's loss.
  • Dixon Dubow, creator relations: “Words cannot describe. So many talented friends and coworkers, simply gone.”
  • Art director Bree Heiss: “Much to my surprise, it is my last day at Wizards. It was an honor and a joy to work on the games I love with people who have become family. If you know anywhere that is looking for a sassy art director with some mad skills, please let me know.”
  • Senior Development Editor Eytan Bernstein: "Hi folks. I was one of the people laid of during the Hasbro layoff this week. I know of four other people on the D&D team who confirmed they were affected, but I'll leave it to them if they want to post about it. This includes folks on the art, design, editorial, and product management depts., and that's just who I've heard about. I have a giant ball of emotions right now. I haven't figured out my next steps yet. If you know of an opportunity that might be a good fit for me, please let me know. I am open for freelance (or full-time) design, editing, fiction, and inclusivity reviews. If it combines RPGs with education, accessibility, or inclusivity, that's also cool. I freely welcome positive thoughts, hugs, and "you're awesomes!" I don't feel awesome right now."
  • Amy Dallen, DnD Beyond producer/host: "I’m deeply proud of the work I got to do at D&D Beyond and Wizards. Thank you to everyone who played a role in those many good memories. I’m not sure what’s next, but I do hope you’ll continue to support the incredible colleagues who remain, who I’ll miss very much."
  • Larry Frum, senior communicatons manager: "As part of the recent Hasbro headcount reductions, I have been let go from Wizards of the Coast, effective itoday. I cannot tell you how honored it has been to work with the wonderful and talented people at WOTC. Being a part of Wizards was a dream job come true for me when I joined a little over a year ago. It is time to start a "new game" and roll for initiative on my next adventure. Please let me know if you hear of anything where I might be a good fit. Excited by what is next."
  • Mike Mearls--previously senior management on D&D but who has been on the MtG team for a few years now--is also one of the people let go, along with many other people working on the Magic: The Gathering side of WotC: "Yes, I was laid off by WotC. Yes, I am doing fine and excited by what's to come. And yes, I have a pretty amazing circle of friends. I'm going to take a nap then get back to the work of forging the future."
  • David McDarby, game designer on MtG: "Sadly, my position at Wizards of the Coast was eliminated today along with many others due to the Hasbro layoffs. I've absolutely loved working at WotC and making Magic Tabletop/MTGO/MTG Arena the best it can be these past 9 years, and I'm looking for my next opportunity!"
  • Paul Cheon, talent manager: “Unfortunately, I will no longer be working for WotC as I was one of the many that were hit by the Hasbro layoffs. It was an absolute dream to work on the game that I've loved playing for over 20 years. Future is unclear but I may fire up a stream after the New Year!”
  • Rob Sather, D&D Art Manager: “Yesterday was surprisingly my last day of work at Wizards as D&D TRPG Studio's Art Manager. My position was eliminated, nothing to do with performance. Can't even utter a snarky quip or light-hearted anecdote, just feeling gutted.”
  • Other confirmed folks include Chris Lindsay (who created DMs Guild), Liz Schuh (licensing and publishing manager), Natalie Egan, community manager Jesse J Hill, and art director Mike Vaillancourt, Vanessa Cuanan (Associate Systems Administrator), Michael Rexford (Senior Data Scientist), Ellie Lockhart (Analytics Engineer), Jana Hodgins (Technical Producer), Megan Galbraith Donahue (Director of MTG Universes Beyond Creative and Production), Deserae Dawn, (Program Manager), David Hartless (D&D Beyond director), Shay Pierce (senior software engineer).
Chris Cocks’ full email reads as follows:

Team,  

A year ago, we laid out our strategy to focus on building fewer, bigger, better brands and began the process of transforming Hasbro. Since then, we’ve had some important wins, like retooling our supply chain, improving our inventory position, lowering costs, and reinvesting over $200M back into the business while growing share across many of our categories. But the market headwinds we anticipated have proven to be stronger and more persistent than planned. While we’re confident in the future of Hasbro, the current environment demands that we do more, even if these choices are some of the hardest we have to make.

Today we’re announcing additional headcount reductions as part of our previously communicated strategic transformation, affecting approximately 1,100 colleagues globally in addition to the roughly 800 reductions already taken.

Our leadership team came to this difficult decision after much deliberation. We recognize this is heavy news that affects the livelihoods of our friends and colleagues. Our focus is communicating with each of you transparently and supporting you through this period of change. I want to start by addressing why we are doing this now, and what’s next.

Why now?

We entered 2023 expecting a year of change including significant updates to our leadership team, structure, and scope of operations. We anticipated the first three quarters to be challenging, particularly in Toys, where the market is coming off historic, pandemic-driven highs. While we have made some important progress across our organization, the headwinds we saw through the first nine months of the year have continued into Holiday and are likely to persist into 2024.

To position Hasbro for growth, we must first make sure our foundation is solid and profitable. To do that, we need to modernize our organization and get even leaner. While we see workforce reductions as a last resort, given the state of our business, it’s a lever we must pull to keep Hasbro healthy.

What happens next?

While we’re making changes across the entire organization, some functional areas will be affected more than others. Many of those whose roles are affected have been or will be informed in the next 24 hours, although the timings will vary by country, in line with local rules and subject to employee consultations where required. This includes team members who have raised their hands to step down from their roles at the end of the year as part of our Voluntary Early Retirement Program (VRP) in the U.S. We’re immensely grateful to these colleagues for their many years of dedication, and we wish them all the best.

The majority of the notifications will happen over the next six months, with the balance occurring over the next year as we tackle the remaining work on our organizational model. This includes standardizing processes within Finance, HR, IT and Consumer Care as part of our Global Business Enablement project, but it also means doing more work across the entire business to minimize management layers and create a nimbler organization.

What else are we doing?

I know this news is especially difficult during the holiday season. We value each of our team members – they aren’t just employees, they’re friends and colleagues. We decided to communicate now so people have time to plan and process the changes. For those employees affected we are offering comprehensive packages including job placement support to assist in their transition.

We’ve also done what we can to minimize the scale of impact, like launching the VRP and exploring options to reduce our global real estate footprint. On that note, our Providence, Rhode Island office is currently not being used to its full capacity and we’ve decided to exit the space at the end of the lease term in January 2025. Over the next year, we’ll welcome teams from our Providence office to our headquarters down the road in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It’s an opportunity to reshape how we work and ensure our workspace is vibrant and productive, while reflecting our more flexible in-person cadence since the pandemic.

Looking ahead

As Gina often says, cost-cutting is not a strategy. We know this, and that’s why we’ll continue to grow and invest in several areas in 2024.

As we uncover more cost savings, we’ll invest in new systems, insights and analytics, product development and digital – all while strengthening our leading franchises and ensuring our brands have the essential marketing they need to thrive well into the future.

We’ll also tap into unlocked potential across our business, like our new supply chain efficiency, our direct-to-consumer capabilities, and key partnerships to maximize licensing opportunities, scale entertainment, and free up our own content dollars to drive new brand development.

I know there is no sugar-coating how hard this is, particularly for the employees directly affected. We’re grateful to them for their contributions, and we wish them all the best. In the coming weeks, let’s support each other, and lean in to drive through these necessary changes, so we can return our business to growth and carry out Hasbro’s mission.

Thanks,
Chris
 
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mamba

Legend
no it would be smart. If they could make thier VTT popular enough then every third party that wanted to make VTT modules to sell would need to go through them as the most reliable source of fans to purchase them.
I have been saying for a while now that they should open up DDB and their VTT and follow more of a Steam model.

For the VTT they will need to attract enough customers first however, and for that they need to publish new adventures on it themselves, third parties won’t jumpstart it and making existing adventures available is not sufficient either imo

Not sure it will ever get to the point where they stop publishing adventures however. Compared to Steam D&D is a tiny niche, so while Valve basically stopped releasing games themselves, I am not expecting WotC to do so
 
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mamba

Legend
I'm saying they don't make them in house. Have some other people/company make the adventure. Hasbro prints it up and sales it. It's still official D&D stuff they just pay someone else to do it, or however that works.
ah, then I misunderstood. They did that initially when 5e started and the team was small, not sure they will do that again however, why share the profits
 

nevin

Hero
Even if we're going to play the Hollywood Accounting game, do you think people decided not to go to the movie because the druid got to turn into things a fun amount and frequency of times, or the sorcerer had a cool satchel device instead of boring spell components?
My original point was they'd be better off focusing on making money with media and just locking the rules down like all the other HASBRO games. Then in a few years they could release D&D Modern edition, or D&D Cyberpunk edition, just like they do with monopoly. Just enough here and there to keep the physical sales alive while they make the real money on toys and shows.
 

mamba

Legend
My original point was they'd be better off focusing on making money with media and just locking the rules down like all the other HASBRO games. Then in a few years they could release D&D Modern edition, or D&D Cyberpunk edition, just like they do with monopoly. Just enough here and there to keep the physical sales alive while they make the real money on toys and shows.
Not sure locking the rules down is such a great idea, you need to keep the interest alive, and I do not believe that leaving 2024 as is and then doing Modern, Horror, Cyberpunk spinoffs is a great strategy for that, but we will see what WotC will do.
 

nevin

Hero
still a lot of interest in 1st edition, 2nd edition, and 3rd edition. I think most people that play just play what they started with or liked most. Not sure changing the rules does anything but fragment the player base even more.
 

still a lot of interest in 1st edition, 2nd edition, and 3rd edition.
I highly doubt this is a significant percentage of D&D players. I'm sure you personally know players who fall into these categories. Doesn't mean you're a reflection of the player population at large though. Particularly given how much the player base has appeared to expand since the advent of 5E (i.e. all of those players would be part of the 5E player set).
I think most people that play just play what they started with or liked most. Not sure changing the rules does anything but fragment the player base even more.
Some would. Maybe even a lot. I doubt that it's most. Either way, the 5E group is going to be many times larger than the 1/2/3 crowd.
 

mamba

Legend
still a lot of interest in 1st edition, 2nd edition, and 3rd edition. I think most people that play just play what they started with or liked most.
that is definitely wrong, unless most of the players that started before 5e have dropped out altogether

1703787496847.png
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
My original point was they'd be better off focusing on making money with media and just locking the rules down like all the other HASBRO games.
That was the original plan. The one the actually stated. The 'evergreen edition'.

Until someone featured an older version of the game in an instant cult classic and some meddling voice actors made the game cool again and suddenly they had to care about the game part again.
 

nevin

Hero
that is definitely wrong, unless most of the players that started before 5e have dropped out altogether

View attachment 341979
are you really trying to tell me most 1st ed, 2nd ed and 3rd ed players are playing on roll 20? I'm not sure you made any point or actually said anything with this. except that there are still measurable percentages of of pre internet versions of D&D being played on a website. Which doesn't tell me what it tells you obviously.
 

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