D&D General WotC Founder Peter Adkison On Hasbro's Layoffs

"Layoffs, when handed poorly ... are failings of character."


Peter Adkison, who owned Wizards of the Coast until it was sold to Hasbro in 1999, oversaw the relaunch of Dungeons & Dragons with D&D 3rd Edition. Today, he commented on this week's round of Hasbro layoffs, which have ripped through WotC. Adkison left WotC in 2000 and currently runs a production company called Hostile Work Environment.

Like many of you, I'm saddened to learn about the layoffs at Hasbro.

Caveat: I have no idea of what’s happening behind the scenes at WotC. If you’re asking who’s at fault, or to what extent it was or was not justified, that’s outside the scope of my knowledge. This post is about my own reflections.

When I read about the layoffs at Hasbro my immediate feeling was shame. Shame for when I did the same thing, at the same company (WotC, before we sold it to Hasbro).

I have made lots of mistakes, tons of them, more than I can even remember. And while I regret those mistakes, and I’m sad for those hurt, I realize it’s part of learning and it’s part of being human.

But layoffs, when handed poorly, or when they are unnecessary, aren’t just mistakes. They are failings of character. Those times when I had a failure of character, those are the moments that haunt me.

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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I have a friend who, after many years of building a company from a single-person operation into a well-respected brand in its space, routinely working six days a week, for 10 hours a day, finally sold the company after 20 years. The company was quickly turned into a hollow shell of itself and after the guaranteed period that the former employees would be retained ended, they started getting whittled down.

My friend deserved his rest (and his payday), but once he sold it, he no longer had any control over his creation in any way.

It's a no-win situation.
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Doing the best imitation of myself
I wrote about this already, but the sad truth is the people who are responsible for the issues that WotC and Hasbro in turn are having aren't the ones being laid off. WotC made some really bad choices, choices that sent shockwaves through the tabletop industry and hobby, and the people who were busy trying to make a great game are the ones we are seeing let go. And that's maddening to me. I hope everyone who's affected is able to quickly find a new home, but I know that people who work in creative fields are always thinking about this kind of thing. I don't think I have a reputation on these boards as a hugging sort of guy, but: all the hugs in the world to everyone who's feeling this. And I will be buying the great products you are a part of next so I can help out in a small way.

Baseless insults about industry professionals.
When the WiiU failed, instead of mass layoffs, the CEO of the company refused to take a bonus, and cut his own wage by 50%, and the rest of the executives took no bonus abd took a pay cut too.

That is what intergity and honor as a boss looks like.

At least Peter has remorse and regrets, perhaps effecting how he sleeps at night sometimes, I bet Chris Cox with his huge undeserved bonus sleeps easily at night, morally to torment him at all sadly.

He's a man without honor, without integrity, without humanity, he could have made personal sacrifices to at least reduce the layoffs, instead his fat bonus is nice and safe, protected by the unwilling sacrifice of those in his power.

And Chris Cox is not unique as a CEO and that is a massive problem.


I’ve had to lay people off and I’ve had to fire people. I’d much rather fire someone than lay them off. Layoffs feel impersonal and are often done for purely corporate reasons. At least when I’ve fired people I’ve fired for cause. Layoffs just feel icky, even if I understand the reasoning behind them at times.

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