Bloomberg Businessweek USA (April 3, 2023)
Год выпуска: April 3, 2023
Автор: Bloomberg Businessweek USA
Издательство: «Bloomberg Businessweek USA»
Формат: PDF (журнал на английском языке)
Количество страниц: 68
Breaking The Curse
With Honor Among Thieves hitting theaters, Hasbro tries to overcome 50 years of Dungeons & Dragons business disasters without enraging its fan base
If only he could make some recent entries in Hasbro’s ledger disappear as easily. In January, following a bout of weak holiday sales, the company announced it would cut 15% of its workforce. By March, its shares were down by more than 40% from the year before. It has suggested to anxious investors that brighter days are coming as it doubles down on one of the most seemingly valuable franchises in gaming, Dungeons & Dragons, the classic tabletop role-playing game, or RPG. “It’s a good time to be a fan,” Cocks says.
On March 31, Hasbro will kick off a D&D blitz, starting with the release of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. It’s a big-budget, CGI-laden spectacle co-produced by Paramount Pictures and Hasbro’s in-house EOne Studio, starring Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez as a couple of wisecracking, world-saving thieves. In August, Baldur’s Gate III, the latest sequel in a popular series of video games based on D&D, is set to go on sale, followed by the release of a live-action D&D TV series being developed for Paramount+. And sometime next year, Hasbro is expected to unveil One D&D, the next iteration of the tabletop game.
D&D, the granddaddy of RPGs at almost 50 years old, has been enjoying a cultural renais-sance. Thanks in part to its starring role in Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things - perhaps the biggest coup in non-product placement-the । game has minted a new generation of diceslinging fans, along with D&D-themed podcasts, Twitch shows and D&D influencers on YouTube and TikTok. Cocks, himself an avid D&D player, says that the traditional version of the game is played by millions of people and that “the bigger opportunity for us” will come from product extensions and new audiences.
Which is a very gentle way of saying that Hasbro needs to finally make some money from the revered franchise. Cynthia Williams, president of Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming, the Hasbro division that operates D&D, told investors at an event in December that “D&D has never been more popular...but the brand is undermonetized.”
Hasbro is now trying to replicate with D&D what it did with its geeky corporate sibling, Magic: The Gathering. It built the fantasy card game into its first billion-dollar brand, thanks in part to an aggressive expansion into mobile gaming, media licensing agreements and ancillary products. Today, Hasbro makes about $4 billion a year from toys, $1 billion from entertainment and $1.3 billion from its Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming division. The company doesn’t break out D&D-specific numbers for investors, but Arpine Kocharyan, an analyst at UBS, has estimated that D&D generates more than $150 million in annual sales. In October 2022, the toy company set a goal of increasing its overall profit by 50% over the next three years, noting that D&D would be “a major growth priority.”
Judging by the game’s history, supersizing D&D’s coffers won’t be a simple quest. The brand has often struggled to live up to its potential, leaving in its wake decades of infighting, litigation and squandered opportunities. And sure enough, just as Hasbro was gearing up to mobilize its zealous fan base for the feature film, it hit yet another self-inflicted snag. For more than 20 years, Wizards had maintained an explicitly laissez-faire system in which anyone was free to use D&D’s basic game mechanics and trappings to create supplementary books, spinoff games and other products catering to fans. In late 2022, though, Hasbro began approaching tabletop gaming companies with a new, more restrictive licensing contract that would seemingly end D&D’s open-source era and replace it with one controlled more tightly by the company...
Hasbro’s Hollywood Fantasy
The Preacher and the Ponzi
Hagerty’s Wild Ride
SOLUTIONS / SMALL BUSINESS
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