Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS), the parent company of the world’s most famous tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons, has acquired D&D Beyond for a whopping $146.3 million in cash.
The D&D Beyond digital toolkit was previously owned by Fandom, which it also acquired from Curse LLC in 2017. Since 2018, D&D Beyond has become the most popular digital tool used by tabletop roleplaying game fans of the Dungeons & Dragons system. As it is specifically designed to handle the 5th edition D&D rules, it has been a must-have for modern D&D players and Dungeon Masters alike.
What does the Hasbro acquisition entail for the future of D&D Beyond and its 10 million plus user base? Check out the details below for more.
D&D is big business
Wizards of the Coast, popularly known as WoTC or simply Wizards, made a name for itself with Magic: The Gathering and the Pokémon Trading Card Game, its acquisition of TSR and the Dungeons & Dragons IP cemented its status as the tabletop gaming icon. It was eventually acquired by toy giant Hasbro in 1999.
Dungeons & Dragons has been synonymous to roleplaying games since the 1970s. Aside from the tabletop version, it has found equal success in video games such as Baldur’s Gate and Dungeons & Dragons Online. It has been ingrained in pop culture through references in The Big Bang Theory and Netflix's Stranger Things, among many others.
After a brief misfire with the much-reviled Fourth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, WoTC found renewed success with 2014’s Fifth Edition. Since then, D&D has gained a massive share of the profit returns for Hasbro. By 2021, 72% of Hasbro’s operating profit can be attributed to WoTC and the D&D franchise.
Fandom, on the other hand, is best known for hosting pop culture wikis online. Whether it is popular IPs like Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and DC Comics, Lord of the Rings and Magic: The Gathering, to obscure and cult fandoms of B-Movies and Teletubbies, there is a Fandom wiki for it. The line of business branched out to digital apps when it acquired the D&D Beyond toolkit in 2018.
D&D Beyond provides useful references and tools for players and referees (aka Dungeon Masters). Aside from the official rulebooks, it also provides users with character sheets, character builders, monsters and spell listings, Twitch interactivity, and tools for creating homebrew. It also provides the option to purchase official WoTC content a la carte, rather than a full buyout, discounting the price of the full version if it is bought later. D&D Beyond also serves as a news and information platform for announcements, original videos, interviews, and other updates for its user base.
As an official licensed partner of Wizards of the Coast to work with the Dungeons & Dragons brand, D&D Beyond has become extremely lucrative. Although the mobile app itself and many of the basic tools are free for all, purchasing the digital versions of the D&D books through D&D Beyond would be priced as much as the printed versions.
Exciting news Beyonders - we are leveling up! D&D Beyond is formally joining @Wizards_DnD and we are so excited to start this new adventure!
🎉 Learn More Here: https://t.co/QJoF9imlN7
— D&D Beyond (@DnDBeyond) April 13, 2022
As Hasbro reported regarding the profits of D&D Beyond for both companies since 2019:
Over the last three years, the royalty paid to Hasbro by D&D Beyond has represented a significant contribution to the fastest growing source of revenue for Dungeons & Dragons.
Given that Wizards of the Coast posted earnings of over $1 billion in 2021, this would have been very substantial indeed. In fact, while many companies suffered major losses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hasbro is one of the few that showed significant growth, alongside Games Workshop (through its Warhammer brand). The massive increase in interest for tabletop gaming during the lockdowns can be attributed to this surge in popularity and revenue.
Big things in store
Hasbro Chief Executive Officer had this to say about the buyout of D&D Beyond:
The acquisition of D&D Beyond will accelerate our progress in both gaming and direct to consumer, two priority areas of growth for Hasbro, providing immediate access to a loyal, growing player base. Hasbro's gaming portfolio is among the largest and most profitable in the industry, and we continue to make strategic investments to grow our brands, including in digital.
CEO of Fandom, Perkins Miller, echoed this sentiment. Miller had this to say regarding the future of both the D&D Beyond platform and Fandom:
This is the perfect next step for the talented D&D Beyond team, who built a transformative digital product that engaged and delighted millions of D&D fans around the world. We can't wait to see what this team will do next as an integral part of the D&D franchise, and I look forward to investing in more brands and products to super serve Fandom’s 300 million+ global fans.
Meanwhile, President of the Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming branch of Hasbro, reiterated the goals of continuing the vision of what D&D Beyond was intended to do:
D&D Beyond has been one of our most valuable partners in the digital space for the past six years and we’re excited to bring their best-in-class talent onto our team. The team at D&D Beyond has built an incredible digital platform, and together we will deliver the best-possible DUNGEONS & DRAGONS experience for players around the world.
How will the purchase affect current customers?
Per the official Wizards of the Coast announcement, all purchases made by the 10 million global users of D&D Beyond will be retained. All records of characters, campaigns, and other content will continue to be supported.
There are future plans to increase the interaction of digital content on D&D Beyond and other partnered services such as Fantasy Grounds and Roll20. A full standalone VTT (Virtual Tabletop) is also being discussed. It is clear that Hasbro is looking at strengthening its position as a market leader for online tabletop roleplaying, continuing to promote Dungeons & Dragons as the brand associated with this form of recreation for geeks and casual fans.
As approved by both Hasbro and Fandom’s Board of Directors, the purchase of D&D Beyond will take effect and close during the second or third quarter of 2022.