Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast confirms new physical products of the world’s most popular tabletop roleplaying game will have a significant price increase. And some fans are not happy.
Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS) and its subsidiary Wizards of the Coast (WotC) have been accused of overmonetizing its popular IPs Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. But the higher ups have taken a stance that these brands are undermonetized and assured investors this will be addressed. Dungeons & Dragons, in particular, has received a large marketing and multimedia push with a recent live action film and upcoming television projects, including a 24/7 free streaming, ad-supported channel.
Could the price increase adversely impact the D&D brand? Some TTRPG fans feel this way.
The community update was posted on the D&D Beyond official website and shared on the company’s social media channels like Twitter.
As part of our efforts to be more transparent about decisions affecting you, we want to give you a heads-up about changes coming to our new release print books.
— Dungeons & Dragons (@Wizards_DnD) May 23, 2023
According to the announcement, the decision to implement the price increase is made to balance out the cost of publishing with the high quality D&D fans expect from their products:
Since the release of the 2014 D&D core rulebooks, we’ve kept book prices stable. Unfortunately, with the cost of goods and shipping continually increasing, we’ve finally had to make the decision to increase the price of our new release print books. We’re committed to creating high-quality products that deliver great value to our players and must increase our prices to accomplish that.
The first D&D Fifth Edition product that will reflect this price increase will be Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants. However, digital releases of products will not have a price increase, nor will backlist titles. Still, the company does add the disclaimer that this may not be a permanent status quo:
Digital pricing is unaffected by this MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price) increase, as digital products don’t need to be printed or shipped. The increase also doesn’t impact backlist titles. While we can’t promise that there will never be a change to the prices of digital products and backlist titles, we have no plans to increase either.
Dungeons & Dragons fans on the Reddit r/DnD thread pointed out the price-vs.-content disparity. One of them compared the price of Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants to the earlier released Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons.
The upcoming Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants book has 192 pages priced at $69.95 for the standard price. On the other hand, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons is $59.95 for the digital + physical bundle with 224 pages. Some fans have pointed out that this is evidence that not only is WotC increasing the price, but also giving "less bang for your buck".
But while there are critics and pundits that find the price increase of Dungeons & Dragons products to be predatory, other fans have a more reasonable response. In the aforementioned r/DnD Reddit thread, some have pointed out that inflation is a significant factor to the price change. Additionally, these fans mention how Wizards of the Coast are only increasing prices now, when they could have done so even earlier during the height of the pandemic as supply chains were largely affected. Plus, raising the prices today would not only be reasonable, but practical to line up with the increasing prices of paper products.
Regardless of the logical (and perhaps necessary) reasons for the price increase of Dungeons & Dragons physical products, it comes with arguably bad timing. Wizards of the Coast and parent company Hasbro has been under the critical microscope of both fans and third party creators of the D&D brand. The Open Gaming License controversy is still fresh in the minds of the TTRPG community.
And while the unpopular plans for OGL 1.1 and OGL 1.2 have mostly been abandoned, the negative impact is still being felt, not the least of which is the boycott of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves that affected its box office performance. Time will tell if the long term impact of these price increases will adversely effect the Dungeons & Dragons brand as it heads to its 50th anniversary in 2024 with an updated Fifth Edition ruleset under the One D&D promotion.
The Dungeons & Dragons supplement Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants bundle pre-order is currently available for $59.95 on the official store, to be shipped starting August 15, 2023.