Wizards of the Coast President Believes Dungeons & Dragons Is "Really Under-Monetized"

Hasbro executives believe that the Dungeons & Dragons brand is heavily under-monetized, with moves being made to expand the game beyond the tabletop roleplaying game bookshelf. Earlier this week, Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks and Wizards of the Coast president Cynthia Williams spoke to investors at a UBS virtual fireside chat. While the bulk of the conversation involved the status of Magic: The Gathering, Hasbro's most popular brand and the subject of recent scrutiny thanks to a Bank of America whitepaper that sent Hasbro stock tumbling, Williams and Cocks also spoke about the value of Dungeons & Dragons and their belief that the game and accompanying brand was a big part of Hasbro's future. 

"D&D has never been more popular, and we have really great fans and engagement," Williams told investors. "But the brand is really under-monetized." Williams pointed to market data from the recently acquired D&D Beyond that showed that Dungeon Masters made the vast majority of purchases related to Dungeons & Dragons, despite making up only 20% of the game's user base. Williams also noted that D&D Beyond would be a critical part of Dungeons & Dragons' future, with the digital toolset powering the next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons. Williams also spoke about D&D Beyond being utilized to "unlock" recurrent purchases similar to add-ons in digital games. We'll note that D&D Beyond has long sold aesthetics and digital accessories, such as digital dice and avatars, and an upcoming Dungeons & Dragons virtual tabletop is expected to bring more ways to sell digital add-ons. 

Cocks added that Dungeons & Dragons had a high brand awareness, on par with that of franchises like Lord of the Rings. However, the brand itself is currently limited primarily to the tabletop gaming realm. Cocks spoke about upcoming plans to expand the franchise with the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie and the AAA Baldur's Gate 3 game as the first steps to growing the brand.

None of this is exactly a surprise to those who follow Hasbro's business closely. Hasbro recently made the conscious choice to scale back the number of "brands" it focuses resources on, with Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering joining other major franchises like Transformers and Peppa Pig. Hasbro has also pushed its "brand blueprint 2.0" business model, which involves growing franchises through a mix of entertainment and product, which become a profitable ouroboros for the company as shows and movies turn into sellable toys and licenses which in turn spurs additional shows and movies into production. 

However, the comments about D&D Beyond and Hasbro actively seeking to spur more sales from non-DM D&D players could point to several additional (and worrisome) possibilities. The most likely solution is for Hasbro to get more Dungeons & Dragons players to buy into the "brand" more, purchasing more t-shirts and collectibles to show off their love of the game. But they could also use D&D Beyond as a way to sell digital exclusives for the tabletop roleplaying game, specifically aimed to get players more invested. One needs only look at the plethora of DMs Guild supplements that add new player-facing rulesets such as Character Classes or new Species as proof that there's definitely room for more playable rules options that aren't tied to a specific rulebook. Even Wizards has released several one-off player supplements, all of which are conveniently available for sale on D&D Beyond. They've also released several free Monstrous Compendium supplements that could be testing the water for future digital supplements of some kind. 

Obviously, Dungeons & Dragons will be a lot more present in 2023, especially after the release of the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie in March.