As the parent company of Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast, global toy company Hasbro already has a pretty big stake in the world of tabletop RPGs. The company seems to be investing more heavily in D&D, as it was announced in a press release on Wednesday that Hasbro will acquire D&D Beyond, the digital companion site to the TTRPG, from its previous owner Fandom.
Entertainment-focused wiki hosting service Fandom has owned D&D Beyond since 2019. Hasbro reportedly paid $146.3 million / £112.5 million in cash to acquire D&D Beyond, a move which the press release says “will further strengthen Hasbro’s capabilities in the fast-growing digital tabletop category while also adding veteran talents to the Wizards of the Coast team and accelerating efforts to deliver exceptional experiences for fans across all platforms”.
D&D Beyond is a service with “close to 10 million registered users” that hosts digital versions of D&D books, as well as character creator capabilities and encounter generators. The D&D Beyond website and app also offer the ability to easily search for monsters, spells, and rules – and create homebrew content for D&D games. Before the acquisition, D&D Beyond paid royalties to Hasbro to use Wizards of the Coast’s content. This, according to the press release, “represented a significant contribution to the fastest growing source of revenue for Dungeons and Dragons”.
The acquisition will reportedly need to receive “certain regulatory approvals” and “customary closing decisions” before the agreement is finalised, but Hasbro predicts that this will occur in the second or third quarter of 2022. So far, the acquisition has been approved by both Hasbro and Fandom’s Board of Directors.
“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,” said Chris Cocks, Hasbro Chief Executive Officer (and previous Wizards of the Coast President). “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.”
The press release claims that the acquisition will “deliver a direct relationship with fans, providing valuable, data-driven insights to unlock opportunities for growth in new product development, live services and tools, and regional expansions”. “As part of Wizards, the brand’s leadership will soon be able to drive a unified, player-centric vision of the world’s greatest role-playing game on all platforms.”
The press release highlights the significant digital opportunities in Dungeons and Dragons’ future. Coupled with this acquisition, it seems increasingly likely that digital features will have a part to play in D&D 6E, which is set to drop in 2024.
“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,” said Cynthia Williams, current President of Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming. “The team at D&D Beyond has built an incredible digital platform, and together we will deliver the best-possible Dungeons and Dragons experience for players around the world.”
The announcement comes not long after Hasbro refused to spin off Wizards of the Coast into a more independent entity – despite claims from an activist investor that Wizards is “significantly undervalued within Hasbro”. Hasbro already announced in February that Wizards’ other major tabletop property Magic: The Gathering had its best year ever financially in 2021.