D&D maker worried more about recession than OGL controversy’s impact on business
Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks is confident the company can recapture angry and upset players.
Dungeons & Dragon’s ultimate owner, the toy giant Hasbro, expressed little concern over what effect the OGL fiasco would have on its business in 2023. Discussions during February 16th’s fourth quarter 2022 earnings call were more concerned with recession effects than any ire expressed by players or creators.
That doesn’t mean the earnings call was free from the shadow cast by Wizards of the Coast’s botched attempt to update its Open Gaming Licence, the legal framework individuals use to publish D&D-related tabletop RPG material. Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks admitted in his opening statements that the company “misfired” on updating the OGL but has since “course corrected”.
“We are dedicated to working collaboratively with the community, gather feedback and build experiences that inspire players and creators alike,” Cocks said during the call.
Cocks told investors the rash of D&D Beyond subscription cancellations amounted to a “comparatively minor” loss for Hasbro. Fans exited the digital toolset and resource library en masse as a form of protest against what seemed like an overly corporate handling of D&D’s future, but Cocks was confident Wizards of the Coast would easily recapture the lost subscribers. In fact, the launch of Baldur’s Gate 3 and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves were highlighted as the main pillars of growth for the tabletop fanbase in 2023.
All of this was preamble to a fiscal quarter where Hasbro performed below its estimation, though the company still managed to rake in $1.68 billion in revenue for Q4, allowing the company to close out 2022 with $5.86 billion in net revenue. Cocks and chief financial officer Deb Thomas laid the missed mark at the feet of recessions in both the US and Europe, two of Hasbro’s largest markets, along with continued supply chain disruptions and paper shortages that caused a few awkwardly cramped months in Magic: The Gathering’s 2022 release schedule.
Cocks further admitted that Hasbro were “too aggressive” on pricing their Magic: The Gathering 30th Anniversary pack, a $999 reprint of the trading card game’s first boosters that could not be used in tournament play. Players complained this meant the exorbitant box was no better than proxied cards, a reaction not helped by a dismal pre-order experience plagued with technical issues and low stock. Cocks hinted that the company “pulled back on available supply”, perhaps in response to the public’s sour reaction to the ‘celebratory’ product.
Regardless of foibles, tabletop continued to perform as one of the strongest horses in Hasbro’s brand stables. Profits in this section rose 12%, largely due to strong Magic: The Gathering releases - a line often repeated during these calls, along with accolades that MTG is still on track to become Hasbro’s first billion-dollar brand.