Dungeons & Dragons maker Wizards of the Coast has hired Dan Rawson as the tabletop game’s senior vice president.
Rawson’s position is a new one created as part of Wizards’ plans to apply more resources to the digital side of D&D. He was formerly the COO of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and, according to a press release, “brings decades of leadership in strategic business, e-commerce, and product management.”
Hasbro purchased digital toolset D&D Beyond earlier this year, signalling then its ambitions to move its mega-popular tabletop RPG-as-lifestyle brand into a position where parent company Hasbro could capture more of the online audience. Wizards of the Coast president Cynthia Williams said the company is “accelerating” this process, though how that might look from players’ sides remains to be seen.
“Leading D&D is the realisation of a childhood dream,” Rawson said. “I’m excited to work with Cynthia once again, and I’m thrilled to work with a talented team to expand the global reach of D&D, a game I grew up with and now play with my own kids.”
Virtual tabletops have bloomed in popularity over the last few years - household name Roll20 posted record numbers through the COVID-19 pandemic as RPG tables turned to browser-based solutions during lockdown. There’s also been ">several new platforms rising to notability, such as One More Multiverse, Foundry, Astral and Fantasy Grounds.
Dungeons & Dragons recently announced that it would be moving into this space with its own official virtual tabletop, showing off luscious models and fully realised 3-d environments (or, at least, terrain-based versions of them). It’s clear Wizards of the Coast wants any tools players use to play D&D online to be owned by them, as much as possible. And if the response to One D&D's initial playtest is any indication, the game's audience is larger than it's every been.
How Rawson will influence this digital future is a big unanswered question. Will Wizards of the Coast introduce new subscription models around their suite of online tools? How will they sell digital books in a world where rules editions no longer exist? We could be seeing the beginning of D&D as a live service tabletop RPG, matching Hasbro’s insistence on franchising its biggest brands as much as possible.