Wizards of the Coast’s parent company, toy maker Hasbro, announced the purchase of D&D Beyond from Fandom for $146.3 million in cash. The digital toolset for the one of the most popular tabletop RPGs in the world, along with the team who develops and manages it, will become an in-house asset once the deal is finalised.
Hasbro announced its plans in an April 13th press release, saying the purchase 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.” Though both Fandom and Hasbro have approved the deal, it won’t be final until Q2 or Q3 of 2022.
D&D Beyond first launched in 2017 as a way to access character sheets, campaign notes and information from the physical rulebooks via computers and mobile devices. It has since become a popular tool for assisting online play through virtual tabletops such as Roll20. Wizards of the Coast said the continued surge in online roleplay informed this purchase.
“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. Another paragraph in the press release attempts to further explain the value D&D Beyond brings to Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro by knocking the middle actor from between the company and its consumers.
“The strategic acquisition of D&D Beyond 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,” it reads.
Fandom acquired D&D Beyond from Twitch through its Curse subsidiary in 2018, where it positioned the platform as a third-party seller of Dungeons & Dragons supplements - adventures, core rulebooks and special bestiaries. A blog post released concurrently with the announcement assuaged immediate fears from players that they would need to purchase those books all over again.
Big news to share! D&D Beyond will become part of the Wizards of the Coast family! You’ll continue to have all of the tools, features and content you know and love from the heart & home of Dungeons & Dragons. More to come – excited to join the party!— D&D Beyond (@DnDBeyond) April 13, 2022
“We have no plans to stop supporting D&D Beyond,” the post reads. “The purchases you’ve made, the characters you’ve created, and the campaigns you’ve run aren’t going anywhere.”
Despite its popularity, D&D Beyond was not perfect. Forcing players to purchase a book twice just to use it on the digital app has been a longtime frustration, and many have already expressed a desire to see Wizards of the Coast bundle a redeemable D&D Beyond code in physical copies. Beyond that, plans for how pricing models and available features for the services’ different might change aren’t yet clear.
Hasbro said D&D Beyond had “close to 10 million registered users” at the time of sale, and other publishers - including the Fandom-owned Cortex - have increased their investment in digital RPG tools. At the same time, Roll20’s userbase doubled since 2020 and independent designers are turning to companies such as One More Multiverse to provide unique online components for their own titles.