Well, sadly it was bound to happen. It happened right after the 3e launch too. Wizards announced an innocuously-worded “organizational alignment” the other day. It turns out that a number of people have gotten the axe including Mike “Gamer Zero” Lescault and Linae Foster, D&D Licensing Manager. More to come I’m sure. (P.S. Scott Rouse says they’re still making headway on a GSL revision despite this.)
In other WotC news, I’m a little concerned that Wizards is being referred to by Hasbro as their “digital strategy.” In the Hasbro Q2 2008 earnings call, they only mentioned Wizards thus: “During the quarter, we continued to invest in our digital strategy, including the Wizards of the Coast initiative and building our business with Electronics Arts.” Conspiracy theories about them looking to sunset traditional pen & paper D&D with an ‘electronic’ revenue stream may commence.
This is mildly complicated by Wizards’ Senior Manager of Technology PMO flipping out and murder-suiciding his wife. Sad, and with the recent closing of Gleemax too, seems like there’s a lot of flux at the moment. Hasbro seems to be leaning on the digital angle heavy but will they be able to execute in this environment?
What does this all mean? Jeez, I dunno, but I’m guessing chaos + turnover doesn’t bode well.
I’m shocked! Mike and Linae getting the boot! I thought they were going to concentrate on the main brands!
This is really bad times at Wizards, with having so many things going on in just the past 3 months since the release of 4E.
In a strange sort of way it kind of makes sense. We’ve all been speculating about the impact Hasbro will have on WotC and the D&D brand, and this may be it. I hate to say it but we could see the end, or the metamorphosis of D&D. No brand can maintain top position forever and this may be the time for a new system to rise up and fill the big gun’s shoes.
I mean if the whole digital strategy thing is true and works to eliminate D&D as a PnP game someone has to fill the void. Perhaps that is why so many people in the industry jumped on the Pathfinder/3.75 bandwagon. Maybe they know something is up and are preparing for it. There were hints dropped by numerous insiders that 4e was coming, even when WotC said it wasn’t. Maybe it is simply one of those things no one is talking about, but are sure will happen. I mean a corp. like Hasbro doesn’t care what D&D is or what it represents, they are only worried about how much money it can bring in.
While I personally would hate to see this happen, I can see their point. If you can make D&D into an all encompassing game (minis + roleplaying + internet) then you stand a better chance of expanding your customer base to people who don’t want to sit around a table rolling dice. The brand expands and could potentially sell way more than if it stayed in its current niche.
I’m not agreeing with this, it is only conjecture and speculation anyway, but I can see where it would make good business sense. One of the criticism people have had with WotC is the fact they have not tried to expand their customer base, bring in new players and make the game more visible. This could be the change a lot of people have asked for, but not in the way they wanted.
I completely expect D&D to be in the hands of another company within 10 years. Hasbro may still own it and have off shoot games, such as the minis and board games etc, but someone else will lease and control the “old school” game. I just don’t see roleplayers putting up with too many changes to the brand. Gamers are resistant to change as it is, and I think there will always be a demand for the table top version. I also think this will be the driving force behind the success of Pathfinder and we will see the increased popularity of other systems.
When I saw the press release those are a few of the things that came to mind. Then again I could be waaay off base, and hope I am.
My thoughts and heartfelt opinion about this here,
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Yeah, it seems like a bit of FUD – the announcement makes it sound like they’re cutting other areas to focus on D&D, but at least two of the cuts are D&D (not to mention the other recently opened spots).
There’s the slim chance these aren’t “layoffs” per se but more “firings” – licensing and community are, frankly, two areas where WotC has been sucking the most. Though if that were true they would have fired half the marketing department as well. If these are layoffs that bodes ill (the difference for the uninitiated is that when you fire, you get rid of a person but not the position – when you lay off, you get rid of the position). “We need to focus less on having a good online community and on a good licensing scheme” is not something a sane WotC should say given the circumstances.