DnDBeyond.com is one of the most widely used digital toolsets for the ubiquitous tabletop roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons, and up until a few days ago it was owned by Fandom. A breaking press release from Business Wire has confirmed that Hasbro, the parent company of Wizards of the Coast, which owns Dungeons & Dragons, is in the final days of talks to acquire DnDBeyond.
The press release says that the “strategic acquisition… 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.” The website has about 10 million users, and was bought for nearly $US150 ($208) million in cash. This purchase was spurred on by the fact that “over the last three years, the royalty paid to Hasbro by D&D Beyond has represented a significant contribution to [their] fastest growing source of revenue.”
It’s no surprise that the pandemic has set up DnDBeyond as one of the most valuable un-owned pieces of the digital Wizards of the Coast Bundle. The press release states that as of 2021, 80% of D&D fans have played the game virtually. That number is likely set to increase as virtuable tabletop, or VTT services, become more accessible and easier to use.
On one hand, I can see how acquiring DnDBeyond could be a good thing for players — Fandom had to pay a lot of money to Wizards of the Coast to get their product on their site. If WotC owns DnDBeyond outright, they might offer some kind of cross capability with digital products across multiple sites, toolkits, and VTTs, making the capital barriers to gameplay less excruciating.
But also the uniform consolidation of digital tools under a single company’s banner is not good for competition and therefore, causes the player to have fewer options for gameplay. Although WotC was able to indirectly determine the price of their products on the Fandom-owned DnDBeyond, it’s now even more obvious where the money is going. If fans still have to pay two or three times for a module, class, or item description across both WotC products and DnDBeyond, it’s unlikely to create a sustainable market.