Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One Size Fits All Marketing at WOTC?

The Hasbro quarterly conference call transcript is up again. As usual, no mention of D&D. However, they gushed about Magic and the digital thing they are doing with it, and how its driving revenue and profits.

In the Q&A section


they say this:

Brian Goldner

David will talk about the sales in Magic in a second. But just to talk about the core brand reinvention, a couple of years ago, we changed the management team. We have great leadership out on the West Coast. The team had really re-thought that business entirely, really went back out after a trial mechanism in getting young people and people who may have lapsed as users to get back into the brand. They really reinvented the entire play pattern in many ways, but kept the things that were always important to the core player and to the fan. The fruits of that effort are starting to come to be borne out, both in the analog card business as well as the digital business. So I really compliment the team for their efforts in – this is a true case of brand reinvention, re-imagination, all yet keeping the core methodology very consistent for that core fan. Dave, you want to talk about sale?

John Taylor - Arcadia Investment Corporation

Before Dave goes, I wonder if I could get you to expand on the digital versus analog thing there. Are you using the digital as much of a revenue generator? If so, is that a key growth driver or is that mostly more marketing-type thing?

Brian Goldner

No. It's a for-sales product. You can build your hand, your deck online. You can buy and you are buying. People are buying digital objects, which are the cards. You have the opportunity if you want to turn those digital objects into analog cards and have your deck delivered to you, but it's really both in terms of growth and usage. Certainly, quantitatively, there is still more business in the analog card business, although digital has grown as has analog. It's a bit of a difference; you're seeing more new users using the analog or paper-based cards whereas you tend to see more lapsed users who have moved away from their friends, they've set up their own lives and they are now reengaging with other lapsed Magic players online because of course, digital helps you to span those distances between friends.

There's more about it, but that's the meat of it, and the site only allows you to copy up to 400 words for use elsewhere.

Anyhow, it occurred to me that if you took out Magic and substituted D&D in there, it would read the same as what we've been hearing out of them in terms of their digital initiative and the reasons for it.

Which makes me wonder, did they actually develop a marketing strategy for D&D separate and independent from Magic? Or, since Magic is so huge that D&D is just a pisshole in the snow compared to it, did they just slap Magic's marketing strategy on top of D&D in order to save resources, citing certain similarities between the customer base (and ignoring differences in the games themselves).

I know it sounds stupid, but as anyone who has worked in a large corporate environment can attest to, it sounds like something a boneheaded corporation would come up with, doesn't it? After all, the revenue streams are so low from D&D compared to Magic, who would notice in terms of overall sales from the "west coast" as they are described above? In the meantime, you saved money and resources in not having to come up with an individualized marketing plan for a product. Short term, you look good, and long term you're covered since the mother ship doesn't care about D&D anyhow, and the growth in the main product will grow revenue for the division anyhow.

Also, I wonder if they will move towards a more print on demand basis in the future, as they are doing with Magic. If they are following the same marketing plan, we'll see it happen I bet.

Edited to add:

I don't play 4e, and am hardly familiar with the system. But people who are just posted this:

"Probably our biggest concern is compatibility. Will all of the stuff coming out in Essentials be compatible with stuff I already have? Every word from WOTC says “yes” and I imagine they’re right.

At least, it’s as compatible as the rest of 4e is right now.

That’s a statement with some subtext so let me clarify. 4e has changed a lot over the past two years. The mechanical design we see in later books is quite different from the design we see in the early releases. For DM’s, I think these design changes are clearly seen when comparing monsters at the paragon tier and above across all three Monster Manuals. I’ll talk more about this in a bit. For players, it’s seen clearly in the huge number of updates to the core classes and powers in the original Player’s Handbook.

The core classes today are very different from those in the original Player’s Handbook. The recent change to Magic Missile is one such example.

The one thing keeping players sane is the Character Builder. Because it’s constantly updated, we don’t have to worry too much about keeping up with all of the updates. Of course, it makes us look at our core rulebooks and wonder why we bother to carry them around. I know I’ve stopped doing so. I might as well be bringing a Laura K. Hamilton hardback for all the good they’d do me at the table."

From here:


So, with books being outdated after 2 years, and the true source located online, why publish books? Just print what you need, when you need it. Is this the future?