I've been surfing around a few game sites this weekend and came across a number of threads and articles about recent announcements at Wizards of the Coast. It's been known for a while that WotC has been losing money; apparently quite a lot of it. In response they didn't renew the Star Wars gaming license and in the Fall they made a major executive change. Not all of the news is positive though, as some very popular franchises seem to have suffered the fate of the fiscal hatchet. Here's a summary of recent events.
October 27, 2010
New President of Marketing
; Jerome Lalin.
He's a former executive at Turbine of all places. I guess it makes some sense that a former MMORPG developer executive would be a good fit at a table top RPG and card game manufacturer - well sort of.
Good news is that Lalin was a big force behind Dungeons & Dragons Online going free to play, so he seems to be marketing savvy.
November 3, 2010
Discontinues work on Heroscape.
I can't find a single press release on the WotC website, but this is what's listed in the Heroscape Wikipedia
On November 3, 2010, Wizards of the Coast decided to drop the game in favor of focusing on their core games: Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. This caused an instant backlash in the Heroscape community, instigating petitions to Hasbro for them to take up the game again and causing others to vow to never buy from Wizards of the Coast again.
I'm not a Heroscape player, but from what I've read there were many fans not happy with the D&D direction WotC pushed the franchise in. Again, there doesn't seem to a WotC press release and a new Heroscape expansion was just published by them in January. The franchise was previously held by Milton Bradley -like WotC, another Hasbro wholly owned subsdiary- so maybe this means it's going back to it's former caretaker.
November 15, 2010
Drops the Magic the Gathering Player Rewards program
This one has upset many a MTG fan, especially those that run the official tournaments and have put in the effort to build affiliated relationships with local game stores. For those not familiar with it, the rewards program involved mailing out a free card to registered participants at special events. Estimates are that the program could have cost WotC as much as $1 million per year. WotC has promised to pass the savings from the program on to LGS's, but many are skeptical. I'm admittedly haven't been a MTG player for years, but I know the community is still very strong in my city. I'm not sure of the wizdom of this from a fan or business perspective. I guess it depends on whether you believe a registered event at an affiliated store gets more in the door, or whether MTG fans will get together for events, official or not. It never hurts giving customer something free though.
All this is being done under WotC's desire to focus on it's 2 core products: D&D and MTG. It'll be interesting to see what happens with the once industry giant over the next few years.