Hasbro Reportedly Looking To Sell ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ IP Amidst Continued Financial Struggles, Chinese-Owned Tencent Among Interested Buyers

A dragon lights a village ablaze in Dungeons & Dragons' The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons (2023), Wizards of the Coast
A dragon lights a village ablaze in Dungeons & Dragons' The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons (2023), Wizards of the Coast

[UPDATE: On February 7th, Hasbro released an official statement denying the below rumor. The original story follows below.]

According to a new report, Hasbro’s ongoing financial woes have gotten so bad that, in a desperate attempt to generate cash, the toy manufacturer has taken to shopping around the Dungeons & Dragons IP to any and all potential buyers – a leading candidate of which is the Chinese-owned entertainment conglomerate Tencent.

An undead Knight of the Rose, revived after a Death Dragon's Cataclysmic Breath, screams in fury in Dungeons & Dragons Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen (2022), Wizards of the Coast
An undead Knight of the Rose, revived after a Death Dragon’s Cataclysmic Breath, screams in fury in Dungeons & Dragons Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen (2022), Wizards of the Coast

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News of both Hasbro’s intent to sell the grandfather of all tabletop gaming and Tencent’s interest in taking it off their hands was first brought to light on January 29th by the China-based financial news outlet Speed Daily.

Per “people familiar with the matter” who allegedly spoke to the outlet (as translated via DeepL), negotiations between the two entities over the rights to D&D are currently “still in the early stages”, with both sides having “yet to agree on the details of the deal”.

Uriel shields Asteria from a baby Cockatrice in The Deck of Many Things (2024), Wizards of the Coast
Uriel shields Asteria from a baby Cockatrice in The Deck of Many Things (2024), Wizards of the Coast

As to the history behind these negotiations, said sources recalled that Tencent was brought to the table by way of Baldur’s Gate 3 developer Larian Studios, in which the Chinese conglomerate owns a minority stake.

One of the first entities approached by Hasbro to take D&D off their hands, Larian Studios ultimately had bow out of the running for its purchase due to “insufficient funds”.

However, in ostensibly recognizing just how massive of a boon such a large IP could present to any given company’s portfolio, rather than walk away from the offer completely, Larian Studios instead kicked it up to Tencent, who in turn agreed with the developer’s read of the deal’s potential and moved to make it happen.

Dame Aylin (Helen Keeley) embraces her aasimar powers in Baldur's Gate 3 (2023), Larian Studios
Dame Aylin (Helen Keeley) embraces her aasimar powers in Baldur’s Gate 3 (2023), Larian Studios

RELATED: Bank Of America Market Analyst Warns Hasbro’s Greed Is “Killing ‘Magic: The Gathering’”

To this end, a source within Tencent Interactive Entertainment Group (the company arm responsible for managing their video game, esports, and overseas operations) told Speed Daily that the company has already “come forward to conduct consultations with the intention of taking a series of rights, including the rights to adapt D&D video games.”

“Tencent currently holds a lot of top IP game adaptation rights,” they elaborated, as recapped by Speed Daily, “but because most of the authorization model is not a one-time buyout, resulting in Tencent not only need to bear the high copyright fees and long-term revenue sharing, but also often in the research and development and operation of the partner’s constraints.”

A mage harnesses the power of lightning on Magali Villeneuve's cover to Dungeons & Dragons Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica (2018) Wizards of the Coast
A mage harnesses the power of lightning on Magali Villeneuve’s cover to Dungeons & Dragons Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica (2018) Wizards of the Coast.

As noted above, Hasbro’s supposed decision to sell the most iconic tabletop gaming property of all time comes amidst an ongoing collapse of the company’s finances.

In 2019, the toy manufacturer’s stock price hit a record high of $123.67 USD and remained firmly above $90 USD throughout most of the year.

And though the company’s value suffered an unsurprising drop in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it took only seven months (March – October) for it to climb back up past the $90 USD line.

But now, following the company’s hard turn to appealing to ‘wider audiences’ in recent years – as seen in their moving to ensure D&D materials offend absolutely no one, actively rejecting Power RangersSuper Sentai roots, and allowing identity politics to run roughshod across Magic: The Gathering – their stock, at the time of this article’s writing, sits at just $48.95 USD.

Hasbro’s stock price, with a marker placed on its all-time high point - as of January 21st, 2024 via Bloomberg
Hasbro’s stock price, with a marker placed on its all-time high point, as of January 21st, 2024 via Bloomberg

Offering recognition to these financial struggles during the company’s Q3 2022 earnings call, Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks recapped to investors, “We’re continuing to see the Wizards of the Coast business performing well, particularly the Magic: The Gathering business, which year to date is up 5%, whereas the general games category are down as low as much as negative 8%, depending on which source you look at.”

Touching upon the subject a year later in their Q3 2023 earnings call, the company’s Chief Financial Officer Gina Goetter admitted, “Total Hasbro revenue of $1.5 billion was down 10% versus last year.”

“The impact of the broader toy category declines has had a change in our consumer products and total Hasbro outlook,” she further detailed. “Based on this, we now expect total Hasbro, Inc. revenue to be down 13% to 15%.”

Five adventurers, one of them a sorceress, examine the corpse of a Red Dragon in Dungeons & Dragons Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen (2022). Art by Kieran Yanner.
Five adventurers, one of them a sorceress, examine the corpse of a Red Dragon in Dungeons & Dragons Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen (2022). Art by Kieran Yanner.

As of writing, neither Hasbro, nor Tencent, nor Larian Studios have offered any official word regarding a potential sale of the D&D IP.

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