Author Topic: Re: [old and new D&D] Transition of orthodox power  (Read 2087 times)

Troy_Costisick

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Re: [old and new D&D] Transition of orthodox power
« on: October 19, 2013, 03:23:05 PM »

Eero
The events of the very late 1990s and early 2000's are fascinating! Let's see if I have this right - it's more complex than merely a two-step property transfer ...

1. Peter has WotC and acquires D&D and GenCon and much else,
2. at WotC, D20, 3E, and OGL are initiated,
3. Peter sells WotC along with D&D and Pokemon to Hasbro, keeps GenCon,
4. Hasbro produces 3.5e and 4e, (do I have that right? 3.5 was Hasbro?), and
5. a bit later, Paizo produces Pathfinder under the OGL, effectively keeping 3.5e in press.


I know I'm coming late to this, Ron, but I can offer some insight here. 

1. TSR realizes it's in serious trouble and looks for another company to buy it.  They turn to Ryan Dancey at Five Rings Publishing.
2. Ryan Dancey doesn't have the money to buy it (from what I understand, around 20 million dollars) so he contacts Peter at WotC.
3. Ryan doesn't tell him upfront what he needs the money for, so Peter refuses to loan it to him. 
4. Ryan then reveals that TSR is up for sale and Peter says he wants to buy TSR for himself.  Ryan says he'll negotiate on behalf of Peter, if WotC buys out FRP too.
5. WotC buys TSR and FRP acquiring huge amounts of IP in 1997 for 25 mil or so.
6. Ryan goes to work for WotC and he and Tweet team up to create DnD3e.  TSR was already working on a 3e, but they junked it since it was just a warmed over 2e.
7. Hasbro convinces Peter to finally sell WotC to them in 1999 (they'd been after him since Magic's debut in '93) for around 325 million dollars.
8. 3.0/D20 come out in 2000.
9. Peter resigns from WotC in January of 2001.
10. Hasbro sells off a lot of WotC properties to various people including GenCon to Peter in 2002.
11. In 2003 DnD 3.5 comes out to shore up some "problems" with 3.0.
12. 2009 we have 4th edition.
13. Current: DnD Next is entering its final stages of playtesting.

Ron Edwards

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Re: [old and new D&D] Transition of orthodox power
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2013, 07:18:07 PM »
Seems to me that Magic: the Gathering (an original WotC property) and some kind of rights to Pokemon card game are involved in this too. I hate to go by half-remembered rumor, but someone told me at the time that Hasbro was really after those and sort of had to be convinced to include D&D. And certainly don't forget GenCon, which Peter acquired by purchasing TSR, I think, and then retained after the Hasbro purchase and subsequent separation, forming GenCon LLC. Hasbro ran GenCon ... once, I think.

Troy_Costisick

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Re: [old and new D&D] Transition of orthodox power
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2013, 08:23:45 PM »
Seems to me that Magic: the Gathering (an original WotC property) and some kind of rights to Pokemon card game are involved in this too. I hate to go by half-remembered rumor, but someone told me at the time that Hasbro was really after those and sort of had to be convinced to include D&D. And certainly don't forget GenCon, which Peter acquired by purchasing TSR, I think, and then retained after the Hasbro purchase and subsequent separation, forming GenCon LLC. Hasbro ran GenCon ... once, I think.

Interestingly, at the time Hasbro bought WotC Magic was in a bit of trouble.  I hate to go into this for non-TCG fans, but anyway, the 3 sets WotC released for Magic in 1999 (Urza's Saga) had little playtesting before hitting the market and were the most unbalanced cards printed since Alpha.  This drove a ton of players away.  The subsequent three sets of cards released in late 1999 through 2000 (Masques Block) were so underpowered that players declared one of the sets borderline unplayable.  This drove even more players away from the game.  If Magic ever was close to dying it was right then.

You mentioned Pokémon, and you are correct.  While Magic was floundering, Pokémon was raking in tons of dough.  That only lasted until 2003 when Nintendo took back the game.  This resulted in a huge lawsuit where WotC attacked Nintendo for infringing Garfield's patent (which Hasbro now owned).

During the same time period, Habro unloaded a ton of WotC properties.  V:TES went back to White Wolf.  Legends of the 5 Rings (RPG and CCG) along with the Deadlands CCG went to AEG.  Origins went to GAMA.  GenCon went to Peter.  Ars Magica went to Atlas Games.  The magazines went to Paizo.  So in the end, WotC was left with basically two brands: D&D and Magic.  Since then, they expanded some but not in major ways like they were in the late 90's.

Anyway, Hasbro "ran" GenCon from 1999-2001.  They sold GenCon to Peter in 2002 after announcing its move to Indy, but before the convention actually started. I put ran in quotes because they weren't really involved.  It was still the WotC people running it.

Ron Edwards

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Re: [old and new D&D] Transition of orthodox power
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2013, 09:53:00 PM »
I remember all this distinctly from a publisher's standpoint. It was either GenCon 2002 or 2003, and only one, that was run by obviously unwilling, desperately grinning, under-aged Hasbro interns. The year after that, GenCon LLC had it, and although they ran into multiple logistic hassles, the fact that committed, older, and flexibly-thinking gamers were in charge was like night and day.

Troy_Costisick

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Re: [old and new D&D] Transition of orthodox power
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2013, 09:58:56 PM »
My guess is it was 2002 you are thinking of.  There was a transition in ownership in July, I believe, and so GenCon LLC was still relying on Hasbro to carry the load but no doubt the Hasbro people weren't all that excited about it.  2002 was also the first year it was in Indy, so that could have been part of it too.  There were a number of people who were pretty pissed about that move.

Miskatonic

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Re: [old and new D&D] Transition of orthodox power
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2013, 10:42:48 PM »
Regarding v3.5:

1. The main changes from the initial 3rd Edition release constitute something of a textual drift towards Gamist play, assuming the use of tactical miniatures. Rules now refer to "squares" instead of 5-foot increments and other battlemat-friendlier tweaks.
2. The rules changes in v3.5 are supposedly based on the style of play being used in-house by WotC employees.
3. WizKids launched Mage Knight in 2000. The pre-painted collectible plastic minis game and several spin-offs (licenses from Marvel, DC, and FASA) sell well. WizKids is purchased by trading card manufacturer Topps in 2003.
4. Wizards of the Coast discontinues its line of D&D pewter minis (sold as the Chainmail game) in 2002 and launches a line of collectible pre-painted plastic minis (sold as Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures) in 2003.* It's probably not a coincidence they were able to do this with the manufacturing resources of the world's largest toy company behind them.
5. It may not be a coincidence that (1) occurs in light of (3) and (4).

* Both Chainmail and D&D Minis are actually marketed as standalone non-RPG games, but it's pretty obvious they do double-duty as miniatures to be used with the full RPG.

Mike Holmes

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Re: [old and new D&D] Transition of orthodox power
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2013, 07:49:42 PM »
As a really fun historical note, I was at the Origins Awards ceremony where they awarded Pramas with the award for best miniature game, and in his acceptance speech he commented that it was a tad ironic him getting the award, as WoTC had already discontinued the line. :)

Mike Holmes

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Re: [old and new D&D] Transition of orthodox power
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2013, 07:50:22 PM »
Said award having been given for the edition of Chainmail mentioned above.