Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne looks at what Hasbro's 2023 numbers mean for Wizards of the Coast, and examines the recently announced 2024 Dungeons & Dragons releases.

Hasbro released its Q4 and full year figures this past week (see "Hasbro Loses $1.06 Billion in Q4").  The company saw a total drop in sales of 15% in 2023 vs. 2022.  Wizards of the Coast tabletop revenue increased 1%, but the 10% revenue growth in the Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming segment was really driven by the success of Baldur’s Gate III and Monopoly Go.  Last summer’s actors/writers strikes (see "The Nanny") and the underperformance of the Dungeons & Dragons movie severely hurt the revenues of the entertainment industry side of the company, with the sale of toys also down significantly.

Given these figures, I believe we will see even more Magic: The Gathering products in 2024 and in forthcoming years.  Following up on the success of the 2023 Universes Beyond The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth full set, WotC has announced plans to produce two premier Universes Beyond sets in 2025 and beyond.  I'd imagine that means we will see Universes Beyond Collector and Play boosters as well as Commander Decks and bundles twice a year.

WotC keeps telling stores that not all Magic products are for all customers (and that is a correct statement); however, there are customers for all of the different Magic products.  This means that, until customers say otherwise, stores should carry all of the Magic products available.  It was only when our customers told us they were not interested in Secret Lair products or Jumpstart boosters (primarily by not buying them) that we stopped bringing in new releases of each.

Due to poor sales of the Lord of the Rings Scene Kits, our store will look quite askance at any oddball new Magic releases, such as the Clue set coming out for Murders at Karlov Manor this week (see "’Magic’ ‘Clue’ SKU Deets").  The shock land box toppers should drive sales of the box, but I'm not certain how many people will want to play a game of Clue, née Cluedo, with its contents.  Since there is no holiday coming up for us to tie prospective sales to, we went comparatively lightly on the SKU and will be happy to sell out.

WotC also finally announced release dates for this year’s D&D books (see "’D&D” 2024-25 Deets and Dates"), and while I would still like to see more player-aimed books, I can understand why the next two releases are Dungeon Master-aimed adventures.  It wouldn't make much sense (and would likely not sell many books) should WotC release a new book of player-oriented materials with the Players Handbook 2024 in September (though I'd be very surprised not to see copies available for sale at Gen Con a month earlier; have to make Gen Con special, after all).  Players will not want to get new character materials, when those materials might become obsolete with the release of the Player’s Handbook 2024.

Some thoughts on the new Core set next week.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of