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 the Asmodee spinoff and the new, higher prices for Dungeons & Dragons on Amazon.

Geez.  Just last week I was talking about Asmodee and its brand spanking new MAP (See "More MAP and Cynthia Williams Resigns").  Now this past week, Embracer Group seized headlines again with its announcement it would separate the group into three games and entertainment companies: Asmodee, Coffee Stain and Friends, and Middle-Earth Enterprises and Friends (see "Embracer to Spin off Asmodee").  As ICv2 reported, Asmodee will retain the tabletop games publishing and distribution component, while Coffee Stain and Friends will develop free to play games for mobile devices and PC/consoles.  Middle-Earth Enterprises and Friends will focus on AAA development games, with higher levels of development and promotional spend, currently centering on the Lord of the Rings and Tomb Raider properties.  All three companies will be publicly traded and Embracer has moved €900 million in debt onto Asmodee, with that money going to pay off existing debt and reduce the leverage in the other two Embracer group spinoffs.

Embracer went on a buying spree in the early 2020s; had a 2023 secretive $2 billion deal, which would have given the company significant financial support, fall apart at the last minute (see "Asmodee Sales Up in Quarter"); laid off about 1,400 people after the collapse of the deal (see "Embracer Announces Layoffs"); and cancelled a number of projects.

Speaking of interesting things, for several years it has been as cheap or cheaper to buy D&D Player Handbooks, Dungeon Masters Guides, and Monster Manuals, along with an assortment of other D&D books, on Amazon than stores could buy the same books through distribution.  I just checked Amazon today to see about restocking a few books, and, lo and behold, they are all now selling at about 20% off or so.  Now, why should this happen? Well, Wizards did end its agreement allowing Penguin Random House to distribute its books at the end of last year (see "WotC Ending PRH Distribution of ‘Dungeons & Dragons’"), so it seems connected.  Granted, losing the ability to order the D&D line from PRH is somewhat inconvenient, but I will take a little bit of inconvenience and paying an extra $2 to $3 a book in exchange for not having to deal with 48% discounts on Amazon.

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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