So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Publisher Profile: Hasbro Part III – Wizards of the Coast

This will be our third installment on Hasbro, and we will take a look at Wizards of the Coast.  This is where some of my recent posts come together, since Wizards of the Coast (WotC) is the publisher of both Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon.  These games are  arguably the most successful of all collectible card games (CCGs), which we discussed last week.

WotC found its first real success with Magic: The Gathering.  This allowed the company to expand the number of employees and office space, and allowed the financing of additional projects including RoboRallyand The Great Dalmuti, both of which are well known and well loved games.  In 1997, WotC acquired TSR, the publishers of Dungeons & Dragons, the granddaddy of all role-playing games.  A couple years later, in 1999, the company produce Pokémon, which sold 400,000 copies in six weeks!  With such success, WotC started showing up on Hasbro’s acquisition radar, resulting in Hasbro purchasing the company later that year.

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Technically, Avalon Hill falls under WotC in the Hasbro hierarchy, so all of the Avalon Hill games are also WotC games.  Setting that aside for the moment, WotC games have a tendency to feature fantasy and sci-fi themes.  The exceptions to this rule are the games developed while still an independent company, such as The Great Dalmuti and Guillotine.  (RoboRallyis under the Avalon Hill brand.)  Having the patent on CCGs allowed them to develop more of those games, but none were nearly as popular or long-lived.  Both Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons are still strong product lines.  New developments tend to be tied to those products, including the highly acclaimed Dungeons & Dragons board games, which attempt to capture the role-playing game feel in a board game setting.

As for myself, I have not played very many WotC games, and only currently own one:  Star Wars: Trading Card Game.  I haven’t played it.  We bought it after the second movie trilogy came out.  At that time, I had not started playing games again, and several copies of the game were purchased in mass market outlets as birthday gifts.  One of them ended up in my collection. 

Since all of the recently developed games are receiving a huge amount of acclaim, I would say that WotC is doing a great job publishing great games.  Are they family games?  Right now, I would say let the outlet be your guide.  Games such as Heroscape were found in mass market outlets, and would work well in a family or casual setting.  If the game is only found in hobby game stores, it is probably more complex than most families would find fun. 

How does all of this fit together?  Well, first of all let me make clear that I haven’t talked to anyone at Hasbro or its subsidiaries, so this is just speculation.  It would appear that the Hasbro brand is for those games marketed as “family” or “children’s” games, WotC tends to publish specific product lines, with Avalon Hill picking up the rest of the hobby game market.  As a result, Avalon Hill games are probably not family or casual games (with the glaring exception of Acquire).  WotC labeled games will be good, and may or may not be family games.  Hasbro games will be family games, but may or may not be good.  Sorry I can’t be more help!

In the end, it’s going to require some research, including playing someone else’s copy of a game if possible.  In the end, that’s always the best research.  If you want me to look at a specific game, I am always will to serve as your guide.  Just let me know!

It’s Your Move!





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