Forbes Interview With Brand Director & Executive Producer for Dungeons & Dragons Nathan Stewart

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Forbes spoke to WotC’s Brand Director & Executive Producer for Dungeons & Dragons Nathan Stewart.  It’s a great interview, that covers a wide range of topics, form the launch of 5E to What’s next for the brand.

On the launch of 5E:

We don’t always openly talk about numbers, because Hasbro is a publicly traded company, so we can’t give exact details from Wizards’ business. But I will tell you that we don’t even have a full year of sales on this yet, and we believe very, very strongly that this will finish out on the current trajectory to be the best launch we’ve ever had, both in terms of dollars and in terms of units.

I think if you would have told us –or anyone– that before launch, they would’ve said, “Really? You’re gonna do bigger than third edition or 3.5?” and the answer is, undoubtedly, yes.

Everything exceeded our forecast. We didn’t go in and say, “Hey, it’s gonna be the best launch ever,” that’s a gutsy forecast to make, but we forecasted pretty high. And we re-printed everything, so when everything exceeded our forecast, in most cases we re-printed within weeks of the official launch, if not months.

 

On where the products are selling the most:

The ratios remain the same for us –the hobby stores and the book channel both are tremendous for us, and they both do a big chunk of the business. Amazon, I think, has been a much bigger player this launch than before, for obvious reasons.

 

On the subject of Storylines:

The number of stories that we come out with a year is really dictated by our fans and by our partners. We’re committed to telling really high quality stories, we’re committed to expanding the interaction with the Forgotten Realms, and diving deep and getting people to really have fun with it. So right now we’re on this one to two main stories per year cadence, but that number is really us working, listening to our fans, seeing how much they want to consume, seeing how much our partners need to keep their fan bases really highly engaged, and having fun.

I found this statement of much interest:

We need all of our digital partners, all of our physical partners to able to come out and support the story because it’s not just, “Oh, let’s do the RPG release here and the minis release here and video games release here”… we’re looking at telling this big story as a whole brand each time, so we need everyone to come along together.

So it’s two stories a year right now. That might go down or up, depending on what the fan base wants. We are story, story, story. The story drives everything.

 

On Taking the story outside of Forgotten Realms:

Well, it depends on what you mean by that, right? Because you’ve already seen some stuff… but if you’re talking about us diving deep and taking a focus like what we’ve done with Tyranny of Dragons, we’re going to stay in the Forgotten Realms for the foreseeable future. It’s big, it’s huge, it’s our most fleshed-out setting or world. It’s got the most to explore. We can do everything in the Realms we want to in the foreseeable future.

Now, with that being said, we recognize that a lot of fans love other settings, so we will be doing things to give those guys tools to support that in their own way. But we’re gonna have long cycles, and so when we go all in on Greyhawk or Dragonlance or Spelljammers, that’s going to be awhile. We’ll support that stuff, we’ll give players the tools to do things that they want to do, but the main focus will be on the Forgotten Realms for a long time.

 

When asked if the brand where you want it to be:

Is it where we wanted it to be? Let me back up a little bit and say that for the first part of your question, we obviously had big goals for the in shoring up the core of the brand –the tabletop RPG fifth edition and the playtest, that was the heavy lifting done behind the scenes. Wizards is publishing the spiritual core of the brand.

 

And another statement I found interesting:

But yeah, on the whole, Dungeons and Dragons stopped being a tabletop game years or decades ago. I mean, we’ve been a powerhouse in video games, for years now, and we’ve had movies –whether you like them or not, we still had them– tons of novels, comics, apparel, table top minies, just a lot of stuff across the board. So I will say that in terms of the 40th anniversary, I thought it was a tremendous year to celebrate all things D&D. We saw people coming back in waves, we’re seeing tastemakers and celebrities continue to devote their love of D&D publicly, and I think that’s a sign that culturally, you’re hitting the marks that you want.

 

Head over to forbes to read the full interview as they touch on a few other subjects as well.

 

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