Speed Daily exclusively learned that the American toy company Hasbro is seeking to sell its well-known IP “Dungeons & Dragons” (referred to as “DND” below), and Tencent is one of the potential buyers.
At present, the negotiations are still in the early stages and both parties have not yet reached an agreement on the details of the transaction.
According to informed sources, the financial crisis faced by Hasbro is the main reason for considering the sale of DND, and Tencent Investment’s Larian Studios is acting as an intermediary in this transaction. Larian Studios’ game “Baldur’s Gate 3” won the TGA Game of the Year award in 2023 and is considered one of the most successful adaptations of DND. As a result, it was seen as a potential target buyer by Hasbro. However, due to insufficient funds, Larian ultimately introduced this deal to shareholder Tencent.
Hasbro was founded in 1923 and has a history of over a hundred years. In 1935, the company gradually became a world-class toy company with its Monopoly series games. It owns well-known IPs such as Transformers, Dungeons & Dragons, Monopoly, and My Little Pony. However, this century-old enterprise is currently facing a huge crisis due to losses. Its stock price has dropped from a high of $108 in 2019 to $51 (closing data on January 26th).
According to the financial report, as of the third quarter of 2023, Hasbro has been experiencing consecutive losses for four quarters due to its main business of toy sales. The accumulated loss from Q4 2022 to Q3 2023 exceeds $500 million USD, and in Q2 2023, there was even a negative free cash flow situation. According to Forbes reports, in response to the crisis, the company underwent significant layoffs last year, with a total reduction of over 1,900 employees accounting for more than 20%.
Although the company as a whole is in a loss situation, its DND-related IP is a high-quality asset and has achieved considerable success in video game adaptations. Last year, the release of “Baldur’s Gate 3” by Larian Studios was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. It not only won six TGA awards, including Game of the Year but also generated revenue of $657 million, surpassing the Harry Potter IP adaptation game “Hogwarts Legacy,” making it the most profitable PC exclusive game last year.
The success of “Baldur’s Gate 3” is also reflected in the financial data of Hasbro. The financial report shows that in the third quarter of 2023, driven by “Baldur’s Gate 3” and another Monopoly IP game called “Monopoly Go!”, Hasbro’s electronic gaming and licensing-related business achieved a contrary year-on-year growth of 40%, reaching $423 million.
Outside of electronic games, DND is also one of the most popular tabletop games in Europe and America. It has appeared multiple times in American TV shows such as “The Big Bang Theory” and “Stranger Things”. A large fan base has formed around its related culture, making it a top-tier IP.
A Tencent IEG (Interactive Entertainment Group) insider revealed that Tencent, represented by its overseas business department IEG Global, is in negotiations with the aim of acquiring a series of rights including the adaptation rights for electronic games such as DND.
According to the aforementioned IEG insiders, Tencent currently holds the game adaptation rights for many top-tier IPs. However, due to the licensing model mostly not being a one-time buyout, Tencent not only needs to bear high copyright fees and long-term revenue sharing but also frequently faces restrictions from its partners in terms of development and operation. Previously, the mobile game adaptation of “NieR” developed by Tencent TiMi Studio was unable to be launched even until the project was cancelled.
If this acquisition is successful, it will enable Tencent to gain dominant control over the IP of Dungeons & Dragons, which will largely avoid the aforementioned issues.
Companies in Europe and America attach great importance to the value of intellectual property (IP), while Chinese companies have limited opportunities to acquire top-tier IP from overseas. For Tencent, the opportunity to acquire the Dungeons & Dragons IP from Hasbro due to financial considerations is a rare chance.