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Wizards of the Coast
Logo Wizards of the Coast 2

2021 logo

Wizards of the Coast (often referred to as WotC or simply Wizards) is an American publisher of games, primarily based on fantasy and science fiction themes. Originally a basement-run role-playing game publisher, they popularized the collectible card game genre with Magic: The Gathering in the mid-1990s. Today they publish board games, collectible card games and role-playing games. Currently they are a division of Hasbro.

History[ | ]

Founding[ | ]

Logo Wizards of the Coast

Old logo

Wizards of the Coast was founded by Peter Adkison and four friends in 1990 just outside of Seattle, Washington, and their headquarters is still in the nearby city of Renton.[1][2] Original founders were also Rich Kaalaas, who made Wizards of the Coast's first logo, Jay Hayes, Ken McGlothlen and Steve Conard. When the company first started, it was located in Adkison's basement, and everybody still had a day job.[3] Originally the company only published role-playing games such as the third edition of Talislanta and their own The Primal Order. The release of The Primal Order brought legal trouble with Palladium Books suing for references to their game and system.[4] The suit was settled in 1993 by Wizards paying an undisclosed sum to Palladium and agreeing not to mention their products again.[5]

However, it made its indelible mark when at Gen Con in August 1993 when the company debuted Richard Garfield's trading card game Magic: The Gathering [6] under the shell company Garfield Games to shelter it from the legal battle with Palladium. The success of Magic generated revenue that carried the company out of the original basement headquarters and into its own offices.

Expanding[ | ]

WotC office

WotC office (2005-2023)

In 1994, they expanded their role-playing game line by buying SLA Industries from Nightfall Games and Ars Magica from White Wolf, Inc. In 1995 they released Everway and then closed their roleplaying game product line with Peter Adkison explaining that they were doing a disservice to the games with lack of support and had lost money on all of their roleplaying game products.[5][7][8]

In 1997, Wizards of the Coast was granted U.S. Patent 5662332 on trading card games,[5] followed by the purchase of TSR, Inc., the cash-strapped makers of Dungeons & Dragons. Many of the creative and professional staff of TSR relocated from Wisconsin to the Renton area, and Wizards re-hired many game designers who had been laid off during the troubled last years of TSR. TSR was used as a brand name for a while, then retired. Wizards of the Coast allowed the TSR trademarks to expire. The game and toy giant Hasbro bought Wizards of the Coast in September 1999. Between 1997 and 1999, they spun off several well-loved but poorly-selling campaign settings (most notably Planescape, Dark Sun and Spelljammer) to fan groups, focusing their business primarily on the profitable Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms lines.

In July 1997, Wizards of the Coast also acquired Five Rings Publishing.

In 1998, Wizard of the Coast introduced "The ARC System", a TCG system developed for new players. WoTC produced three games using the ARC system, and each of them was compatible with the others: C-23, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess.

In July 1998, Wizards also published Earthquake and Instinct, independent card games that that feature Magic artwork.[9][10]

From 1999 on, Wizards of the Coast published the highly successful Pokémon Trading Card Game for a number of years before Nintendo took back control.

In the same year, WotC acquired The Game Keep, Inc., one of the largest retail games chains in the United Stats. The following years, they ran their chain of gaming retail stores under the names "The Game Keeper" and "Wizards of the Coast," including their flagship gaming center on the Ave in Seattle.[11] The gaming center was closed by March of 2001 [4] and eventually Wizards announced in December 2003 that it would close all stores in order to concentrate on game design. The stores were closed in the spring of 2004.

Hasbro subsidiary[ | ]

The game and toy giant Hasbro bought Wizards of the Coast in September 1999, for about US$325 million.[12] In January 2001 Peter Adkison resigned and Hasbro incorporated the company fully into its games division.[13]

Scandal and lawsuit[ | ]

In 2002 Wizards was rocked by a scandal concerning improper purchasing practices and the falsifying of expense reports, which led to the firing of a Senior Vice President. CEO Vince Caluori was replaced Chuck Huebner.[14] In April 2004, Huebner in turn was replaced as CEO by Loren Greenwood

In October 2005 the company moved from its old headquarters (1801 Lind Ave SW) in Renton, Washington to new offices located across the street (1600 Lind Ave. SW).

In early 2006, Wizards of the Coast filed a lawsuit against Daron Rutter, an operator of the MTG Salvation website.[15] The lawsuit accused Rutter of engaging in copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement, trade secret violation, unjust enrichment, and breach of contract. The charges stemmed from Rutter publicly posting confidential prototypes for upcoming Magic: The Gathering card sets to his website. Wizards of the Coast attempted to obtain summary judgment.[16] The case was settled out of court, and the terms of the settlement have been sealed.[17]

Quiet waters[ | ]

Loren Greenwood left the company as CEO on March 21, 2008 and was succeeded by Greg Leeds.[18][19]

As of April 11, 2016 Chris Cocks replaced Greg Leeds as president and CEO of Wizards of the Coast.[20]

Esports and tabletop[ | ]

After the successful introduction of MTG Arena in 2018, Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro debuted Magic esports in 2019 and started to refer to the original paper game as "tabletop Magic".[21]

Simultaneously, Wizards of the Coast went through a reorganization. They shifted to what is known as a studio model, where teams are built around supporting a particular product. The section known as R&D along with a few other sections of the company (including art, design, and production) were combined to become the studio for tabletop Magic.[22] There are different studios associated with other aspects of Magic, such as Digital Games and Franchise.

The concept of Magic esports was abandoned after a disappointing three years.[23]

Racism concerns[ | ]

In June 2020, in reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement, Wizards of the Coast removed seven Magic cards from Gatherer's card database and banned them from sanctioned tournament play, because of racism concerns.[24] This came at a time when Wizards received increasing criticism for being an extremely white male company.[25]

Another lawsuit[ | ]

In October 2020, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman filed suit against Wizards of the Coast for breaching a licensing deal with Weis and Hickman for a new Dragonlance novel trilogy.[26] According to the lawsuit, Weis and Hickman agreed with Wizards of the Coast to produce the new novels in 2017, capping off the series and giving fans a final sendoff. But the company pulled the plug in August 2020.

Hasbro division[ | ]

Wizards logo 1

Minimized 2021 logo

After being run as a subsidiary (a separate legal entity) for 22 years, Wizards of the Coast was announced to become one of three new divisions of Hasbro in February 2021.[27] A new logo and a refreshed website marked its new status. The new division will continue to make Wizards’ existing games, like Magic: the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, lead an “aggressive digital transformation” of those games, and license Hasbro’s gaming IP for other digital products. The transition of Wizards into a division of Hasbro came after Wizards booked a record-setting 2020, in which they generated $816 million in revenue.

In January, 2022, Hasbro named Chris Cocks as its new CEO. He succeeded Hasbro's longtime CEO Brian Goldner, who had died in October 2021.[28][29] Cocks' position as President of WotC was taken over by Cynthia Williams.

Free the Wizards[ | ]

Free the Wizards logo

In February 2022, Alta Fox, a significant shareholder of Hasbro, urged the company to split off Wizards of the Coast to the benefit of both entities. They nominated five candidates, a.o. Jon Finkel, to the Board of Directors.[30][31] Alta Fox contended that Hasbro's peers showed much more focus on shareholder returns, both in their communication with investors and underlying compensation structures. They also provided examples of Hasbro/WotC doing a poor job managing Magic as an asset, such as waning support of competitive Magic, problems with Magic: The Gathering Arena as a product and the misguided development of Alchemy as a format.

In April 2022, Hasbro rejected both the proposal and the nominees.[32][33]

Moving shop[ | ]

Per July 1, 2023, Wizards of the Coast closed their Landmark building which they had occupied for eighteen years, to move into another - larger - office in Renton.[34]

Lay-offs[ | ]

Although Wizards of the Coast itself had a very successful year 2023, it appeared to be the only department at Hasbro that was doing well. In December 2023, Wizards was affected by a new round of layoffs initiated by the parent company.[35][36] In April 2024, Cynthia Williams resigned as President and CEO/COO.

Studio system[ | ]

Since 2019, the teams of Wizards of the Coast are built around products rather than services.[37]

  • Studio X is dedicated to tabletop play. This includes Duel Masters R&D, Magic Creative, Magic Design, Magic Product Management and Magic R&D.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons studio.
  • The Digital Game Studio is dedicated to MTG Arena and digital Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Invoke Studios (formerly Tuque Games), a Montreal based studio dedicated to Magic video games.[38][39]
  • Archetype Entertainment, a studio focusing on story-driven RPGs.[40]
  • A Kids Studio.[41]
  • Franchise, Marketing & Esports
  • The New Raleigh-Durham Studio, another studio dedicated to creating video games based on Hasbro properties.[42]
  • NextGen Studio, developing new IP's.
  • Atomic Arcade, a video game development studio located in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area. Working on GI Joe-games.[43]
  • Skeleton Key, yet another studio dedicated to creating video games.[44]

See also[ | ]

Gallery[ | ]

References[ | ]

  1. Peter Adkison (June 01, 2009). "In The Beginning". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Magic Arcana (October 17, 2005). "The WotC Dragon Moves". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater (June 28, 2013). "Episode 40: Wizards of the Coast (Transcript)". Drive to Work.
  4. a b John Tynes (2001-03-23). "Death to the Minotaur: Part 1". Salon Media Group, Inc.. Retrieved on 2017-21-08.
  5. a b c Shannon Appelcline (2006-08-03). "Wizards of the Coast: 1990-Present". A Brief History of Game. RPGnet. Retrieved on 2006-09-01.
  6. Monty Ashley (January 23, 2013). "Twenty Years Ago". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. John Tynes (2001-03-23). "Death to the Minotaur: Part 2". Salon Media Group, Inc.. Retrieved on 2017-21-08.
  8. Mark Rosewater (January 10, 2014). "Episode 87: Year 1995". Drive to Work.
  9. Earthquake Card Game. Magic Rarities.
  10. Instinct Card Game. Magic Rarities.
  11. Bill Stark (May 25, 2009). "Magic in the Air". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Hasbro To Acquire Wizards Of The Coast, Inc.. TMP (September 9, 1999).
  13. Hasbro Clips WotC's Wings. ICv2 (August 29, 2001).
  14. Wizards of the Coast Rocked By Change. ICv2 (June 5, 2002).
  15. Wizards Of The Coast Takes Legal Action. Wizards of the Coast, Inc (2006-01-19). Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
  16. Daron Rutter (2006-02-18). "Wizards of the Coast vs. Daron Rutter: An Update". Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
  17. Daron Rutter (2006-04-06). "Wizards vs. rancored_elf: the Resolution". Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
  18. New WotC Pesident. Greg Leeds Replacing Loren Greenwood. ICv2 (March 13, 2008).
  19. Loren Greenwood Named New WotC President. ICv2 (April 20, 2004).
  20. Hasbro Announces New Leadership for Wizards of the Coast. Hasbro (April 11, 2016).
  21. Elaine Chase (December 6, 2018). "The Next Chapter for Magic: Esports". Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Mark Rosewater (July 21, 2019). "Project Booster Fun". Wizards of the Coast.
  23. Wizards of the Coast (March 31, 2022). "Return of the Pro Tour, Your Path to Playing Magic at the Highest Level".
  24. Wizards of the Coast (June 10, 2020). "Depictions of Racism in Magic". Wizards of the Coast.
  25. David McCoy (June 11, 2020). "Wizards Bans 7 Cards with Racist Depictions, Including Invoke Prejudice". Hipsters of the Coast.
  26. Christian Hoffer (October 19, 2020). "Dungeons & Dragons Publisher Sued by Dragonlance Co-Writers Over Scrapped Book Trilogy".
  27. David McCoy (February 25, 2021). "Wizards of the Coast is Now a Division of Hasbro, Will Lead Digital Licensing Initiatives". Hipsters of the Coast.
  28. Hipsters of the Coast (January 5, 2022). "Hasbro has named Chris Cocks as its new CEO". Twitter.
  29. Hasbro Names Chris Cocks as Chief Executive Officer (Hasbro Press release)
  30. Free The Wizards
  31. Cedric Phillips (February 17, 2022). "Are you confused by the whole Free The Wizards thing today?". Twitter.
  32. Mollie Russell (April 5, 2022). "Hasbro refuses to spin-off D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast".
  33. Hasbro (April 25, 2022). "Hasbro Board of Directors Issues Letter to Shareholders".
  34. Mark Rosewater (June 30, 2023). "Wizards is closing our Landmark building.". Twitter.
  35. Thomas Wilde (December 12, 2023). "New round of layoffs at Hasbro impacts Wizards of the Coast — read CEO’s memo to staff".
  36. Harvey Randall (December 13, 2023). "Hasbro's 1,100 layoffs have hit D&D and Magic: The Gathering hard, as a growing list of staff announce their departures".
  37. Mark Rosewater (December 12, 2019). "You said WOTC now works under the "Studio System". Can you explain what that means?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  38. Wizards of the Coast (October 29, 2019). "Wizards of the Coast Acquires Tuque Games".
  39. Wizards of the Coast (October 12, 2022). "Invoke Studios: a new name in Triple A video games in Montreal".
  40. Haydn Taylor (February 14, 2020). "Wizards of the Coast reveals new studio headed up by BioWare veterans".
  41. Nicole Kinner (December 14, 2020). "Wizards of the Coast hires video game vet Leah Hoyer to lead new Wizards Kids Studio".
  42. Silver Optimus (September 25, 2021). "Hasbro Opens A New Division To Develop AAA Game Titles".
  43. Atomic Arcade.
  44. Ryan Dinsdale (July 27, 2022). "Wizards of the Coast Sets Up a Video Game Studio Led By Dragon Age Producer".

External links[ | ]

History[ | ]

Inside Wizards[ | ]

Official policies[ | ]