Hasbro’s bad Q1 earnings could have been worse without Fallout and Baldur’s Gate

Hasbro’s bad Q1 earnings could have been worse without Fallout and Baldur’s Gate

Tech Journalist
     

    The ongoing popularity of Baldur’s Gate 3 and a Fallout-licensed crossover with Magic: The Gathering may have saved Hasbro from an even worse quarter than the one it reported to investors on April 24. The future of its rebuilding efforts in 2024 remains in doubt despite those two properties’ success.

    The global toy empire, and parent company of Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast, took a beating in its toy division last year and divested itself of a movie studio whose D&D adaptation underperformed at the box office. That led to job cuts of 1,100 at the end of 2023, and another black mark on the company’s reputation as it promised that 2024 would see rebuilding.

    The first quarter’s results? Revenues were down 24%, much of that blamed on getting rid of eOne film. And yet it could have been worse without Baldur’s Gate and MTG, though alienating Baldur’s Gate maker Larian certainly dims its outlook for this year.

    Hasbro clings to gaming returns in Q1 report

    Gaming has been a catalyst for Hasbro’s only growth, whose report detailed a significant 7% increase for Wizards of the Coast and that company’s dedicated video games segment.

    No surprise there, as Baldur’s Gate 3 was a smash hit in 2023, winning just about every major Game of the Year award for titles launched that year. The Universes Beyond: Fallout set that launched in early March helped, too, and should continue to provide relief to Hasbro’s ongoing recovery in 2024.

    An Assassin’s Creed Universes Beyond is lined up for this summer, so that will help Hasbro keep the boardroom wolves at bay in later 2024 financial reports.

    Shares in the company have rebounded from the same period last year, but first-quarter revenue overall plunged by 24% decline, amounting to $ 757.3 million this year compared to $ 1 billion last year.

    The divestiture of eOne film and television was driven by the failure of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves at the box office. The fantasy setting’s rendition failed to break even, scraping $ 208 million globally.

    This patch in the company’s lifecycle has been rocky and is a hard-to-judge strategy from one of the world’s most identifiable brands. Still, “We made solid progress in our turnaround efforts in the first quarter,” Hasbro’s Chief Financial Officer, Gina Goetter told investors.

    What’s in store for Hasbro’s future?

    Spectators don’t know what exactly the company is turning around from, as there have been significant holes in the business sheet. The failures in entertainment offerings, the slump in global toy sales, and the mass layoffs have been synonymous with the company over the past year.

    We covered the mass layoffs right before Christmas last year, which rocked the gaming world and would be a massive catalyst for Larian’s relationship with Hasbro. Onlookers were baffled by the move to axe loyal and creative staff in the wake of record-breaking earnings.

    Chris Cocks, the former President of Wizards and now CEO of Hasbro, said “Given the state of our business, [the layoffs] are a lever we must pull to keep Hasbro healthy.”

    The lever was pulled, but it would significantly affect Baldur’s Gate 3 and its future. Larian’s chief executive, Sven Wicke, said at the time, “Wizards of the Coast have seen massive layoffs … there is no one left from the original meeting with them. You share so much knowledge about D&D (Dungeons and Dragons). It’s sad, and I’m not judging anyone, but they are gone, but their knowledge is now out there.”

    Larian then announced that they would not be involved in any future work with Baldur’s Gate 3 and would move on to new pastures. Fans were left disheartened by the news and Wicke’s statement that involvement in BG3 or future installments is “literally the opposite of what Larian is about. We want to do big, new things. We don’t want to rehash what we’ve done already.”

    Wizards of the Coast in turmoil

    Wizards of the Coast, the owner of the D&D intellectual property (IP) has been a house in disharmony for much of the year, despite being the only significant stable factor in Hasbro’s business reports.

    The gaming arm has seen artificial art debacles, plagiarism on a large scale, and the aforementioned needless redundancies. Just before this earnings report was released the President of Wizards of the Coast, Cynthia Williams, resigned, capping off a year of spectacular financial drama.

    Williams took home record compensation from the previous financial year and stayed silent on the layoffs. The $ 6.55 million she was paid could have gone a long way to securing some of the jobs on the line, but she has left under a cloud of turmoil and missed opportunities.

    The greatest failure of her time was the inability to hold on to the only thing keeping Hasbro afloat: Baldur’s Gate 3. To add insult to injury, the developers at Larian plan to expand the modding opportunities within the vibrant community for the title. This could end up competing with Hasbro’s efforts to spin more profit out of the blockbuster RPG, if not be the death knell for those financial hopes altogether.

    So where does Hasbro go once the entertainment section is dust and there is no golden goose of a gaming title to keep the balance sheets looking remotely acceptable for an entity of that size?

    If the toymaker can’t unearth the answer, it will need to find more assets to offload. Still, in a landmark year with Dungeons & Dragons’ 50th anniversary, fans expect much better from Hasbro and its CEO, who spent considerable time as President of Wizards.

    This may be a turning point in the future of Hasbro as a leading global brand capable of reinventing lucrative outlets for existing IPs. Larian’s CEO has seen the writing on the wall and moved himself and the lucrative studio away to do “big things,” so Hasbro’s stature in the gaming world certainly bears watching.

    Image: Ideogram.

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    Brian-Damien Morgan

    Tech Journalist

    Brian-Damien Morgan is an award-winning journalist and features writer. He was lucky enough to work in the print sector for many UK newspapers before embarking on a successful career as a digital broadcaster and specialist. His work has spanned the public and private media sectors of the United Kingdom for almost two decades. Since 2007, Brian has continued to add to a long list of publications and institutions, most notably as Editor of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, winning multiple awards for his writing and digital broadcasting efforts. Brian would then go on to be integral to the Legacy 2014,…

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