They’ve been behind some of some of the biggest names in tabletop for many years, and although the brands have been involved in the world of video games for almost as long, Wizard of the Coast have decided to bring it back in-house with a new games studio of their own.
Simply branded the Digital Games Studio, industry vet Jeffrey Steefel will lead the newly created team to develop future games based on existing brands Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. That might even include Dual Masters, the Japanese trading card game, though that remains to be seen.
The restructure seemingly involves having greater control over what happens with both brands across every platform. Though we’ve seen plenty of Magic video appear over the years on the Xbox, iOS and so forth, we haven’t seen quite as many games based on the D&D brand of late. As Chris Cocks, President of Wizards of the Coast explains in his blog post, the plan is to also expand the reach of both brands through new partnerships.
What would it be like to throw fireballs as a Planeswalker in an MMO, or quest for treasure with your friends in a D&D augmented-reality game? We want to play games like this too, so we hired David Schwartz, an industry veteran with 25 years of experience leading projects at Microsoft, Electronic Arts, THQ, LeapFrog Enterprises, and Midway Games. He is building a publishing team to explore partnerships and collaborations that will bring Magic and D&D to unexpected settings, genres, and platforms.
– Chris Cocks, President of Wizards of the Coast (Courtesy of company.wizards.com)
It’s easy to see why Wizards would want to have a greater say in what their brands become. Though most of content created through both IP’s have been steady over the years (the last D&D title for example, Chronicles of Mystara, rated in the solid 77-80 range on Metacritic back in 2013), there has been a steady increase in interest in both brands as the reach of tabletop gaming increases, thanks in no small part to Twitch and YouTube, the constantly growing convention scene and a little bit of Kickstarter too. It makes sense to try and tap into that new level of brand awareness, especially in the case of D&D.
Whether we do get a new MMO or augmented-reality game remains to be seen, but Wizards certainly hope to achieve that and many goals with this restructure. We’ll see what happens over the next year or so what that means for fans of both the tabletop variety and the video game equivalent.