Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. and the developer and publisher of both Magic: the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons recently announced that 2020 was D&D’s best year ever. The brand now sports over 50 million fans worldwide and is in its seventh year of consecutive growth. This is despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing most fans to party up at a distance over video calls, rather than in person.
March 2020 saw an all-time peak in search interest in D&D, likely the result of national lockdowns forcing groups of friends to find new ways to engage with each other and socialize. Netflix’s popular series Stranger Things, which features a group of young friends who fight off monsters and play D&D in a basement definitely helped to bring the game even more into the mainstream. Although, unlike the all-male, preteen party in the show, the actual demographic breakdown of the D&D community is far more balanced, with 40% identifying as female, and 24% aged 20-24, the largest age group in the community.
Dan Barrett, D&D Senior Brand Manager, commented, “we’re proud that Dungeons & Dragons continued to bring people together during the challenges of the pandemic, providing valuable social connection even when we couldn’t meet in person.” The game certainly helped friends stay in touch and talk about adventure, rather than lockdown.
Wizards of the Coast did a lot to help keep their community engaged and united despite their physical distance and isolation from one another. The cast of Stranger Things played a campaign on YouTube, as did the cast of Game of Thrones. Bridging the gap between fans of the tabletop game and fans of fantasy and sci-fi television shows is a clever way to generate more interest and mainstream appeal for D&D.
The future looks promising for D&D, with co-op brawler Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance, coming to PC and console on June 22. It will be available on Xbox Game Pass upon release, meaning many fans won’t even have to spend any money to play it. This is a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, which was recently re-released on consoles, with a PC version scheduled for later this year.
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