Business of RPGs
Who are these people, anyway?
By Anthony Valterra
Business Manager, Roleplaying Games
lived in the worlds of our characters, the game designing wizards here
at Wizards of the Coast would use psionic abilities to know exactly what
customers want, employ spellcasting powers to create perfect products
overnight, and teleport the games directly to players who want them. But
until "game designer" becomes a new prestige class (hey, we're
working on it!), the process of planning, developing, marketing, and distributing
roleplaying products remains a little more complicated. This monthly feature
offers insight into the business side of fun and games.
you ever wondered exactly who the people are that comprise Wizards' business
team? And more importantly, how they affect the games you play? Well,
in our attempt to keep communication as open as possible between you and
those who manage the games you love, I'd like to introduce the members
of our business team.
team comprises those who manage product lines. We are not the creatives
(those who write the product). They are in the R&D (research &
development) department or are freelance authors. We are not the artists.
They are in a department we refer to as "Spine Design"; the
art department also employs freelance talent. We are not the marketing,
advertising or sales departments. We do not even manage the creation of
the products or the printing (that's project management and production).
However, we interact with every one of those departments as well as the
executives of the company. So who are we, and what do we do?
Kirchoff -- Vice President of Publishing
president of publishing reports to the Wizards executives and manages
three categories: roleplaying
games (RPGs), periodicals,
and book publishing. Mary holds the ultimate authority
over these categories but rarely becomes involved in the day-to-day operations.
She is responsible for the management, organization, direction, and strategy
of all three groups as we move to integrate these related categories.
She also tries to make us all work and play nicely together.
Wise -- Director of Subsidiary Rights, Clubs, and Business Manager for
of us wear multiple hats, but David is in a league of his own. He sets
strategy, goals and structure of the group that runs the RPGA
(which is in the organized play department). David also approves material
created by any of the companies who have purchased a license from us to
use one of our RPG brands (D&D,
etc.). He also is the first point of contact for people or organizations
that are interested in licensing our brands. Finally, as the business
manager for the Star
he is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Star Wars brand.
He sets release schedules and product mix, approves product content and
look, and ensures that the line makes its margin of profit.
Valterra -- Business Manager, Roleplaying Games
would be me. I also wear more than one hat. I am responsible for creating
a strategy for all of RPGs at Wizards and for the profit and losses of
the department. That means I am in charge of the budget. But I am also
in charge of the business management of D&D, Forgotten Realms
and any d20 products we might
do (Wheel of Time
and Call of Cthulhu,
most notably). I am, thankfully, aided in this process by . . .
Kim -- Associate Business Manager, Roleplaying Games
is a financial and analytical whiz. When I need to know how our products
are trending, I turn to him. Peter has also taken on inventory control
and market research. He will soon take on still more business management
duties, freeing me to do more "brand management."
Allen -- Marketing Liaison
the business managers are ultimately responsible for the marketing of
their products, they haven't enough time to oversee the process of creating
campaigns or ads from start to finish. Mary-Elizabeth ensures that all
of those things do not move off strategy. She also acts as a representative
(with sales) to Holtzbrink Publishing, our primary distributor in the
book channel (Waldenbooks, Barnes and Nobles, etc.). She oversees the
coordination of book licensing as well.
Samuel -- Subsidiary Rights Coordinator
of what David Wise and Mary-Elizabeth Allen do requires information tracking
and management, as well as contact with a wide variety of people. Lezlie
assists with those processes.
Veasey -- Business Manager, Publishing
to tracking operations and setting print runs, Laura is the business manager
for our novels and periodicals. She has the added responsibility of contracting
authors. Her market (novel publishing) is substantially different then
selling to the hobby market. Since 70% of novel sales come from the book
channel, she does a lot of work with Holtzbrink.
Kirkman -- Assistant Business Manager
works with Laura Veasey on book publishing, but they split their duties
differently then Peter Kim and I do. Laura does more business analysis
than I do, and Rachel does more of the day-to-day tracking.
Archer -- Editorial Director, Book Publishing
is responsible for all the editorial content, and scheduling of the novels
we print. He works with a team of editors to control novel content and
with Laura Veasey to manage the novels' scheduling, creation, and production.
Wilson -- Group Publisher, Periodicals
sets strategy on content, layout, look, print run, distribution and is
responsible for profit and loss. He also decides on advertising prices
and sets editorial guidelines.
Matthews -- Administrative Assistant
addition to our team, Christina keeps all of us supplied with the tools
and sundries we need. She also handles internal product distribution and
act as a liaison between publishing and Wizards' support teams.
you catch last month's
Business of RPGs article? Find out more
about the relationship between Wizards' roleplaying games and novels!
Go to the D&D
main news page for
more articles and news about the new D&D or check out the
for a lively
discussion of all aspects of the D&D game.