The Business of RPGs
Who are these people, anyway?

By Anthony Valterra
Business Manager, Roleplaying Games

If we 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.

Have 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.

The business 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?

Mary Kirchoff -- Vice President of Publishing

The vice 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.

David Wise -- Director of Subsidiary Rights, Clubs, and Business Manager for Star Wars

Most 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, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, 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 Wars RPG 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.

Anthony Valterra -- Business Manager, Roleplaying Games

That 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 . . .

Peter Kim -- Associate Business Manager, Roleplaying Games

Peter 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."

Mary-Elizabeth Allen -- Marketing Liaison

Although 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.

Lezlie Samuel -- Subsidiary Rights Coordinator

A lot 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.

Laura Veasey -- Business Manager, Publishing

In addition 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.

Rachel Kirkman -- Assistant Business Manager

Rachel 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.

Peter Archer -- Editorial Director, Book Publishing

Peter 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.

Johnny Wilson -- Group Publisher, Periodicals

Johnny 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.

Christina Matthews -- Administrative Assistant

The newest 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.

Did 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 D&D message boards for a lively discussion of all aspects of the D&D game.

 



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