Wizards of the Coast announces digital/physical bundlesFebruary 7, 2023
After a period of quiet communication following the OGL backlash, Wizards of the Coast (D&D’s publishing arm) has begun promoting Keys to the Golden Vault, its next Dungeons & Dragons title.
Launching on Feb. 21, 2023 in North America (and March 24, 2023 in the UK EMEA,) Keys to the Golden Vault is an anthology book (similar to Candlekeep Mysteries) featuring adventures that are all similarly heist based.
Think The Great Muppet Caper, Ocean’s 11, or Mission: Impossible. If the art is any indication, the adventures should be pretty fun.
However, it isn’t the biggest news coming out of the Wizards’ press release – starting Feb. 2, D&D fans can purchase a digital/physical bundle for Keys to the Golden Vault, which includes early access to the digital content on D&D Beyond starting on Feb. 7.
The bundle includes the physical book (the alt cover appears to remain exclusive to your friendly local game stores) and the digital release, straight to your D&D Beyond account.
Priced at $59.95 USD, it is a very attractive deal: individually, the D&D Beyond content is $29.99 USD, while the physical book is available, as of this writing, for $41.95 USD. It’s on sale from $49.95.
To further sweeten the deal, shipping to select countries is free. The United States (including Alaska and Hawaii, aloha,) Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand will all get their book shipped at no additional charge. Other regions will have to pay a bit extra to get their physical copy of the book.
D&D Beyond Adventure and Legendary Bundle discounts don’t apply, so $59.95 is the best price players will get on this bundle.
The bundles will only be available directly from Wizards of the Coast, other retailers won’t have access to the digital/physical bundle products – though, for the time being, friendly local game shops remain the only way to secure the alt covers for collectors (or anyone who wants them, really.)
When Wizards of the Coast purchased D&D Beyond from Fandom a few years ago, there were certainly questions about how the products would interact in the future.
Now we know: driving direct sales from Wizards through the dndstore.wizards.com storefront.
D&D Beyond doesn’t have an inherent cost like books do. Once the work to create the item is done, it doesn’t cost anything to sell. It’s why digital assets were such a big part of conversation during the OGL debate over the past few weeks.
Essentially, it feels like they’re giving the D&D Beyond download to players for free, in exchange for their purchase of the physical book direct from the Wizards of the Coast, which will earn significantly higher revenues from each sale.
Traditionally, a company like Wizards will wholesale their books to a games distributor (the very definition of a middle man,) who will then sell to all of the retail stores that want to carry the product. Of course, in this scenario, everyone has to make money. So if a book retails for $59.95, Wizards would need to sell the book wholesale for about $25.
That allows the distributor to charge retailers somewhere in the $35 to $45 range, and retailers to sell for the sticker price of $59.95. Of course, some retailers offer more competitive pricing or additional discounts – perhaps they get a preferred cost from the distributor for volume orders, or they can just absorb less profit. In any case, that’s typically how these sales work.
With the digital/physical model, Wizards can earn the full $59.95, as opposed to the smaller profit selling to distributors. It represents a lot of additional revenue that they weren’t receiving before.
It’s somewhat surprising that this news hasn’t received more of a splash.
The ripple effect this has on sales, particularly of the forthcoming of the One DND line, remains to be seen. For Wizards of the Coast, it’s a move that makes sense. They didn’t buy D&D Beyond for it not to make them additional money, but how it affects the industry overall, through distributors and friendly local game stores remains to be seen.
Product images copyright Wizards of the Coast and used with permission