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Not A Toy Story: How Brian Goldner Is Transforming Hasbro

It’s Friday night and The Uncommons in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village is running at full tilt. A few dozen people—kids, college students, adults fill every corner of the meandering space that’s part café, part game shop. Seated shoulder to shoulder, they fill the room with the sounds of Magic: The Gathering, the 26-year-old collectible card game owned by Hasbro, the world’s most valuable toy company.

In an age of Fortnite, League of Legends and stadium-filling esports tournaments, the chatter seems to come from another time. Players arm themselves with decks of 60 cards, each one featuring a deadly fantasy creature or a fiendish spell, with 20,000 unique cards up for grabs. It’s easy to learn but infinitely deep. More importantly for Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner, it has a rabid, and profitable, following. In total, some 38 million people have played Magic since its release in 1993, and in 2017, the game accounted for an estimated $500 million in sales, according to KeyBanc Capital Markets.

“We’ve always been a management team that’s taken the longer view,” says the 56-year-old Goldner, who joined the Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based company in 2000 as the head of toys and games, and took over as CEO in 2008. “Any moves we make in the future, it’s with an eye to where the consumer and audience is going to be in three to five years, not three to five weeks.”

Goldner has built his career both by carefully stewarding old franchises like Magic and Dungeons & Dragons and by turning toys like My Little Pony and Transformers into television and movie stars. Goldner calls it the “brand blueprint” strategy: Nurture your own brands, build audiences around them and push them onto riskier, but more lucrative, platforms.

He sold off Hasbro’s factories, pushing all of that messy, low-margin manufacturing work onto third parties. Revenue hit a record $5.2 billion in 2017, the year before Toys “R” Us died and Hasbro saw a 12% drop in revenue. Even in that annus horribilis Hasbro managed to eke out a profit of $220 million on revenue of $4.6 billion. That same year, its archrival Mattel lost $531 million on revenue of $4.5 billion. Under his leadership, Hasbro shares have returned twice that of the S&P 500, hitting a record high in July. In all, Goldner’s performance has been good enough to earn him the 96th spot in our first ever ranking of America’s most innovative corporate leaders.

He is not resting on his laurels. Goldner made a huge move, spending $4 billion in late August to buy Entertainment One. The Toronto-based film and TV production company is known mostly for owning Peppa Pig and PJ Masks, cartoon favorites of the preschool set. The two properties pull in almost $2.5 billion of retail sales and are a nice addition to Hasbro’s My Little Pony and Play-Doh. Better yet, Peppa Pig and PJ Masks are not only beloved stories, they also represent the potential for future Hasbro toy sales. As Goldner can attest after his flopping with movies based on Battleship and Jem and the Holograms, it’s much easier to start with a great story than with a great toy.

Back when Goldner joined the company, stories weren’t Hasbro’s business. They manufactured toys, and revenue was increasingly reliant on outside ideas, like licensing Pokémon, and tethered to a holiday shopping season that left managers holding their breath until Thanksgiving, when sales began to pick up steam.

“People were asking, ‘Why is that essential?’ and ‘Does that add more volatility?’ ” Goldner says. “You actually have more volatility when you’re relying on other people to provide you all the entertainment for your portfolio.”

Goldner, after being named COO, tapped Transformers as a place to prove it. The line of miniature cars that can be converted into bipedal robots had been a huge hit with kids since the mid-1980s, thanks in part to a popular television cartoon. Goldner turned his sights to a much bigger screen. Attach characters like Optimus Prime to a Hollywood blockbuster and things could really soar.

Steven Spielberg got it. A fan of the toys, the billionaire director signed on to produce the movie, and would spend planning meetings carefully positioning the action figures on a table and taking shots with his phone as they talked. The film was directed by Michael Bay and debuted in 2007, with Goldner and Spielberg as executive producers. It did $710 million in global ticket sales and increased Transformers toy sales by a factor of five. Goldner was named CEO the following year.

The son of an electronic engineer and teacher turned investor, the Long Island native is a boundlessly energetic self-labeled geek who can flip conversations seamlessly between everything from building radios to canoeing. He is no stranger to adversity. Just as things were starting to click at Hasbro, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which he revealed to investors he’d been treated for in 2014. A year later, his adult son died of an opioid overdose.

By buying Entertainment One, he’s just taken on a hefty new challenge. Hasbro shares plummeted when the deal was announced, some saying he overpaid for two preschool properties and others focused on the risks of owning a media company outright, rather than hiring one to tell your stories. Entertainment One’s content library, worth $2 billion, also comes with adult-skewing properties that don’t lend themselves to selling more toys, such as TV shows Criminal Minds and Sharp Objects.

There is reason for skepticism. In 2009, Hasbro invested $300 million in Hub, a children’s TV network that was a joint venture with Discovery Communications, and has little to show for it today. A push to make G.I. Joe into a movie star made for decent box-office sales but didn’t move the needle on sales of the action figures. Other films just tanked. And the company has suffered repeated black eyes with efforts to further exploit Monopoly, arguably it’s most iconic property, including a recent attempt to create a socialist-themed version of the canonical board game of capitalism.

But then there’s Magic, which Goldner’s team has rejuvenated in conjunction with Wizards of the Coast, the Hasbro subsidiary based outside of Seattle that also oversees Dungeons & Dragons. The card game had its best year in 2018, fueled by an expansion into digital that began with Magic: The Gathering Arena, a free-to-play video game that some feared would cannibalize the core tabletop product. So far, those fears have proved unfounded. Still not officially launched and lacking a mobile version, its soft launch has significantly boosted its audience on Amazon’s game streaming platform, Twitch, and viewership is up 120% year over year.

KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Brett Andress estimates Arena pulls in $75 per user. He expects the free version will have almost four million players by year-end, a promising step toward bringing lapsed players back to the game. An animated Netflix spinoff series from Joe and Anthony Russo, the duo behind the Avengers: Endgame, is in the works.

The Transformers films are also thriving, with two sequels pulling in $1 billion each worldwide. A television series, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, became a massive hit among children and, surprisingly, older viewers, known as “bronies.”

The rise of social media helped Hasbro turn the game Pie Face, a 1960s throwback, into what market researcher NPD says was Hasbro’s bestselling toy in the U.S. in 2016, due to viral videos, like one of a grandfather and grandson having laughing fits, which drew 205 million views on Facebook.

These new efforts are funded in part by a 2014 coup that saw Hasbro steal the license to produce Disney Princess toys from Mattel. Euromonitor estimates the rights brought in $441 million for Mattel in 2014. Despite the new emphasis on owning its own intellectual property, Hasbro hasn’t abandoned the licensing game. Third-party partnerships, including Disney’s Marvel and Star Wars franchises, make up 21.5% of Hasbro’s revenue.

And things are far from perfect in the toy industry, which NPD reckons generates $90.4 billion in annual sales. Not only is Toys “R” Us a shell of its former self—the struggling retailer remained an important sales channel even in the era of Amazon—but the threat of Chinese tariffs is making 2020 look uncertain. Hasbro currently outsources about two-thirds of its manufacturing to companies in China.

So the move into media could prove prescient. The streaming wars are picking up and players like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ are all on the hunt for fresh properties. Goldner says the acquisition will help Hasbro create content out of its smaller properties, while bigger brands will still get the Hollywood touch, including Transformers films, which are produced by Paramount under a five-year deal signed in 2017.

Stephanie Wissink at Jefferies estimates the acquisition could boost Hasbro revenue by more than $1 billion and operating income by more than $200 million.

“People are looking for high quality content that has great story and canon and characters,” Goldner told Forbes the day after it was announced. “We of course have that in spades.”

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I’m the reporter for the Games section of Forbes.com. I previously served as a freelance writer for sites like IGN, Polygon, Red Bull eSports, Kill Screen, Playboy and PC Gamer. I also manage a YouTube gaming channel under the name strummerdood. I graduated with a BA in journalism from Rowan University and interned at Philadelphia Magazine. You can follow me on Twitter @mattryanperez.

Source: Not A Toy Story: How Brian Goldner Is Transforming Hasbro

Hasbro released a new version of the game “Monopoly” that parodies socialism. The game went viral on Twitter and quickly sold out on Amazon. NBC News’ Dasha Burns decided to play the game and reports on the new riff on the classic. » Subscribe to NBC News: http://nbcnews.to/SubscribeToNBC » Watch more NBC video: http://bit.ly/MoreNBCNews NBC News Digital is a collection of innovative and powerful news brands that deliver compelling, diverse and engaging news stories. NBC News Digital features NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, TODAY.com, Nightly News, Meet the Press, Dateline, and the existing apps and digital extensions of these respective properties. We deliver the best in breaking news, live video coverage, original journalism and segments from your favorite NBC News Shows. Connect with NBC News Online! NBC News App: https://smart.link/5d0cd9df61b80 Breaking News Alerts: https://link.nbcnews.com/join/5cj/bre… Visit NBCNews.Com: http://nbcnews.to/ReadNBC Find NBC News on Facebook: http://nbcnews.to/LikeNBC Follow NBC News on Twitter: http://nbcnews.to/FollowNBC Follow NBC News on Instagram: http://nbcnews.to/InstaNBC Playing Hasbro’s New Monopoly Edition: Socialism | NBC News Now

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Can’t Stop Worrying? Try Tetris To Ease Your Mind – Maanvi Singh

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If you’ve ever played Tetris whether it was at an old-school Gameboy, or just on your iPhone then you know: It’s 8-bit enchantment. “Years of my life were lost disappearing into a game of Tetris on my Nintendo system,” says Kate Sweeny, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside. But maybe the hours she spent lining those little blocks (“tetriminos”) into perfect rows of 10 weren’t a total waste. Her latest research suggests that Tetris can ease us through periods of anxiety by getting us to a blissfully engrossed mental state that psychologists call “flow.” “The state of flow is one where you’re completely absorbed or engaged in some kind of activity,” Sweeny explains. “You lose your self-awareness, and time is just flying by………

Read more: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/11/05/662212524/cant-stop-worrying-try-tetris-to-ease-your-mind

 

 

 

 

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

 

 

 

The World’s Most Valuable Esports Companies – Mike Ozanian & Christina Settimi

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The nascent esports industry resembles the Wild West. Esports companies are constantly buying and selling teams and players to compete in the best leagues and build audiences on Amazon’s Twitch and Alphabet’s YouTube. Facilities are being built where gamers can train. It’s a shootout to see who can be the biggest and baddest brand. There are some similarities to traditional sports leagues. Riot Games began selling franchises for $10 million a pop for its game League of Legends in the summer of 2017……..

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2018/10/23/the-worlds-most-valuable-esports-companies-1/#181eaa066a6e

 

 

 

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

 

Microsoft Launches $22 Xbox Console Subscription Service

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As reported last week (details below), Xbox All Access gives gamers access to an Xbox One console, Xbox Live Gold, and Xbox Game Pass in return for 24 monthly payments. However, the pricing is lower than expected and it’s set up in the same way as smartphone payment plans work.

If you want an Xbox One S, Microsoft will charge $22 per month for 24 months. That’s cheaper than buying an Xbox One S outright and subscribing to Live Gold and Game Pass separately. At the end of the 24 months, you can keep paying for access to the services, but you then own the console. If you want an Xbox One X instead, the price rises to $35 per month. If you end the contract early, you pay Microsoft the outstanding monthly payments owed in order to keep your Xbox.

— Read on straylitemedia.com/2018/08/31/microsoft-launches-22-xbox-console-subscription-service/

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LetSpinio – The New Lead-Generating Gamification Weapon for Business Owners | Online Marketing Tools

Source: LetSpinio – The New Lead-Generating Gamification Weapon for Business Owners | Online Marketing Tools

Spinty – How To Get Massive Traffic Leads Through Flash Games & Gamified Websites | Online Marketing Tools

Spinty is a newbie-friendly WordPress plug-in that adds gamification to any websites in a few minutes. By using this technique, the website owners can attract more visitors and get more leads.

 

The application works by adding a spinning wheel to your websites, and the visitors may win some coupons or free apps when they play the game. You can also customize the styles, colors, etc. effortlessly.

Spinty enhances the attractiveness and appealability of your websites with “wheel of fortune” flash games. Studies have shown that people are fond of this kind of games because they can entertain themselves while getting some gifts in return.

Source: Spinty – How To Get Massive Traffic Leads Through Flash Games & Gamified Websites | Online Marketing Tools

Houzz wins “Best App” at the inaugural Google Play Awards — TechCrunch

Interior design and decorating resource Houzz is the overall best Android app of the year, according to Google, which this evening announced the results of the first-ever Google Play Awards at its developer conference, Google I/O. While in previous years, the company had rounded up large numbers of apps for “Best of” lists, the new Google Play…

via Houzz wins “Best App” at the inaugural Google Play Awards — TechCrunch

GamingJobsOnline

You see the video game business is now bigger than the movie business – worth about $62 BILLION currently. And with that sort of money at stake, games have to be as perfect as humanly possible.Because if a game is released with a even few bugs in it, the bad news will spread like wildfire on line, sales will bomb and the game’s creators will lose millions. So – with that sort of money at stake – it’s a drop in the ocean for the games makers to pay you up to $30 an hour to test their games to destruction, so they can fix any bugs before launch day. And while $30 might be a drop in the ocean to the games companies, it soon adds up to a handy income for you – particularly when you’re ALSO enjoying yourself playing games that no one else in your neighborhood has even seen yet. Gongsan Young only started in the wonderful business of testing video games
and he gives full credit to Gaming Jobs On Line who he says “… gives you fool proof, step by step instructions and lists of companies guaranteed to earn you money. So imagine striding into some high end car dealership and plumping down in that luxurious leather driver’s seat in the top model, grasping that chunky steering wheel, gazing down that enormous hood and admiring the gleaming walnut dashboard trim all the while savoring that ‘new car’ aroma. And, when the sales guy rushes up, you silence him by saying you’ll take it – and you’ll be paying CASH.

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