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Links: Celebrating Chicken vs Hotdog, Scaling Down Hasbro, and Appreciating Aubrey Plaza

by W. Eric Martin

Chicken vs Hotdog, a 2022 release from UK publisher Big Potato Games, has been awarded the 2023 W.I.T.T.Y. (Winning Inventor Toy of The Year) Prize at the UK Toy Inventors‘ Dinner, an annual event for designers, product-pickers, and other toy business professionals that takes place during UK Toy Fair.

Attendees vote during the event for the product they find “the most exciting and/or inventive”. In Chicken vs Hotdog, players — either individually or in teams — look at a challenge card, then bid high if they want to attempt it or bid low if they want the other team to attempt it. If a team succeeds at a challenge — which involves flipping the chicken or hotdog figure and having it land on its suction cup — they reveal one of their team cards; if they fail, the opposing team reveals a card. Whichever team reveals all six of its cards first wins.

The award announcement notes that Chicken vs Hotdog was created with the help of inventor and engineer Dominic Yard. If you’re curious to see how an engineer applies their skills to the creation of games and toys, check out Yard’s website, This Is Yard.

The W.I.T.T.Y. Prize isn’t something I’ve covered in the past, but it gives me an excuse to post this charmingly ridiculous box cover on BGG News, so here it is.

Big Potato also won the W.I.T.T.Y. Prize in 2020 for the party game Blockbuster.

• The UK Toy Inventors group loves its acronyms! During its event, it also gives out the International Designer and Inventor of Toys (I.D.I.O.T.) Award “as a tribute to luminaries who have made outstanding contributions to the toy industry”. At the 2023 event this award went to Tanya Thompson, who is Senior Director, Innovation Design and Inventor Relations, Games at Hasbro Inc.

• Speaking of Hasbro, in late January 2023 the company announced that it would eliminate “approximately 15% of its global workforce” in 2023, which is roughly one thousand positions.

Hasbro’s revenue in 2022 was approximately $5.86 billion, down 9% compared to 2021, with Wizards of the Coast and the Digital Gaming segment contributing revenue of approximately $1.33 billion, up 3% year-over-year and 22.6% of Hasbro’s annual revenue.

In a press release, Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks said:

Despite strong growth in Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming, Hasbro Pulse, and our licensing business, our Consumer Products business underperformed in the fourth quarter against the backdrop of a challenging holiday consumer environment.

We are focused on implementing transformational changes aimed at substantially reducing costs and increasing our growth rates and profitability. While the full-year 2022, and particularly the fourth quarter, represented a challenging moment for Hasbro, we are confident in our Blueprint 2.0 strategy, unveiled in October, which includes a focus on fewer, bigger brands; gaming; digital; and our rapidly growing direct to consumer and licensing businesses. Through this strategy, we are putting the consumer at the center of everything we do, and our Operational Excellence program is on track to drive significant cost savings across the business and improve our overall competitiveness. These strategic pillars helped to improve our results, particularly operating profit margin and revenue growth in key categories, in a challenging fourth quarter, and lay the groundwork for continued progress in 2023.

I realize that the “we are putting the consumer at the center of everything we do” comment might sound odd given the recent hullabaloo about the Open Game License (OGL) for Dungeons & Dragons — summary here by Linda Codega on Gizmodo — but my knowledge of RPGs is minimal, so I’ve followed all of that only from a distance.

Having worked as a retailer decades ago, I can appreciate these comments by Paul Alexander Butler, owner of retail store Games and Stuff, on ICv2:

There’s a certain kind of customer who will want to complain and argue about how horrible Wizards of the Coast is. The big bad corporation is an easy target, and it feels kinda good to fight the man and talk about how awful they are.

I would whole-heartedly encourage you to not engage with these conversations…

I maintain that the vast majority of D&D fans are mercifully oblivious about the recent OGL drama. But guess what happens when those casual D&D players are in your store and you’re grumbling about how Wizards is awful and D&D is ruined? You’ve created an environment that is decidedly not welcoming to that person.

• Did you know that the Pictionary game show has been renewed for a second season on FOX? Did you even know this show had a first season? I did not, but now that hole in my knowledge base has been filled.

The show is hosted by Jerry O’Connell, who I will forever associate with Sliders, no matter what else he does. In an August 2022 press release that announced that show, O’Connell said, “Growing up, this was a family favorite and something I continue to share with my kids today. It’s a great privilege to help expand the reach of the experience, engaging contestants and fans of the game on a national scale.”

I look forward to seeing Doja Cat host the Azul TV game show in 2046!

Taboo is always an ideal get-to-know-you game, right?

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