Dungeons & Dragons is in a bizarre place right now—it's on the verge of the totally-not-a-new-edition ruleset revamp and an in-development virtual tabletop project, riding high off the back of Baldur's Gate 3. But Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has also suffered from a massive round of layoffs, and the bruises of the catastrophic OGL fiasco a year ago are still smarting.
This has laid the groundwork for a swarm of rumours regarding a potential sale to Tencent—a massive conglomerate and holding company with its fingers in dozens of different pies including Remedy Entertainment, Paradox Interactive, FromSoftware, Epic Games and (most importantly to the matter at hand) Larian Studios.
Said whispers began when the Chinese news outlet Speed Daily (as translated by Pan Daily) reported that WotC parent company Hasbro was "seeking to sell its well-known IP 'Dungeons & Dragons'", citing Hasbro's "financial crisis" as a reason for the speculation. That's despite D&D being a huge earner for Hasbro, achieving record years (as per a financial report last October) for the company.
Shucking D&D as a property entirely would be like throwing a crate of diamonds overboard to stop your ship from sinking—not something you'd do unless you were definitely about to drown. Which isn't completely out of the question. That same report noted Hasbro's total revenue was down "13-15%", and repeatedly cites a difficult situation for toys across the board. Still, I'm not sure if things are dire enough for a spontaneous bout of violin-playing. That's been confirmed in a comment provided to Dicebreaker, where Wizards of the Coast writes the following:
"We regularly talk to Tencent and enjoy multiple partnerships with them across a number of our IPs. We don’t make a habit of commenting on internet rumours, but to be clear: we are not looking to sell our D&D IP. We will keep talking to partners about how we bring the best digital experiences to our fans. We won't comment any further on speculation or rumours about potential [mergers and acquisitions] or licensing deals."
So there you have it: D&D isn't being sold to anyone. What's more likely is that Tencent—which owns a 30% stake in Larian Studios—might be thinking about pouring money into another D&D game. That should surprise nobody, considering the meteoric success of Baldur's Gate 3. Another licensing deal isn't just 'not out of the question', it's a plain good idea.
Under any other circumstances I'm not sure any of this would've made waves in forums and headlines. But the environment surrounding D&D at the moment is, understandably, one of fear. Hasbro's layoffs included several senior members of staff. Game designers, art directors, and Liz Schuch—the company's former Head of Publishing and Licensing, who was with Wizards of the Coast for 28 whole years.
There's a bordering-on-zero percent chance something like this would actually happen, but the background radiation of 'strange times' has a lot of TTRPG fans without a fuller scope of the situation willing to buy into speculative panic, and I can't say I necessarily blame them.