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TSR was an American game-publishing company first founded as Tactical Studies Rules in 1973 by Gary Gygax and Don Kaye to publish Dungeons & Dragons. When Kaye died in 1975, the company was restructured into TSR Hobbies, which became a gaming juggernaut led by its popular flagship title.

In 1983, TSR Hobbies ran into financial difficulties, causing the company to split into four independent businesses, with game publishing and development continuing as TSR, Inc. By 1995, TSR fell behind its competitors in sales, leaving it unable to cover its publishing costs. In 1997, TSR was purchased by Wizards of the Coast, who initially continued using the TSR name for their D&D products, but ultimately dropped the moniker in 2000 when they released the third edition of the gaming system.


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Titles published by TSR:

Role-Playing Games

Wargames

Other Games

Magazines

Comic Books

Game Books

Novels

Video Games


  • Breakthrough Hit: Dungeons & Dragons launched TSR into popularity and remains its most popular title today, albeit under a different publishing company.
  • Creator Killer: Financial difficulties in the 90s, plus the overwhelming success of collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering and the overwhelming lack of success of the Buck Rogers projects, failed attempts to get on the collectible gaming bandwagon with Dragon Dice, and a whole pile of unsold novel series led to TSR selling to Wizards of the Coast.
  • Screwed by the Network: In the 1990s, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was at the peak of its popularity, an TSR had Lorraine Williams as its CEO. Williams made no secret of her disdain for gamers and the people who worked under her, and made a number of decisions that ultimately ran TSR into the ground before it was bought out by Wizards of the Coast, including:
    • Suing people left and right, including people who ran message boards for talking about Dungeons & Dragons on the internet on the basis that it was their intellectual property. This prevented new people from discovering the game through Internet word-of-mouth, gave their competitors who were using the new medium to promote their products an edge, and disenchanted fans.
    • Devoting a great deal of company resources to publishing and promoting Buck Rogers XXVC and its tie-ins, which failed pretty spectacularly. The Dille Family Trust got royalties for every Buck Rogers novel, computer game, and RPG supplement published and sold. The heiress to that trust? Lorraine Williams.
    • Publishing new settings in response to declining sales. The problem was that the settings, modules, and rules that governed them were so incompatible with each other that the player base became fragmented. For instance, a Planescape fan would have no use for modules meant for the Birthright setting.
    • Licensing terrible games, with Baldur's Gate being a notable exception and becoming the string holding the franchise together. It probably could have gotten more people into the hobby if message boards about the game didn't have to censor comments about the tabletop version for fear of lawsuits (see above).
    • Allowing neoptism to run rampant in the company, which resulted in unqualified managers.
    • Forbidding game designers from using company time to playtest products, on the reasoning that playtesting was just an excuse for the peasants to get paid to play games.
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