Image: Workshop Games / Wizards of the Coast
A month after Bank of America downgraded Hasbro’s stock over fears it was “killing its golden goose” by oversaturating the market with Magic: The Gathering cards, the toy manufacturer says that’s not the case. “There is no evidence that Magic is overprinted,” Wizards of the Coast president Cynthia Williams told investors during a recent corporate strategy “fireside chat.”
Magic: The Gathering is currently on its third printing of the latest Warhammer 40K crossover set. To some fans, it’s an exciting time for the decades-old card game about dueling wizards amid a flurry of new releases and spin-offs. For others, fatigue is beginning to set in as they accuse publisher Wizards of the Coast and parent company Hasbro of flooding the market with too many cards. Executives at those companies argue that’s nonsense.
“In aggregate, there is no evidence that Magic is overprinted, and the sentiment of ‘Magic needs to cut print runs to support prices’—that’s a misunderstanding of our business and our customers,” Williams said when asked about the criticism during Thursday’s presentation (via Polygon). She added that average sales for new releases haven’t changed year over year and that the company is simply printing on demand to meet current players’ needs. “We have no indication that there [have] been any broad negative changes to interest in trading or post-purchase selling of Magic products.”
One particular flash point for some players’ frustrations with the direction of the game’s expansions was a recently announced 30th Anniversary Edition boxed set. It reprinted rare cards from the earliest days of Magic, allowing players a shot at acquiring them for $1,000 per set of four booster packs. It was an overpriced loot box on the one hand, but it had the potential to devalue long-time fans’ collections on the other . Williams said Wizards of the Coast heard the feedback from fans and collectors, and changed course to produce fewer of the packs as a result.
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But the real issue lies in the growing pains the game is undergoing as Hasbro and Wizards try to bring in new players and make more money off it. While the game previously catered mostly to hardcore competitive players, it’s now trying to cultivate other more “casual” players as well, including by aggressively partnering with other major media properties—Transformers, Lord of the Rings, Final Fantasy—to reach other fans.
Williams blamed part of players feeling overwhelmed by new Magic releases in 2022 on scheduling issues that led some expansions to happen back to back. 2023 is expected to return back to normal with six “tentpole” sets equally scattered throughout the year. But some fans feel the real issue is Wizards and Hasbro trying to squeeze even more revenue out of a single game.
“I think the current Marvel Cinematic Universe trend is very similar. At first, one movie a year was cool and exciting,” one player wrote on the MTG reddit. “Now it’s fatigue. Three movies in three months, TV shows of different genres, and they all connect, OR DON’T, and sure, someone probably likes MODAK and Loki, but how does that impact She-Hulk?”
Another fan likened it to cookies instead. “Most Oreo purchases are made by Casual Oreo Consumers,” their Twitter thread parody began. Assassin’s Creed and Doctor Who-flavored MTG cards are expected to start shipping in 2023.