In November, Bank of America analysts released a rare double downgrade for Hasbro stock, saying the gaming giant was “destroying the long-term value” of its Magic: The Gathering marks by overprinting the cards. On Thursday, CEO Chris Cocks and Wizards of the Coast President Cynthia W. Williams strongly pushed back against those claims. The executives spent nearly 45 minutes in a “fireside chat” publicly defending their strategy, while revealing important details about the future of the collectible card game – and its sibling, the card game. iconic Dungeons & Dragons role.
The presentation, which is archived online, opened with a detailed overview of the Magic base of players. Then, about 25 minutes later, host Arpiné Kocharyan, an analyst at UBS, got to the heart of the matter.
“There was this claim that you print too many cards,” Kocharyan asked. “What’s your one-sentence answer to that?” Williams started by explaining that major releases aren’t produced on a limited basis. Instead, the company uses a “print-on-demand” model, whereby Hasbro pushes more cards into the sales channel after its initial release when retailers demand more. Williams continued:
Our average post-launch sales quantities for our tent and premiere sets remained unchanged in 2022 compared to 2021. Overall, there is no evidence that Magic is overprinted, and the feeling of “Magic must reduce print runs to support prices” — this is a misunderstanding of our business and our customers. If our prices for a potential product increase significantly shortly after our launch, it just means we are not adequately meeting customer demand and making millions of gamers unhappy about their inability to acquire the card that they want to play.
Later, Williams rebuffed another claim, this one more recently coming from vocal members of the Magic online community – namely that the falling prices on the secondary market are proof that Hasbro releases too many card games every year. Response from Williams:
We understand that some gamers focus on the collectible commercial aspects of our product, and we’re always thrilled to see gamers enjoying and valuing our products for years after initial release. But we do not participate in secondary market activity for Magic products, and we derive no income from trading or selling. What we hear from some of our [Wizard’s Play Network-affiliated local game] stores that trade and sell cards after an initial sale, is that like any market for any other collectible product, some products and individual cards become more collectible than others, and values may change over time due to a multitude of external factors – many of them entirely unrelated to the number of cards printed. We have no indication that there is [have] have there been any significant negative changes in interest in trading or selling after buying Magic some products.
Williams and Cocks also spoke plainly about the fan response to the recent release. Magic: The Gathering 30th Anniversary Edition. The announcement of the nearly $1,000 box of four 15-card booster packs angered many long-time players as it included reprints of incredibly rare cards, including the legendary Black Lotus. Williams said Hasbro heard those comments loud and clear and responded accordingly by releasing fewer of those sets to market. Meanwhile, MagicWarhammer’s Warhammer 40,000 card game – part of its fledgling Universes Beyond initiative – is now in its third printing, and Hasbro is making as many of these cards as possible to meet consumer demand.
“Magic will be our first billion dollar brand this year,” said Williams. “We are building this brand ahead of the industry and pushing the boundaries of where we can take the product. More often than not we get it right […] and sometimes we step back and listen to customer feedback.
Williams went on to say that fans should expect six tentpole outings in 2023, just like 2022. However, those outings will be spread more evenly throughout the year.
“During the second half of 2022, we had a very compressed release schedule that was partly driven by supply chain issues,” Williams said. “But in 2023, we will return to our preferred release cadence of around two months between our tent sets, with individual micro sets sprinkled in between.”
Unconditional fans of Magic should also expect more crossbreeding with non-Magic intellectual properties, such as The Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who. The executives said that in the future, these types of collaborations will become the primary method of onboarding new players.
So what does all of this have to do with D&D? Williams said many of the growth factors that led to the success of Magic will also be applied to D&D, especially with regards to digital content. MagicThe biggest area of growth, according to executives, is in the digital space. So-called “hybrid players”, i.e. players who play Magic with physical cards and online using Magic: The Gathering Arena — spend 40% more than others Magic players. Therefore, the goal is to provide players with similar opportunities to spend money through the new D&D Beyond digital toolset.
“Dungeon Masters […] only make up about 20% of the audience, but they make up the largest share of our paying players [today]said Williams, who previously worked at Microsoft as general manager and vice president of its gaming ecosystem business team. offer many more options to create a rewarding experience.”
You don’t have to work too hard to read between the lines on this one. Hasbro is already getting customers used to downloading digital content through D&D Beyond with free stuff right now — like this holiday season’s digital advent calendar. Players should expect more micro-transactions on D&D Beyond throughout 2023.
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