Stirring Address - Modern Horizons
8, Dec, 22

Hasbro Addresses Claims They’re Overprinting MTG

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It’s safe to say that Hasbro has been in a lot of hot water recently. MTG players have been somewhat aggrieved for some time, however, recently things got a whole lot worse. Following a truly scathing report from the Bank of America, many of Hasbro’s potential flaws and failings were laid bare. In their report, Analyst Jason Haas even claimed that Hasbro was “killing its golden goose.” Following this report in mid-November, Hasbro has been suspiciously quiet about its plans for the MTG brand. Thankfully, after much anticipation, Hasbro has finally broken that silence in a “fireside chat” with the investment banking company UBS. While this presentation did reveal some interesting tidbits of information, Hasbro’s response to player concerns leaves much to be desired. 

“There Is No Evidence That Magic Is Being Overprinted”

Trail of Evidence
Trail of Evidence | Shadows over Innistrad

After few throughout the opening 20 minutes of the interview, host Arpiné Kocharyan asked the burning question. Addressing Wizards of the Coast President Cynthia Williams, Kocharyan stated, “there’s been this claim that you’re printing too many cards. What is your one-sentence answer to that? Maybe two sentences, whatever you prefer.” 

In response, Williams highlighted how, despite this supposed problem, demand for MTG is higher than ever before. “Most of our Magic releases and our skews are print-to-demand. This means that we print and reprint products in a set to support players and customers who want to buy it. Usually to play with it,” Williams explained. “After an initial selling period prior to the launch of a set, all reorders after that set reflects real demand.” With products being printed to demand, based on pre-beast and post-launch interest, theoretically, MTG isn’t being overprinted. Instead, Wizards and Hasbro are printing exactly how much MTG product players want. 

While this is a bold statement, it’s one that Cynthia Williams was keen to back up even more definitively. “In aggregate, there is no evidence that magic is overprinted. The sentiment Magic needs to cut print runs to support prices, that’s a misunderstanding of our business and our customers.” To support this emphatic statement, Williams noted that “our average post-launch sales quantities for our tent pole premiere sets remain unchanged in 2022 compared to 2021.” 

Following their statement, Williams seemed to suggest that Wizards and Hasbro need to print even more products. “You know, if our prices for a print-to-demand product rise significantly soon after launch, well, that simply means that we’re not adequately meeting customer demand and we are making millions of players unhappy at their lack of ability to acquire the cards they want to play.” 

“The Heart of Our Engagement Strategy” 

Radha, Heart of Keld
Radha, Heart of Keld | Core Set 2021

Alongside the claims that Hasbro and Wizards have been overprinting MTG, many players have been concerned about the health of their local game stores. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, many MTG players were left unable to play in person, with LGS’ suffering the consequences. While the worst of the pandemic, thankfully, appears to be behind us, many local game stores are still suffering. One major reason for this is the cost of Magic: the Gathering product. As we highlighted around the launch of The Brothers’ War, many LGS’ appear to be selling products at a loss. Thanks to competition from online retailers, and the growing cost of the product itself, this move wasn’t taken voluntarily. 

Despite the problems being faced by local game stores, however, Cynthia Williams attested that they’re still core to the MTG brand. “Our partnership with the more than 6,000 Global Wizards Play network hobby stores, is the core sales channel for our business. It accounts for up to 70% of our sales in [2022]. We are really delighted that we can support those passionate local small business owners to provide unique opportunities for our fans to engage in organized play and to build community at the local level. This is really at the heart of our engagement strategy and it has great benefits for both parties. As indicated by our survey data.” 

Alongside touting the successes of LGS’ for Hasbro and Wizards, Williams stated that local businesses have been growing too. “We’re pleased to see that this channel continues to grow and has strong performance. More than 80% of our storage reported that they are growing or equal to last year and over 60% report growth in their business.”

The Disgruntled Masses

Might of the Masses
Might of the Masses | Rize of the Eldrazi

As you might expect, given the expectation going into this fireside chat, MTG players aren’t too pleased by the answers provided by Cynthia Williams and Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks. Taking to social media shortly after the interview ended, many players subsequently voiced their frustrations. Reddit user u/Psychedelic_Panda123, for instance, highlighted the disconnect between Wizards’ approach and the player’s desires. 

“I think the biggest takeaway that I took was they wholeheartedly believe they are on the correct path. Completely ignoring the growing negativity of the Magic community.

There was one point that they mentioned that sets are print-to-demand, and they are only increasing supply to match what people are buying. But this is blatantly false as shown by evidence of the Amazon discount offloads earlier this month.

I think it is safe to say at this point that we cannot expect a pivot in direction. I for one plan to act accordingly.”

u/Psychedelic_Panda123

Latching onto this point, another Reddit user, u/VintageJDizzle, highlighted that this approach isn’t too surprising. “They aren’t reading Reddit. They are reading sales. People keep buying. What they say is not relevant. What they do is. If all these products stop selling, then they will change something. But because they are making them money and lots of them, they won’t.” 

At the end of the day, after all, Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast are both businesses. While customers are obviously at the core of any business, ultimately, businesses need to make money. This means that Hasbro and Wizards will both eagerly follow profits in order to ensure the company’s future. This may not be what players want to hear, but you can’t argue that it’s not effective when MTG is on track to become Hasbro’s first billion-dollar brand

Read More: MTG Product Fatigue Isn’t Ruining Major Story Arc

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