Throughout recent years, the growing commercialization of Magic: the Gathering has become an increasingly prevalent concern within the MTG community. This is no surprise considering that, under Hasbro’s influence, Wizards has been greatly expanding their catalog of products recently. For instance, within the past four years, Wizards have created Collector Boosters, Secret Lairs, and the Universes Beyond sub-brand. Through these products, as well as a handful of unique promotions, MTG’s collectibility has been pushed to new extremes. While many MTG players haven’t been too keen on this growing commercialization, it’s hard to deny the results. After all, in 2022, Hasbro claimed that MTG was on track to become the company’s first billion-dollar brand. Now that the year is over, Hasbro has revealed, somewhat unsurprisingly, the MTG brand has achieved that impressive goal.
Considering how much Hasbro had been hyping up MTG’s earnings throughout 2022, Magic achieving this momentous milestone isn’t too surprising. In fact, much of Hasbro’s recent earnings report wasn’t a major surprise, as Hasbro preannounced earnings back in January. This announcement revealed the disappointing news that Hasbro was laying off around 1000 employees from across the company. Alongside this news, Hasbro detailed they expected a disappointing Q4 performance which necessitated this cost-saving measure.
Less than a month after releasing this preemptive report, Hasbro has officially announced its Q4 earnings, confirming the difficult quarter. As expected, the company’s Q4 revenue slumped by 17% year-over-year, resulting in a meager revenue of just $1.68 billion. While this disappointing Q4 result is less than ideal, 2022 still had plenty for Hasbro’s investors to celebrate. As pointed out by Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks, much of this success was thanks to WotC and Magic: the Gathering.
“Magic: the Gathering had a record year and exceeded $1 billion in revenue for the first time,” Hasbro confirmed during their earnings report while revealing information about the year’s performance. “Each tent pole set to release through the first three quarters crossed $100 million in revenue for the first time, and the fourth quarter release, The Brothers War, is on track to do so in 2023.” Additionally, Hasbro highlighted how the initially controversial Universes Beyond Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks have been a standout success. Having been “reprinted three times to meet robust player demand,” it appears that the Universes Beyond brand is here to stay. Considering the past controversies with the brand, this might not be what a lot of players want to hear. Thankfully, progressing into 2023, it appears that players actually have some good news to be excited about.
Throughout much of 2022, alongside the growing collectability of MTG, players highlighted another primary concern that threatened the game’s future. Due to the increasing number of product releases, keeping up with MTG was becoming a frustratingly difficult task. Subsequently, time after time, players would ask Wizards staff to slow down the cadence of releases. Unfortunately for these concerned players, however, when answering these questions, Wizards remained committed to their current cadence of releases. As you can expect, this is what a lot of players didn’t want to hear. Remarkably, however, it appears that all hope might not be lost, following a statement from Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks.
Speaking in the recent Q4 earnings call, Chris Cocks revealed that MTG’s overwhelming release schedule may actually be slowing down. “You know, we’re taking some of the feedback to heart. We had some supply chain issues last year, which forced us to compress our release schedules, particularly in October. […] We’re gonna be spacing those [releases] out on a more even basis.” Claiming that Hasbro now has a handle on the supply chain issues that plagued 2022, Cocks doesn’t expect a repeat of October 7th’s double release. This should hopefully mitigate how overwhelming the release calendar is, even if the amount of products isn’t being reduced.
Alongside this statement, players have been longing to hear, Cocks highlighted how Hasbro is expecting less from MTG in 2023. While it’s still believed the brand will grow, Cocks stated they “think the growth will be a bit moderated versus what we saw in prior years.” Despite this tempered expectation, 2023 still has a lot to offer players. Not only are Dominaria Remastered and Phyrexia: All Will Be One performing well, but there are major releases in the works.
“I think we have some exciting new initiatives. I think the one I’m most looking forward to and I think we’ve seen some early success, is the Universes Beyond [sub-brand]. Our Warhammer set that we released in October of last year we couldn’t keep in stock, that’s on its third reprint. It’s doing very very well. […] As big of an IP as Warhammer is, we’re going to be going out with the OG of fantasy with The Lord of the Rings come this June. We think that’s a big fan base, it’s a very ripe adjacency for Magic: the Gathering. We think it’s a great opportunity for Lord of the Rings, to introduce them to our fanbase and help grow their business. And [it’ll] be an awesome opportunity to introduce Lord of the Rings fans who love fantasy into a deeply strategic game like Magic.”Chris Cocks
A Glimmer of Hope
While Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro might not be cutting down the bloated MTG release calendar, Chris Cocks’ statements are nevertheless good news. After all, Hasbro is listening to the feedback they’ve been receiving throughout the past year. Subsequently, 2023 may well be a year that MTG fans can look forward to. While it’s almost tempting to praise Hasbro for a change, ultimately, it’s too early to tell how much better things will be during 2023. Due to past controversies, we’re not expecting the year to go off without a hitch, but we’re nevertheless hopeful for the future.