27, Jun, 24

Swiftly Sold Out Secret Lairs Cause Considerable Concerns

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Back in January, Wizards of the Coast changed the name of the game so that any ol’ Secret Lair drop could sell out. Previously, this lofty achievement was reserved for standout and exclusive Secret Lair drops such as the preconstructed Commander decks. Now, it’s no longer a surprise when one or more Secret Lairs become sold out. The only question is: how long will it take?

Worryingly, it seems that new Secret Lair drops are selling out faster than ever before. Not only have we seen Hatsune Miku crossovers selling out in record time, but more drops than ever before are selling out. Sadly, this is creating a worrying trend that allows the vice-tight grip of FOMO to squeeze even tighter.

Secret Lair Sellouts

Wolf Token

Following on from the worryingly quick sale of the Hatsune Miku: Digital Sensation drop multiple other Secret Lairs have sold out. On the North American store, both Featuring: Not a Wolf and Prints of Darkness are now completely unavailable. Meanwhile, the UK Secret Lair store has sold out of Da Vinci’s Designs before anywhere else.

As much as the value of these Secret Lairs was somewhat suspect, it’s nonetheless unsurprising they sold out. By featuring synergistic selections of reprints, these drops changed the narrative that usually surrounds a Secret Lair’s release. In turn, this clever card selection has evidently seemed to boost sales to quite an impressive degree.

Unlike many past Secret Lairs, the cards in drops like Prints of Darkness are all playable in the same deck. The same is true of the cards in Da Vinci’s Designs and Featuring: Not a Wolf. This synergy makes these drops appear more worthwhile as a bundle, as you have a use for every card. 

In comparison, you may only be interested in one card in the Featuring: Julie Bell drop since they’re more diverse. If this is the case, buying a single on the secondary market is likely a smarter choice. As gorgeous as they look, dropping $30 on four cards you might not want is hardly ideal.

Admittedly, while reprint selection is likely a factor, it’s surely not the only one contributing to these drops selling out. The style, art, and value of the cards all surely played their part in driving sales for each drop. All that we do know is that these drops are no longer available and that they sold out worryingly quickly.

It Just Works

Dictate of Erebos

Currently, there’s no clear indication about why these Secret Lairs are selling out so quickly. In theory, MTG players may just like the styles, reprints, and crossovers that these drops offer. While this is the sensible answer, it’s worryingly easy to raid the kitchen cabinets for a makeshift tinfoil hat.

At the end of the day, it is in Wizards of the Coast’s best interest to have a Secret Lair drop sell out. Should this happen, they’ve made the maximum amount of money possible with no stock leftover sitting in a warehouse. Technically, this major benefit was shared by the print-to-demand model, however, limited-run Secret Lair drops have one key advantage.

Thanks to FOMO, it’s nearly guaranteed that more MTG players will be inclined to make a rushed decision to purchase a Secret Lair. Theoretically, this should increase the total sales overall as players don’t have an entire month to consider their options. Worryingly, the faster Secret Lairs sell out, the more potent the strength of the FOMO becomes.

In theory, this may be what we’re seeing with the Summer Superdrop 2024. Since recent Secret Lair drops have been selling out so much, players may be scrambling to purchase quickly. This would cause the remaining Secret Lairs to sell out even faster as FOMO grips even tighter still.

Sadly, this system is incredibly effective at driving purchases, especially for players on the fence about buying something. Due to this, it’s highly unlikely that Wizards is complaining about their Secret Lair sales getting better and better. That being said, Secret Lair drops selling out in a matter of days might not be entirely ideal.

Not Enough of a Good Thing

Shivan Dragon

Obviously, as many players know, the major downside of limited-run Secret Lairs is missing out on interesting and exciting drops. Curiously, while they do get the better deal, there are some problems for Wizards too. As soon as a Secret Lair drop sells out, Wizards starts to miss out on extra revenue from selling more.

Ultimately, this is the main argument against Wizards fully embracing and worsening FOMO by cutting print runs. To make as much money as possible, Wizards needs to pre-print as many Secret Lair drops as they can sell. Should Wizards underprint lucrative drops like the Hatsune Miku crossovers, they would be leaving money on the table.

At the end of the day, it’s in Wizards of the Coast’s best interest to predict Secret Lair demand as accurately as possible. Doing this, however, is a lot easier said than done, especially since pre-printing takes time. With Secret Lair drops only revealed a few days before they’re launched, Wizards doesn’t have time to base demand upon initial feedback.

Instead, the limited-run print model has left Wizards constantly guessing about how successful a Secret Lair will be. Considering the speed at which recent Secret Lair drops have been selling out, this clearly isn’t going well. Right now, we can only hope that things will get better in the future, but there’s little guarantee of that.

The Best of Both Worlds

Edward, Jackdaw Captain

Thankfully, for Wizards and Secret Lair-loving MTG players alike, there is a solution. Mercifully, this solution is a rather simple one too. To solve a lot of the problems plaguing both players and Wizards, the distribution methods can simply be combined.

When a new Secret Lair launches, Wizards of the Coast can have a supply pre-printed and ready to go. This will give some players the faster shipping times which have admittedly been lauded since their introduction. After this initial print run sells out, Wizards can switch to the print-to-demand model for additional orders.

While it would take longer for these additional orders to print and ship, it would ensure players don’t miss out. Similarly, Wizards of the Coast wouldn’t be leaving money on the table which seems like sensible business to us. There’ll even still be the faint whiff of FOMO thanks to the desire and demand associated with getting cards early.

Sadly, as much as this may seem like a perfect solution to us, it may never become a reality. For all we know, there could be production issues or business decisions that make this approach ultimately untenable. Despite the potential for problems, we can’t help but hope that change comes soon, as something needs to be done.

Thankfully, the Secret Lair team should at least be aware of the problems that are frustrating players. Not only are complaints frequent and loud on social media, but Mark Rosewater has supposedly passed feedback along too. Hopefully, thanks to this, it will only be a matter of time before something changes. Whether or not that will actually happen, however, remains to be seen.

Read More: Missing Major 2024 Set May Have Finally Been Found

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