Game publisher ends direct sales to local stores

Wizards of the Coast is a publisher of fantasy and science fiction-themed games originally ran from a basement. Wizards of the Coast, now owned by Hasbro, publishes card games such as Magic: The Gathering and tabletop games such as Dungeons and Dragons.

The direction Wizards of the Coast has been taking with Magic: The Gathering card game is questionable. I think WotC (Wizards of the Coast) is either hinting at completely stopping production of paper cards, or they think that they have so much money now that they can do whatever they please without any negative effects on their pocketbook.


In recent years, the card quality has dropped significantly. The new cards coming out warp within 24 hours and bend too easily, compared to older cards. WotC says they like to “experiment” with their product, but I think the terrible card stock experiment has ran its course long enough.

Wizards of the Coast stopped distributing MtG cards directly to game stores this year, announcing their decision in July. This forced local game stores to order through distributors, which made the price of MtG booster boxes rise for local game stores.

Additionally, WotC announced this year that mega-companies such as Amazon and WalMart can now receive direct distribution from WotC. This further distances local game stores from making a decent profit from Magic: the Gathering.

Aaron Eldridge, the owner of Stormcrow Games in Lubbock, poses the question, “What is that (Amazon direct distribution deal) going to do for me running local events for players?”

The heart of the game is in local game stores. Players can meet, play, befriend other players and play competitively at these stores. Typically, the LGSs (Local Game Stores) run events and tournaments, sometimes two or more times a week, and barely see any overhead for these MTG events.

The open-beta release of Magic: the Gathering Arena has also come into play this month. I am not very familiar with the economics and state of Magic: the Gathering Online, but it seems to me that MtG Arena is the replacement for MtG Online.

mtgplayBut could it also be a replacement for the paper cards in the future? I hope that is not the case, although the direction WotC has been taking regarding paper card quality and distribution hints to me that WotC may be losing interest in the physical aspect of the game.

I do not think that we would see a complete paper replacement for a very long time. That would kill many aspects of the game. Players who enjoy the paper aspect of the game can and will still be able to play certain “formats” of the game. “Formats” are different ways to play Magic, which include specific rules, though lists of banned cards vary between the formats. However it seems that the general consensus of LGS owners on Reddit is: Amazon was always undercutting us anyway; this does not change much.

Eldridge adds, “It’s going to have to run the test of time and see if they have got an idea behind this.”

I agree with Eldridge. Who knows what WotC is thinking and planning? As a consumer, all I can do is eat popcorn, support my local game store and hope the game stays healthy and as fresh as my popcorn.

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