A Magic: The Gathering card is displayed on a cellphone during a weekly tournament at the Uncommons hobby store in New York, U.S., Thursday, June 27, 2019. Photographer: Mark Abramson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mark Abrahamson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Hasbro defends his strategy for his popular game Magic: The Gathering.
At a conference hosted by UBS on Thursday, the toy company refuted criticism that it was printing too many card games for the soon-to-be-billion-dollar brand.
The comments come nearly a month after Bank of America downgraded Hasbro for underperforming from the buy, saying the company was “killing its golden goose” and could see a 34% drop in the course of action due to his mismanagement of the Wizards of the Coast unit that houses The Magic.
Jason Haas, who wrote the Bank of America report, said players are increasingly discouraged by a slew of new releases that have flooded the market and lowered the value of cards in the secondary market.
During Thursday’s conference call, Cynthia Williams, president of the Wizards of the Coast unit, said Hasbro had no indication of a broad decline in interest in gaming products.
“There’s no evidence that Magic is overprinted,” she said.
Williams said the company typically rolls out its flagship Magic: The Gathering card game releases every two months. But in October, she said supply chain issues had resulted in two sets being released at the same time.
She said the release cadence would return to normal in 2023, with major sets released every two months and micro sets sprinkled in between.
In the game, which can be played in person or online, players use cards to cast spells, use artifacts, and summon creatures to defeat their opponents. Rare and powerful cards can gain value in secondary markets as players seek to bolster their decks for tournaments or personal collections.
Regarding secondary market pricing issues, Williams noted that Hasbro does not make money from the resale of cards and that if the prices of recently released products increase significantly, it means “we are not responding adequately at the request of customers and we make millions of players unhappy with their inability to acquire the cards they want to play.”
She said Hasbro prints and reprints cards based on demand, both during presales and after the product is released.
“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 which are unrelated to the number of cards,” she said.
Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks, who was present at the conference, also raised concerns about potential price increases as the toy industry braces for inflationary pressures.
Cocks said the company took pricing action on about half of the Magic line — something Hasbro hadn’t done in 10 years — mainly because paper costs had risen dramatically and demand for printing presses print in the trading card market had increased.
But Cocks said he doesn’t think raising Magic card prices is the answer to long-term business expansion.
“At the end of the day, it’s about growing our player base,” he said.
Hasbro’s most engaged Magic players are those who play both online and in person at local game stores or with friends. Williams said the company sees most of its new players coming from the online community to local hobby stores to purchase physical cards.
She added that product expansions, such as cards based on popular franchises like Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who, can help her tap into fanbases outside of the Magic realm.
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