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Hasbro strongly refutes claims that it is “ruining” Magic: The Gathering

In November, analysts at Bank of America issued a rare double downgrade on Hasbro stock, claiming the gaming giant was “destroying the long-term value” of its Magic the Gathering brand by overprinting cards. On Thursday, CEO Chris Cocks and Wizards of the Coast President Cynthia W. Williams pushed back hard against those claims. The executives spent nearly 45 minutes during a “fireside chat” publicly defending their strategy, while also revealing key details about the future of the trading card game – and its sibling, the iconic role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.

The presentation, which is archived online, opened with a detailed look at Magic player base. Then, about 25 minutes later, host Arpiné Kocharyan, an analyst from UBS, got to the point.

“There̵[ads1]7;s been this claim that you’re printing too many cards,” Kocharyan asked. “What’s your one sentence answer to that?” Williams began by explaining that major releases are not produced on a limited basis. Instead, the company uses a “print-to-demand” model, where Hasbro pushes more cards into the sales channel after the initial release when retailers demand more. Williams continued:

Our average post-launch sales volume for our tent pole, premiere kit remained unchanged in 2022 compared to 2021. Overall, there is no evidence that Magic is overexpressed, and the feeling of “Magic need to cut circulation to support prices” — that’s a misunderstanding of our business and our customers. If our prices for a potential product rise significantly shortly after launch, it simply means that we are not adequately meeting customer demand and we are making millions of players unhappy with their inability to obtain the card they want to play.

Williams later pushed back against another claim, this most recent coming from vocal members of Magic online community — namely, that declining secondary market prices are evidence that Hasbro is releasing too many sets of cards each year. William’s answer:

We understand that some players focus on the collectibles of our product, and we’re always excited to see players enjoy and appreciate our products for years after their initial release. But we do not participate in secondary market activity for Magic products, and we also receive no income from trade or sales. What we hear from some of our [Wizard’s Play Network-affiliated local game] stores that trade and sell cards after an initial sale is that, like any market for any other collectibles, some products and individual cards become more collectible than others, and values ​​can change over time due to a variety of external factors – many completely unrelated to the number of printed cards. We have no indications of that [have] been any broad negative changes in interest in trading or selling after buying of Magic Products.

Williams and Cocks also spoke candidly about fans’ response to the newly released Magic: The Gathering 30th Anniversary Edition. The announcement of the nearly $1,000 box of four 15-card booster packs angered many long-time players because it included reprints of incredibly rare cards, including the legendary Black Lotus. Williams said Hasbro heard that feedback loud and clear, and responded in kind by releasing fewer of these sets to market. Meanwhile, MagicWarhammer 40,000 sets of cards – part of the burgeoning Universes Beyond initiative – are now in their third printing, and Hasbro is making as many of these cards as possible to meet consumer demand.

Magic will be our first billion-dollar brand this year,” Williams said. “We’re growing that brand ahead of the industry, pushing the boundaries of where we can take the product. More often than not, we get it right […] and sometimes we go back and listen to customer feedback.”

Williams went on to say that fans should expect six tentpole releases in 2023, just like 2022. However, those releases will be spread out more evenly throughout the year.

“In the second half of 2022, we had a really compressed release schedule that was partly driven by supply chain issues,” Williams said. “But in 2023, we’ll return to our preferred release frequency of about two months between our tentpole kits, with individual micro kits sprinkled in between.”

Die-hard fans of Magic should also expect more crossover with non-Magic intellectual properties, such as Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who. Executives said that in the future this type of collaboration will become the primary method of bringing in new players.

So what does this have to do with D&D? Williams said many of the growth factors that have led to the success of Magic will also be applied to D&D — especially when it comes to digital content. MagicThe biggest area for growth, the executives said, is in the digital space. So-called “hybrid players” – that is, players who play Magic with both physical cards and online use Magic: The Gathering Arena — spend 40% more than others Magic players. Therefore, the goal is to open up similar opportunities for players to spend money through the newly acquired digital toolset D&D Beyond.

“Dungeon Masters […] make up only about 20% of the audience, but they are the largest proportion of our paying players [today]”, said Williams, who previously worked at Microsoft as general manager and vice president of the Gaming Ecosystem Commercial Team. “For the rest of the players at the table, we think digital will allow us to offer many more options to create a rewarding experience.”

You don’t have to work too hard to read between the lines on this one. Hasbro is already getting customers into the habit of downloading digital content through D&D Beyond with free material right now — like this holiday digital advent calendar. Players should expect more microtransactions on D&D Beyond through 2023.

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