Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne continues to make games industry predictions for 2021 and beyond.

Having looked back at my decade predictions and finding them already coming to fruition, here are my predictions for 2020 (see "Rolling for Initiative -- January 2020 Predictions and RIP Jackie Cassada").  Incidentally, I have seen reports indicating that the pandemic has likely sped up the adoption of online conferencing and schooling by 5 years and online shopping by 10.  So here are my predictions for 2021:

No Organized Play Until At Least Third Quarter.  At least, the major companies won't offer OP till then.  There are a few companies that are currently offering some form of organized play but the larger ones, WotC, Konami,  and The Pokemon Company, have indicated they still plan to hold off authorizing in-store Organized Play for the foreseeable future (see "Wizards of the Coast Expands the Suspension of 'Magic: The Gathering' In-Store Play"). None of them want to deal with the negative publicity that would accompany an outbreak of COVID-19 at any sanctioned event, whether in-store or at a professional level event.  Once a vaccine gets widely distributed, the likelihood of the virus spreading at large events drops drastically.  My best guess,  from what I have read, is that we will see most of North America, Asia and Europe vaccinated and the virus under control by early summer.  Although we may see in-store play start up by then, the logistics of running a large event are a lot for companies to commit to, and I would not expect to see any OP launch before September and maybe not until 2022.

No Major Conventions for 2021.  The same problem affecting Organized Play will likely preclude any large conventions until next year.  Lining up convention space, getting guests and organizing lodging, and events takes a lot of organization. And again, given that conventions do not want to have an outbreak of COVID-19 during their event, and we are not likely to see the virus under control until summer, which is prime gaming and comic convention season, I doubt we will see large events take place. However, I would not be surprised to see comparatively small local and regional events attracting a few hundred to a thousand or so take place. Speaking from experience, it is possible to pull together a small convention with a couple of months lead time (see "Rolling for Initiative -- How to Host a (Gaming) Convention During an Epidemic"). However, I would expect the organizers to take quite a few precautions in order to keep attendees safe and we will  probably see these continue until 2022.

Magic Theme Boosters End.  Based on sales, I expect to see WotC quietly shelve Theme Boosters. Unlike Draft, Collector, and Set Boosters, we have seen very little interest in Theme Boosters since the first set in which they were released. Here, interest was so low, we did not order any Theme Boosters for the last two sets and never had a customer enquire about them. WotC has tried to drive interest in them by including cards that are not available in other boosters but players appear willing to buy those cards individually instead of buying a booster with 34 other cards of  a color they do not want to play or are common enough that they are available in other sets. Here’s hoping they drop the Theme Booster and come out with a good beginner set instead.

What do you think? Am I off the mark?  Email your thoughts and predictions for 2021 to

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of