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 reviews the predictions he made at the start of 2021.

No Organized Play Until At Least Third Quarter.  I expected that Wizards of the Coast, Konami, and The Pokemon Company would hold off sanctioning in-store organized play until the third quarter, after the epidemic had died down, which I expected to happen during the summer.  Unfortunately, cases started an upswing in late fall, but both Konami and WotC did reopen sanctioned in-store play in areas where local regulations would allow it.  Pokemon, possibly because its players skew much younger and thus are less likely to have received a vaccination, has not started up in-store organized play and likely will not in the immediate future.

No Major Conventions for 2021.  I was outright wrong on this one. Multiple convention organizers, including  Origins, Gen Con, Pax Unplugged, New York Comic Con, C2E2, and Emerald City Comic Con, as well as the San Diego Comic Con (Special Edition) decided to hold in person as well as virtual conventions this year (see "San Diego's November Con").  As near as I can tell, they did so without any major outbreaks, so we will likely see a return to a "normal" convention schedule this year.

Magic Theme Boosters End.  Nope, not yet.  If anything, WotC is throwing more Magic: The Gathering into the mix to see what sticks to the shelves, and so far, sales have justified the company continuing its line extensions (see "Are the 90s Back?").  Of course, as I tell my brand marketing students regularly, line extensions generally only cannibalize sales from other products within the brand mix, they do not generate new customers for the brand.  There are only three ways to increase sales: increase the size of a sale to your customers, to sell your products more often to your customers, and get new customers. WotC’s current marketing strategy appears, with the increase of chase cards and Secret Lair drops, to adopt option one and make larger sales to its current customers.  This works for a while, but every year a company has a certain percentage of its customer abandon it and unless you have a strong recruitment program in place, a company’s customer base will slowly diminish.

In the department of "I did not see that coming" the promotion of WotC President Chris Cocks to the position of Hasbro CEO (see "Wizards of the Coast President to Run Hasbro") took me by surprise, indicating just how important Magic (and D&D) have been to Hasbro’s bottom line.  Cocks’ background in the video game industry (of which Hasbro desperately wants a large segment), coupled with WotC delivering 75% of Hasbro’s profits in at least one quarter last year (see "WotC Segment 75% of Hasbro Profits in Q1") made him highly desirable for the position.  Hasbro has wanted to expand its digital footprint over the past decade; it will be interesting to see what happens, especially with M:TG Arena and the physical products.

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