Brian Jacoby of Secret Headquarters in Tallahassee, Florida saw Steven Olsen's comments on pre-release events (see 'Steven Olsen of A Little Shop of Comics on CCG Pre-release Events') and thinks WotC's pre-release program discourages excluded retailers:
My store is a full line comics and games store. We have been open for eight months (and two days!), and there is one store locally that is a Wizard Premier store. Due to their 'early release' program to these stores, I am seriously considering no longer stocking Magic: The Gathering at all. It's a product line that I saw as a 'must stock' product while writing my business plan, but sales on it are so poor, directly because of the availability of the product to a competitor weeks beforehand, that it is unprofitable. For the last release, the 10th Edition Core Set, I didn't even order a full display of the theme decks, just a handful (my distributor sells individual decks and boosters) and only two starters. I've had more sales of Paranoia in the past six months than Magic, and I only carry a handful of Paranoia supplements.
The pre-release program is only going to limit the number of retailers that carry the game, and when there are fewer places where product is on display, there are fewer people exposed to the product. By supporting the pre-release program, WotC is essentially telling everyone, 'If you're part of our club already, you're great! If you're not already part of it, we don't want you.'
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.