Rich Waldbiesser of Six Feet Under Games in New Holland, Pennsylvania saw Steven Olsen's comments on pre-release events (see 'Steven Olsen of A Little Shop of Comics on CCG Pre-release Events') and would like to see Wizards give the same support to all stores:
After reading Steve Olsen's column in Talk Back, I am reminded of many conversations I have had with various people inside Wizards of the Coast in which I have voiced my concerns over the damage that pre-releases do to the CCG industry. In a recent conversation, I actually provided my sales figures related to all of the release events which I have held in my store dating back to the Saviors release event. The numbers don't lie. The 10th Edition release (a.k.a. Worldwide Magic Gameday) produced the best single day sales that my store has ever seen. In fact, sales related to the Gameday events alone ($2,264.05) beat my previous best total sales day. Compare this with the abysmal $262.68 generated by the Time Spiral release event and you get the picture. While Time Spiral was a much more anticipated set, the pre-release, which was held two weeks earlier, sucked all of the money out of the pockets of my players. Even the mediocre 9th Edition had a better release at $927.41. In fact, only one of the eight release events which we held after a pre-release even beat the 9th Edition release (that set was Guildpact at $994.67). As a side note, Guildpact is the best selling Magic set our store has seen to date.
I had a store 10 years ago which specialized in CCGs. During that time, with no pre-release events (Revised through Mirage), our sales and tournament attendance were strong. We held large monthly tournaments and had no problem attracting 50+ players. Now, it is difficult to attract 10 players. The difference? Ten to twelve years ago, Wizards gave good prize support for tournaments held by stores and local Tournament Organizers. Now, the good prizes only go to the handful of Premier TO's. I have been told in very clear terms that if you are not already one of the club, no amount of work will get you there. So why should I work to develop a player base to make some PTO all of the real money? Our store was hosting Dreamblade 1K events until the cutback. Again, regardless of event quality or attendance, the PTO's were the stores to keep their 1K events.
Now we come to the real problem; the opinion of the players. Every one of the 30+ players that played at my Magic Gameday event said that they would rather have events like that for each release than have pre-releases. They made the point that since they spend the same amount for the events, they would rather spend the money in a local store, and that, at least for our store, we have better access to food, plenty of free parking (our nearest pre-release has a parking cost of $20 per day), more space for players and is not an hour-and-a-half away. Most only go to the pre-release to get the pre-release promo. I don't know how UDE runs pre-release events, but at Magic pre-releases, you cannot buy additional product. This takes away the opportunity for impulse purchases. Of the $2,264.05 related to the Gameday events, only $1,000 was actual event fees. The rest was all impulse purchases, much of it 10th Edition product.
It is time for the industry leader to actually stand up and lead this industry in the right direction. Wizards must stop supporting the few who help them periodically and start supporting the stores who support them year round. One way they can do this is to set minimum sale prices for their products, a move that will drive the Internet discounters out of the market and restore health to not only pack and box sales in the stores, but also help the lagging singles market. It's time for Wizards to show us, the brick and mortar store owners, that they believe we do count. Gameday numbers were strong all over the country. That should tell Wizards something. It has often been said that 'as Wizards goes, so goes the CCG industry.' That is generally true and the reason why they must take the lead in ending all pre-release events and give the stores good exclusives for release events. What Wizards does, others will follow.
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.