Mark Rosewater, head designer of Magic: The Gatheringfor Wizards of the Coast, identified “highlights” and “lessons” from Magic sets published since October 2018 in his annual State of the Union essay, with key points that are applicable to retail sales.

As a "highlight," the design team got better at identifying what players want in a set with the 2019 releases, Rosewater wrote. WOTC has classically designed most of the Magic sets in existence from a pure mechanics and theme standpoint, and player suggestions often went by the wayside. But in recent years, Rosewater and his team have been using polls and Twitter to source player opinion data, and translating it into themes for cards and mechanics. He pointed to Modern Horizons as an example of a set that responded to long-time player feedback by including Changelings, Silvers, Ninjas, and snow as card sub-types.  Responding to player requests is undoubtedly positive for sales.

As a lesson, Rosewater admitted that the name of the Modern Horizons set may have misled consumers into thinking it was a set mostly for the Modern format. While it did feature several cards used in the Modern format, the set was clearly loaded with cards for Legacy, Commander, and casual formats. It is possible that the name led consumers to believe that the set was only for Modern, thus deterring the players from other formats from purchasing product.

In addition to the misleading name choice, Rosewater recounted feedback he received that indicated players had a tight window of time to draft Modern Horizons before Core Set 2020 arrived. For retailers, this couldhave hurt sales of Modern Horizons with the two sets essentially occupying the same short sales cycle, and Core Set 2020 having a lower price point of the two products.

There were a few observations Rosewater made about Core Set 2020 and War of the Spark that were notable. Rosewater explained that Core Set 2020 drafted very well, and provided several cards that were applicable in multiple formats. This is generally good for retail sales because it encourages competitive Magic players to crack more packs either in draft or searching for rares. However,the set didn't have a very strong theme which possibly made it less attractive to players who are fans of the storylines.

War of the Spark offered a planeswalker-themed set that the player-base "loved" according to Rosewater. They enjoyed getting a planeswalker per pack, and the response to the event set was overwhelmingly positive. The sales ramifications of War of the Spark's solid reviews are a partially known quantity at this point because it hasalready over-performed in sales (see "'Magic' Sales Drive Hasbro Q2 Growth"), according to Hasbro.