Thanks to Hasbro’s Investor Day (which I never have received advance notice about, and that annoys me since I own Hasbro stock), this is one of those weeks when the column almost writes itself. Let’s start with the fact that as ICv2 reported on Friday, Hasbro’s new Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming division makes more profit than Hasbro’s core toy division (see "WotC Makes More Money than Hasbro's Toy Business"). This pretty much puts to rest any ideas of Hasbro selling off either Magic or D&D; especially if Hasbro keeps pushing further into digital gaming (see "Rolling for Initiative -- Shining Fates and Yet Another Reason Why Hasbro Won't Sell D&D").
As was noted in the "WotC Makes More Money" article linked above, moving the Avalon Hill game line from WotC to Hasbro itself makes sense in that it allows WotC to concentrate on Magic and D&D and it also brings all of the board game properties that Hasbro owns into one category. Avalon Hill has a plethora of games in its catalog that are more complex than the games for which Hasbro is best known and republishing updated versions of them would give Hasbro greater entry into the booming strategy game market. This move also possibly explains the company’s recently settled lawsuits, as Hasbro would likely want to have any outstanding legal entanglements settled before setting up the new division (see "Rolling for Initiative -- Love, (Event)Links, and Lawsuits").
Hasbro also announced Magic expansions using the Warhammer 40,000 (which is rather strange given that Age of Sigmar’s fantasy theme would be a better fit for Magic but Warhammer 40,000 is more widely played in the US) and Lord of the Rings licenses (see "Wizards of the Coast's 'Universes Beyond' Announcement Reveals Their Licensing Plans for 'Magic: The Gathering'"). The Warhammer 40K version will release as Commander Decks while the Hasbro announcement does not clearly indicate in what formats the LOTR products will release. [note--corrected from an earlier version that indicated they would be full sets, 2/28/21 5:30 CT--ed.]
Both of these brands have released as TCGs before with limited success. The Warhammer 40K TCG from Sabertooth Games released in 2001 with four expansion sets, while Decipher’s Origins Award winning Lord of the Rings TCG was released the same year with 18 expansion set (see "LOTR CCG Expansions Set Through 2007") following until the license ended in 2007.
In general, TCGs have a limited run, ending after five to seven years, or when interest wanes. Even the currently hot Digimon property is on its fourth go-round as the first version of the game released back in 1997 with this the third revival of the property since then (see "Bandai Revives 'Digimon'"). I have lost track of the number of reboots the Dragon Ball Z TCG has seen so I expect to see these Universes Beyond sets as one and done.
Finally, although not mentioned during the Investor Day event, a change to the Strixhaven prerelease has caught a lot of retailers' attention. For the past several prerelease events, WPN stores have been able to purchase from an allocation of booster boxes of the set for sale during the prerelease, and more recently, the week between pre-release and release date. In the past, these have always been what WotC now calls draft boosters. At least for Strixhaven, stores in North American and most of Asia will receive Set Boosters to offer during the pre-sale period, instead of draft. Although WotC touts these as higher quality cards that enhance the pack opening experience, buyers will still get fewer boosters per box at a higher price per box. Given that most stores report higher sales of Draft to Set boosters, I imagine this a tactic by WotC to get more Set Boosters into the hands of players, figuring that, if Set Boosters are the only ones available, early buyers will purchase them, just to get the cards in their hands.
What do you think? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Column by Scott Thorne
Posted by Scott Thorne on February 28, 2021 @ 8:57 am CT