ICv2: Launch Initiative — “Magic: The Gathering

Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and marketing instructor at Southeast Missouri State University. This week, Thorne discusses Wizard of the Coast’s moves with Street of New Capenna, the relaunch of Saga and Ghost Rider, and inflation issues.

Wizards of the Coast has announced that the physical version of Magic: the gathering streets of New Capenna will arrive on April 22, 2022 for previews ahead of its digital release date of April 28, 2022 (see ‘Wizards of the Coast Prioritizes FLGS ‘Magic: The Gathering Prereleases Over Digital Release’). This means that stores will receive physical product for the set nearly a week before the digital release. The result of this decision by WotC is that we will not see game results go through the Magic world almost as quickly as they would if the cards had gone online first, because the dissemination of information about physical products is generally slower than information transmitted through the digital domain.

Online players can generally play more frequently and generate deck data quickly. Magic sites and forums also allow them to spread this information faster than IRL players, which affects the prices of individual cards. By delaying digital release, we’ll likely see an even bigger delay in single card price stabilization than we’re currently seeing. As it stands, we are waiting about two weeks before trading cards from a new set to give prices time to stabilize. Very often, especially with Yu Gi Oh!, a hot card skyrockets on initial exit, then loses value very soon after. We’ve offered brand new singles cards the first week before, a few times in the past, and we’ve seen the value drop rapidly soon after. The move should lengthen the time it takes for card prices to stabilize, creating less immediate fluctuations in single card values.

On the comic book sales front, never underestimate the power of a relaunch. We ordered heavily, for us, both on the return of Saga (see “‘Saga'”) and the revival of Johnny Blaze as ghost rider. Both of these titles sold out 95% of our order in 48 hours, which isn’t too shabby.

In the realm of inflation projections, prices appeared to be starting to fall as money from last year’s stimulus checks finally made its way into the economy. However, with the ongoing war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russian exports, I expect to see prices rise again. Sanctions on Russia mean that international trade sanctions are now in place against three of the world’s major oil producers: Russia, Iran and Venezuela. The global economy is doing well with sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, but Europe, last I checked, gets about 40% of its oil from Russia.

The United States, currently the world’s largest oil producer, has pledged to increase oil production to help fill the void left by the expected loss of Russian oil production, although sanctions may provide exceptions for energy, which makes them much less efficient. According to S&P Global Platts, about 75% of the world’s sunflower oil comes from Russia and Ukraine, and just under 25% of its wheat supply comes from both countries. Supply disruptions in these two countries are likely to result in further longer-term price increases for some food products.

Food is a necessity; games and comics are luxury items. When it comes to allocating dollars as prices rise, food will (usually) take priority over entertainment. Although it is doubtful, we will see the double-digit inflation rate from the late 1970s, the current rate of 7% still triples the numbers we have seen over the past 20 odd-numbered years and will likely continue for most, if not all of this year.

What do you think? Email your comments to castleperilousgames@gmail.com.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ICv2.com editorial team.

Daniel K. Denny