This is a response I posted on Reddit in regards to the price of the Double Masters set. The remaining text has been edited slightly but remains mostly in its original form.
You can read more of that thread here: https://www.reddit.com/r/mtgfinance/comments/gsl932/i_am_an_uberwhale_and_am_moderately_concerned/fs8nhh9/?context=3
My response to the price of Double Masters
Here’s the thing, I’m a whale. I don’t know that I would call myself an uber-whale, but a whale nonetheless. I sent somewhere around $1000 on Mystery Booster boxes. I still have two more Mystery booster boxes on backorder. I bought 3 THB boxes, 3 fat packs, a bunch of those theme kits, and tons of one-off packs with drafts. Did the same for Eldraine. And that trend continues for sets for the past year.
My LGS bought three of the Fetch Land kits and is regretting it now because of how much they have to ask for it. I told them if no one buys them, I’ll take them off his hands just so they don’t have to stress about it.
I bought every one of the Commander 2020 precons this year and probably around 10-15 last year (I used to run tournaments locally before Covid and footed prize support out of my pocket). This isn’t taking into account the money spent on Arena as well.
I have about 12,000 cards in my library cataloged and another 5x 5-row boxes, 4x 2-row boxes, 1 single row box, and a fat packs worth of cards not cataloged (another ~15,000 give or take. The large boxes hold 5000 cards but aren’t full).
For heavens sakes, I made a web app for Magic collection management and deck building because I wanted one that works the way I wanted it to.
I’m not saying this to brag, but I demonstrate the amount of money I spend on this game.
I’m drawing the line with this set and will not be buying it.
The Professor made a video regarding this. His points were spot on. One of the points he made is that buying pricing such sets, that are primarily reprints, out of the affordability range for a certain (and large) group of players will start to drive those players away. Unfortunately, this has been an on-going trend.
Despite Magic being more popular than ever, we are starting to enter a cycle where the adoption rate is very high, but churn is also on the increase as well. At some point, this will come to an equilibrium that will result in a smaller player base. When that happens, because the player base has declined, and running games will become more difficult due to the lack of players, the meta will be more narrowed, and the player diversity will be smaller, people will get bored and start moving to other hobbies.
This is the biggest issue with the Double Masters set. It is setting a precedent leading in this direction. It’s been long suspected that WOTC has been trending this way, but the release of this set, and the Fetch Land kits, are nothing more than outright proof.
I’m not saying this is going to happen overnight, or the next six months, but this could easily start trending this way over the next year or two. This is a typical Reddit ‘the sky is falling’ doomsday response either. I’ve spoken with a lot of people in a lot of different groups that have either recently given up on Magic or are seriously thinking about it because of this trend.
The player base is already starting to feel the pain of the increased costs.
At the end of the day, Double Masters will still sell out. WOTC/Hasbro will see it as a success because they aren’t monitoring the long-term metrics and CSATs properly (or they are and don’t care. It’s hard to say without more evidence on that part.) This trend of increased product cost and the amount of product put out each year go on until it’s too late.
The problem is that the inertia is already set. You can’t turn around a big ship overnight. These sets and products are planned years prior. By the time the issue is potentially corrected, the damage will be done, the player base will have been hurt, and WOTC will only be able to try and stem the bleeding. The damage will continue to be inflicted while they potentially try and correct the course.
As much as I like Rosenwater, and I understand the position he is in, I’m not sure if I find his Tumblr post to be genuine. It very much comes across as an explanation and an excuse with a half-hearted “help me help you” please. I get that WOTC is still a business and needs to make money. I get that it’s a collectible and it’s also a hobby. It’s a collectible I enjoy a lot. But there are much smarter ways to capitalize on a player base and create much larger revenues.
WOTC/Hasbro is focusing way too much on the RPU and failing to understand how to diversify and optimize their product line for maximum revenue instead. There is a difference between maximizing for RPU and maximizing revenue in general. RPU optimization makes more sense for a subscription-based service, especially in a specialty product like Cable and Internet packages, but not necessarily in products that require one-off purchases like MTG products.
A lot of people will argue that it’s cardboard and costs the same to print either way. That’s not the whole picture, though. There are costs associated with R&D, staffing, COBs, artists, marketing, etc… and we, as the player base, need to understand that so we can frame our arguments and displeasure properly. With that said, admittedly, the cost is most likely reduced in a set like Double Masters since it’s entirely reprints. Nonetheless, there are good ways to handle those costs and create products for both whales and non-whales while maximizing revenue, but it will also hurt RPU (which is a gold standard metric in valuation I’m afraid). The important thing to focus on is that overall revenue will be up, though.
I don’t think calling for boycotts is the right message here. It’ll be taken as another ‘sky is falling’ knee-jerk reaction by WOTC/Hasbro that will only prove that to be right when Double Masters sells out. Instead, I think that we need to be engaging Rosenwater and the rest of the people at WOTC with these thoughts and arguments. It will take that kind of conversation to power through metrics and market data and help them realize they are making a mistake.
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