fightcitymayor
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http://icv2.com/articles/columns/view/32393/view-game-store-...

An interesting read, I will post highlights:

Marcus King wrote:
I've been a Magic dealer since the very early days of the game. I bought, sold and cracked boxes of Magic for singles since the days of Unlimited and Arabian Nights. I've been through the fiasco of Fallen Empires and other horrible sets. But, way more often than not the WotC/Hasbro Magic R&D team puts out a great product very regularly. So, it is with some surprise that I note in the past two years a very different pattern for my sales of Magic cards.

...

See, for years I have tracked my sales of Magic by categories thus:

Sealed Magic (sealed boxes), Loose Magic (packs and decks), Singles.

And, for years my sales were 20%, 50%, 30%.

But, the numbers began to skew at some point, and as far as I can tell it was the spring of 2013 when I noticed it. Sealed boxes dropped to about 18% and then 15%, loose packs dropped to about 40%, then 30%, and my singles jumped. A lot. Like, almost doubled.

...

About 15 months ago I began buying singles more aggressively, and opening more boxes for singles. We went from six binders and one box of loose singles, and one display case of singles, to 12 binders, two boxes and two display cases.

And, what we have found thus far is this: we can't find the ceiling. If we stock 300% more singles, we get 300% more sales (as long as it is the right singles). If a card is hot, we will sell out. If a card is popular, it is hard to keep any in stock at all. Staple cards for all formats sell and sell, and are hard to keep in stock.

During this time we have opened three times the number of boxes we previously opened. And, sales followed.

***

Is that a bubble in the market? I don't know, but I am cautious. I remember what happened when we had several powerful, popular sets in a row, and Kamigawa came along, and nobody wanted it. Players lost interest, and the market tumbled (at least for my stores).


So, long story short: Sealed product sales down, singles sales way up. Or should we say, the right singles sales up. It's interesting how many people sell Magic cards these days, so it must be some sort of growth business. I just went to TCGPlayer.com and picked a semi-random card (M13 Thragtusk) and there are 227 sellers trying to sell an M13 Thragtusk. I kinda wonder how enough buyers exist for this sort of thing (that 227 is just TCGPlayer, imagine how many more there are when you add in eBay and the other bigger Magic sellers out there.)

If I were venturing a guess, I would say new players are "cutting to the chase" so to speak and going straight for buying singles without resorting to boxes/cases of sealed product like enthusiasts have done in the past. Maybe it's the LCG effect where people don't want to dick around with blind boosters, but that says a lot about the current state of CCGs too. Interesting.

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Jason Walker
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Quote:
But, the numbers began to skew at some point, and as far as I can tell it was the spring of 2013 when I noticed it. Sealed boxes dropped to about 18% and then 15%, loose packs dropped to about 40%, then 30%, and my singles jumped. A lot. Like, almost doubled.


That was when Gatecrash/Dragon's Maze were out. I could be wrong here, but I seem to remember that preorder prices for boxes of Return to Ravnica where a bit higher than other sets before it because they were reprinting the shocklands, which were going for a lot of money at the time due to Modern demand. I think it was a jump from $90 to $100 at the major online stores, and I don't think they've really come back down since. So seeing sealed product take a hit while singles rise isn't too surprising to me.
 
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Chris Bender
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fightcitymayor wrote:
If I were venturing a guess, I would say new players are "cutting to the chase" so to speak and going straight for buying singles without resorting to boxes/cases of sealed product like enthusiasts have done in the past.


I was thinking it could be more an effect of internet sales vs. game store sales. If I'm buying a booster box I will pay a lot less online than I will at a game store. If I'm buying a single it will cost me almost the same to buy it online than to buy it at a store, so there is no incentive to buy online and save money.

Also, you can buy Magic: the Gathering packs at Wal-Mart and Target, which is probably taking care of a lot of the more casual players, but you need to go to a store to buy singles.

Bottom line: Magic is making a lot of people a lot of money right now.
 
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TravelSized wrote:
That was when Gatecrash/Dragon's Maze were out.
I have noticed that point serves as somewhat of a dividing line right now. The price of sealed boxes of older blocks usually goes down to a point over time until the supply dries up & older cards end up serving some use in various formats, then prices start climbing. But since Gatecrash (there's that "crash" word again!) the prices of booster boxes has held remarkably low:

Gatecrash
Dragon's Maze
Theros
Born of the Gods
Journey Into Nyx
Khans of Tarkir
Fate Reforged
Dragons of Tarkir

You can take your pick of ANY of those booster boxes and have them for $90 each all day long at multiple online retailers. Is this a function of oversupply since WotC printed so many? Or is it a function of underwhelming demand, maybe people didn't really cotton to those sets? Or is it a function, like Troll & Toad was saying, where individual cards are still sizzling hot sellers, but people aren't interested in breaking boxes to get those cards? Another option is that there are fewer cards worth meaningful dollars, so box breaks in recent years don't end up paying back the investment?

I admit I haven't bought a booster box since I got burnt with the underwhelmingness that was Dragon's Maze.
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chrisbender wrote:
I was thinking it could be more an effect of internet sales vs. game store sales. If I'm buying a booster box I will pay a lot less online than I will at a game store. If I'm buying a single it will cost me almost the same to buy it online than to buy it at a store, so there is no incentive to buy online and save money.
Possibly. It might depend on the store though. I know several FLGS that insist on stupid prices for currently "hot" cards, but if you are willing to just troll eBay for 1 night you can get them at 20-40% better prices. The "instant gratification tax" of FLGS is still in full effect, at least around here.
 
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