As some of you may know, Wizards of the Coast announced yesterday that they've "formalized a direct relationship with Amazon...Walmart, & Target."
Let's break down some of the statements from the announcement:
The goal here isn't to divert customers to these channels, it's to meet the customers who are already there and give them a better experience.
Magic products have been available from third-party sellers on Amazon for quite some time now. The best part? These sellers were local game stores going online to sell to people across the US and Canada. By WoTC entering into a formal direct relationship with Amazon, it will allow them the following:
1) WoTC will be able to sell a boat-load of sealed product to Amazon and get a huge payment from them quarterly (or however often) without them having to worry about holding a bunch of inventory in a warehouse, or offloading inventory through distributors
2) Amazon has the purchasing power, and logistics, to undercut ANY other Magic seller on amazon.com - read: LGS' currently selling on Amazon will be undercut and forced to sell at an even slimmer margin, or worst-case, negative margin to be able to continue selling on amazon.com
A formalized relationship gives us the ability to better distribute product to players who aren't lucky enough to live near one of the many awesome local game stores, to market to players where they are already shopping, to make sure that Magic is represented in a way that is worthy of its awesomeness, and to grow the game for the entire world.
I'm sorry, but this statement rings hollow to me. As mentioned by Wedge (video below) and many others on Twitter, TCGPlayer.com has thousands of local game stores posting their singles and sealed product for sale. You can routinely pick-up sealed booster boxes for ~$90. What is Amazon going to offer that these thousands of merchants cannot? Oh yeah, lower pricing and free two-day shipping (with Prime).
That is why we support them with organized play programs like Friday Night Magic and Prereleases, with promotional items and exclusives like Signature Spell Book, special edition D&D covers, with early release of product, and with Buy-a-Box promos.
Except WoTC announced a special direct-to-consumer premium product, Guilds of Ravnica Mythic Edition earlier this month. They're cutting out the middleman (local game stores) to sell what is going to he a highly sought after product directly to players.
Originally, this product was only going to be available through the Hasbro Toy shop website, and only to players in North America. After intense online backlash, they announced today that you can purchase the Guilds of Ravnica Mythic Edition from Channel Fireball and pick it up at a Grand Prix near you (including outside of North America). Of the 13 available Grand Prixs, GP Shizuoka is already sold-out.
Don't just take my word for it, here's what some other influencers and content creators had to say:
Wedge from The Mana Source:
Add on to the this that WoTC has also ended direct sales to LGS' in the US and Canada as of 8/31/18, and you have a pretty bleak outlook. How do you think these steps by WoTC will affect local games stores, and in-turn, organized play? Let us know in the comments below!