Posted November 3, 2012 by Chris Nitz in TCG Lounge

The TCG Lounge: The Magic the Gathering Monster


I had a great discussion with a friend regarding the behemoth that is Magic the Gathering and its insane popularity. It started with us discussing how much we missed playing the World of Warcraft card game and why is it that nobody plays that game in our respective parts of the country. I mean let’s face it; any new collectable card game that hits the market has to fight for shelf space from Wizards of the Coast and a vast MtG install base. So why is it so hard to play something that does not contain five colors and magic?

First off is the obvious answer of install base. MtG is the oldest CCG still on the market that receives new updates every year. Countless revisions, expansions, and tournaments exist solely for Magic players. To tackle that is to ask to move Mount Everest over a few miles so someone else may erect a new mountain. Players invest their hard-earned money into the Magic system, it is rather difficult to entice them to invest in something that is new, untested, and nobody knows how the adoption rate will end up.

Next, we must look at the stores themselves, particularly the small game store. Big box stores can easily stock two or three different games with little worry about their bottom line. On the flip-side, the smaller game stores must watch everything that comes and goes. This makes it harder for owners to invest in the latest card game craze, only to sell it at a loss in six-months because it never took off. I know this because I worked in a store when the owner received pressure to stock a new game for a few patrons. A few months later that game got the discount treatment just to get it off the shelves so that something newer might replace it. Game stores operate on narrow margins, and this kind of risk is harder than deciding to pop the red pill or the blue pill.

I ate your cash for breakfast.

Lastly, we hit on marketing and research. MtG advertising is crazy. Face it, game stores always have some form of Magic banner, signage, or poster up in highly trafficked areas. When a new player thinks about what card game they might want to try out, chances are Magic the Gathering is one of the first things they think of. Even Wizards of the Coast cannot compete with the giant they have made. Does anyone remember Hectatomb, or the flop that ended up being?

I hate to say it, but MtG is here and it is here to stay. I love plenty CCG’s and I have invested in a few of them as well. However, I only ever play these with friends as no store in the last four states I have lived in embraces anything outside of Magic. Love it or hate it, any developer looking to break into the flopper world must tackle the giant that is WotC and their game: Magic the Gathering. And yes, I know about Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon, but that is a matter for a different day.

Chris Nitz

I am a Ames, Iowa based photographer. I enjoy automotive, macro, still life, and street photography. To relax I wrestle dinosaurs.