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Bigger than Monopoly

Hot on the heels of my Barnes’ Best article naming Magic: the Gathering the best game of the 1990s comes some surprising news from Hasbro, the megacorporation that now owns Wizards of the Coast.

Hasbro is declaring that Magic is the “largest game brand” in the United States, to the tune of $200 million in annual revenue. And for those that think that tabletop gaming is dead, that’s double the brand’s 2008 take. The news was disclosed by Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner on a conference call to shareholders, and was a bright spot in a report that also saw Hasbro miss its Q4 profit goals. Sure, we’re not talking Call of Duty numbers here but for a tabletop, hobby-facing game this is amazing.

There are a couple of interesting takeways from this. One is obviously that Magic remains a strong, vital brand as it nears its 20 year anniversary. Another is that Hasbro is effectively telling us that Magic is a stronger, more financially lucrative brand on a yearly revenue basis than Monopoly, Clue, Battleship, and other perennial mainstream games in their portfolio. According to the article at ICv2 it’s not clear what exactly this figure is accounting for, but I’m assuming that it includes revenue from the XBLA/PSN games and all products that carry the Magic label including in-store play programs such as Friday Night Magic, licensed accessories, and other channels.

So yeah. Bigger than Monopoly.

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Michael Barnes

Games writer Michael Barnes is a co-founder of Nohighscores.com as well as FortressAT.com. His trolling has been published on the Web and in print in at least two languages and in three countries. His special ability is to cheese off nerds using the power of the Internet and his deep, dark secret is that he's actually terrible at games. Before you ask, no, the avatar is not him. It's Mark E. Smith of The Fall.

6 thoughts to “Bigger than Monopoly”

  1. Since they used the word “brand”, I’d say that definitely includes things like the Duels of the Planeswalkers XBLA/PSN game (which incidentally is great if you like Magic but don’t have the time to keep up with the paper game or disposable income to keep an ongoing massive collection cards) and I’m guessing Magic Online as well.  That having been said, that’s still a huge number and as somebody who still actively follows the development of the game, I can say that the people behind it have been tooting their own horn lately about how the raw numbers of players has been climbing steadily for the last few years and are currently at an all-time high.

    They’ve made some pretty focused changes in recent years with regards to streamlining game terminology and templating to make an easier learning experience and completely rethinking how they handle the core sets.  Core sets now happen every year and are numbered by year like car models instead of just “Nth Edition”.  They are also bigger and contain a mix of reprints and entirely new cards, instead of consisting solely of reprints like they did before.  They’ve also been increasingly pushing stand-alone products outside of the yearly expansions for special, casual formats such as Planechase, Archenemy, and Commander.  There’s been a real push towards Wizards adopting officially supported multiplayer formats in the last five years or so.

    And I just now realized that I sound like a damn commercial for the game.  Well, just call me a really big fan.  No game is perfect, but I believe MtG is one of the best out there.  If you used to play but fell out of it years ago like I did, they’ve really pushed hard to become more accommodating to new and casual players outside the yearly expert level expansions.  At the very least, check out the Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 game.  It’s actually a really good way to teach new players the basics of the game, and I’ve personally used it to that effect on my wife of all people, who used to think MtG was about the nerdiest thing possible.  Well, she still does, but she actually likes it now. 

  2. I totally second the Duel of the Planeswalkers recommendation. It’s a _great_ way to play Magic without the fuss (and expense) of the hardcopy game. You do miss out, frankly, on some of the more interesting aspects of the game in terms of deckbuilding, the metagame, and good old face to face competion but there’s PLENTY to enjoy in the video game for casual and hardcore fans alike. The AI is actually pretty good, the solo campaign is fun, and the online multiplayer is great.

    I _loved_ the old Microprose game too.

    Why there’s not a M:TG app is beyond reasoning for me. That could be such a huge success, particularly with IAP ‘boosters’ and expansions. PLEASE tell me someone at WotC/Hasbro is doing some R&D on it…

  3. My friends dragged me back into magic this year and I’m having a blast. The thing that is amazing about the game is the forms that it takes. The game is different depending on who you play with it or even where. Every group has this culture of magic and it’s different from group to group. I think that is what keeps it going.

    Also this new set or or whatever is all about werewolves vamps and spirits so it’s a pretty neat theme.

  4. Yes.  Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 is a very fun and cheap way to get your Magic fix in.  When I play with other people in real life (slightly less often than monthly), I exclusively do booster drafts or sealed events, so I never get to play with even remotely tuned decks (that might say more about my drafting skills though).  The first version of this game didn’t let you properly tune your decks (you could add cards to your decks but you couldn’t remove them), but with the 2012 version, they still require 60 card decks (which feel SO slow) but at least you get to really personalize it. 

    I also use this as a way to get my girlfriend to play Magic with me (in the cooperative multiplayer modes).  I have not been able to get her to join me to play with people face-to-face, however.

    As for the actual card game, I’ve enjoyed a lot of the blocks the last few years, including Innistrad/Dark Ascension this year.  I don’t actually get much of anything from the Core sets, so I don’t have an opinion on those.  Also, Magic definitely needs to be on the App Store.  God, I would waste so much money on that…

  5. Why there’s not a M:TG app is beyond reasoning for me. That could be such a huge success, particularly with IAP ‘boosters’ and expansions. PLEASE tell me someone at WotC/Hasbro is doing some R&D on it…

     

    They just came out with an app just for reading articles and building decks and stuff like that, and it’s embarrassingly bad.  If they can’t even do that right, and Magic Online is also a pretty poorly botched program, but popular just because the game is so awesome anyway, Wizards’ digital branch is seriously incompetent.  It makes me want to work there to get some good blood in, except that I bet they must pay like crap to get such flagrant incompetence.

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