Anniversaries: A Time for Celebration or Greed?

Magic: The Gathering is one of the biggest trading card games in the world. The game has a dedicated following of players worldwide since 1993 and has inspired a rich lore and community of fans. With its mix of strategy, luck, and creativity, Magic: The Gathering remains a beloved game for players of all ages and skill levels. Magic is also closely tied to art. Each card in the game has a unique piece of art relating to the contents of the card itself. Some cards even get new artwork throughout the years to keep the game fresh. The artwork is an essential part of the game’s design, helping to bring the game’s creatures, spells, and artifacts to life. The artists who create these artworks are an integral part of the Magic community and are celebrated for their contributions to the game’s aesthetics. The cards themselves are often sought after by collectors and enthusiasts for their beautiful artwork and unique designs. Magic has also inspired numerous artists and illustrators, many of whom have gone on to create their own successful careers in the art world.

The beginning of this year, 2023, marked the game’s 30th Anniversary. To celebrate this, Wizards of the Coast (the creators of Magic: The Gathering) released a special anniversary edition set. The set totaled 60 collectible cards that included some of the game’s most iconic and oldest cards. In theory, this seemed like a good idea for Wizards of the Coast to release, but it ended up flopping and enraging most of their fanbase. The price for these 60 cards was $1000, which was priced way higher than anything they’ve ever released. The price was outrageous, and the cards aren’t even legal in tournament play. That’s $1000 for essentially 60 collector’s items. The set was only available for purchase online for a few hours until Wizards of the Coast took down the listing and said “The sale has now concluded.” Many fans have speculated that Wizards took the listing off themselves without truly selling out because of all the harsh criticism they received.

For comparison, one of the other big trading card games, Yu-Gi-Oh!, just celebrated its 25th anniversary. For their celebration, they released a set of card packs for just over $30, which went over very well with their fans. This is so much more realistic, as it allows all of their fanbase to take part in buying the set and celebrating. The Yu-Gi-Oh! set was also made tournament legal, so fans could actually use the cards after opening.

The Magic: The Gathering collector’s box situation just doesn’t seem right. It feels like a crime to expect their fans to pay $1000 (when historically nothing has ever touched this price) to enjoy the game’s history. Wizards of the Coast is relying on the nostalgic art of the old cards to reel in their fans. Hopefully next time Wizards of the Coast has a big milestone to celebrate, they can make up for their 30th anniversary mistake and give their fans what they want.

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Tim Sweeters

16 thoughts on “Anniversaries: A Time for Celebration or Greed?

  1. It definitely was a bad move on the Wizards of the Coast part to price their anniversary merchandise super high. The price it was listed for was similar to fans reselling on third-party websites like eBay. I agree with other people that this isn’t a crime, just bad practice. The actions of the company seems to have cost a lot of the fans’ trust. Anniversary events aren’t all bad. Just like the Yu-Gi-Oh! example, a well-thought out merchandise could include limited editions or previously limited designs that are priced slightly higher than usual.

  2. This is an interesting article because it brings into question what is and is not crime. Would it be a crime if an astronomical, outrageous price according to most people was put on an item, but some select few people still agree and pay the price? While most may consider this a ‘scam’ in colloquial language, I think that the fact that both parties agreed on a set price means that is would not be crime, despite how unreasonable it seems. However, I do agree with the article’s stance and the rest of the comments in that this was a scummy thing to do by the company when they didn’t respect their long time fans’ dedication to the game and decide to put out a nostalgia trap limited edition item for an unprecedented price.

  3. It somehow feels that it is forcing people to accept the high pricing of its anniversary pack, because if people do not purchase it, they may feel like they are not part of the anniversary of something they like despite the time and efforts they put into it and feel far away from the community. In this case, it do seems that the game company is the one to blame for over-pricing, although it could be argued in another way that such cards are more like arts and collections instead gaming tools, and therefore may have valid reason to have price that seems way above their usage.

  4. This sort of pricing angers me. While it is perfectly fine to relive your old legacy and release something that has been in the vault for so long, the price tag which it comes with is absurd. This in no way rewards the fans that have stuck with the game for many years but rather gets them to renew their loyalty for some cards that may never see use in any tournaments. If you want your most prized possessions to keep their value, dont rerelease them Instead, work on ensuring that your legacy persists by making your newer stuff even better.

  5. It is definitely outrageous for Wizards of the Coast to expect their fans to pay $1000 for anniversary cards that are not even playable in tournaments. I think with the trend that occurred a couple years back with the unsealed first edition of Pokémon trading cards and the holographic Charizard going for insane prices, Wizards thought that they could do the same with their 30th anniversary box. While the Magic: The Gathering box did seem to bring back fan favorite and older cards, I think that they definitely hoped and relied on the nostalgia to fuel people buying them. I definitely do think that anniversary sets do not necessarily need to be priced the same as the regular sets, and can be priced a bit higher since they are celebrating the game, it is still outrageous to make your fan base pay something like $1000 for it. Whether Wizards of the Coast took down the listings themselves and did not actually sell out is left to be seen, and I think that the best indication of whether they did or not would be when the next anniversary set comes out and seeing the listings for those. All in all, I hope that Wizards of the Coast learns from this and follows the example Yu-Gi-Oh! has set for their future anniversary releases.

  6. It is interesting how expensive things as they age. As it gets older, the prices will only go up on the account that they are “Vintage” and are a “collector items”
    Also, I do see the point of raising the prices if it is rare

  7. Magic: The Gathering was definitely overly greedy in charging outrageous prices for their 30th anniversary cards. However, I can almost guarantee that there were people who bought these cards thinking that if they were to buy it, they would be able to make a profit off of it. Since they took these cards down, these resellers can call these cards “exclusive” and try to sell it for even more money. I wonder if Magic: The Gathering made them expensive because they know what these resellers would do. Either way, it definitely did not work out for them and hopefully they can make a special deck for those who were waiting a long time for it.

  8. Capitalism at its finest, unfortunately. It’s tough enough that there are different modes to play Magic, which attempts to allow everyone to use cards they’ve purchased to play. However, with cards rotating in and out of play in certain seasons, it ultimately favors new players rather than older players who’ve invested more time and money into Magic cards. New mechanics are being integrated into Magic which can heavily change gameplay and the value of certain cards (can increase or decrease). So again, if no one has invested in Magic, they are at an advantage in acquiring modern cards that increase their chances of winning more games even tournaments. It boils down to a classist level as well, the more powerful and rare a card is with high utility in games, only individuals with money can acquire them (unless they’re literally bestowed or bequeathed. (Magic is people’s life/income).

  9. The author aptly states their viewpoint and disappointment in Wizards of the Coast. It does indeed seem unfair to be charging this large amount and as a player myself, it seems unfair that these are unplayable cards and the only then purpose would be to have them for resale which does not make sense. I too agree that I am disappointed with them and would easily support another card game brand like Yu-Gi-Oh which seems to value its players with its cheaper card release.

  10. The pricing for the anniversary cards is an grand move on the company’s part for sure. They overshot the price on something that is usually sold for less by other card game companies, possibly thinking that the fans of the game would greatly purchase these cards to celebrate a big day of another year of keeping the franchise alive. It’s feels like a crime by the large price coming out of nowhere (judging by the fans reactions, it was an unusual occurrence) and this not feeling like a celebration that lot of people can experience, but this can be seen as a lesson for the company to know where the limits stand for card prices and when a reasonable price can give both parties what they want.

  11. Whilst this isn’t a crime as the nature of capitalism allows for all business to set prices at what they seem fit, this is an interesting example of general corporate greed when the knowledge of consumer demand exists for a product. I’d presume that since this received so much backlash, it would serve as an example for all companies for the future that price gouging unnecessarily will not always be supported by consumers and can harm a company’s reputation for the long run. It’s good to see that a company like Yu-Gi-Oh! was able to launch a similar styled product in a way that was much more preferred and accessible for consumers. However, for more necessary goods, it is important to know that there are some regulations to prevent excessive price gouging and reduce the power of large potential monopolies.

  12. Wizards of the Coast has more recently gained the reputation of being a greedy company. Not only with Magic but also with Dungeons and Dragons, so them pulling something like this wasn’t that surprising to many. What was surprising was the outrageous price people were expected to pay. And not mentioned in this article, but very important to contextualize the backlash, is that the cards you get are random. There is a pool of cards you can get randomly inserted into these packs that cost $1000. Some of them are incredibly sought after, some are almost literally trash.

    Wizards of the Coast knew that die-hard fans and collectors would salivate at the mouth to have these. The price reflects that. They knew that they would get some backlash, but ultimately, they would sell a few thousand of these and make a couple million.

    Unfortunately for them, the outrage spread past the Magic community into the greater TCG community and was picked up by more mainstream sources. Which is good, but this controversy has not stopped them whatsoever. They will be releasing a collaboration with Lord of the Rings that has a 1 of 1 (1 made for the entire world randomly inserted into 1 pack) version of The One Ring from the series. Although kinda cool, this is no doubt a huge cash grab that will 100% increase sales dramatically. Again, WotC know their audience. And they won’t stop anytime soon. I guarantee you that.

  13. $1000 is an insane amount to ask for trading cards, but this is coming from me, someone who has no experience with trading cards at all. Although insane, I don’t think it’s a crime. If people really wanted something, they’d pay the price. I know a couple of people who would pay $30 for a single Pokemon card with Japanese art, so I get why this company would even considering putting these expensive trading cards on the market. To be honest, if I had the money, I’d spend thousands on a handbag, so I guess it just depends on people’s preferences and price range.

  14. I don’t necessarily think this is a crime (Magic’s sale of an incredibly expensive anniversary card set). Yes, it is outrageous and I certainly wouldn’t buy these cards or support them, but no one is forcing people to buy these items from them. Really a poor move on them for doing this though.

  15. While I would also agree that the price of a thousand dollars for a set of 60 cards is outrageous, I would not consider it an actual crime. I would consider it more of an overpriced item. When you think about it, these are classic cards that are returning in order to celebrate the anniversary of one of the iconic trading card games. So the company responsible for making Magic: The Gathering expects to profit off of the rare cards that they are re-releasing again. However, those high prices are set by collectors who have sold them on websites like eBay. Reselling them in a whole collection not at a reasonable retail price is what sets the company with a negative image. Not to mention that those cards are also only being used as display and not used for regular playing. It’s restrictive As stated in the article, Yu-Gi-Oh celebrated its anniversary at a reasonable amount of $30 and all their cards can be used for regular play. Yu-Gi-Oh had the right plan and execution while Magic: The Gathering had the right plan but bad execution

  16. I feel like this was a bad move on the company’s part. This traditional game has been enjoyed for decades by many at a specific price point, so I can understand the shock their fans were in when this was released. Although it may be special edition, the sudden skyrocketed price alienates a lot of people that could have wanted to buy it.

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