Hasbro Acknowledges Product Fatigue - Looking At The Current State Of MTG

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Genoslugcs · March 4, 2023 · 5 min
Hasbro Acknowledges Product Fatigue - Looking At The Current State Of MTG

Magic players have new products coming their way at a pretty insane rate these days. So much so, in fact, that many players (myself included) have a hard time keeping up with current releases or being excited about new releases in general. I think many of us have reached some level of product fatigue, and Hasbro/WOTC seems to have noticed. Here's what Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks had to say:

Hasbro-product-quote-picture

You can find it here if you're interested in the entire read.

Knowing that these issues are on the radar of Hasbro/WOTC is a great start. Hopefully, this means the company acts on the information and can take things in a better direction. The "spacing out Magic releases more in order to reduce product fatigue" concerns me a little bit. Because while it contributes to the problem, I don't think the spacing of the releases is the heart of the issue. Let's take a more in-depth look at "product fatigue", what it is, and what can possibly be done about it moving forward.

Why Are Players Feeling Exhausted By New Releases?

Let's start here - Most of the MTG players I know have mentioned the number of products available at the moment (and the lack of time between them) being tiring. I've heard players saying that they're taking a break from buying products and that they're becoming less excited about upcoming releases. And I feel the same way. The quote above seems to point to a lack of space between releases being the issue and there is some truth to it.

Recently we had Phyrexia: All Will Be One release; Then soon after had March of the Machine spoilers, followed closely by March of the Machine: The Aftermath, Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth, and finally Commander Masters. You'd think they there would have spaced these announcements out at least some. After all, Commander Masters isn't set to release for another five months.

Too Many Products

march of the machine products

That said, I think even more of the issue is actually the number of different products that come with each set. Not only do we have six sets in the mix right now (plus several more on the horizon) but each one has a plethora of products available. What's worse is that each one contains different things, and there really isn't much consistency between products/sets. As of now, most sets (but not all) have at least (but not limited to) these:

  • Draft Boosters
  • Set Boosters
  • Collector Boosters
  • Jumpstart Boosters
  • Bundles (with some having bundle variations)
  • Commander Precons

Too Many Card Versions Within Each Product

Exactly what comes inside each of these products changes from set to set as well - With each one containing exclusive cards and/or exclusive versions of cards. The most recent example of this is Phyrexia: All Will Be One - With many cards having Showcase, Borderless, Phyrexian, Phyrexian/Step-and-Compleat Foil, Concept Praetor, Oil Slick Raised Foil, Borderless/Step-and-Compleat Foil, and Showcase/Step-and-Compleat Foil versions.

Elesh Norn Mother of Machineselesh norn mother of machineselesh norn mother of machines

Which of the versions are which and which products they actually come in further adds to the amount of information that we're supposed to digest for each release. I think the Professor at the Tolarian Community Colledge YouTube channel said it best with the term "Mental Fatigue." I think that sums up the way it feels trying to keep up each set, its products, the card treatments, and which products contain particular versions. It's not impossible to keep up with but it's far from fun.

Especially when you consider that nothing is set in stone.

Constant Changes

Throwing a curveball toward customers every once in a while is cool. Breaking the rules and mixing it up is good. But there have to be some established rules to begin with or it's just a free-for-all. There are certainly more exceptions than standards these days.

There are countless examples but some recent ones are that Double Masters only had Draft and Collector Boosters, while Commander Masters will have those plus Set Boosters - There are no real guidelines as to what products a Masters set contains. Furthermore, Masters sets are usually comprised of solely reprints. However, Commander Masters deviates here as well and is introducing brand-new cards.

The Warhammer 40k precons had all foil collector versions for each deck but this isn't returning for Lord of the Rings. Further still, the Lord of the Rings set is releasing straight to Modern (similar to Modern Horizons 1 & 2), but isn't considered a "Horizons" set, while everything else on the release schedule (including March of the Machines: The Aftermath) will be Standard legal. There are nearly countless other small changes happening within each set as well. The main takeaway here is that not only is there a lot but there is almost no consistency to be found.

Related: The Ten Most Expensive Cards From Phyrexia: All Will Be One - Insane Prices!

This is a lot for veteran players, so I can only imagine trying to sift through all these products and variations as a new player. And you can try to only take in what's important to you. As mentioned by the Professor, if you play only Standard, you can choose to ignore Lord of the Rings and Commander Masters. But if you're a Commander player (the game's most popular format) every single set will have cards relevant to you.

So, in short, the problem is not only the number of sets and the lack of space between them but the number of products for each one and the lack of consistency between each set that really makes things exhausting these days.

Sets Feel Less Special/Important

In my opinion, the recent sets have been good, fun sets. But things move fast these days and before you really have time to get familiar with the cards, draft the set, brew with new cards, and update your existing decks, it's on to the next best thing. If the set has cards relevant to multiple formats and a fun limited environment, I think most of us would be content to only have that set on our plate for a little while.

I think the same is true for card treatments. Now, I don't speak for everyone here (I know many who enjoy them) but the abundance of special versions of cards and "lottery cards" makes them slightly less interesting. Furthermore, from a buying/selling standpoint, having many versions of a card that is hard to distinguish at a glance is not something people enjoy. Especially when the prices between versions can be quite significant.

What Is The Solution?

The overall issue of product fatigue is obviously on Hasbro's radar. Judging by the small quote on the matter, it seems like they are planning to slow their roll a little bit as far as release speed goes. Hopefully, they make good on this and space out releases and announcements of products a bit.

While this would give weary players some breathing room, I hope they take it a step further and try to rein in some of the other things I mentioned. Breaks between sets would help, but fewer products per set, less variation between each product, and more consistency between sets would help even more.

Conclusion

I must admit that I am pleasantly surprised to see Hassbro/WOTC listening to the player base. It's a great first step in making things simpler, fresher, and more fun - Especially for new players. Exactly how well they'll do at actually fixing some of the problems they're acknowledging remains to be seen but this is the first step in the right direction.

How do you feel about the current state of MTG releases? Have you experienced product fatigue? Do you enjoy the numerous versions of cards like Elesh Norn, Mother of Machinesimage or would you prefer fewer? Comment down below and let me know your thoughts.

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3 comments

Genoslugcs
I agree with both of you for sure. Hopefully, WOTC takes the message to heart.
ResistWeMuch
too many cards. can't even exhaust the possibilities with each set and then it changes.
DiesToRemoval
Couldn't agree more. I've been playing for over 20 years and I consume a ton of MTG related media and I can barely keep up with all the stuff they are releasing. It must be incredible daunting for a casual player. There used to be a ton of build up and excitement leading up to a new set release but it feels anti-climatic nowadays. I am glad they moved away from the old 3 set block formats because you'd have to wait a long time if you didn't like a block's aesthetics or mechanics.
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