Wizards of the Coast give gaming stores an official suggestion as to how much to charge for Magic: The Gathering. In the States, this is called “manufactuer’s suggested retail price” or MSRP.
America isn’t the only place that has MSRPs or similar. In the UK there are “recommended retail prices” or RRPs, but the official guidance is not to use them if you’re the only manufacturer to makes the product.
Now, Wizards of the Coast will be dropping their support for MSRP. The change starts with War of the Spark.
There’s concern that small gaming stores may suffer, but we’ll have to wait and see. The advantage to the consumer when MSRPs are used is that we all have a general idea of how much a product should cost and bet with relative safety if we shop around all the shops selling that product will be selling it for about the same price.
Another concern is that without a suggested price that Wizards of the Coast offers to all retailers, no matter the size, that the big retailers will be able to arrange bulk deals. This arrangement would mean the big supermarkets and online stores could sell Magic: The Gathering for roughly the same price as local competitors and yet make more money on each transaction or pass on the savings to their customers. The last option may sound good if you’re a customer, but it makes it very hard for local and smaller stores to compete.
So, why are Wizards of the Coast dropping MSRP? They point out that the practice isn’t universal across the world and yet Magic: The Gathering sells globally. They need a strategy that allows them to act as a global company. They also say that this will not be a big disruption and will help them to communicate better with players. They published a short news article on it today.
Ultimately, it is early days, and the impact of this change has not yet been seen. It’s not in Wizards of the Coast’s interest to harm the ecology that has built around the card game, and local stores are much better at recruiting new players, helping people find real-life opponents and into leagues than supermarkets are.
Do you have any concerns about the loss of MSRP for Magic: The Gathering? Let us know in the comments below.