Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons fans will notice a slight increase in prices sometime between now and the end of 2021, as massive toy and game company Hasbro attempts to compensate for the still spiking rates affecting freight shipping across the globe.
Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner and CFO Deb Thomas explained the decision during a July 26 quarterly earnings call with investors. The company is “implementing price increases during the third quarter that should be fully realized by the fourth quarter. We expect this to offset the rising cost of freight and commodities we continue to see across the business," Thomas said.
Board game creators claim freight costs have jumped to twice their usual rates by January 2021 and show no signs of leveling off, leaving them in an uncomfortable situation, at best. Many, such as Root and Vast creator Leder Games, have eaten the cost, while others have been left with no choice but to ask customers to pay additional shipping months or sometimes years after initial crowdfunding payments.
Goldner explained that the price increase would be global, though foreign exchange rates apparently make providing a concrete figure difficult at the time of the call. Dicebreaker has reached out for more information regarding specific numbers. He went on to clarify that 10% would be “a bit high”, to which Thomas agreed. Both expressed confidence to investors that this move would allow Hasbro to continue to meet projected growth estimates in the face of dire logistical issues.
Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering maker Wizards of the Coast is a subsidiary of Hasbro, which also owns board games such as Monopoly and Cluedo, and produces toy lines for My Little Pony, Star Wars and other popular media franchises. Ostensibly, all of these and more would be affected by elevated costs, but what’s not clear is how this will affect the average player buying sourcebooks and booster packs on the retail side.
Both Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering have enjoyed record levels of popularity in the past few years, translating into record profits for Hasbro, and it has attributed Wizards of the Coast as one of the biggest propellants to an extremely profitable 2021. CNBC reported a year-long high in Hasbro’s stock at $103.54, along with a $1.05 earning per share figure that exceeded market analysts’ expectations.
It would therefore be understandable if fans and players asked why they - along with local stores and retailers - are seemingly being asked to shoulder the burden of what could be classified as operating costs. Wizards quit assigning MSRPs to Magic: The Gathering sets in 2019, citing it as an unnecessary hurdle to globalization. This also helped solidify the publisher’s ongoing formal relationship with Amazon as one of its main distributors, alongside large retailers like Walmart and Target, providing more competition for local game stores.
Booster boxes costs already bend to the whim of demand, which can be problematic when Wizards of the Coast prints limited amounts and forces an artificial scarcity on players. Local game stores won’t have the same ability to eat the extra cost if they feel higher prices will drive away all but the most loyal customers. On the other hand, there’s no indication Amazon or those large retailers won’t do the same. The ubiquity of the e-commerce-turned-everything-else company means many players won’t have much of a choice.