Although Magic: The Gathering may be pumping out new Universes Beyond crossovers all the time, Wizards of the Coast has admitted they may be a contributing factor in declining revenues at the company.
Universes Beyond has been Magic’s umbrella brand used for crossovers with everything from Street Fighter to Arcane. And with more planned with Doctor Who, Assassin’s Creed, Lord of the Rings, and Final Fantasy, the growing costs of all these collaborations may prove to be a mistake for Wizards.
In Hasbro’s latest earnings call for investors, it was revealed that revenue for the Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming Segment is down 16 percent compared to last quarter. While this segment includes much more than just Magic, such as Dungeons & Dragons and Hasbro’s entire video game business, the “incremental royalty expense” of Universes Beyond (or how much it has to pay to the owners of the brands Magic works with) has been named as a factor of this reduction.
Thanks to this, and other causes such as as the recent acquisition of D&D Beyond and rising higher production costs, operating profit was down to just $102.2 million, while profit margin reduced by almost two and a half percent. However, Hasbro is still confident, as Magic: The Gathering was recently declared Hasbro’s first $1 billion brand, and overall growth in Wizards of the Coast is expected to be up this year compared to last.
Despite Universes Beyond, Magic is still one of the biggest brands for Hasbro, alongside Monopoly. It is anticipating 2022 to have one of “the biggest fourth quarter” for the game thanks to both The Brothers’ War and upcoming 30th Anniversary celebrations (which has been the centre of its own controversy). It also revealed in the call that all five of the game’s current tentpole releases (Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Streets Of New Capenna, Commander Legends: Battle For Baldur’s Gate, Double Masters 2022, and Dominaria United) have sold over $100 million each, the first time in the game’s history that this has been achieved.
Universes Beyond has proved controversial with Magic’s community. Despite its products regularly being among the best-selling, players have long been concerned about Magic losing its own identity under the weight of so many external crossovers. Fans have concerns of a future where Gandalf blocks Pickle Rick, while Optimus Prime has lifelink, and, with each crossover announced, such a future feels more and more possible.
The recent announcement that The Brothers’ War would also be including as crossover with Transformers has been particularly controversial, as it is the first time a Universes Beyond product will be unavoidably bundled in with a mainstream Magic release. In defense of Universes Beyond, head designer Mark Rosewater said on his blog that, in the last five years, there have been “more Magic cards set in Magic IP than was done in the first twenty years of Magic.
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