What's wrong with the House of Mouse?


     Alright, let’s do this. Lorcana. Possibly the biggest thing to come to the trading card game world since inner-sleeves, and it’s already more divisive than pile-shuffling. It’s a collectible, a game, and it’s Disney. So why am I, as a store owner, already grumbling?

     From day one, MinMaxGames believed that Lorcana really had a shot at breaking into the world of TCGs. So much so that we purchased a few domains in preparation for its arrival (lorcanasingles.com, keep an eye out). Allocation time came as usual, and we placed our order with two distributors. We ordered thousands of boxes.

     Before I continue, we need to talk a little bit about the distributor model to understand why ordering thousands of boxes is an important part of this story. Large companies like Pokémon, Hasbro, and Konami use distributors to wholesale their games. Pokémon would rather sell boxes by the pallet instead of by the box, so they use distributors to break those pallets down and sell them in smaller quantities to stores. Distributors must request those pallets from the large companies to get the product. In order to gauge interest in the product and make their own giant order, they ask all their customers (local game stores, or LGS), “How many do you want?” That simple question is one of the most important that LGS’s must answer almost weekly.

     When the LGS tells their distributor they want 100 boxes of something, they are entering into a sort-of-kind-of-not agreement to take those boxes. Most distributors will not force you to take the product you asked for, but it will almost certainly leave a black mark on your account if you don’t. Imagine ordering 100 pizzas, and when they are ready to be picked up you only want 20 of them. Chances are that pizza place isn’t going to let you order 100 pizzas ever again. The opposite happens as well. You ordered 100 pizzas, but you really need 200, but you only asked for 100 so that’s what you get. Because of this timeline, it’s often that numbers are due well before cards have even been announced for a given set. Stores need to peer into their crystal balls (and bank accounts) to forecast the demand for a product with little to no information about it.

     Like all companies, distributors want easy, steady business. They want customers that order often, buy large quantities, and pay on time. Those are the main factors that go into the next part of the distributor model journey: the allocation phase. When an LGS tells their distributor they want 10 boxes, and the distributor adds up all their numbers and tells the large company they want 100 boxes, the large company then prints the product, and will tell the distributor how many boxes they will be given.

     Sometimes, it’s the same amount they asked for. Other times, they have extra to offer. Often, they get less than what they wanted. So the large company tells the distributor instead of 100 boxes, they can have 50. Now the distributor must figure out how to distribute 50 boxes when their customers wanted 100.

     In a case like this, everyone is going to experience some level of disappointment, both the distributor and the LGS. The larger LGS that might spend more than other stores will probably see more boxes come their way than the smaller stores. Now every distributor and company have their own way of dividing up these boxes, and they can vary widely. In general, the more business you provide, the closer to your full allocation you will typically receive. This should set the stage for our requested allocation.

     Our initial Lorcana request was not unrealistic for MinMaxGames. If anything, our number was placed more on the safe side. MinMaxGames received about 1% of what we asked for. That’s tiny. Unfortunately, this provides the harsh reality that we will not be able to properly provide Lorcana to our customers upon release.

     We will talk about how our product release will go at the end of this article, but now we need to talk about supply and demand.

     This graph will help us understand why Lorcana booster boxes are currently selling for almost 300% more than MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price). A perfect product that is readily available, has a great price, and generally fits the wants and needs of business and consumers alike will be found in the middle of this graph. That is the goal of every card game at release. We all want to be in middle-graph. When a company creates too much of a product, the supply line on the graph shifts to the right. When this happens, people are less likely to need or want the product, causing the demand to decrease. When you have a ton of something that no one wants, you typically lower the price. The opposite will happen when you have a very limited supply of something (like Lorcana), and everyone wants it. The supply line shifts to the left, and the demand for it increases, resulting in a higher price.

     That middle spot on the graph is ideally where you will find MSRP. When the graph moves too far to the left or right, the price will also move. In the case of Lorcana, the supply is extremely short, and the demand is extremely high, resulting in crazy prices. The good news is that those prices will come down, the graph will move to the right, and all will be well in the Disney house. When will that happen? Our crystal ball says October or November. Until then, expect high prices, close to zero availability, and scalpers.

     Our goal over the next couple of months is to get Lorcana into the hands of players, not scalpers. To facilitate that goal, we will be removing all outer packaging and seals from the products. If you purchase a booster box, you will receive the correct number of packs, but you may not receive the box or the box wrapping. If you purchase a Gift Bundle, the seal on it will be broken.

     We understand that this will deter some people from ordering from MinMaxGames, but it’s one of the few actions we can take to make scalping more difficult. We will be releasing our Lorcana Pre-Orders later today, July 29th. The time they will go live will be made known to only our email subscribers. We will have an additional listing for booster boxes that will be shipped out around September. We do not have an exact date, but we do have our confirmed allocation numbers.

     To recap; if you buy anything Lorcana over the next few weeks, you are paying more for early access. If you can wait a month or so, you will have access to almost all of the products, and a much lower price. If you do choose to pre-order with MinMaxGames, please remember that we have never cancelled a pre-order, or raised the price on your pre-order after you have paid, and we never will. We look forward to turning cards into Ink, gathering Lore, and Singing Songs! Remember, this is a brand new game, and with time, we will all have the cards we need to play.