Sunday, November 21, 2004

What Magic: The Gathering Taught Me About Business

Collectible card games (CCGs) are great games to play. But aside from that, they're also commercial ventures. Whenever I buy a booster pack, someone's getting my money. Whenever I buy a card, somebody also gets my money. Whenever I trade a card, somebody potential earns (hopefully it's me). No matter how you see it, money flows around CCGs. But unlike a lot of conventional businesses, potentially anyone can get into the business of CCGs. And me being the competitive and serious gamer that I am, I inadvertedly learned some great business skills thanks to immersing myself in Magic: The Gathering.

1) Not all trades are equal. Perhaps what makes CCGs different from other, regular card games is the fact that there's rarity involved. I mean there are common (11 in a booster pack), uncommon (3 in a pack), and rare (1 in a pack) cards. And even among cards of the same rarity, there's a difference in prices because of their value in gameplay. And of course, when you're just starting out, you do end up making bad trades (and the other person is only happy to oblige). I mean I was someone who traded a whole box of cards (which had a number or rare cards) for one common card because I thought the gameplay value of the latter was pretty good. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the latter could be bought something for around P10 ($0.20), while the other cards I traded in return cost me a lot of money ($10.00 at the very least). Moral of the story? Do your research, and learn to know a good deal from a bad one.

2) Buy in bulk. After my biggest financial mistake when it comes to gaming, I was determined never to fall for that trap again. So value for money was my main goal. And it was at that time that I discovered that you actually got discounts for buying in bulk in comparison to buying single booster packs. I mean I could get as much as a 15% discount if I bought booster boxes (36 booster packs) instead of booster packs. And saving money was always good, since that meant I could buy more cards. Buying in bulk has served me well, even until now, whether I'm buying anime, books, or just plain blank CDs.

3) Save. While buying in bulk was a good decision, I needed huge amounts of money in order to have the capability to actually purchase such an amount. Unfortunately, my weekly allowance was not enough. So I had to plan and save. I skipped my lunch and deferred the money to my savings which would be spent at the end of three months to buy the latest expansion of Magic: The Gathering. It was difficult at times but the long-term reward was great.

4) Sell what you don't need. Of course when I finally got the cards, since the cards are random, I usually have more than enough than what I'll actually use in a game. So what did I do with my excess cards (or those that I don't find useful)? Well, sell them of course. Or trade them for cards that you need. That way, I don't need to buy booster packs to get the cards that I want.

5) Buy singles when you need to. Of course there are times when I don't have all the cards that I'll need in order to play an efficient game. Since CCGs are random, hoping to get a specific card from a booster pack is actually quite risky. Buying a booster box was actually great since I needed several cards and most likely, I'll get a few of the cards that I want from that box. But if it comes up short, instead of praying to the gods and hope for a lucky booster pack, I buy what I need, especially if it's just a card or two. It'll save me money in the long run since I virtually eliminate the risk of getting useless cards. Sure, it might cost me more, but no one ever said a sure thing was going to be cheap.

6) Tax-free, easy to setup, and no rent. Since virtually anyone can buy or sell cards, the profits I get from the deals I make are entirely mine. If I sell a card for say, P50 (roughly $1.00), I'll get the entire P50. I don't need to share any profits with the government. And since the cards are on my person, I don't need to pay rent. I just go to a place where I can meet other players and trade cards with them. Perhaps the only investment I needed was the binder to keep the cards, and the cards themselves.

7) Distribution is king. In selling or trading cards, I realized that I could easily make a profit. I could either buy a booster pack and break down the cards and sell them individually (and usually, the rare card "pays" for itself while the rest of the contents of the booster pack are what I use for profits), or just buy a card from someone else and sell it at a higher price. And all I'm doing is transporting the cards from one place to another. Perhaps a savy method is when I don't invest any capital. All I need is to talk to someone who's interested in obtaining a card, go to someone who has that card and promise to pay for the card when I get back, and go to the first person and sell the card at a higher price than what the second guy was asking for. I take in the profit, and pay the second guy for the card. It's a transaction that I didn't need to have capital.

8) Prices fluctuate. The cost of individual cards can be as fickle as the stock market. Some go up in price when the expansion first comes out, and they eventually wane or increase over time, depending on the new cards that are introduced or the interpretation of the new rules. If you're smart, you can easily know which cards will go up in price and start hoarding them, and selling them at a later date for a higher price. Or perhaps look for a place that sells it cheap and go to a place that buys it at an expensive rate and make the exchange.

9) Be the buyer, not the seller. If one appears too eager to obtain a card, chances are you won't get a discount. But if you don't appear too desperate, either by hinting that someone else is selling it at a cheaper price or that you're only buying it because it's cheap, you'll probably end up with a better deal. Getting a good price is not just a matter of the right time and place. It's also a matter of attitude.

10) People, people, people. In the end, any business comes right down to people. The people I trade with are people. I obviously won't buy from my enemies since they'll charge higher for it, and I certainly won't sell it to them (at least not without a high profit). Similarly, the best bargains are when I'm making a transaction with friends. Both parties ease up when it the company of friendly people, and the exchange is smoother and more efficient. Treat your customers right and they'll treat you like a king as well.

Of course not all of this would be possible if I didn't have an open mind and one that was interested in learning. I mean I had to research the cards to know the best deals, and I had to meet and befriend a lot of people. It doesn't pay to be arrogant, and one can only benefit by being humble and accepting the fact that you can learn a lot from others.


Anonymous viagra online said...

men in this world all is a business, but you're right dude, as a player I spend a lot of money in card, boosters, decks and much others, my money pass through hand by hand and goes to nowhere.

11:01 AM  

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