At least it wasn’t a D&D Content Creator.
For those who haven’t heard the TTRPG news blasting all over the Internet at full volume, Magic: the Gathering YouTuber @oldschoolmtg accidentally opened cards on the air for a set that has not been released yet. His channel can be found here. In a heavy handed, blundering response, Wizards of the Coast sent Pinkerton agents (Yes, those Pinkertons,) to retrieve the cards. Yikes on so many levels.
To make things slightly worse, the Pinkertons left a card and told him call WotC. The tactics employed by the Pinkertons were shady at best. They threatened this man with arrest, fines, etc. Apparently WotC offered up some sort of replacement.
This could have been resolved so much more delicately and tactfully with a phone call or even an email. might have sufficed. Instead WotC sent armed thugs with badges to this man’s house to intimidate him and his wife. They confiscated the cards in question which as far as anyone knows were legally purchased. Apparently a distributor sent the wrong boxes by mistake.
It could have been worse.
We’re talking about armed Pinkerton agents showing up at this man’s house. They allegedly threatened to get the sheriff involved. Then the Pinkertons went through and confiscated all of the cards, boxes and even booster wrappers. Damn.
With all of the shootings we’ve had in the U.S. lately, we’re all fortunate no one was physically injured. Please bear in mind, the whole incident involved Magic: the Gathering cards. The set @oldschoolmtg opened is due to release May 12th. That’s not even three weeks out. Seriously? WotC had to send guys with guns to this man’s house? WtAF?!?
A little thing we call “Street Dates.”
Manufacturers often pre-ship products in order to release a new set of cards, a book, or a new miniature all at the same time from every retailer. Magic: the Gathering does this frequently because they also have tournaments that rely on these cards being available. In the book publishing industry this is a common practice. The stores have the new product on hand, but can’t sell it before X date so everyone can have the same product on the same date.
Without this practice, stores farther away from the distribution points could suffer a loss in sales due to shipping delays. Basically everyone on the West Coast gets their product on May 12th, but because the cards have to travel via carrier to Boston, they don’t arrive until the 14th. This is why some distributors have boxes of M:tG boosters well in advance of a new sets’ release date.
In the publishing industry it is really bad mojo to break street date if the store gets caught. Employees do accidentally stock novels ahead of street date without knowing they weren’t supposed to go out until X day. If a store does this and gets caught, they might not get new releases ahead of time ever again from that publisher or parent company. Basically, the idea is to give everyone a fair shot at getting the newest and shiniest at the same time. It’s a FOMO thing.
If someone unknowingly buys and opens a product ahead of street date, you don’t send armed thugs to their house.
Seriously, it’s not the consumer’s fault even if he did open them on YouTube. If WotC wanted to make an example of someone, they should have politely asked for the distributor’s name and address from the customer instead of sending armed Pinkerton agents to retrieve the legally acquired product. WotC literally could have handled this dozens of other ways.
So, this distributor who sent the cards is probably thinking, “oops.” If they even know anything about what happened. Meanwhile, @oldschoolmtg gets whatever WotC offered instead of the cards he rightfully paid for. I’m sorry, but if Barnes & Noble breaks street date on the 2024 D&D Player’s Handbook, are the Pinkertons going to raid my house if I buy it a day early?
I would have taken a different approach with the Pinkertons, personally.
Okay, I know it’s easy to say because I wasn’t there. I happen to be fairly well educated on my rights as a journalist. One, Pinkertons aren’t cops. Two, bring me a valid warrant, because I want the name of the judge who signed off on it. Oh, wait. Why are we getting a warrant when no crime has been committed?!?
Family, he opened cards that weren’t released yet on YouTube. That in and of itself is perfectly legal. Sure, it’s an inconvenience for WotC, but it’s technically valid. Just like if you get ahold of a movie script and spoil the ending on the Internet, it’s not a crime unless the physical script itself was stolen.
If a gaffer working for a movie studio witnesses every scene to the next Avengers movie and blabs it to all of his buddies on Facebook, he can. Meta’s Terms of Service might get him, but no one is going to send Pinkertons to his house. He might lose his job, but violating his NDA isn’t necessarily illegal.
But, my point is, the Pinkertons showed up with a bucket of empty threats. Luckily for them, @oldschoolmtg apparently consented to letting these goons into his house to seize his property. I would have settled it court, even if it meant getting hauled off in cuffs. The ACLU could have had a field day with this one.
I’m not a lawyer. This is not legal advice.
YouTube aside, and the videos were taken down, this man’s personal liberties were trampled on by armed goons. I think someone at Wizards of the Coast has plum lost they damned minds on this one. I personally would have taken WotC to court for as much money as humanly possible out of the deal. I mean, seriously, they’re Magic cards, guys. Was there really no better option to settle this?
I can’t speak for anyone else in the #ttrpgcommunity, but WotC has pretty much lost my business until they figure out how to deal with their customers. You know, us? The paying public that they seem to have zero regard for? I mean, just, WTF?!? Why?
WHY must WotC continue to blunder publicly?
I have a theory. WotC is like that annoying child in the back of the 6th grade classroom that will do anything to get attention. They’ll even do some seriously negative sh🦆t just to stay in the press. Why? I think it’s because the new D&D is due to drop in 2024. I think WotC wants to keep making noise so their Reptilian Overlords at Hasbro stay satiated that WotC is doing something. (Loud and stupid, but they’re still doing something.) Meanwhile work continues on the new Virtual TableTop.
Also, GAMA is in town so to speak in Las Vegas. What better way to take attention away from the competition? (Look up “Lorcana” if you need proof.) So, let’s do something really loud over in another location to take attention away from what’s going on at GAMA with a card game that’s probably going to beat out Magic in its own market within a few short months of its release if all goes well.
Just one more disaster this year for WotC, I guess.
At this point, I’d volunteer to do Public Relations for WotC. I’m not joking. If they wanted to pay me, I’d happily go out to Renton and explain to them that they need to stick to making good games and keep their mouths shut. No more phone calls to the Pinkertons. No more Kyle Brink interviews. No more discussions of racism before they go to PR first. Give me $50K per year plus room & board and we won’t have to explain our way out of dumb sh🦆t nearly as often.
I’m not spending any more money on this D&D until they get their stuff figured out. Chris Cocks should really step in at some point before anything else blows up in WotC”s faces. I wonder how much further Hasbro’s stock is going to drop after this one. It’s getting serious, you guys.
I have my own pet theories as to what might happen next, but we’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile the new Unearthed Arcana playtest has dropped. So far, I’m not thrilled. It’s more incentive to work on my own fantasy TTRPG and just about anyone else’s.
Thanks for stopping by. Remember, if you open cards on YouTube, check the packaging first to make sure it’s the right set or else WotC might send armed thugs to violate your civil rights. I appreciate you, even if a large, greedy corporation doesn’t.