Hime-senpai checking in!
Today, we talk about a little something that some of you TCG players, particularly those playing Bushiroad games, would probably notice. It’s about the very volatile state of the secondary market in trading card communities, particularly in Bushi games.
Before we start, you may want to ask me to define what the “secondary market” is. To make it simple, we can define “secondary market” as the players who sell singles of the cards that they got from booster packs or boxes. If you have spent even a moderate amount of time in the community, chances are, you would have already become a member of the secondary market in one way or another. It’s basically the second source of cards for any player (first being the actual booster packs and boxes sold in retail, of course).
Now, what is the main point of this article?
You probably have the same face as LQ Mako right now.
Basically, this article is a pseudo-rant on the behavior of the secondary market, a quick explanation on why it happens, and a possible solution to remedy it.
First off, what is the “behavior” that I speak of?
You see, as a company, Bushiroad has a habit of introducing legacy support in their games, especially in Cardfight Vanguard, which is the main topic of this post. In every new set of Cardfight Vanguard, you’re bound to find a handful of cards introduced with the sole purpose of supporting or reviving cards that have been left behind by the game’s power creep. In set G-BT06, it was Blaster Blade (yes, the classic one). G-BT07 had the Ezel series and Blade Wing Reijy as benefactors of this. It’s not something out of the ordinary, as Bushiroad has made it seem a company policy to keep a lot of old decks somewhat relevant even a couple of years later. Of course, these added support don’t immediately make these old units jump into top-tier in the meta (except Nociel, but the point still stands), but they at least give these builds of yesteryear more of a fighting chance against present day juggernauts.
Glad you stuck around with us, right?
Now this is where the problem comes in. Bushiroad reveals support for an old card that hasn’t been in circulation for a year or two in the primary market. Of course, as a player, you’d start looking for the necessary pieces to complete your deck. However, you’ll find yourself frozen in your tracks the moment you start scouring the binders of players in search of that Commander Laurel or Battle Cupid Nociel. Why? Prices have quadrupled! It’s no exaggeration, but stuff like Battle Cupid Nociel, that used to cost roughly P200 (4.5USD) are now being sold at P700 a piece (almost 20USD) locally!
The look when you see someone else’s wallet getting sucked dry.
The problem with this is that in a way, it alienates newer players who just want to get into the game and build an optimized deck with legacy support. Imagine a newbie forking over a hundred dollars for a playset of Battle Cupid without even knowing if he’s going to enjoy the game and invest a lot of his time in the community or not. Prices are a lot cheaper here locally. Now imagine this scenario happening in somewhere like the United States. It creates an unnecessary entry barrier to prospective new players who want to join, invest their time, and be competitive in the game, as if the comparatively bad prize structure and lack of physical incentive for major tournaments weren’t enough.
Now, why does this happen?
It’s simple economics, actually. While Bushiroad loves releasing legacy support, what they don’t have much of a habit in doing is re-releasing old sets. Once an old set goes out of print, that’s it.
The behavior for Vanguard usually goes something like this.
Right around the time of a set release, the secondary markets tend to stabilize with their pricing. You get the RRR foils for somewhere around P300 (7.5USD) to P700 (17-18USD). Say we give Card A a price of P400 (10USD). Give or take a few months, and as long as the cards begin to lose steam and hype, the prices fall. They start falling to as low as P150 (roughly 4USD) in some instances, which we’re gonna use for Card A, since people by this time found out that he’s too restricted, or he’s just not that good in the game after all. At this point, it usually stays there being used for binder bling, tech-in options, budget deck fillers, and trade bait.
Fast forward a year, and Bushiroad decides that it’s time to give support to that card. Social media and the community go wild! Wow, that new card is amazing! Wait, it needs Card A in some manner to activate that ultra OP skill? Time to get copies of Card A! The problem? Booster packs for the set containing Card A are long sold out, and even if they do, it’s usually never worth the game to spend a lot of money in order to have a chance of pulling Card A. Now, where does a player go to get his copies of the card? To the secondary market, of course!
Hoarders be like
What happens next? Supply and demand, remember? Now that the only supply of the card is limited to those that have a copy of the card lying around in their decks or binders, it gives the sellers of the secondary market leverage in dictating the new market price of Card A. Common logic states that at this point, it is in the sellers’ best interests to jack up the prices as high as they could.
I mean, you want the card, right? Do you have any other means of getting it than through me? No? Okay, then pay up, kid!… which easily nets them a huge profit from their initial investment in buying (or even hoarding the card a year ago). It’s just like playing the stock market, but with cards! That’s why you see those Blade Wing Reijys that were being thrown around as add-ons to trade bait or being dropped for P100 (2-3 USD) suddenly spike up to P400 a piece, pretty much quadruple the price!
Remember when people were trading me for shit foils or obvious trade baits? Hah!
That sucks! How do we remedy that?
Before anything else, to be fair, you cannot entirely place the blame on the secondary market for behaving in this manner. After all, almost everyone wants their money’s worth in whatever they spend on. A lot would want to be able to liquidate their cardboard crack into money should they decide to quit, then give themselves a pat to the back and congratulate themselves for a job well done in terms of monetary investment.
Now, what would answer that? The immediate answer would be Reprint Sets! Reprint sets would do wonders for the game. Maybe Bushi can take a few lessons from Yu-Gi-Oh and create sets with reprints of key cards. Maybe they can even add a gimmick with them such as a booster pack which features Aichi’s old cards like Blaster Blade and Majesty Lord Blaster as foils. Granted, that was not a good example since MLB did get reprinted as an SP in Fighter’s Collection, but you get the point. By giving new players a way of acquiring the older cards in a manner that’s slightly less of a gamble removes much of the leverage that the secondary market would otherwise enjoy.
Maybe that way, prices in the secondary market would remain relatively stable rather than go wild with spikes and sudden drops. Is it a foolproof solution? Most likely not, but it’s a start. Personally, I think access is everything. I think Bushiroad is doing well in its idea of keeping old decks up to date with present mechanics, and the next step would be to allow direct retail access of those 2013 cards to those players who happen to be starting out in 2016. This allows them to circumvent the secondary market prices and put a dent in the drastic supply-demand curves that the community employs.
That’s it, Hime-senpai signing off! Till next time!