3 Lessons From Ikoria's Launch in Japan

3 Lessons From Ikoria's Launch in Japan

May 4, 2020 | 3 min to read

By Masahiro Kamada, WPN Team, Wizards of the Coast Japan

Right now, WPN members in most of the world are getting ready for an unconventional launch with Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. As they do, there's a lot they can learn from those parts of the world that have already been through it.

As of this writing, stores in Japan have partially opened, and even while in-store play remains on hold, they've been able to successfully launch new products, including Ikoria, with ingenuity and the power of the communities they've built.

As we approach Ikoria’s release in the rest of the world, here are a couple examples from Japan that may provide some inspiration.

1. Organizing an Online Prerelease Event Via Discord

Hundreds of WPN members have already done a great job of building their own Discord communities. (Find out how to do that here.) TCG Shop MAG, a store in Nagano, went one step further. They held an online Prerelease event on Discord with Prerelease Packs.

What they did was quite simple. They announced the event in advance through social media and to customers who purchased Prerelease Packs. Players who wished to participate then used their PCs, smartphones, and webcams to turn each other's tables into impromptu matchmaking tables.

Being able to play a week ahead of a product launch is a special experience. And as TCG Shop MAG found, it's entirely possible to replicate that experience online—the experience of opening boosters from the new set with your friends, or fighting alongside them with your Prerelease deck.

2. Creating Opportunities to Play in Prerelease—Even after Prerelease

The idea behind in-store play, and the fundamental reason WPN members have success with it, is as basic as it gets: people are more likely to buy cards when they know they'll have opportunities to play with them. With in-store play on hold, you'll want to be more flexible about providing those opportunities.

Something to watch out for: some customers may have difficulty getting products by launch weekend. For customers who are scaling back their in-store purchases or picking up products via mail order, it's entirely possible that they won't have the product on hand that weekend.

TCG Shop MAG accounted for this in their Prerelease schedule. They held a second event the weekend after so that, even if a customer wasn't able to get the product in time for the launch, they could still get the launch experience.

3. Connecting With Your Community

A place to play Magic, companions to play with—it isn't just you and your employees who want to protect the stores that provide these things to the community. In Japan, we saw a lot of heartwarming examples of customers rallying behind their stores by purchasing from them.

This was the case for Brave Hearts, a store in Saga. Brave Hearts was initially pessimistic about the product launch. However, when launch came around, their community came through for them.

As a result, most of the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths products the store initially purchased were sold out, including Draft Boosters, Collector Boosters, and Prerelease Packs—so much so that additional orders had to be placed. Some customers have even already made preorders for Core Set 2021 in July.

The point is, your community wants to support you. Make sure they know how and when they can do so. Whether it's an At-Home Prerelease, home delivery, a new online store, or something else, you've got to have a way for your community to help out, and you've got to make sure they know about it.

Just as stores support their community through regular events, the community also supports the success of their stores.

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