Making TCG packaging more sustainable, how channels affect packaging and flesh and blood plans for 2022
We recently caught up with James White, CEO and Founder of Legend Story Studio, to talk about their announcement of more sustainable booster packaging with the release of the new Everfest set (see “Upcoming ‘Flesh and Blood’ set”). We talked about Legend Story’s plans to make TCG packaging more sustainable, how channels affect packaging, and what’s in the works for Flesh and Blood in 2022.
ICv2: what features of the new Everfest together make it more environmentally sustainable than the previous flesh and blood sets?
Jacques White: Quite simple, the flow wrap (the booster wrapper) is made of fully recyclable paper. Typically, trading card games are packaged in metallic plastic packaging, which is generally not recyclable. We have switched to fully recyclable paper packaging. He has been preparing for years.
I have to admit that this is something that is made possible by our partners, Cartamundi. We have been working with them on this file for some time; it went through many prototype stages, quality checks, all of that. Returning to Arcane Ascension is actually when we first explored the possibility. We are very proud to finally be able to launch sustainable flow wraps with Everfest.
What does it mean to you to be “ecologically sustainable” and what is your general philosophy on this subject for your company?
Look, it’s just about doing the right thing. I can tell you right now that it’s not about cutting costs, that’s for sure. It’s more expensive to produce, but it’s worth it. Our industry creates a lot of waste. Simply, you can take our booster packs and put them in the recycling bin, and they’re ready to go.
We have noticed over the past few years that many large TCG companies have increased the amount of packaging materials they use to optimize displays. What has Legend Story Studios done to ensure retailers always have an optimal TCG display, and at the same time balance that with the amount of packaging used in flesh and blood?
that’s a great question. We’re on the other end of the spectrum, where we don’t place much emphasis on having big, flashy displays. If you look at our Blitz decks or the original hero decks that came out with Welcome to Rathe; the Monarch and Aria’s Tales Blitz decks are very compact.
It’s about acknowledging the problem of packaging again. It’s about being efficient with our packaging. It does not create waste. It has no plastic inserts and all that stuff. It is also with a little respect and gratitude to our retailers that their shelf space is also precious.
We don’t think that flesh and blood is going to see big spikes in sales because it has a big box. It’s going to sell because people want to play the game; and all the things that we do with our player engagement, with our marketing campaign, with our organized play, with our point of sale set up and the big banners that we send out are what bring attention to the brand. It’s not about having big, chunky, plastic-filled, air-filled packages lying around on shelves. This is our approach to packaging.
Boot decks, at least for many other TCG companies, seem to be one of the biggest generators of packaging waste. How are flesh and blood starter decks set up to save resources?
It comes down to where we sell flesh and blood. Typically, these great shelf presence packaging strategies are designed for the mass market, so your Walmarts and your targets. We don’t care about Walmart and Target. This is not where we want to sell flesh and blood. We want to sell flesh and blood at local game stores, and our whole goal is to support local game stores. That’s why we didn’t go the route where you have big air-filled packages and big boxes.
This is because our priority and focus is on local game stores… Generally store managers and local game stores are very good at understanding, “Ah, so blitz decks are a good product to sell to someone who is maybe a casual gamer or just wants to play at home on the kitchen table with their friends or family.” They have their in-depth product knowledge to understand what type of product fits different types of end users.
Whereas, if you go to Walmart or wherever, the people selling the products don’t have that innate understanding of what the product is, so you have to hold the consumer by giving them a big, flashy box.
Let’s switch gears really quickly here, and talk more about booster boxes and the amount of waste that happens with boosters. One of the things with flesh and blood is that it offers a fairly prominent draft scene. Am I right?
Yes, writing is a very important part of flesh and blood.
Drafts, for our readers, are basically the garbage left over after a recall draft. This includes tokens, ad cards, unwanted cards and packaging. What does mean flesh and blood do, in particular with the design of their products, to limit drafts?
First, there just has to be a pragmatic balance between creating meaningful and valuable human experiences and something like the residual draft. What’s more important: not having a draft or having things that actually bring people together as a community, form friendships and valuable life relationships?
Pragmatically, I’m not that worried about it, to be honest. Secondary to this is, in general, flesh and blood cards have more utility in all commons. There are fewer cards in flesh and blood which are absolutely useless as maybe in other games. Also, if players are making drafts in shops and leaving cards on the table, instead they should just pick them up and put them in community boxes, perhaps so other players who enter the game can help themselves or have access to it for a good price.
Where do you see the future going with regards to the sustainability of TCGs?
The obvious here is that the industry needs to switch entirely to recyclable packaging. Legend Story Studios is the pioneer here. We lead the industry on this. I’m pretty sure we’ll see all the major publishers align with paper flow envelopes as we move forward maybe this year, maybe in years to come. It goes without saying that everyone must participate in the sustainable wrap program. It must happen.
Anything you would like to share with our readers about the projects of flesh and blood?
2022 will be an exciting year for flesh and blood, not only at the product level, but also at the program level. We have Pro Tour #1 (see “‘Flesh and Blood TCG’ $100,000 Pro Tour Event”). We are very deliberate about how we have structured our OP program.
The Road to the Pro Tour begins in stores with ProQuests, Skirmishers, Road to Nationals, and all in-store programs, which are essentially the start of your journey to the Pro Tour. We have ProQuest running in stores around the world, all over the United States for the next two months, and then that feeds into our Pro Tour in New Jersey in mid-May. Fans will have plenty of reasons to pop into local stores, engage with their local community, and pick up Everfest and other products participating in these programs.
On the product side, we have placed a strong emphasis on creating better first-game experiences. We have always had the Ira Welcome Deckswhich are available for free in stores, and they have been a fantastic way for people to learn the basics of the game, in conjunction with the learning video, which is on our website.
We have a product coming in April which is a step up from those Ira Welcome Decks. It’s simple to play; it’s really, really fun. It is a retail product, so retailers will be able to sell the product, unlike Ira Decks, which are meant to be given away for free. It is beautifully packaged, I have to say it is a little bigger than our other packaging, but it is still plastic free. It includes backgrounds, traditions related to heroes, which are presented in the product.
In the middle of the year, we have our next standalone booster set, which will arrive in June. It is a fully editable product, which explores another region of Rathe’s world, where flesh and blood is based, which we have not yet visited. I think fans will be thrilled to dive deep into this particular region. We have had many requests to travel to this area since flesh and blood spear.
As we come to the end of the year, there will be another additional set similar to Everfest that’s been released and some other really, really fun and interesting products leading up to this Thanksgiving/Christmas season that will be great to gift to your friends, family and other gamers.