MetaZoo Games recently announced that after discussions with their distributors, only MetaZoo Play Network (MPN) will be receiving allotments of the upcoming Seance expansion. Not only that, but all future sets will only be supported for MetaZoo network stores. For players, this means that if your LGS doesn’t opt in, they won’t likely be carrying much, if any, of the post-UFO MetaZoo sets. For shops, this means they have to join the MPN and start hosting regular events if they want to continue getting a product allotment. In fact, according to the official announcement by MetaZoo creator Mark Waddell on their Discord server states that to be considered a part of the MPN and eligible for future product allotment, local game stores must host two sanctioned or release events per month.
MetaZoo ALSO announced the start of a new partnership program, which allows MPN shops that want to really put the game in the spotlight to receive larger allotments, additional prize support, special shipping and pricing, and “MPN kits” – whatever those are. The Discord announcement is vague on that point. What matters is that it seems MetaZoo is trying to take the big step from Kickstarter Hit to Serious TCG.
Genius strategy or misplay?
Will it work? Maybe. To quote one local game store owner I spoke with, when MetaZoo first came out the cards “sold like gangbusters.” These days, he said, the cards hardly move at all. This move will force shops that want to keep a good supply of MetaZoo products for their diehards to join the MPN and start hosting events. Hosting events means reasons to buy product, and community building. But many LGSs are fully booked up already with Pokémon, Magic: The Gathering, and Yu-Gi-Oh! – not to mention tabletop games like Warhammer 40,000 and Pathfinder. Is there really room for another event on the calendar?
A look at the MetaZoo Play Network shop locator and event finder reveals somewhat thin support for the game at the moment, at least at the LGS level. There are no stores within a 30 mile radius of my house, for instance, that have bothered to join the MPN. That’s in an area with several universities in the same radius. It could be an open, untapped market. Or it could be a waste of capital. Times are unsteady right now, and competition for the gamer’s dollar is tight. Is this really time time to make a move that could restrict the spread of a newer TCG?
It’s definitely a situation I will be keeping an eye on.
Okay, but what actually is MetaZoo?
MetaZoo released in 2020 as a Kickstarter project, and it met with a lot of success. That first set featured cryptids (mythical creatures) from American lore, like Mothman and the Jersey Devil. Subsequent sets have added “beasties”, as they are called in MetaZoo, from all over the world. The most recent expansion set, UFO, added aliens into the mix. Gameplay is a mashup of the big three card games: Magic, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh!. The unique element MetaZoo brings to play is that your surroundings matter. Real world weather is meant to have an impact on gameplay, with things like rain storms buffing water-type beasties and heat buffing fire-types. It has attracted attention from collectors and players alike ever since its release. Some cards on the secondary market can fetch upwards of $50, depending on rarity and foil treatment.