Is the playing card market oversaturated?

If you've followed me on Instagram for any amount of time, you'll have noticed my large collection of playing cards. While I'm entering them all onto this site too, it's a slow and lengthy process. Right now, I've entered around 45 decks' information -- and I have a few hundred more to go.

And... there are more on their way to my house as we speak. And... more pending Kickstarter campaigns that have already funded, or are fast on their way to it. And... we can't forget the deck subscriptions. And random impulse purchases because, why not?

While I would love to say I'm decked out and am buying no more, let's face it -- I'll probably buy more. However, in the past couple of months I've noticed that I not only have been slowing down my purchases, I have also consciously abandoned my shopping carts while decks are in them, saying to myself, "wait, I don't need these."

Thinking about it more, it really just boils down to the fact that there are too many new decks being released, way too frequently.

Subscriptions, and Kickstarter

I have two playing card subscriptions right now, Kings Wild Project and Jocu Playing Cards. For KWP, I actually have two subscriptions -- one for their Table Players, and one for the No. 13 Club. For Jocu, I only have the one subscription. All-in-all, throughout the course of the year I am receiving at least 22 decks through these. I say "at least" because I don't fully understand the release cadence for Jocu, I just know that I receive at least one deck every few months from them.

22 decks per year is enough, right? That's almost 2 per month to destroy play with. Well... about that.

I have "Superbacker" status on Kickstarter. What does that mean? Nothing... except I back a lot of projects on their platform. Like, that's it. No fancy profile page. No cool badge. No private launches or discount codes or anything. Oh wait that's not true, I do get a little badge:

That appears on my Kickstarter "About" page... yay =P

So far in 2022, I have backed 13 successful playing card campaigns (and 9 others that either failed or were cancelled). When backing campaigns, I rarely go for the "single deck" option; yes, I'm there to get a deck that I like, but I am also there to help support the campaign, so I tend to go a little higher up in the tiers.

Even if we assumed I went with the single deck option, given we're only halfway through the year so far and I've already backed 13, if the trend were to continue that would be a total of 26 decks throughout the whole year (math: 1 deck per campaign x 13 campaigns every 6 months = 26 decks per year). Now, that's 26 more decks... in addition to the 22 I'm already receiving throughout the year. Yikes!

And let's ignore the routine releases by Organic Playing Cards, Joker and the Thief, Theory 11, Ellusionist (especially their monthly Mystery Deck), Art of Play's annual Mystery Deck sale, etc. Yeah, can you see how I easily receive at least 100 new decks a year? In actuality, it's closer to double that.

Price Check

A theme I've noticed lately is the increase in deck prices in Kickstarter campaigns. It used to be $10 a deck, then it jumped up to $12. Now, for the past few months, I'm seeing a single deck clock in at $15?! And then, $5 shipping... uhm, excuse me?

Theory 11 and Ellusionist have kept their prices nice, and Art of Play has always been a little boutique-priced (e.g., expensive), but these smaller-batched companies are really crushing my desire to want to buy more decks. While I love J&T decks, the price range is between $15 and $25 per deck, not including their $52 gilded specials. It's almost worth buying a brick so I can lock in a discount... except the shipping cost blows that away too.

Manufacturing Delays, lol

One thing I find really funny is that there are so many new and custom decks being created today that the printers like USPCC and EPCC are so backed up that they are all being delayed. It will really suck if we create such a big demand for cards from these printers right now that they buy additional equipment and hire more staff, only to have to reverse all of it once the custom card market bubble pops. Hopefully that doesn't happen, of course, but the fact that there are so many decks coming out all at once, it sure feels like it will.

For some numbers, I took a quick look at Kickstarter and right now there are exactly 80 active "playing card" campaigns. Yes, this includes Tarot cards and a few custom card games, but scrolling through it looks like there's around 50 new decks. Several are already funded too! Holy smokes that's a lot of new decks...

To resell, or not resell -- that is the question.

I have... a lot of decks. I make it a point that I'm not a collector and I will open any of my decks and play with the cards inside, but honestly, I just have too many of them to be able to do that. I don't want to open a deck just for the sake of keeping my word -- I really want to play with the deck.

If I have multiple of a deck, and often I do, what happens if I don't end up liking the deck? If the artwork doesn't vibe with me, or the quality of the cardstock is meh? Sure, I could practice things like folding cards or making gaffs... or, maybe I could try selling those extra unopened decks?

A friend of mine said that he always buys a brick to get a discount, sometimes it comes out to like $9 a deck when a single deck runs about $12 -- and usually hits the "free shipping" price too. That's not too terrible. Except, he then resells 10 of the decks for $12 which ends up covering the cost he paid for the whole brick. In other words, with a little bit of "work" he would get 2 decks for free. The fact that he sells the decks for the price a person would have paid for it anyways is kind of appealing, and makes it sound more morally right. On the other hand, I've never been a fan of those who try to buy out the stock with the intent to resell it to make a profit.

My idea, of reselling my decks, is not to make a profit but to free up space in my ever-shrinking closet and hopefully not lose a ton of money in the process. Sure, some decks might actually sell for more than what I originally paid for them if I opted to go the eBay auction route. Or maybe they'll sell for a lot less. I remember seeing that Cybernetic deck originally sell on eBay for a few hundred bucks when it came out last fall -- I recently saw that same deck go for $0.99! What a gamble =P

But then again, there's a lot of work involved in selling decks. Maybe I'll just stop buying new ones until I've used all these old ones.

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