A couple of weeks ago, Channel Fireball mysteriously removed all of their MetaZoo product listings. Given that they are one of the key distributors for the brand, this decision left some people confused. Rumors rapidly started to spread throughout various TCG circles. Was there some sort of turmoil taking place behind-the-scenes? Were launching their own TCG? What was going on?
Well, as it turns out, the real reason why Channel Fireball removed those product listings is much more interesting. The company was in the midst of restructuring its entire online presence. The brand, which has historically been an online retailer, is making a massive transition towards becoming an online marketplace.
When it comes to marketplaces, TCGPlayer is the first site that comes to mind. Similar to eBay, it allows vendors and buyers to come together and trade on a moderated platform. Channel Fireball’s decision to enter this space is interesting because there is genuinely not much competition. Outside of Facebook Groups and eBay, and some smaller operations like CardSphere and TrollAndToad, TCGPlayer truly is the largest and most diversified name in the industry.
Just like Amazon, Channel Fireball’s new marketplace will allow vendors to compete under the same listing. The picture above is a great example of how this structure works. If Channel Fireball does continue the retail-side of their business, they will almost certainly compete under this same vendor list.
At this point in time, it’s unclear if Channel Fireball will open up its marketplace to individual sellers. It seems to be reserved exclusively for game stores and other registered businesses. While it isn’t difficult for an individual to incorporate as a small company, it certainly creates a barrier to entry which is not found in competing platforms. It will be very interesting to see how CFB’s new marketplace grows over the next few years. Personally, I think they will be capturing a sizable share of the market.