Planned Obsolescence

Obsolescence are inevitable part of economic and technological advancement. Planned obsolescence is illegal (in some countries), but lets look at how some products blur the lines of planned obsolescence.

One of the most famous hobby company, Wizards of the Coast, produces the world most popular table top game: Magic the Gathering.

They design and print collectible cards which can be played. Similar to pokemon cards, yugioh and etc.

The products do not seem to have any obsolescence nature as if the customers keep their cards properly, they could use those cards an infinite amount of times for their games. It is like buying a toy rubik cube, you do not ever have to buy another one.

Generally speaking, if your customers genuinely repurchase your products out of their own will, it is not planned obsolescence, unless a company forces it or if there isn’t much of a choice for consumers.

How can I “strongly encourage” my customers to buy my new rubik cube and stop playing with the old one? Even if I innovate and launch new versions such as the 6X6 or 10X10 more advance versions of the toy, there is no guarantee for my customers to purchase them.

Simple:

  1. stop the sales and manufacturing of the original 3X3 Rubik Cube
  2. Ban the use of the 3X3 Rubik cube

Which is exactly (almost) what Wizards of the Coast did.

  1. Promote and encourage tournament play
  2. Introduce “Standard” category of tournament play whereby only cards from past 3 versions can be used
  3. Hasten the rotation cycle of the cards

https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mm/metamorphosis

Customers who purchased their game cards could previously use them in their Standard Tournament format for 2 years. Now, it can only be used for 1 year.

Effectively, they have managed to shorten their products turnover by creating “rules” to “encourage” their customers to “give up” old products for new ones at a faster time cycle.

Blurring the lines of planned obsolescence?

Are there any other products in our daily lives where similarities can be observed?

Thank you for reading

~ 上行下效

*examples in this article are only used to facilitate visualization of concepts for our readers and in no way whatsoever are we associating examples used with planned obsolescence activities.