Competitive play, particularly limited, definitely supports WotC and LGSs as well. Cards are still designed for them, someone is still opening packs for the singles they buy, and they're still buying other products at the LGS. My point was more that they're a smaller portion of the MtG playerbase and don't necessarily spend proportionally more than casual players. I feel that the segment of the MtG population that's willing to go online and discuss the game on a forum is going to overemphasize the importance of it (this entire thread is predicated on the idea that the game is dead if people don't play competitively) so it's worth trying to be a casual voice in the discussion. Statements like "Competitive players are the lifeblood of MTG, they are what drives Standard and Modern in order to make it possible for Casual players to play Commander" are elitist and incorrect no matter which way you slice it. Virtually no one starts as a competitive player. Casual players manage to play the game just fine without any competitive influence.Quote from DirkGently »Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that both competitive and casual help to support wotc (and by extension, each other)?
All the info I see says that singles and packaged product are both profitable, but different stores do better with different things (although I welcome more detailed info, and if I remember I might ask my LGS owner). Personally I feel like I blow a lot of money on drafts relative to anything I see constructed players spending, but then I don't buy any singles from my LGSs as they don't usually have the selection I need (I do usually buy my sleeves from them, though, so between that and the drafts I think I do my patriotic duty).
On margins, you can get a rough estimate by looking at buying and selling prices online. Grabbing the format staples for standard from mtggoldfish and looking at TCGplayer market buy/sell prices, average margin in USD of the top 10 cards in standard is $1.25, or 142.7%. If you pull out the commons that most players can reasonably be assumed to have (Negate and Duress) to make it a more accurate picture, those numbers are $1.54 and 73.1%. Highest margin is $4.37 for The Scarab God, lowest is $0.31 for Bomat Courier. For constructed events, the only one I go to on an even semi-regular basis is a legacy weekly that pays out 100% of entry fees in store credit (so margins for the event are just those of everything else in store, though it acts a lot like an interest free loan in many cases). I doubt events with less generous payouts are making much more than $1-2/head, or they're likely to have trouble drawing enough of a crowd to make it worth it. Compare that to water, soda, chips, or candy all of which can easily be purchased in bulk on the order of a few USD per dozen or less and sold individually for $0.75-1.00, a profit of $0.50-0.75 (2-300%). Boxes are sold by distributors for somewhere in the $70-80 range, then resold whole for $90-100+ or pieced into packs with MSRP $4 ($144 total, $126 at $3.50 a pack - still $46 profit). Selling a case of water or a box of loose packs arguably makes as much as someone coming in and buying a standard deck complete if you didn't open boxes for the singles, and I know a lot more people who are willing to buy a bottle or two of water each time they play than I do buying full decks in a single purchase. I'm sure there are outliers who do very well on large singles sales. I suspect the majority are relying on high volumes of small sales of a variety of products.