By Andrew Johnson

When CardCastle started, they saw the world through the lens of the iPhone. They built out a scanning app and a platform to manage cards, which grew popular among players, but stores pushed back on the idea of using an app to scan cards. So, CardCastle unleashed the CardBot, a mesmerizing machine that scans and sifts collectible cards at scale.

CardBot operation shot

See CardBot in action

The Platform

CardCastle provides a platform for managing Magic cards. Players and collectors scan cards with the CardCastle iPhone app, and game stores use CardBot to scan and sort cards at scale. Both methods let users manage their collections and inventory easily.

CardBot these days has become the little engine that could. With over 180 units deployed, mostly across the US, CardBot is nearly sold out on hardware and ramping up production to meet demand throughout the world.

Trio in front of production

How CardBot fits in a store’s operations

CardBot is not just a sifter; it’s a strategic tool that both helps stores to get cards listed in inventory, online and in shop, plus it allows them to quickly and easily value collections players bring in to sell.

Listing cards online and in-store

For listing cards in inventory, CardBot complements another workhouse in the game store industry, the well-known Roca. While a Roca does a full sort, it has limited speed and a high price tag. CardBot can let stores get 5X the throughput out of their Rocas by first letting them sift out the cards that are worth listing.

The common workflow is to first run the cards through CardBot, which can separate the cards that are worth a certain threshold, often $0.25, into a separate pile. These high-value cards can then be prioritized to feed into the Roca, which can then do a full sort to allow the cards to be stored in the game store’s backroom for quick picking by staff.

Retail event demonstration

Local stores experiencing the efficiency of CardBot during a live demonstration event

Buying collections

Another key use case of the CardBot is that it’s small, safe, and friendly-looking. It’s a great tool to have out in the front room of a game store, or to bring along to a convention, to make it easy to scan a player’s collection of cards.

Game stores use this capability both to quickly make offers on large collections of cards, plus stores can even let customers themselves use the robots to sift their collections, either for free or for a fee. And as an added bonus, whenever a game store refers a customer to use the CardCastle app, they can get a spiff on the referral.

CardBot in center

When hobbyist stores become pro stores

Stores often adopt CardBot when they hit an inflection point in their growth. This can come when a store owner is trying to get past the need to personally do all the key operations, and hire employees to train to do key operational work.

Another inflection point that can call for the CardBot is when a store is expanding to a second location. At that point, it becomes both a matter of scaling manual operations, as well as tracking the location of inventory in multiple places, which increases the need for automation and computerization of collectible card inventory.

A large and growing userbase

By the end of 2024, CardCastle will have hundreds of bots deployed across the world, and they already have 10s of millions of cards being managed on their platform, along with thousands of paying subscribers using their app and website.

The platform is useful across the MTG community. For stores, it offers key logistics capabilities. For players, the platform offers features such as deckbuilding (based on cards they actually own), the ability to track the value of their collection over time, and graphical management of their cards.

CardCastle has proved nimble in their development over these last few years, and is sure to become an increasingly key fixture of the Magic community, which is near and dear to our hearts here at Mana Pool. CardCastle has plans to ramp up production of their robots, and continue to innovate in software until they provide a full inventory management solutions that stores can use to manage, inventory, and sell cards across their store and online platforms.

GAMA front desk