Note: This was originally published as extra content in one of my StarCityGames.com articles, but the articles was premium while the rant here is rather populist, so I’m republishing the rant section for the peoples.
Dear Wizards of the Coast,
While I respectfully agree that the game of Magic seems to play better than ever, I do have some issues with recent policies. The ‘clarified’ press release you gave us explaining the WPN decisions seemed to suggest your audience was a bunch of idiots who simply didn’t get what you were trying to say the first time. Translated from corporate-speak it read more like this:
We here at Wizards of the Coast really like stores. You should like stores too. If you like Magic, you should definitely like stores. Going forward, we’re enforcing this whole stores thing, so honestly we don’t care if you like stores or not because you’re only going to get rewards via stores. If there are no stores in your area, you should make a store. Then we might like you.
Oh, and Friday Night Magic happens on Fridays. We don’t care if your pubs are full on Fridays or if you have a life. Pay attention to the branding, bitches!
Your changes to FNMs and non-store-based TOs seemed like a poorly thought-out policy that was fine for 95% of the markets in the United States but absolutely abysmal when applied to Magic in the rest of the world. I live in Bath, UK. It’s a city of about 100,000 people that hosts two universities yet it doesn’t support a game store because real estate is too expensive. The comic book store that’s here is the size of two spare bedrooms and it only makes money because they started selling American candy and sweets. We play Magic in a pub on Mondays and Wednesdays because they let us use their space in exchange for bringing them business. On Fridays the pub is full of drunk people. All of them are. There is no room for Magic on Fridays.
I get that you want shelf real-estate to cross-sell your other brands, but that’s a poor reason to punish loyal and happy customers in places where the economics of running a game store do not equate to turning a profit. Organized Play can and should do better to tailor their programs to the economic realities of local situations instead of rolling out blanket policies worldwide, causing a lot of emotional backlash and gnashing of teeth in the process.
People Who Live Outside the U.S.
$20 for a booster draft on MODO? Better come with a hand job. – Patrick Sullivan
I boycotted my first Magic Online prerelease when Scars of Mirrodin came out. It felt so liberating, like I was finally one of the cool kids. Next week I’m going to stop showering and bathe exclusively in patchouli oil. Next month, I might just get to take part in my first sit-in – I need to grow some dreads to make sure I look the part as well as smelling it. Fight the power! Solidarity to my brethren.
The reason for the boycott is that 20$ for a booster draft is such blatant price gouging as to cause me to get uppity. As I mentioned earlier, I have a big enough bankroll to basically play as much Magic Online as I want to (how laucky!). Between the prerelease and release events for Rise of the Eldrazi, I probably played 8-10 sealed flights. M11 was less interesting to me, but I still ran 4-6 sealed and a couple drafts before the main release. For Scars I stuck to release events and regular old drafting. 6$ extra per draft won’t bankrupt me, but it’s certainly enough to force me to take notice.
From the perspective of the Magic Online team, I am sure that much like at normal prereleases, the flights are where the big money is. Thus most PRs I have attended in person don’t even start drafts until later in the day in order to encourage participants to enter one or two flights before getting to draft. If you wanted to replicate this environment, it would be far more sensible to me to leave the draft queues for Scars off until 3-4 days into the prerelease. Once they were turned on, you could perhaps charge 4 tix (meaning two more than usual) for the “privilege” of drafting three weeks after the real world release of the set and still get away with it because people are excited and willing to pay extra to get stuck in with a new set. $20 and a promo card of uncertain value is just a bit too obvious a cash grab for me to support.
And to be clear, a promo Wurmcoil Engine that I could sell to a bot for 3 or 4 tix at most is not a hand job. At best, it’s a gentle cupping.
It is highway robbery. – Todd Anderson
The Toddster wrote this in regard to the 512-person Magic Online PTQs that have been firing this entire sealed season. 512 people used to be the size of a U.S. Grand Prix where the prize package was ~25K. Now it’s a chance at a trip to the Pro Tour with no hosting costs and a prize payout that is 1K for the superdraft plus 1848 in virtual boosters, which equates to 2850 in total prizes. Entry fees for a full PTQ = $15360 for a profit of $12,500 per event. There are now 16 online PTQs a season. While perhaps not all of them will fill, they seem to be running at near capacity, equating to a profit of around 200K for this online PTQ season alone. Why is it that WotC can’t pony up a few more prizes as part of the process? Why are there the same prizes given away as when you had 128 person Extended qualifiers? Saying varying prize payouts based on entry might possibly equate to a greater perception of Magic Online as online gambling is merely an excuse. Any sort of planning whatsoever or subsequent adjustments could have changed this, but thus far nothing has been done.
Okay WotC, look. Since 2004 you’ve managed to cut the Pro Tour to the bare bones. At one time we had 6, then 5, and now 4. PTQs now see average attendance of three times what they did back then but they are still only one slot. Those 1500-person Grand Prix Americans use to laugh at Europeans for are now ubiquitous, yet they don’t give out any extra cash even though the attendance has also gone up by a factor of three. Magic Online is mostly stable, but it’s still buggy and it’s not as if you’ve delivered overwhelming functionality or useability increases in the meantime.
A number of us provided solid business cases for how to get Cube Drafting on Magic Online and still make a profit. I’m willing to pay 3-4 tickets a draft to make this happen and I’m certain there are plenty of others that feel the same. Some sort of response that you are at least considering adding this feature would be swell.
We keep hearing the game is doing better than ever and yet you keep cuttin
g prize support. Hell, you aren’t even running MPR any more. I hope you will come back with something better, but you’ve done more cutting in recent years than Demi Lovato and this OP garbage doesn’t exactly leave me with a warm and fuzzy about your decision-making process.
Look, I know your owner Hasbro is a corporations and the job of a corporation is to be greedy. For once – maybe just for a change of pace and as kickback for being awesome, loyal customers – we would like to be impressed by something you give to us instead of saddened yet again by something you took away.
I really enjoy playing your game – we all do. Maybe it’s time for you to stop making us feel like you hate us for spending money on it.
–Teddy Card Game
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