Magic Market Index for March 15th, 2019
 
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  • posted a message on What is the relation between the second hand economy and the primary economy on MTGO? And how to best support WOTC? (2)
    Quote from furball404 »
    What is the relation between the second hand economy and the primary economy on MTGO?


    It's the same as in paper, except with much, much lower transaction costs. Cards enter the economy largely through Limited players dumping their cards to recoup value after events, so much like paper, there are very few non-promo cards that enter the market without Wizards taking a cut somewhere along the line. If you spend $100 on 100 tickets' worth of cards (I know the exact exchange rate isn't 1:1 but we'll pretend it is for this example), then those are cards that Wizards has already taken their cut for. Inflation is kept under control because tickets are taxed out of the economy for their secondary purpose: entry into events. Cards only really leave the economy through redemption or from players quitting.

    Also, tickets in the economy were similarly paid for at one point. If you order from a major bot chain with Paypal or another external means of payment, then sure, Wizards doesn't really get any new cut compared to buying tickets from the store (instead of from secondhand sellers undercutting Wizards) and trading them to the bots. But the key thing to remember here is that everything that exists in MTGO represents something Wizards has already taken its cut for.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on GP attendance
    I think it really all depends on whether or not the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is as committed to investigating physical loot boxes


    As long as moneyed interests can lobby the government, we're not going to see restrictions on digital loot boxes, let alone long-established things like trading card packs (which have cultural relevance due to things like baseball cards, and TCGs just piggyback off that nostalgic zeitgeist). Companies like EA are not going to give up their cash cows lightly, and it won't take much money being siphoned to the current FTC (the one that opposes net neutrality, so you know they don't care about the public interest) to get them to ignore the problem.

    I think Wizards of the Coast / Hasbro lost sight of that by trying to break that niche with their recent push for e-Sports with Arena.


    It's genuinely hard to tell ahead of time what will stick and what won't. Everyone makes fun of Blockbuster for getting pushed out of the market by Redbox, Netflix, and others, but at the same time, everyone's making fun of Wizards (and at least one company in the Magic fandom) for pushing the new digital option.

    Now, I'm not going to pretend that physical trading cards are at all like tapes and discs, but it's at least fair to say that having a robust digital option available to complement the physical option is a good idea for Wizards. The problem is that they'd be better served by fixing up MTGO, not pushing Arena, but as I've said before, Arena is something non-Magic-playing corporate types "understand" more than MTGO, and actually playing the game is beneath most of the higher-ranking decision-makers.

    I am, however, very glad that MTGS resisted the temptation to include Arena in its front page articles, videos, streams, casts, and other such content. That's the sort of move that promotes the physical game over the new monetization structure. I always considered Arena outside my mandate back when I was content manager for this site (MTGO was not, but Arena just targets a different audience than Magic traditionally does) and the current administration is continuing to follow in my lead.

    "Physical" loot-boxes in the form of booster packs are pretty much proven over time to not be a problem.


    Well, no, that's the is-ought fallacy speaking. Physical "loot boxes" like trading card packs have exactly the same problems as digital loot boxes. Being forced to try your luck because you want a specific rookie card and don't want to pay a hugely inflated market price for it has existed as long as the collectibles market for sports cards. Magic simply adds a functional game aspect to the equation (there's no reason a card like Surgical Extraction should command the price it does, other than it being released in relatively small numbers and even then only infrequently).

    There are games where you can buy the product and have all the cards needed to play. Magic intentionally eschews this model in favour of something that makes customers have to spend more to get what they want. It's ultimately an issue of capitalism encouraging predatory behaviour, but the relevant part here is that booster packs directly work to obstruct players from getting complete sets of cards in the interest of making Wizards (and later Hasbro) more money. Draft (and Sealed for that matter) can easily be done with cube packs, so that doesn't justify randomized sealed packs from the manufacturer.

    Booster packs are not really aggressively promoted


    There are multiple formats that expect you to buy boosters merely to play them, and boosters are an extremely common form of prize support for sanctioned and unsanctioned tournaments. How are they not being aggressively promoted? Because there's a secondary market? Cards only really enter the market through opened product (discounting specific promos and the like but those aren't going to be enough to build your decks for you).
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on GP attendance
    Trust me, I used to think that way too... then I listened to some corporate bull***** about why Arena should be a certain company's priority (not Hasbro or Wizards) because those non-Magic-playing decision makers "understand" Arena better since it fits into a better known business model. It's very easy to see some decision-maker at Hasbro pushing Wizards a certain direction because they too want to go with something they "understand" even if it's complete nonsense. There's a very clear disconnect between the people at Wizards who care about the game and genuinely want it to grow and the people who sign their paychecks, who just treat Magic as another product in a portfolio.

    The lootbox issue is certainly something to consider in terms of analyzing the market (I even had plans to write a Magic Market Index about it back before I was blackballed in a rather Jim Sterling-ish manner, so I'm drawing on my preliminary notes for that to make this point), but it's not really something that's going to affect Hasbro even in the near to mid future. Countries like Belgium might be moving to regulate lootboxes, but the odds of America following suit within even the next 5-10 years are vanishingly small. Magic is more likely to die a natural death than to see itself get caught up in lootbox regulations. And that's not my typical bearish approach to the Magic market speaking. Functional legislation to limit online gambling through such means as lootboxes, gacha, and other predatory practices will have to be pioneered by another entity, probably the EU. Just look at how inept American legislation surrounding online casinos is if you want to see how much of a non-threat legislation is to lootboxes and especially to Magic.

    But when the inevitable recession does wind up hitting (economically speaking it's a matter of "when" instead of "if"), triple-digit GP entry fees with no EV unless you luck out or start with byes are going to look mighty unattractive to all but the most dedicated of grinders. That'll make for an easy corporate decision to throw them out along with other things that don't fit a non-Magic-player's idea of what the future of Magic is.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on GP attendance
    The problem is that if a business wants to maintain a good reputation, then it should be providing consistent quality right up until the cancellation date. Dropping GP quality when they're on the way out is not a way to inspire confidence in the future.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on GP attendance
    Agreed. It is one of the lamest aspects of Pro Magic.

    It's what you get when you want to force a more or less static "pro community" but also don't want to change your competitive events not to rely so much on variance. Something like a 60% game win rate is considered to be pro-level play in Magic, but if you propagate that over a large event... it's still not enough to ensure at least some of the usual faces are always at the top.

    So they figure, hey, give up to three free wins to those players to "even" it out, while at the same time denying such opportunities to the average player (winning a GPT used to get you three byes but they cut it down to two because... I guess they just don't want to admit the system is horribly broken). Combine that slap in the face with the fact that costs are spiraling out of control, in addition to the declining quality of GP coverage, I'd say Wizards either needs to implement some kind of price control or just get rid of GPs entirely. Maybe do more PTs if they want to showcase the pros so much. But the main event of a GP will sure as **** never be worth it for most players as long as Wizards' priorities are so skewed.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on GP attendance
    Quote from idSurge »
    Toronto, Modern, and likely no Coverage this weekend?

    Thats how you kill anything but Arena...

    I would 100% not be surprised if some Hasbro executive actually thinks Arena is the future and that paper Magic is on the way out.

    Which would then become a self-fulfilling prophecy with things like high GP entry fees, better value in side events, and the overall player slump that came around the "let's ban some more cards in Standard every set" era (which certainly destroyed my confidence in Standard, to the point where I actually stopped playing it because Legacy and EDH are nowhere near as miserable as those Standard formats were) eating at the established Magic player base, leaving the focus on newer, more Arena-centric players.

    Basically what I'm saying is that, from Wizards' behaviour and certain corporate rhetoric I've seen from at least one other large company with its finger in the Magic pie (can't say which one at this point in time but I can tell you it ain't SCG or CFB), it's becoming quite fashionable to see the old standbys of Magic, like GPs, pushed aside for the shiny new things like Arena.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on GP attendance
    I'd say that GP attendance is also still being impacted by the "higher prices, lower value" and "there's either no coverage or *****ty coverage so why keep up?" factors.

    Sealed can be either really good or really bad (I once had the unfortunate displeasure of doing an Avacyn Restored Sealed GP, which was one of the worst Sealed formats of all time), but at the end of the day, prices for Sealed events going through the roof will ultimately affect attendance more than the quality of the format itself.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on The Magic Online/Arena problem
    Quote from BB84Prez »
    I'm sure HASBRO said to WotC that they need to grow their digital product to compete with Hearthstone and if they had full confidence in MTGO they would have dumped more money into it. I bet there were lots of discussions on the problems with MTGO to make the decision to build a new program. I just hope they actually do open it up to Mac users as well.

    One of the most well-known problems with MTGO is they simply refuse to pay for good talent. Modern corporations view labour as a cost to be minimized by any means possible, rather than seeing skilled employees as being beneficial (there's also a very bad "good old boys" problem with Wizards keeping bad talent around but again they're hardly the only offenders). Arena benefits there because it doesn't have to support situations like "what if someone tries Panglacial Wurm shenanigans with alternate costs?" because from a programming perspective that can get rather messy. But as new sets get released, the bloat will happen.

    Essentially, as long as corporations feel they can afford to take no risks and feel they can take talent for granted, Wizards (and by extension Hasbro) is going to follow suit. Basically what I'm saying here is Arena is currently the safe new corporate darling for Wizards but as it ages, it'll become a liability until they feel about it how they feel about MTGO.

    Fun fact: This also extends to fan sites, since the kinds of people who "understand" Hearthstone et al. but not MTGO will try to push more Arena content, not because Arena is good or anything, but because it fits a known business model. Thankfully MTGS hasn't fallen into the trap of trying to push Arena articles, streams, and other content because of that, but I've seen some facepalm-inducing stuff off this site.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on The Magic Online/Arena problem
    Quote from Les_Whinen »
    I would call it short term thinking, at best.

    Corporations think almost exclusively in the short term. I don't mean this like R&D is only designing sets a few months in advance or something, but the actual corporate decision-makers don't really give a crap about anything except the immediate. Essentially corporations feel like they're obliged to say "yeah but next year is next year and we can get our quarterly bonuses now so let's cash in whatever we can to make that happen." Not a happy thing, but it's why corporations do the things they do.

    Corporations have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to maximize shareholder value. Absolutely everything else, even making good products, is only ever a means to this end.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on The Magic Online/Arena problem
    Quote from Les_Whinen »
    I acknowledge that any more like this would be a breaking of the reserve list. I don't think it's likely, just spitballing.

    Unlike with the reserve list, there isn't a significant legal barrier to them shutting down MTGO, so you should consider that their likely course of action would just be to try and promote their other business interests no matter how tone-deaf "we're shutting down one program but go play this other program we totally won't shut down" would be (corporations don't think their stances through in the rare cases they actually stand for anything at all, and ultimately only care about profit, so you get things like that). Probably with an EA-like "pride and accomplishment" announcement if they ever do it.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on The Magic Online/Arena problem
    Quote from Les_Whinen »
    They could put a caveat that reserved list cards come with a gold border.

    They've already stated that gold-bordered cards violate the reserve list. Not the actual, written terms of it (which don't actually matter in any real way), but the vague "spirit" of it that also prevents things like printing more Reverberate-like cards in the future.

    If they went the physical compensation route they'd almost certainly just send people a bunch of Standard crap or some Arena codes or something and it wouldn't be anywhere near good enough for all but the most casual of MTGO players. While certain people on this forum might be content to sit back and collect free Standard product without doing anything, I'd be pretty pissed since I never cared about that sort of thing.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on The Magic Online/Arena problem
    There's "good" and then there's "glass cannon combo can never dominate the format as long as people are maindecking zero-mana counterspells that they side out against fair decks" good. Modern needed bans to keep those kinds of decks under control. Legacy just kind of shrugs for the most part.

    Format balance gets better, not worse, the older you draw the set legality line.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on The Magic Online/Arena problem
    Quote from idSurge »
    I dont think so. Guilds and Ravnica, and even Dom, are all better by far, than any of the sets that made up Frontier. Even Khans.
    The problem isn't set quality per se, but the diversity of answers in the format. Legacy has Force of Will and Wasteland keeping things from getting out of hand. Even Modern has access to extremely flexible, powerful pieces of removal and disruption (Thoughtseize, Path, Surgical, etc). A smaller format is inherently going to be at a disadvantage there as those kinds of answers aren't things Wizards likes to print in large quantity anymore. It's a problem Frontier had and it's a problem any new format is going to have as the questions each deck can ask get stronger as new sets release while the answers generally don't keep pace.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on The Magic Online/Arena problem
    Quote from Blair Phoenix »
    They've already stated that they're going to create a new non-rotating format when rotation happens, so as people who play Arena have a way to use their cards that rotate.

    Why do I have a feeling that it'll manage to be even worse than Frontier was? And that one was just a blatant cash grab by store owners wanting to move old inventory that had rotated (a trait it shared with Tiny Leaders, which was a similarly terrible format).
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on The Magic Online/Arena problem
    They cannot get rid of MTGO but they also do not want to really support MTGO.


    The problem is MTGO is an affordable way to play non-rotating formats, and Wizards would really just prefer if everyone were to play nothing but Standard, Limited, and maybe like Brawl or something.
    Posted in: Magic General
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