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Magic Online – Eventide Release and a Brief Look at Economics - Gaming News & Views - Pair O’ Dice Games

Magic Online – Eventide Release and a Brief Look at Economics

Magic Online 3.0 went live a while back and shortly after that I slowed down my drafting and then a bit after that more or less quit Magic altogether. Not “for good” but I had a number of problems with the new program and I figured I should walk away and let them sort the mess out. Also, as I have made fairly clear on this site, I was not and am not a big fan of Shadowmoor.

So, today Eventide goes live on Magic Online and let’s just say my interest level for it lies only slightly above my interest level for the Olympics. Still, I am a fan of the game overall and I will certainly play it a bit. Mind you the tournaments don’t actually begin until this weekend and the drafts don’t begin until next Monday but then I’m not exactly clamoring for it anyway.

So what’s wrong with Magic Online 3? Primarily the problems are that they never finished creating it before they decided to take down Magic Online for two weeks. They did make it a bit prettier I guess but quite frankly that’s not really a factor I put much stake in. The two biggest problems since the release of Magic Online 3 are the lack of Leagues and Redemption and quite frankly I think the biggest problem is the Redemption.

In case anyone doesn’t know, Leagues are a way to play Magic Online in a more casual limited environment. They do not effect your ranking (having no k-value) and are something like a limited tournament that lets you play your games at any point. Mind you, you kind of need to play your games right away or you are virtually guaranteed (get it? virtually) to end up playing undefeated players with the nuts decks. In my mind this takes away a bit of the coolness of leagues and is one of the reasons I stopped playing them. Still some people enjoy them a lot and their absence from Magic Online 3.0 has been widely felt.

Redemption is a far more serious issue and the fact that Wizards did not have it prepared before release says something about their foresight or complete failure to understand economics.

Redemption (besides being the likely name of one the Messiah List stories) is the program that allows online users to “cash in” a complete set of virtual cards for paper cards. Why is this important? Economics. When I drafted in 3.0 I would need to purchase new packs fairly regularly but I was drafting up to eight times a week and I was only moderately good at it. Thus, I would certainly lose a few of those drafts. Still even then I was able to sell my decent rares for tickets, use those tickets to get more packs, and postpone the need to purchase more packs outright.

The reason people were willing to purchase chaser rares for a decent ticket price was because of Redemption. Since Magic Online 3.0 came out it has been a real task selling cards and the economy has nearly crumbled. Without the incentive of people able to make a complete collection and then redeem it (and then likely sell the redeemed cards for a decent profit) the Magic Online “Stores” are not buying in the way they use to.

Edit: To clarify, paper cards are (in general) worth a lot more than virtual cards. This is why getting a full collection together was a viable way for a group of people to make money. Without these individuals and their incentive to make money the economy of Magic Online suffers.

Quite frankly when it comes to online in general Wizards has a bit of a habit of biting off more than they can chew. Just look at what’s going on with D&D Insider. The last official post I could find about the progress (or lack of progress) being made for Leagues and Redemption was from 7/17 so it’s unclear exactly what is going on currently. I do hope they get this taken care of soon however as I doubt I will be an avid Magic Online Player until they do.

Feel free to sound off about Magic Online, Leagues, Economics, Redemption or whatever else you feel is in the cards!

  1.  

    I added “Edit: To clarify, paper cards are (in general) worth a lot more than virtual cards. This is why getting a full collection together was a viable way for a group of people to make money. Without these individuals and their incentive to make money the economy of Magic Online suffers.”

    To try to clarify my point.

  2.  

    What’s interesting is that Wizards is, as the “traditional” gaming industry goes, a big company. Yet they are making plenty of missteps along the way as they try to put their games online, some of which might suggest they’re not allocating the resources necessary to make these projects successful, and some indicate that they just don’t have a very good grasp of business and gaming online.

    Of course they’re being pretty open about some of their blunders, and while that makes them an easy target I find that honesty and openness refreshing and it makes me want to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    I think that they might do well to take a cue from White Wolf and partner with (or acquire?) someone who has proven they know what they’re doing in the online space. As more of Wizards’ product line heads in that direction they stand to continue making these kind of mistakes without clear leadership to navigate these unfamiliar (to them) waters.