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Thread: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

  1. #21

    Re: All B/R update speculation.

    Walking Dead ended up being their best selling Secret Lair.

  2. #22

    Re: All B/R update speculation.

    This is why I am critical of modern wotc printing practices starting with the masters sets and haven't purchased any product in years. They saw that the secondary market was pricing cards very high and instead of trying to alleviate that issue, they essentially co-opted it for their own profit. Instead of getting lots of sales by reprinting expensive cards in standard sets with standard prices, they now reprint expensive cards in non standard sets with non standard pricing simply to capture that portion of the secondary market. Now they go even further with what is basically print to demand "pimp" in the collectors editions and secret lairs. I guess what it boils down to is that the new demographic they care about are much more willing to spend much more money than the people who thought a 50$ baneslayer was ridiculous.
    Unfortunately it's very hard to form a coherent argument against this practice from wotc because all you're basically saying "pwease wotc can you take a hit to your bottom line for me, I want to be able to play your game more cheaply uwu".

    Like if WotC wants to reprint e.g. Mana Drain in a masters set or whatever product where it is relatively scarce, then it's because they think that keeping the secondary market price of the card relatively high can make them the most money in the long run. (Because they can use cards with expensive secondary market prices to justify high MSRP on packs that contain reprints of them).

    At the end of the day wotc is a business and like any business they probably make the most money by pricing their product in such a way that it excludes some people as customers.

    Of course from the POV of a player it would be fantastic if every card was at most $1 but there are many worse things that wotc could do e.g:

    - Never reprint mana drain at all so the price just keeps going up and up and up. This is bad for the players (price of playing the game goes up) and bad for wotc (the high demand for reprint is basically leaving free money on the table). [i.e. Reserved List]
    - Print a better mana drain in a standard set to sell packs, obsoleting the old mana drain. (You could make the argument that with the sequence of Oko -> Uro -> Omnath they kind of already did this kind of strategy, but with the last few sets they seem to be toning things down significantly)
    - Print a different manadrain in an exclusive limited-availability product. (This was why the backlash for the TWD secret lair was justifiably large, if secret lair exclusives were necessary to play tier 1 decks then a cynical wotc can just introduce whatever powerful card with any pricetag they like). The "print to pimp" model on the other hand is a win-win-win because competitive players can just ignore it, whales get some cool shit, wotc makes money on it. It's dumb af to act like there is a dilemma like "wotc could have printed Care Package: Poverty Edition containing all playsets of fetchlands for $10 but instead they printed secret lair exclusive edition where you get 1 of each for $100+, get the pitchforks". They were never going to do the first option anyway and the 2nd option is generally a pretty harmless way for wotc to make money (from the pov of a competitive player).

  3. #23

    Re: All B/R update speculation.

    Quote Originally Posted by kombatkiwi View Post
    Unfortunately it's very hard to form a coherent argument against this practice from wotc because all you're basically saying "pwease wotc can you take a hit to your bottom line for me, I want to be able to play your game more cheaply uwu".
    Coherent mean logical and consistent, BTW, not whatever you think it means here.

  4. #24

    Re: All B/R update speculation.

    Quote Originally Posted by FourDogsinaHorseSuit View Post
    Coherent mean logical and consistent, BTW, not whatever you think it means here.
    Ok whatever man cbf addressing my point at all so enlist your friend Mr Merriam-Webster

    This is why I am critical of modern wotc printing practices starting with the masters sets and haven't purchased any product in years. They saw that the secondary market was pricing cards very high and instead of trying to alleviate that issue, they essentially co-opted it for their own profit. Instead of getting lots of sales by reprinting expensive cards in standard sets with standard prices, they now reprint expensive cards in non standard sets with non standard pricing simply to capture that portion of the secondary market. Now they go even further with what is basically print to demand "pimp" in the collectors editions and secret lairs. I guess what it boils down to is that the new demographic they care about are much more willing to spend much more money than the people who thought a 50$ baneslayer was ridiculous.
    What is the alternative?

    If you want them to "get lots of sales by reprinting expensive cards in standard sets with standard prices" it seems you are asking wotc to willingly sacrifice some amount of equity they have in their IP

    So either your argument is

    1) WotC / Hasbro should do this because they are a rich company and can afford it and would make people happy.

    Which might be a 'coherent' idea but it requires a kind of anticapitalist philosophy that we don't seem to apply to other corporations (at least not with the same ardor).

    2) WotC should do this because actually they are not sacrificing anything, in the long run they will lose money if they don't because the expensive cards price people out of the game and/or they would actually make more money in the long run by dropping the price to increase demand/sales

    You can make this 'coherent' argument if you want, but I don't think it's correct

  5. #25

    Re: All B/R update speculation.

    Quote Originally Posted by kombatkiwi View Post
    Ok whatever man cbf addressing my point at all so enlist your friend Mr Merriam-Webster
    Correct. Your point "advertising is bad because it costs money" I didn't really think needed to be bothered with.

  6. #26
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    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    Is there a discussion to be had about how the pro-tour/etc caused prices to climb up due to expanded demand? Is cutting off the pro-tour (or whatever they replace it with) a way to keep older cards from spiking?
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  7. #27

    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    Is there a discussion to be had about how the pro-tour/etc caused prices to climb up due to expanded demand? Is cutting off the pro-tour (or whatever they replace it with) a way to keep older cards from spiking?
    But these large events that can spike a card aren't going anywhere.

  8. #28

    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    Is there a discussion to be had about how the pro-tour/etc caused prices to climb up due to expanded demand? Is cutting off the pro-tour (or whatever they replace it with) a way to keep older cards from spiking?
    [Assuming this was a hypothetical suggestion] It's cutting off your nose to spite your face, if you only play kitchen table then you can just proxy everything anyway.

    If you're making the argument for FNM heroes who have no interest in GPs / PTs etc but still need real cards, then it might be possible that having no higher-level events to affect demand would make it cheaper for them to play, but then
    - Do the FNM heroes really/honestly have 0 interest in seeing their format played at a high level?
    - Without any GP/PT to hold competitive players' interest how many people are going to be turning up to FNM anyway? Presumably less
    - Is that going to make it harder for the LGS to survive?
    etc

    Correct. Your point "advertising is bad because it costs money" I didn't really think needed to be bothered with.
    I'm not a business guru but 'should we make the coca cola cans 10c cheaper and hopefully the increased sales offsets the lower price' doesn't seem to have anything to do with advertising

  9. #29
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    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by kombatkiwi View Post
    I'm not a business guru but 'should we make the coca cola cans 10c cheaper and hopefully the increased sales offsets the lower price' doesn't seem to have anything to do with advertising
    Well, I think this idea was "tried" although not literally. The push a few years back was to "grow the game," in other words, focus on recruiting and gaining new players. However, while this "worked" to some degree, eventually it plateaued and really the game was just "holding on to" players more so.

    They decided that it was better do "organicly grow" the market, that is, turn notional $10 players in $100, $100 ones into $1000 (although none of that literally). In that sense, it's to made "invested players invest more." While the allure of a "Pro player" as a lifestyle might help with that, honestly, it probably doesn't all that much.

    I think that most "Pro players" actually have relatively small collections in reality (not compared to an "average" casual player, but compared to avid collector sorts of players), because they actually don't make enough from the "career" to afford the premium cards (wakka, wakka, wakka).

    Why the shift though? Why not grow the game in perpetuity? Well, my theory at the time (and one I'd still espouse) is that there is a real limit to MTG's appeal. The game simply doesn't appeal universally, some people simply are not interested in a some-what complex, rather expensive, card game, period. No matter the marketing, regardless of story/art/theme/whatever, there just is only so many people who really will want to play. So the "logical" aim in that case is to get a close to that "limit" and then focus on "cashing in" on those people as much as possible.

    If you try to make MTG a game for literally everyone, it will end up being a game for absolutely no one. (And no, I am not talking at all about story/theme/character representation at all, I am only talking about mechanics/complexity/game play as it related to actually playing the game).
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  10. #30
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    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by kombatkiwi View Post
    [Assuming this was a hypothetical suggestion] It's cutting off your nose to spite your face, if you only play kitchen table then you can just proxy everything anyway.
    Bingo, so in my mind it carries even further: it major events are cancelled, is there even a reason for a banlist? As you note, this is 100% hypothetical. I don't think big events are going away, they will just turn into GP's/Mythic events. The real root of where I wanted to take this was the beginning of the end of DCI/WOTC sponsored events. Looking at their product it is overwhelmingly a digital one at this point with kitchen table players the biggest contributors to the paper side. Sponsoring events seems to be on the path of diminishing returns. I know this is a slippery slope argument, and not a good one, but I can't help but have a suspicion that WOTC is experimenting on how much they will lose if they stop investing energy into pro tours/big events. Maybe they will get a better return just going after the digital environment. Maybe commander becomes the only truly lucrative format, so new sets are geared specifically to those.

    If you're making the argument for FNM heroes who have no interest in GPs / PTs etc but still need real cards, then it might be possible that having no higher-level events to affect demand would make it cheaper for them to play, but then
    - Do the FNM heroes really/honestly have 0 interest in seeing their format played at a high level?
    - Without any GP/PT to hold competitive players' interest how many people are going to be turning up to FNM anyway? Presumably less
    - Is that going to make it harder for the LGS to survive? etc
    Are there any FNM heroes anymore? The demographic for older formats, especially Legacy and Vintage, is an aging one. I have zero interest in doing any amount of serious traveling for big events. If there was one 1 hr or less from my house, sure, I'd go. Otherwise I'm content with local events like 1K's, etc. Do people even play Standard in paper anymore? At my pre-covid LGS FNM was dead. I actually think cutting out bigger events would actually drive more activity at the local level, which is where the LGS support would need to come into play. Who knows, without big events maybe WOTC goes hard into supporting LGS's in a big way. I could get behind that, for sure.
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  11. #31
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    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    As long as we still have GP pro-tours or events of the like after Covid it's ok to abandon the MPL which was kinda boring to follow anyway.
    Of course the better thing would be to have Legacy GP. but let's not dream to much or hope in anyways :)

  12. #32
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    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    Bingo, so in my mind it carries even further: it major events are cancelled, is there even a reason for a banlist?
    Nobody is going to play shitty format, even if it's online. Thus if they don't ban anything, it affects their dosh.

  13. #33
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    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    That's my point...there wouldn't be formats anymore, other than commander and kitchen table.
    Brainstorm Realist

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  14. #34

    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    That's my point...there wouldn't be formats anymore, other than commander and kitchen table.
    From Wizards' perspective, that may not be such a bad thing because those customers are the vast majority of the buyers of their product.

  15. #35

    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    I mean yeah it sucks they're cutting direct support but all it really means is having a "career" in Magic, as with any TCG, will rely more on content creation than tournament tops. Wizards (badly) pushed the competitive scene for a while, tried to turn Arena into some sort of esport, etc. but ultimately its more profitable to just embrace the kitchen table. I know I'm overly pessimistic but I always thought that Magic's been doomed to be a 90's nostalgia game anyways, and I never really bought into the idea that arena, building up pros to be MTG ambassadors, etc. was going to create a cultural impact on the same scale that we see with stuff like Marvel or create a competitive scene on the same scale of stuff like Hearthstone or actual esports like League.

    And with all that said, back to watching MSI.

  16. #36

    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    I think the path that this convo is going is falling into a kind of rhetorical/logical trap that Matt Sperling explained in a recent video he made in response to some similar comments on twitter

    Basically the idea is just because the "kitchen table" is the most profitable sector doesn't mean that for WotC to focus on it they literally have to discard everything else.

    The analogy (from Sperling) is that Toyota sells way more numbers and makes more money from e.g. Prius/Camry models than whatever higher-tier Supra/Lexus, but they are a big company that overall maximises their profit by having different offerings for different sectors/markets. "Shut down the Supra factory because we need those resources and can't keep up with the Camry demand" would be a proposal that makes some kind of logical sense but it's not a situation that Toyota seems to be in

    Likewise with WotC, Mr Safety suggestion "That's my point...there wouldn't be formats anymore, other than commander and kitchen table.", why would WotC do this? It's not like it's a massive outlay to pay Ian Duke (plus whatever Skeleton Crew works with him on it) to manage the banlist and the amount of money it keeps making wotc just through MTGO modern/legacy is probably quite a lot.

    Then you can extend this idea further, does having a competitive constructed GP generate as much revenue as idk, releasing a new set of 5 commander decks? Maybe not, but it can still easily be a profitable venture, it appeals to a different set of people, it can still be good business sense to have both commander offerings for sale AND some kind of competitive tournament circuit

    Are there any FNM heroes anymore? The demographic for older formats, especially Legacy and Vintage, is an aging one. I have zero interest in doing any amount of serious traveling for big events. If there was one 1 hr or less from my house, sure, I'd go. Otherwise I'm content with local events like 1K's, etc. Do people even play Standard in paper anymore? At my pre-covid LGS FNM was dead. I actually think cutting out bigger events would actually drive more activity at the local level, which is where the LGS support would need to come into play. Who knows, without big events maybe WOTC goes hard into supporting LGS's in a big way. I could get behind that, for sure.
    Your self description is basically my definition of FNM hero and everything I said there applies to you (even if you aren't playing literal FNMs, you're only playing random local events, no interest in travelling to bigger events or ambitions to play on the PT etc)

    More support for activity at the local level will drive more activity at the local level
    You can't just cut GPs/PTs and assume that all those players will happily migrate to whatever random LGS winabox/1K tournaments
    I think it's likely that some of the players who previously enjoyed the local winabox/1K might have only appreciated that as a side-dish to their GP/PTQ goals so by axeing this 'top level' tournament these people just drop MTG entirely and you get less interest at the local level, not more.

    The demographic for Legacy is older which means less motivation to play in low stakes LGS event every week (plus family commitments), but it also means enough financial (or other) freedom to go play in big events if that's what they want to do. How many 10yo pokemon players will buy a literal plane ticket to fly either across the USA (or to Bologna etc) and play a tournament

  17. #37

    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    We keep talking about how kitchen table stuff makes them more money but has anyone (I'm too lazy and don't really care that much) any numbers or detailed info on this?

    I think there is also an underestimation of how much especially standard drives the box sales.
    Sure, casuals will still buy boxes but it makes a huge difference if:

    A) There is enough demand from standard players for the stores to profitably open enough cards so that the random garbage that is not competitive and kitchen table players want is cheap.

    B) Likewise, if there are no standard players to which the casuals can sell the competitive stuff to which they don't want.

    I guess they can only sell precons and stuff like Conspirance all they want then.

  18. #38

    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    Enfranchised competitive players really don't matter to Wizards though, they matter much more to the local game stores.

    Good local game stores diversify their offerings anyways, and even they depend far more on the "invisibles" than you may think.

  19. #39
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    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by kombatkiwi View Post
    I think the path that this convo is going is falling into a kind of rhetorical/logical trap that Matt Sperling explained in a recent video he made in response to some similar comments on twitter

    Basically the idea is just because the "kitchen table" is the most profitable sector doesn't mean that for WotC to focus on it they literally have to discard everything else.

    The analogy (from Sperling) is that Toyota sells way more numbers and makes more money from e.g. Prius/Camry models than whatever higher-tier Supra/Lexus, but they are a big company that overall maximises their profit by having different offerings for different sectors/markets. "Shut down the Supra factory because we need those resources and can't keep up with the Camry demand" would be a proposal that makes some kind of logical sense but it's not a situation that Toyota seems to be in
    The reason that doesn't make sense to do, in Magic or in car manufacturing, is because there is a market cap. So, sure, you might make more money from each Camry made/sold, but the market for that is only so big and you can only get so much of a share. In other words, not everyone is in the Camry market segment. So it makes perfect sense to make products for different market segments. So, for MTG, it makes no sense to make "beginner" sets, only. It also would make no sense to make "expert" sets, only. It would make no sense to make "casual" sets, only. It would make no sense to make "competitive" sets, only. Such an absolutist take is really nonsensical and I am not sure who would be realistically suggesting it as a business model.

    The point is that you want your market to be as big, in theory, as you can make it, but you also want it to be sustainable and profitable. Just as how there is a logical limit to how many people would realistically ever buy a Camry or a Pruis, there are only so many people who would ever play Magic and enjoy it. If you are at, or near that sort of "limit" it makes much more sense to focus on growing that base, expanding sales by selling more to the "proven buyers." Car companies can't really do it, if you have a car, how many cars are you really going to be buying? Is anyone "collecting" Toyota or Lexus cars? It must be close to none.

    So, the analogy falls apart pretty quick there. The point though is perfectly logical for Wizards to drop an idea of "unmitigated" growth of the player base and focus in on expanding the already existing base's spending. As long as the player numbers stay reasonably stable, this plan likely generates more revenue over time. If numbers drop though, a shift to a "new player" focused strategy likely would because a priority.

    Let me be clear, I am not some business genius, I am not any sort of "expert" (in any field at all), but this sort of plan was literally the business model of the circa 20 billion dollar retail chain I worked at for 14 years. So, I am not really pulling it out of thin air, although there is no way I could tell you "how correct" it might be. My only point is the outline possible manners of framing what seems to be going on.
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  20. #40

    Re: WotC Ending Pro Play Discussion

    So, for MTG, it makes no sense to make "beginner" sets, only. It also would make no sense to make "expert" sets, only. It would make no sense to make "casual" sets, only. It would make no sense to make "competitive" sets, only. Such an absolutist take is really nonsensical and I am not sure who would be realistically suggesting it as a business model.
    All the people who are unironically proposing "Well I guess it could be correct for WotC to totally drop any competitive support and just focus on making cards for commander players" are suggesting exactly this, no?

    Quote Originally Posted by H View Post
    The point is that you want your market to be as big, in theory, as you can make it, but you also want it to be sustainable and profitable. Just as how there is a logical limit to how many people would realistically ever buy a Camry or a Pruis, there are only so many people who would ever play commanderand enjoy it.
    Isn't this the more useful / realistic way of looking at it? The point of the analogy is that the Prius is just one subset of the company's offerings (like commander is just 1 subset of MTG offerings)
    (Prius is to Commander, as a Car is to MTG, in this analogy)

    So, the analogy falls apart pretty quick there. The point though is perfectly logical for Wizards to drop an idea of "unmitigated" growth of the player base and focus in on expanding the already existing base's spending. As long as the player numbers stay reasonably stable, this plan likely generates more revenue over time. If numbers drop though, a shift to a "new player" focused strategy likely would because a priority.
    The whole point of the argument that Sperling is making is that if you drop the Pro Tour offering then you create that dip in player numbers, because all of your "Lexus buyers" disappear. They don't magically decide to become "Camry buyers". they just find what they are looking for elsewhere. It should be in the interest and within the capacity of WotC (incompetence notwithstanding) to continue to provide both.

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