Magic: The Gathering sticks it to their players

A couple of things about me so everyone can understand where I am coming from. I played Magic: The Gathering 20 some years ago. I am a single father. My son and I needed a place to socialize and interact with other humans. We have fell down that dark hole where 90 percent of our socialization was done via the internet. We also needed a hobby.

The answer to all of these things was MTG and our local game store. The people we have met there that have not only helped us become better MTG players, but have invested time and effort into my son making him a much better player is invaluable. Those are the fringe benefits for us as being active MTG players. They cannot be broken down monetarily because the benefits we reap far outweighs the cost of participating.

Magic_the_gathering-card_back

As a returning player who also brought a new player with him the news that MTG is discontinuing its Friday Night Magic promos is disheartening. There is so much value in these promos for us. This game is so different  when I played in its infancy…seeing new cards for me and my son gives us the germ of idea for new and better decks. Getting good promos like Aetherhub gives us the tools to build competitive standard decks. In September the promo will be Fatal Push. How much value does that have? A ton, a literal ton not only will we be able to build better decks, but gain value for our trade binder to possibly start building modern decks.

fnm

Before we continue I just want to point out that in terms of financial cost I am way ahead of the game even though I am supporting two MTG habits. The rewards we reap even without the FNM promos are great. However, speaking as a new player the decision to turn FNM promos from useful interesting cards to foil tokens is a poor one.

From what I have read and listened to from more established and trusted commentaries about this game that we love is a company talking out of both sides of their mouths. They want FNM to be more casual. This is flawed thinking.

Since I started entering my son in more competitive formats and tournaments his skill level in this game has increased 100 fold. There was only so much that I could teach him and thankfully the really good players at our local game store have taken the time to play him and teach him he is that much better. Since our LGS makes a detailed effort to be competative the competition we see each week is high and that makes all of us better players…and it creates a meta where we are constantly evolving our decks IE buying more product to get better which should be the goal. Our rewards for that have been stated but from the company they were promos…useful promos either in decks or for trade fodder.

More established players love foils and often trade for them. In September Fatal Push, maybe the best Standard card there is will net us useful pieces for other things. That seems like a small investment from a company who reaps all the profit every time we build a new deck or evolve a current one.

I see no data that indicates that the FNM promo affects the participation at FNM. However, I bet we will have said data in November. After a month of Fatal Push promos and then a month of Foil Token promos any MTG player with half a brain can guess what that number will be. On top of that the current state of standard is a bigger factor than whatever promo is being handed out. I haven’t been back to this game for a year yet and I know that. My eleven year old son who is a new player understands that. Why doesn’t MTG understand that?

In the end this curious decision isn’t going to affect what my son and I do. We are still going to play at FNM because the social interaction is the main goal for us. However, being rewarded for our investment of money and time generates loyalty. Many companies we spend our hard-earned money at have these loyalty programs. None of them are earth shattering in what they give back, but it is nice to get something. A foil promo of something is far superior to a foil token. It’s a nice reward for the time and money spent on a hobby.

For the company it is a minimal investment in the community that generates their profit. It is very curious and shortsighted to take that minimal investment away. While the capitalist in me thinks nothing should ever be free…breeding loyalty in a customer base is a very valuable thing.

 

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