First Step

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Re: First Step

Post  Eelco1972 on Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:55 pm

Wrote you a PM (or MP) Raph.

Ciao,

Eelco
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Re: First Step

Post  Pedro on Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:48 pm

Hello everybody; first of all, sorry for my english

My name is Pedro de Diego, Im a bussiness administrator (MBA) from Argentina, and as a hobby I play Magic.

Ive played 6 PTs in 5 years, I go into the PTA category.

The main purpose of this message is support, I really like the idea of a players union, but I also have a few things to add.

I totally agree with Paulo's last post, location matters specially for us PTAs (and really specially for us PTAs who happen to live in Latin America)
Bear in mind that lots of the PTAs goal is not making the gravy train but to have fun going to exotic locations really far away with a bunch of friends. My approach to Magic is something like this: I have my job, I really like it, Idont want to quit; I want to play every PTQ I can to ocassionaly win a vacation with some friends to play the game I love in a really cool place (and secondly having the chance of winning some money, for me PTs are certanly -EV too). Thats why I play Magic, every time I play in MOL is for that reason, every time i read an article its with that purpose, so if the PT goes smaller, then all the efforts ($$$) PTAs like me do, will decrease too, its linear because the motivation shrinks (and because there less PTQs...)

I think its very important that the PTAs are represented in the group of people that will go to the meeting in KL, you should add one or two to that group.

The last thing Ill say is that the game needs icons, heroes; that is really important for wannabees, just saying Id love to play against Kai or I beat Antonino (twice, lol) is a very important motivation for all the non-pros or eventually-pros; and I really belive that statement makes money for WOTC and they should invest in it.

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Re: First Step

Post  verbal on Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:58 pm

I suggest one of the first things to do is find the money. Wizards aren't doing this because they think one less PT a year is good; it is because a PT costs them some (n) amount of money to run, and the pro levels cost money as well. I'm not personally sure how many level threes there are/were, and how many attended, but this is the sort of data you guys need before fronting up with Wizards.

The other thing to consider, of couse, is that it is not entirely unlikely we and wizards - at least the dev/design/OP parts of wizards - are on the same page. This may be something being pushed from further up the food chain. It is possible that given the right ammunition that the good Wizards will be able to win this battle largely for us.

That said, we've got to aim to fight this as if it will be a real fight. Wizards can't completely cave on this, but they also cannot ignore it. I partially agree with Zack - aim high - but disagree in as much as you shouldn't aim *too* high. I've been involved in union pay negotiations before, and if you make absurd initial claims - which lots of people want to do as a 'starting position' - the other side feels backed into a corner and then you are all screwed. Give them a good out.

On the issues: PTs should be held in cool and interesting places. Really, PT hollywood, or Geneva, or Hawaii - those are kick-ass places to win a plane ticket to. Memphis? Not sooo much, eh? Makes it a whole lot less painful to explain to people about this geeky game you play if you can show them the holiday snaps of exciting places they wish they had been. Didn't wizards just explain to us a few years ago that they were deliberately trying to go to cooler places? That whole 'the pro-tour is advertising' thing?

Because, lets face it, the only good advertising for the products wizards have EVER done is pro-tour coverage. Comedy aside, every other ad they have ever made (homelands, anyone?) must have had a -EV for them. All of MTGcom? it advertises to people who are already buying your product. Sure, I enjoy some of the articles, but it's not exactly going to ever get them a customer who they were were terribly unlikely to get.

And - as pedro just noted - I'm not a gravey train person. It'd be kind of cool if I could be, but unlikely. But the pro tour is -EV for me, in realistic terms. I Q'd for hawaii by making top 8 of GP melbourne - and came out just a tiny bit behind on the two events. That was pretty awesome. Would I have bothered if it was in some random middle america place? I'm going to go with no.

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Re: First Step

Post  FrankKarsten on Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:28 pm

Raph wrote:So far, I would very much like Frank to be one of them.
Sure, I'd like to be a part of this Smile Furthermore, I agree with what you have said so far about who the Union should represent and what our first real moves should be.

conform wrote:Switching from PTs to GPs, even if they leave the total prize pool equivalent, is a major cost-cutting measure for them, particularly in the face of a weak dollar and high airfare costs--those two factors alone, in my mind, dwarf any slowdown in card sales.
Yeah, these may actually very well be the the two prime reasons that caused the budget and policy changes of Wizards, this would make a lot of sense to me. High airfare costs obviously increases PT- and PTQ-related expenses (if I recall correctly, rising airfare costs were also cited as an argument for cutting the original level 3 benefits). A weak dollar makes Pro Tours abroad more expensive for the U.S.-based Wizards since dollars buy less abroad (venues and hotels costs more in terms of dollars; I would not be surprised if this influenced their decision to hold two Pro Tours in the U.S. this year). Making a broad abstraction, it is fair to state that the costs of one Pro Tour are equal to: airfare costs (for PTQers, judges, lvl5+ pros, staff) + venue costs (the site, hotel rooms, ...) + prize payout. Clearly, if airfare and venue costs in 2008 are higher than in 2007, while the budget for the PT in 2008 is the same as the budget for the PT in 2007, then somewhere cuts have to be made. That may well be what we are experiencing right now, although this is all mere speculation as long as Wizards does not disclose this information.

If airfare and dollar are indeed two two prime reasons that caused the budget and policy changes of Wizards, then unfortunately the macro-economic trends - as I see them in the world right now - would signal continuous hardship ahead for the Pro Tour. I believe that airfare costs will continue to rise and that the dollar will continue to weaken. In this case, it is likely that Wizards will continue to cut back on the Pro Tour payout budget in future years. Let me motivate my predictions on airfare costs and the dollar with some of the current bigger underlying long-term movements in the world.
-Air travel uses a lot of oil for fuel, so rising oil prices increases air travel prices. Many geologists consider a peak in the global oil production rate, after which the rate of production enters its terminal decline (known as peak oil), to be likely in the next few years. This means that supply can never keep up with demand anymore, and thus oil prices will likely continue to rise (something we are seeing already), making air travel more and more expensive.
-The dollar is collapsing because the U.S. has a big trade deficit; consumption spending is much higher than production; and foreign debt is huge and growing. The real estate bubble is undermining confidence and meanwhile the Federal Reserve is still happily slashing interest rates and producing money out of thin air, causing monetary inflation and making dollar holdings less attractive. While the dollar has already fallen against other currencies in recent years, the trends that caused this have not reversed, so the likely result of all this is a recession and further debasement of the dollar.

If my speculative analysis is correct and these trends hold, and air travel costs and venue costs in foreign countries are indeed the main cost drivers of the Pro Tour, then the Pro Tour in its current form may become unsustainable (too expensive) at some point in the future. Therefore, at this moment PT points are worthless, as it is likely that the Pro Club will be cut down even more in upcoming years. However, no need for gloom. All this would make the existence of a Union like this even more meaningful to allow a smooth transition that does not damage the health of the game. I'm talking very long term here though and I'll just add some random brainstorming. Perhaps Magic Online will also become more important to top-level Magic, with the few Pro Tours left held in exotic special locations. If Wizards wants to use the Pro Tour star system as a marketing tool, then the best way to do this is to make it possible for a few top pros to make a living off it. Perhaps this could be made possible via Magic Online Pro Tours, where they can give out a lot of money to the cream of the crop while not making a lot of venue and air travel expenses. At the same time, Wizards wants to cater to PTQ players to make qualifying for a PT more attractive. I would think that the best way to do this is to hold PTs in exotic special locations such as Hawaii. I guess (but I'm not sure) that most players would rather have 2 PT Hawaii over 3 PT Memphis, with the same amount of PTQs per year. Perhaps we could get 2 mega-Worlds per year in special places like Hawaii, with both limited and constructed PTQs in the same PTQ season, plus some extra PTs online. There must be some creative options. Anyhow, they still have to communicate this all in a professional way and give assurances that PT points gained this year will give a certain minimum assured payout in the year after, so that pros and PTQ players are not alienated, and there once again the Union comes in.

Alright, enough for now, but I would be very interested to learn the vision of Wizards on the Pro Tour. What exactly do they want to achieve with it? Why have the policy changes exactly been made lately? How do they view the Pro Tour in five years? Any comment on this would be very helpful, since right now I'm still speculating and brainstorming.

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Re: First Step

Post  Sinister on Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:23 pm

Seeing how you wanted some more PTQ players to speak out, here I am. Although I am in no way affected by any of the changes Wotc has been making these past weeks, I do feel sorry for all the high level players that I look up to. At the same time, the remote possibility I aspired of ever getting to a Pro Tour as a participant is slowly fading away with all of these changes because of multiple reasons. The first is of course that the attraction is becoming less and less apparent. Going to a Pro Tour is going to cost a lot of money probably, and if at all I would get a decent finish, it would mean I could participate in other PT's maybe but I would have to pay more and more money to do so. Not an option.

Secondly, one of the things I enjoy during a Magic year is running the PTQ circuit with friends and hoping to get a good finish. There will be less PTQ's now, and they will also be less diverse because there are only so many PT's. That cuts into my fun with friends playing Magic. Not good.

I hope you guys can arrange a meeting in which both parties get the information they are hoping for and can together build on that information to either provide better information in the future or find another solution in getting the PT back on track.

Supporting this Union with a PTQ voice

Cheers
Nicky

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Re: First Step

Post  Gi Baja on Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:42 pm

In reply to what Frank posted:

Yes, PT's cost more money because of a low dollar.

But, I remember 7 years ago the prices of booster packs went up because the dollar was high. They never went down (more than doubled scince). Don't you think that they will also get a lot more income because of the low dollar price? Every product sold in foreign currency means more dollars.

Second, perhaps wizards could try and get more peopel from the local scene to help for their pro tour. I'm pretty sure that if you pay someone 200 dollar + food, they will be very happy do to a 3 day coverage for the pro tour. That saves you hotel rooms + flights for your staff.

I'm one of those PTQ players and to me the pro tour means mostly what Pedro describes. Playing vs the Icons (everyone wants to play Budde/Finkel once!), getting a ticket to a cool place, a reason to keep buying product. 1 less pro tour is 1 less reason to play in ptq's, to prepare. I don't think with my skills a ptq or pro tour will ever be +EV, yet I still play.

I really feel sorry for the lvl 3's that got $#&ed by the late announcement. But really, if you've been there for 2 years and you're not that icon top player and likely never will be, how about giving your spot to someone else this time? So we can all live the dream once?

Willem

ps, good innitiative!

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Re: First Step

Post  peter_v on Thu Jan 24, 2008 6:48 pm

I am a PTQ player/"PTA" and I want to say I support the Players Union as representing Pros and PTQ players. I have been on the PT once, last year, and since then I've been hoping I might make the gravy train some day. Now, in the light of recent events, not so much anymore. I'd like to make it to another PT but I'm not hoping for more than that currently. Reaching the gravy train seems useless now, with less benefits, no certainty of anything, and higher expense, since you need to go to GPs for pro points, and in Europe you can't realistically hope to make any money off a GP.

Now I understand that cutting back costs etc is necessary, and that the Union will try to propose alternatives for how the money in the PT could be better spent. I won't get into this discussion, others will know more about this than I do. I just want to make one point, which I feel the Union should stress, because I feel it's absolutely necessary. The Union should convince Wizards that they need to put up a clear, official schedule at the start of each season, with the pay-outs for the next year, and the meanings of Pro Points for the year afterwards, with a promise that they will not change this afterwards. I believe it is 100% in their advantage to this, because they need to restore the confidence they have lost. If there's going to be less money in the PT, so be it, but everything should be announced beforehand. Credibility is one of the most important things for a company, and they need to work to restore that. If they don't, I do believe the end of the Pro Tour is near.

Finally, I want to say well done to Raphael Levy for starting this. I hope and expect it will help.

Peter

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Re: First Step

Post  beefman on Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:33 pm

does the hall of fame state "level 3 lifetime" change to another level?
if not it really sucks pale

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Re: First Step

Post  malin on Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:58 pm

From BDM's article:
Larabee also noted that the Pro Tour Hall of Fame benefit that bestowed Level 3 Pro Club status to its members will be bumped up to Level 5, which means Hall of Famers will receive the $250 appearance fee.


Just one thing I wonder: Now without end of year payouts it doesn't matter if a player has 50 or 59 PT-points which might lead into concessions. It is definetly a primary concern now but just something that maybe should be changed, otherwise it might lead into concession even in a PT final where the poiints matter only to one of the players...

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Re: First Step

Post  Mrsky on Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:46 pm

While the problem has been fully covered in this thread, there is a lack of explicit solutions. I mean you can't come in front of the wizards officials just saying "we want this and this because that and that" our purposes must have a realistic approach. As Antonino Derosa said, it is dreaming to hope coming back to the exact old system simply because if it were possible WotC wouldn't have bothered to change it.

While WotC could not forecast such a reaction from the players community, I'm sure they are perfectly aware of the impact these changes are risking to cause. If the pro cycle fails, it will probably be the start of Magic's decline. This is our main argument. Correct me if I'm wrong but the meeting with WotC will be a negociation and it's objective is to find a Win/Win compromise. Like in every negociation, each party will have its expectations, what it wants and doesn't want, what it can give and not give and therefore must set objectives.

In our case, what is the main objective? That Magic has it's pro players who can live only from it. According to all pros here, it is not something doable in this configuration. As someone pointed it is not the number of PTs which is in cause but the prize payouts. If they were only 4 PTs but the payouts were doubled (for example) it would be fine.

So what is it possible to do to correct this situation? While I am pretty sure WotC can do some efforts in increasing the event budget but it will certainly not be sufficient. They are certainly some possibilities to raise funds however. Here are some rough ideas :

- Sponsorship : The main problem is that they are no brands directly related to the game (Ultrapro maybe?). Therefore we must look at other possibilities. Soda brands or Chocolate bars brands could be interesseted mostly for grand prix : 800 average players consuming during 2 days. Another possible source could be banking and insurrance companies : the average age of a competitive magic player is around 25 years, which means a lot of them are beginning in active life and this is likely to interest those companies.

- Putting into place an "organized play fee", not expensive, only $1 (or equivalent in the local currency). These fees could be returned to WotC by the DCI manager of each country (I believe there is one per country, or at least a person in charge of organized play for the country). I made a simple math based on the lastest data available on the official website : let's take an average number of 50 players per ptq or prerelease and 800 per GP, which is a very low estimation. Consider now that they were over the world : 188 ptqs for Kuala Lumpur, 1370 prereleases for morningtide and 16 gps in the 2007 season. Now consider they are 4 PTs per year (at least) and 4 extentions per year. If every single player payed the $1 fee, it would be :
--> From the ptq : $9400 per PT ($37600 per year)
--> From the prereleases : $68500 per extention, 4 times a year which is $274000 to be parted among the PTs and GPs
--> From the GPs : $12800 per season
--> Total : $324400 to be distributed among all PTs and GPs over a year.
Remeber those figures are low estimations so I believe there is someting to do in this way.

Thinking of different ways of raising money is a good thing but we must also find how much money needs to be raised. While I'm not a pro player myself I cannot do much to determine how much a pro player needs/wants to live from magic. However I can give some indications on how to determine such a figure. The minimum average ranking on the PTs of one season in order to live of the game must be determined. I mean we have to determine the limit over which someone "deserves" to live out of Magic. To this limit must be attached a minimum acceptable "salary". I don't know how it works in other countries but in France we have a minimum salary which is 1280 per month before tax (approx. $1850, 950, 201000 Yens). This could be taken as a basis for the limit (appearance fees inculded, assuming a player living of magic is level 7 in the new system at least).

To clarify things lets take an example : Let's assume you the lowest average rank must be 32th to live of Magic (hypothetical). Then to this rank must be attached the following : $1850 per month * 12 = $22200 per year / 4 PTs = $5550, appearance fees included. This means that without the appearance fees of a level 7, $5550-$1750 = $3800. The 32th position on a pro tour must be fixed at $3800 (currently $1350).

Of course the rank is taken at random and must be really thought about to reach a compromise.

That's all I can think of just now and I hope this will help. I'll post any other ideas if I have some. If you need some help in building a proper financial plan to present to WotC I would be glad to help (managing budgets and negociate them is what I use to do Wink ).

By the way for the first meeting it is imperative in order to save time to come with solid elements and discussion themes.


Edouard Mrieux.

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Not alone

Post  zaphod on Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:02 pm

I'm glad to see that I am not alone. I was immediately disturbed when I saw the 2008 PT schedule... so much so that I sent an email to WotC organized play. Here is a copy of the letter:

--------------------------
To Wizards of the Coast: Organized Play,

My name is Greg, and I'm a long time judge, player, and supporter of the Magic community. I love Magic, but I'm worried. Recently, the schedule for events for the 2008 Pro Tour season was posted, and I'm deeply concerned about the support for limited.

When I look at the event schedule for 2008, I see that Pro Tour Kuala Lumpur is the last limited event for the season (and it's PTQ season was over in December of last year), and that the Grand Prix schedule does not place an event close enough to me in Massachusetts for me to have access to Grand Prix trials. Even if the first Premiere event on the 2009 schedule is a limited format, this means that there are zero competitive or higher limited events for the northeast region of the US for the span of a year.

I understand that tournament players are not the largest part of your market, but at every store I spend time in, I see PTQ players supporting the store with regular draft events, most of which are unsanctioned. They motivate many casual players to learn to play and enjoy the draft format, since it is a fun way to add cards to your collection. PTQ's are *the* driving force in draft attendance in local stores all over the country. This sells a lot of boxes of product, and helps to keep local stores in the black and open. This continuous mass opening of boosters also serves to add more cards to the local pool, keeping singles prices reasonable for those that need to buy a few cards to compete in constructed.

The main reason PTQ players constantly work to get more drafts running is to practice for PTQ top 8 booster drafts. Getting there isn't easy, and when you do you want to have the best chance to win that coveted invite to the Pro Tour. When I look at the schedule this year, I see three whole sets that I don't need to bother to learn to compete. The set scheduled for release in September we don't even have the correct name for, yet we know that 'Donut' will not impact limited competitive play. Wizards has been doing a great job designing sets that are interesting and fun in limited, it seems a shame not to support an entire block's worth of design with premiere events.

I hope that Wizards of the Coast can find another way to support limited this year, because limited play is at the heart of keeping our Magic communities healthy.

Thanks for your time,

Greg Schwartz
--------------------------

Magic has a few important needs that are not sufficiently being met right now...

1) Premiere support in standard constructed and limited for every set
2) Reliable two-way communication between players and Wizards
3) A comprehensive review on their method for keeping Magic sustainable, particularly in regard to attracting new players.

A bit more detail on item 3.. How often do you see new players enter the game? What age ranges do you find playing Magic? Compare this to 5 years ago? If I walked into any of my local stores and asked for a Magic rulebook, what would they say?

Magic is losing younger players to other games, despite having a better product. They are not targeting the correct age group (starting about 10 or 11 I'd say). The lack of a paper copy of the rules of the game loses a large portion of new players that might not have enough motivation to go download one from the website.

Perhaps together we can make our voices loud enough to be heard, and help keep Magic great.

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If the Other Professionals can do it, so can you!!

Post  jaxshan on Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:55 pm

In order to understand the undertaking you are suggesting, I would first do some history and research of some other notable player unions and what it took to get off the ground. Remember, most of the Professional sports leagues (Golf, Football, Tennis) had no Player Unions for years.

In the long term, the needs of the pro players tends to affect the costs of the products and events (I.E. When was the last time you tried to take your family to an NFL Pro envent).

However, I also believe that without Pro-Magic Players, the game would fizzle into another worthless trading card game. This game has evolved so much in the past 15 years and the Top players have given their hearts and souls over to making it great!!

Wizards should have a partnership with your group to insure that your voices and concerns are heard. If you all boycotted Wizards they would go under in a heartbeat! So where there is power in numbers, Wizards should be very interested in listening to your concerns.

I would be honored to be counted along with all of you. As a Player in FNM tourneys since 2000, Pro Tour Qualifiers every year since then, and countless city, state and pre-release tourneys, I applaud your efforts.

I wish your group every success in your endeavors!!!

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Re: First Step

Post  amiel on Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:06 am

it isn't the first time I heard about making a players union. I even wanted to make one.
I believe PTAs would be happy to find a way to defend themselves vs the bad bad judges.
I remenber a time when judges made huge mistakes in rulings, costing games or matches or bans.
I believe every pro should make a balance with the winnings of the year, the cost of flights and the cost of stay.
for exemple my year 2007 was :
PT geneva 1000 $
PT yokohama 5,500 $
PT san Diego 500 $
PT valencia 500 $
worlds 1000 $

GPs
Amsterdam 1700$
Krakow 2000 $
Montreal 400 $
stockholm 100$

it makes a total of :12700 $
I payed for travel geneva 200$ yokohama 1000$ san diego + montreal 1000$ Valencia 200$ worlds 0$ Amsterdam 100$ Krakow 250$ Stockholm 100$ Strasbourg 100 $ total = 2950 $

for stay+food : Geneva 30$ (pro lounge + free hotel) Yokohama 400 $ San Diego+montreal 400$ Valencia 400$ Worlds 300$
GPs = 500 $ total= 2030$

so I made 7700$ profit playing magic as a pro. But I played many many many many money and practice drafts.

I finished level 4; 22d with 35 pro points. I assure you that you cannot live a year in Paris with 7 700 $.
but now for next year I have already 5 000$ guaranteed+ the flight for KL (costs 1000 $).
if they didn't have the pro club I wouldn't go to all the PTs this year. And I will not go to GPs anymore. Playing 1000+ persons event is too deceipful. I started the year with level 2 only, but got good results in the beginning of the year. I believe climbing the levels is harder than falling.
I don't like the pro club, I would prefer if they put the money at the end of tournaments.

Amiel

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Re: First Step

Post  SimonR on Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:29 am

Hi there, I'm a German PTQ-player (and will stay that probably, but that's not important now).

I really want WotC to do what you did, Amiel, they should give us the numbers that led to this change in policy. Honecy is what is needed to find a compromise that both sides can benefit from. Lets hope they'll do this.

On another matter, I'm sure some of you have already contacted the Japanese pros, just in case you didn't I thought I'd bring that up as their support might prove pretty valuable for the PU (Players Union).

That said, good luck for the meeting in Kuala Lumpur and you sure have my support (and I'll try to bring others here as well).

- Simon

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Re: First Step

Post  Cheeks on Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:07 am

I'm kind of in the middle, I've played in 8 pro tours, but have had to play ptqs to get to 7 of them and am by no means a "pro." I used to think it was possible to make a living off of magic, but have come to the realization that it's just a really fun thing to do, see friends etc etc. I don't think the changes are too bad for most ptq players, but they're bad for the big picture. WOTC says they made it "easier" to get on the train, but I think it's actually harder since level 3 is now basically irrelavent. The biggest change I would like to see is for them to reinstate the level 3 apperence fee.

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Re: First Step

Post  MatBowman on Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:29 am

Hi all,

First off I would like to say that this is a positive move and its important for the players to have a voice.

I am a PTQ/FNM player and Kuala Lumpur will be my first PT. This is something I have worked hard toward for a few years and is somewhat a dream come true. It has been my motivation for playing the game. The chance to play against the worlds best is amazing. The highlight of my (short) Magic career was sitting next to Andre Coimbra in Pod1 on day 2 of a GP, with names like Saito and Sadin on table 2. Most players on my level only dream of this position, the Pro's and the 'dream' are what keep people buying product.

The very thaught of the PT grinding to a halt is heartbreaking and (as mentioned by many) will stop many players in my position from playing the game.

This means that WotC will loose attendance at GP's, PTQ's, Pre-Releases and the number of local stores will drop as a result of nobody buying product. I mean, why spend $30 on a Tarmogoyf if all it wins you is a booster at FNM?

I really hope that getting our concerns heard achieves what we are all hoping.

See you in KL
Mat

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Re: First Step

Post  Melbourne_junkie on Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:16 am

Congrats to Legend Levy for this (prob. overdue) innovation.

Similar to opinions expressed earlier in this thread, I believe there needs to be a consensus regarding:

Outlined objectives
-Clear Goals -> what is most important..? The 4th PT back in place, restoration of PPC benefits ala last season's level and so on.
-Representatives
-Strategy etc.

Relevant action steps
-What is an organised player base capable of..?

At present it would seem that the capabilities of organised Pro and PTQ ranks have very little actual threat power. Yes there can be a boycott of PT: XYZ, however that doesn't mean that the aspiring players will stop competing to fill in those now-vacant Pro positions.

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Look for motivations

Post  GregB on Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:50 am

There seems to be an implicit assumption that Wizards is taking 100% of the savings realized from decreasing the number of Pro Tours. While I have no solid proof this isn't occuring it seems unlikely.

The PT as others have allueded to seems to exist to provide 'liquidity' to the Magic world. With the constant outlet for competitive play there is a known quantity of worthy tournments to prepare yourself for. Without this structure in place Magic would run the risk of 'none of my friends play anymore.' People have very strong perceptual bias: that which is directly observable to them must be happening everywhere. That's why former players say things like 'oh people still play that game!?' or 'I liked it better before they got rid of interrupts.'

When the PT happens, in front of them, on their computer screen it reinforces the idea that 'Yay people play my game, I can buy more packs knowing it won't crumble to dust like Spellfire or Overpower did!' What is exceptionally unclear is how much of this reinforcement is required on a yearly basis.

To put it in marketing terms what is the smallest difference capable of being detected?

I have a feeling that Wizards wants to move away from the PT dynamic to a more localized feedback system. Look at the recent influx of "Super FNM." Summer of Magic, City Champs, Release / Preview these are just glorifed FNM series that happen to reward constant play. Wizards probably believes that seeing your friends and local store competitors play magic weekly gives you an even fuzzier feeling about the safety and appropriateness of your booster purchase. On the plus side to WotC they pay out almost nothing to put these events on, mail out maybe twice as many textless spells and extended art wonders.

Obviously this is all speculation since WotC is very tight lipped about sales and tournment participation numbers. The data in question to validate this theory would be the sales of 10th edition (supported by Summer of Magic) vs 7th,8th,9th.

The purpose of any meeting with Wizards should be to craft a win/win with the Pro Players. It's possible the PT may need to partially reinvent itself to stay relevant to the prior amount of prize money. Magic television commericals do not make much noise about the PT or GPs.

My pet theory is that competitive play is still paying a harsh penality for Ravager being in T2. Fairly and unfairly this deck drove away FNM level players in droves (this was attested to on mtg.com in an uncommonly honest article). Wizards probably believes that being even slightly involved in FNM level events keeps a player active in magic longer, and keeps them buying more packs. They do seem to have gone to great lengths in the last 3 years to kick start local level play.

I believe your successful negotation will require analysis such as this to be used. While i'm not a great magic player I do have an advanced degree in marketing and deal day in day out with contract negotiations. Simply deleting marketing money for a consumer product fueled by a constant stream of fresh addicts seems counter intuitive. Engineering your marketing for more bang is a never ending endeavor.

Greg B

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Re: First Step

Post  raharu on Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:28 am

I believe in all verity that WotC should start allowing secondary market comanies run the Extended, Vintage, and Legacy format tournaments (with oversight, obviously), allowing the people that actually profit from these tournaments to be directly involved, opposed to Wizards expending money on formats that they don't turn a profit from. The cost saved here could potentially allow WotC to fix the Standard problem. Thoughts?

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Re: First Step

Post  MagicRage on Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:08 am

Raph wrote:So far, I would very much like Frank to be one of them.
Unless anyone has anything against it, I would also like to talk in your name.
We should settle this within the next 2 weeks.

Raphael and Frank seem like great reps to me.

I would think it good if the "Primary Representatives" included at least 1 Japanese and 1 American player if possible, to demonstrate a form of solidarity.

ZackH wrote:Ant, it's my opinion that over time these changes will lead to the end of the PT. Not today, not this year, but the PT is all about marketing for them, and now that the big name pros can't make a living off the game, the marketability of the PT goes too.

Not only that, but it has been argued that the Pro Tour partially legitimizes MTG as well as forcing R&D to make a more balanced game because there are really good players trying to break everything.
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Re: First Step

Post  verbal on Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:04 am

To just add a few points:

I disagree with the poster/posters who said we need to have a list here of all the bargaining points and arguments. This is a public forum, and I'd suggest anyone who thinks wizards isn't reading this to be a bit crazy. One of the things which probably needs to happen is the creation of a private forum here for known pros and players and those who can have someone vouch for them.

A second thing which needs to happen is an easily recognisable visual clue which you guys can use to show support at the PT. Options range from the simple - a black armband, or a coloured ribbon, costing very little, to something like a T-shirt. Getting them printed in time might be a challenge unless some KL local is involved. Obviously that end would have a much higher cost, although I'd think getting a hundred or two tshirts printed in somewhere like KL would end up with a fairly low unit cost. And the visual impact if half the room on day one is wearing an identical tshirt? Pretty high, I'd think.

There are other ways you could communicate symbolically, of course. There are plenty of cards which are either thematically or in name fairly well cover the idea of a players union - strength in numbers and shared fate to name just two.

On the subject of who should be the reps: Obviously Raph, and Frank seems a good choice as well. I'd suggest that as a third you have someone who made level three last season - preferably for the first time. This plan has its drawbacks - you want the third person to be a known quantity, someone who has the respect of the community and someone who isn't going to make a complete bonehead of themselves in the discussions. Although otherwise I agree with adding a Japanese/APAC pro, and an American one.

I'm happy to make some suggestions for a shirt - have sent some to Raph - but again I think that is one of those sorts of things it is best to spring on Wizards as a partial shock.

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PT Aspirant

Post  Falkor on Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:57 am

For those of you interested in a PTQ take on the whole situation, I have to admit that I did not read the Wizards' announcements too closely. I have a feeling that many players are in the same boat.

Fortunately, after hearing about the different opinions expressed here and in other forums, I have taken a closer interest in what is going on with the Pro Tour at the moment. I like to consider myself one of the whales of Wizards. I am not saying that I am one of the high rollers in the room, but I am certainly dead money. I am trying to change that, but for right now, I have not achieved a tremendous amount of PTQ success.

If I have no Pro Tour to aspire to, I simply stop playing Magic. Plain and simple. This is the reason I have not picked up any other CCG, since I don't think they have a reliable Pro circuit with historical backing.

I don't necessarily mind competing against the different pro players in the room at the PT qualifiers, since I feel like I need to compete against them eventually, I might as well start earlier. I know that I have to win the invite and the plane ticket to go to a Pro Tour, since I could never justify a plane ticket to Kuala Lumpur to play Magic to my wife and 15-month old son.

I have always admired Frank Karsten (I wish he would come back to TCGplayer, and write there, but hey, I have a graduate degree as well), so I have no issues about he and Raph as representatives. I think that Gavin Verhey would actually make an extremely strong representative as well for players like me, and I would hope that this message travels far and fast.

Japan?

I also think there should be a Latin American representative, but that's just me. All regions should have a distinct voice, since all regions should have some access to a Pro Tour.

Memphis, anyone?

Elvis is rolling over in his grave...

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Re: First Step

Post  Eelco1972 on Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:07 pm

Nothing in BDM's article today...

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Re: First Step

Post  Italian stallion on Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:18 pm

I think the only way to raise their attention is to present them some kind of a business plan showing the results of the loss of a Pro Tour in terms of popularity of the game etc.
Maybe we should do in some way their work by proposing new ideas for the Pro-Tour circuit, like agreements with airlines and the rethinking of the prize-pooling in order to make the thing affordable...

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Re: First Step

Post  Eelco1972 on Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:40 pm

It's going to be nearly impossible to make such a plan.
The PT is in essence 1 giant commercial add and you can never be sure how effective an add exactly is. You can only guess.

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Re: First Step

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