Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

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Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  Raph on Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:36 am

Everyone has been waiting for this report. Iím in Amsterdam Airport waiting for my flight home and will write a little summary. Frank will probably write one on his own soon, so this is just to let you know about what happened and what is the next step.

Fried Meulders, Luis Scott Vargas, Frank Karsten, Ruud Warmenhoven and myself were attending. Scott Larabee, Chris Galvin, Devin Low and Helene Bergeot were here to answer our questions and discuss the future of the Union.

All of the topics that appeared in Frankís summary were discussed.

To the questions: What happened to the MSS, States, Pro Player Club (all level issues: appearance fee for Lvl 3s) and the cut PT, the answer is the same:

Wizards wants to allocate more money to the grassroot players (casual players). As they are in greater number, it feels normal that more money is invested for them. They are not happy about the evolution of that market went in the last couple of years and therefore they want to focus more on them. There has been no budget cut on Magic, just reallocation.

According to them, and that is where our points of view are different, they have modelled that these changes will not affect the Pro Tour. They want to have a healthy tournament scene with a couple of star players. To them, paying the former level 3s is not exactly a necessary evil to keep PTAs motivated. Cutting a PT will not cause the top players to drift away from the game. That is where we think their model is wrong but it has been decided this way for this year and we will see how many level 8s are still playing the game at the end of the year...

When it comes to communication, Wizards told us that the budget is decided at the end of the year (December) and thus the changes on the PT can not be told before the budget is actually allocated. This is why we got to know about the changes only after the season started. They are aware their methods of communicating are flawed and and open to suggestions Ėsomething the Union can help them with.

What about the future of the Union?

Getting official recognition is legally complicated. The closer we are from Wizards, the more we will have to deal with lawyers. However, and that is where I am happy about what we ended up with, Wizards agreed to work with us.

The Union is a free information source for them. Scott Larabee himself, told us that the site (here) is a mine of information; that now, instead of browsing different sites, he could just come here and pick up some interesting ideas. Our FREE help is an asset for them.

When it comes to sharing information, it is another problem. It has been set clear that in no way they would discuss budget with us. However, it is very likely that some information about the future changes or ideas can be shared with us. It has been underlined that ďusĒ can not be everyone. By that I mean that Wizards can not afford to spread secret information to the public to be discussed.

From there starts the next step of the Union. The forum has been set up as an emergency response. Now is the time to build up a real structure. Registering to the forum was a fine solution to start up and show that people cared. However, we need to officialize everything. We need to have a structure of people with actual names who will decide who will represent them. It has been clear that the more people we represent, the more they will listen to us. I know this sounds like something that has already been talked about, but now it is the real deal. Wizards can not share their information to everyone. They want people they can trust to talk to. A leak in anything they tell us about would mean the end of our cooperation. A clean hierarchy in the Union is therefore needed.

That is something I will work on this week. We will have to set up an actual registration for everyone. Then we will proceed to choose representatives and set the rules of the Unionís hierarchy. Also, the Union site is under contruction -I will have to talk to Evan about that.

This is pretty much what I expected from the meeting. I believe our cooperation with Wizards will bring good results on the long run. Keep in mind that we are just starting, and that reaching great goals takes some time!

For more information, you can wait for Frankís report (coming up soon I believe), or you can just PM me and ask here. I am not sure Iíll be able to answer it all quickly, but Iíll do my best.

Raph

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  Chomps on Tue Feb 19, 2008 11:00 am

About WoTC statement:

It's quite likely that they did had to make budget cuts on OP, and took the opportunity to revamp their programs. After all, if they had to cut a PT anyway, it was a great moment to re-do things.

That doesn't matter, though, what does matter is that they reinstated their wish to keep things going.

About the Union:

It's natural and logical that WoTC do not wish to disclosure informations wildly. Also they will be able to really talk with representants, instead of just issuing pre-made statements (which is what I guess is that mostly happened in KL).

So, the site and registration needs to get done ASAP. We need someone to take charge of the technical aspects (Evan is doings that, right?) and the representants. Probably there is no need to legitimate the technical manager*, but the represents need it.

I suggest that the guys who were our representatives at KL (Levy, Karsten, etc) issue a small statute, and then we proceed vote - mainly to legitimize.

hugs,

*: Besides, Evan rocks Smile

P.s.: It really bugs me that they don't aknowledge that their method of announcement stinks. Maybe they are acting this way out of respect for their co-workers, or just to safe face

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Post  PV on Tue Feb 19, 2008 12:42 pm

So, to where exactly was the approx 1 million US dollars located?
How are those casual players benefiting from this money?
Do FNMs give money now?

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  eunck on Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:33 pm

That's what I'm wondering, too. How do they spend so much money on casual players? It's a bit hard to imagine!
So the PT has a lower budget now. Ok. But was there any discussion about how this money could be spent in a better way? Seems to me that this was an important point that was much discussed in this forum.

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  Raph on Tue Feb 19, 2008 3:04 pm

There has been. Unfortunately and as I mentionned, WotC is not going to give any details on how they spend their money and how much everything costs. They are sure open to suggestions but without actual figures it is a bit tough for us to work on it.

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Issue with our future

Post  janos_wuryon on Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:00 pm

I would first like to thank everyone invlovled for getting the meeting done and the information back to us. I am afraid that our future is in a shakey place. WOTC is not a business based on playing the game, they are a business based on providing tools to play game. AS such they have no obligation to have OP. Company's like Rawlings and Spaulding make Baseball/Football equipment for the MLB/NFL but are not responsible to anyone in regards to the pro game being played. Unions of Atheletes function because they are the main component to the product ( competative spectator sporting events) that the MLB/NFL sell as their product. Since WOTC doesn't sell competative magic then we have no place as part of their product. I hope that analogy is clear too everyone. They seem happy to have us as a focus group, to have a free means of finding out what people think about their decisions but can we actually move beyond that? Pro athletes know the inside and out of their league's business because they are part of the product. We do not have that position. I believe in what we are doing but I think I can read between the lines of what WOTC said. Even if the individuals involved feel differently, from a corporate point of view, we are just a small percentage of the consumer's they look at. Im not sure how many people are a part of this movement. Is it 100, 1000, 10000? I do not know but I know that if we are to succede we need to move beyond being a group of like minded individuals. We need to get the backing of those who are directly connected to wizard's in a financial manner. If we can get vendor's on our side then WOTC will have an earfull from those who directly impact their product. If we all quit someone else comes in and buys what we would have bought. If vendors threaten to stop carrying WOTC product then they have no place to sell product to anyone. I think our next step should be to take our issues to those who everyone deals with directly and that is the vendors. Otherwise how much can we hope to accomplish?

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  rickiep00h on Tue Feb 19, 2008 7:16 pm

janos: I mentioned the issue of corporate sponsorship in an early thread, which you can find here.

As far as numbers of people the union represents, there's a member list in the navigation bar. Currently we have almost 800 people registered, nearly all of whom have resoundingly offered their support.

As far as the rest of the thread, I'm with pretty much everyone. I'd like to know, at the very least, how they're planning on implementing these cuts. If it's a simple redistribution, they could at least let us know if they've got new programs starting, what they may or may not be, or even what the ultimate goal of them will be. I mean... are they planning on printing more FNM foils? Are they starting a new OP league? I don't care necessarily about the specific numbers, but I'd like to know that they're DOING something, instead of just cutting back and telling us they're "improving the game."

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Thank you!

Post  Falkor on Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:34 am

Raph et al.,

First off, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to at least meet with Wizards and share ideas. To me, this is the crux of the distance between the players and Wizards' management and the future of the players union as a whole.

Before I get to the future, a few questions about the past:
1. Did you have the opportunity to review the Wizards "official" article about the meeting? If so, did any of the pertinent information presented there differ from your own recollection of events?
2. How will we pass information about the meeting from "our" side of the table? Is this the goal of Karsten's article? I certainly hope so. I know that I don't want to continue to swallow the "official" Wizards position without a discussion of alternatives from our perspective.

A comment about the meeting: it seemed fairly transparent considering the magnitude and level of discontent of players. That's really good.

I posted a link to the meeting on TCGplayer.com, and it is currently on the front page of the site. I will continue to publish as much as we discuss here at TCGplayer as long as I have an account at that site.

To the future:
1. Hierarchy of the Players Union
A formal vote should delineate representatives from around the entire Magic community, so all sides feel represented. I certainly hope that no one is left out of the discussion, but no matter what, there must be a set organizational structure here at this site and in this organization.

2. Method of Communication
We need to be able to set up a formal chain to pass what the players want to all of the people in the hierarchy. I foresee this becoming increasingly difficult as the number of players involved in this organization increases over time. If we have a set system in place, newer members may be inculcated in the method at the time of their registration.

3. Goals of our Discussions with Wizards
I think we had a concrete goal this time around at PT: Kuala Lumpur. Unfortunately, this may not exist at the next series of meetings. What do we really want? Is this feasible for Wizards to provide? We need to set marketable, established goals for what the players would like to see in the organized play format.

_______________________________________________________________________________________
I think we can all agree that Wizards will never release financial information to us. It is a business, and a million dollars is chump change to an organization like Hasbro. The goal is to ensure that the game succeeds. In this, we should be partners to Wizards, not antagonists. I sincerely hope that sentiment continues as we move forward.

It was nice to see MaRo reference this discussion obliquely in his article on Monday. I think it really does sting a lot of the Wizards "personalities" when we players question their devotion to the game. I know it would certainly bother me.

Let's work together, and make it happen.

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Scedule

Post  kj_4247 on Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:41 am

If Wizards calculates they're budget at the end of the year and therefore can't give us information on payout until after the season has already started then perhaps it is time to simply move the begging of the season. I know that lining up the season with the calendar year was a recent change and unfortunately i don't remember the reason for it. But I think we can all agree that getting this (and similar) information as soon as possible is one of the major goal of the union. Wizard has already shown that it is possible to shift the PT schedule. My question is if this is a big enough reason to do it again.

Afterthought: It occurred to me while writing this post that the advanced notice that player would like is closer to a whole year than just a couple of months. How far in advance would we like to here about next years payout schedule?

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  MagicRage on Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:19 am

The upside I get out of this is essentially twofold (assuming of course WotC is being completely truthful):

1) This year's money is being reallocated. If at the end of the year they feel things had not gone well they will change things for 2009, which may include bringing back the 4th PT.

2) It's not a budget cut. This is good for MTG overall.

I can understand their desire to try to put a serious push on the casual side, bringing more people into the game and trying a fresh approach to get more people to play in sanctioned tournaments.

I think the main things to focus on are the communications issue of course. Besides that, perhaps a short term compromise can be reached involving changing the Pro Points distribution for PTs and/or GPs? Something that will help solve the "1 less PT means its much harder to keep on the gravy train" problem. The $40K GPs in the summer and the redistribution of amateur prize amongst the regular prize pool are probably part of this on their part. Would have been nice if they'd actually directly said this though.

Here's a thought: why not get rid of GPTs? At least in my area (Florida USA), GPT attendance is far less than States, Regionals, or PTQs. This would allow them to reallocate the money to something more useful AND it would give Pro Players a bigger advantage at GPs because now the only way to have Byes at a GP would be to have Pro Player Levels!

I am not a Pro Players and I don't know the finances situation with them. But there seems to be a strong feeling that traveling very far for a GP is usually Negative EV. So look at it this way: if you are a Pro and feel a GP is Negative EV, what are the minimum changes that would need to be made to give it a Positive EV?

Players Union Heirarchy: Aside from the "Big 6" (or whatever official term Raphael & co dub themselves) it would probably be good to have a series of regional representatives to manage the information flow (in both directions) between the central leadership and the players, especially the PTAs. A long term goal might be 1 PTA Rep for each US state and at least 1 for each country (with regional/provincal reps within some countries with larger geographic areas and/or larger player bases ex: Canada, Japan, Italy, & France). Initially this would be much less and would grow as the Players Union membership theoretically grows.

Communication: This doesn't seem like brain surgery to me. I would think it's as simple as this:

  • Email to all Pro Players (defined as all players with at least 1 Pro Point and/or any Pro Players Club Levels) whenever changes are made to the Pro Tour, Grand Prix, Worlds, or Pro Players Club systems.
  • "Special Announcement" articles on magicthegathering.com which appear on both the main page and the Tournament Center whenever changes are made to any aspect of the OP system (anything from Worlds and the Pro Tour down to FNM, City Champs, and Prereleases). Changes should be explained as clearly and openly as possible by a member of OP including why the change is being made. Additionally, BDM should also address these changes in his weekly column but in an editorial nature.
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Talk abotu small GPTs

Post  kj_4247 on Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:33 am

Im my area (salem, or, USA) we had an 8!!! man gpt a couple of weeks ago

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  sin_plague on Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:58 pm

they post their budget propositions in december because the fiscal year begins in october...

so the company has a couple months of planning and reallocation after getting the year end reports and analysis of 3rd quarter reports have finished being run through the grinder...

if we could somehow move the season so that it also coincides with this economic schedule, the communication of changes and revamps might be easier to disseminate

but, as always, doing something like this will push up new problems that we will have to work through...there is always sure to be a readjustment period, as there is right now

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  FrankKarsten on Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:29 pm

Well, I don't have too much to add to what Raph said and the summary of the Q&A session on Friday. These already explain WotC's position very well. Still, a couple quick words from me.

Basically, we went in with a main goal of first trying to have WotC recognize the Player Union as a helpful partner. WotC told us that they were always glad to talk and to get feedback. Information flow back and forth to Scott Larabee and Chris Galvin is considered to be valuable, we can always talk to them, and they were willing to be more pro-active in getting feedback from the Player Union and allow us some involvement in small changes. However, they could not tell us much about how their business operates (like costs or sales numbers), due to corporate rules. Even just telling this to a small group of Union representatives would be a no-no, because of the Internet which can quickly broadcast even a small leak. An interesting thing that they did tell us is that labor costs is the highest cost driver of events. Furthermore, they could not recognize the Player Union offically or formally, or allow involvement of the Player Union in major budgeting decisions, as that gave many problematic legal liability issues for WotC.

They explained that the recent policy changes were not really budget cuts, but rather redeployment of people time and dollars. Chris Galvin assumed responsibility for the changes. They explained that the same amount of money in the Pro Club as in previous years has been kept; it just looks like a cut because for instance airplane tickets in particular have risen in price greatly. Some money has been taken from the PT (one less PT) and States/MSS (which apparantly still costs a lot in terms of focus, staff time, and marketing, and didn't yield enough benefits or players). Money and staff time has now been put into more grass-roots new player programs and a little into GPs. That means more money will be put into digital tools for players to find each other, and incentive programs for more localized play (Gleemax was hinted at), etc., but the plans weren't done yet and they couldn't go in specifics. They want more players into the door and more growth, because Magic still has a high turnover ratio (meaning that many players tend to quit every year, and new players are needed to fill the gap). 2007 did not have enough player growth, Chris Galvin didn't see the results he needed, hence the focus shift. In terms of ratios, we can think of a couple hundred PT players, many thousands PTQ players, and hundreds of thousands of casual players, which is the biggest player base.

Regarding timing on the announcement: earlier may not be doable, due to corporate budgeting rules. The timetable is Hasbroís doing. Giving more certainty regarding payouts in future years would also be impossible for that reason. However, if possible they could try to give a good overview of the changes at the beginning of the year on a fixed deadline, in a better announcement and not anymore in a vague article.

Regarding PTQs: this year there will be slightly more PTQs per PT, but slightly less total PTQs than in the previous year.

Regarding WotC's vision, they:
-Want there to be people for who their main source of income is Magic. However, the amount of money that pros can make at real jobs after they graduate from college cannot be offered.
-Want there to be more Magic players.
-Want a rather low turnover and high continuitiy of Pro star players, which makes for better marketing to the grass-roots players (by interviews, representation, and added credibility, new players are attracted). The Hall of Fame, for instance, does a good job at bringing more star players back
-Barring major changes in the world, expect roughly the same budget for the PT and Pro Club in the next years. Magic nor the Pro Tour are dying.
-Enjoy big GPs, and like aspiring players to interact with the star players. But it is not neccessary for the lvl 6s to attend all GPs to get this effect.

We also spoke of possibile improvements to the Organized Play systems within the same budget. For instance, sponsorship, but WotC explained that they had already tried that and are still trying it, but according to them it doesn't work well and it is too hard to find good sponsors. We also spoke about redistributions of Pro Club money (like less non-appearance fee dollars), more rounds at tournaments (but often a problem is that they have to get out by a certain time people have to be hired for a certain time), etc. I don't think we can expect any big changes, but at least we got some of our ideas across to make the game and the Pro Tour better for all involved.

We also highlighted our worries about the recent changes and explained our view of the likely effects; the resulting lower inclinations of pros to attend GPs and how this will likely trickle down to PTQ players and other players. Scott Larabee comes to another conclusion than us regarding this; he still expects many level 8s at the end of the year like in previous years, although he is going to closely monitor all tournaments closely to check for signs of the system collapse that the Union fears.

That's all I can think of and remember right now. I think we both managed to understand our limitations better, we both want to avoid a collapse, and Scott was happy with the Player Union website because it puts many viewpoints all in one place. It was a fine meeting, and I think it has put down a decent beginning of what will hopefully be a constructive communication and cooperation.

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Still not making sense

Post  janos_wuryon on Thu Feb 21, 2008 8:32 am

I still am fuzzy on a few things so maybe some one present can clarify if these were addressed.

1. For a program like Champs/States they generate a total player turnout greater than any single GP (or so I believe) but they can not be bothered to devote the time to it? The cost is simply in time but how much can it take to post ads, find locations( most of which are reccuring), and put out some promos.

2. MSS, if the focus of WOTC's strategies is to recruit new players then why cut out a program that provides a tangible, real world benefit to young players. I would have loved to have a chance to win money for college. I would have played far more seriously as a young player if I had access to such programs. Speaking of advertisement what better way to boost interest than by getting school's and parents to view Magic as a vehicle for quality mental competiton and socialization that can also benefit young students moving toward a college education.

3. If you are looking to increase event turnout and drive up GP participation why cut prizes that are more accessible to the masses? The amatuer prizes allowed non pro players to have a realistic chance to do well and still win some prize. I have heard time and time again from people in my area that their is no reason to travel to a GP since "pro" players are going to win. Doesnt having prizes available for non-pro's seem like a great way to increase attendance.

So if any of these issues were covered by WOTC let me know there stance.

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  bateleur on Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:12 pm

FrankKarsten wrote:-Want a rather low turnover and high continuitiy of Pro star players, which makes for better marketing to the grass-roots players (by interviews, representation, and added credibility, new players are attracted). The Hall of Fame, for instance, does a good job at bringing more star players back.
Leaving aside the Hall of Fame specifically, this seems like bad strategy. If I were a young player looking at the tournament scene and assessing its appeal I wouldn't want to see an environment in which the rewards were poor unless I could break into a small super-elite circle of masters. Although many game players dream of being the best very few want to devote their entire life to pursuit of excellence in a single game. With a low turnover of top players and a reduction in rewards to other pros that seems to me to send a message that if you aren't shooting for the very top you might as well not bother.

I think that's the wrong message.

The message I'd want to send to potential tournament players is: "You know you're one of the best at your local card shop. Why not see how good you can really be? You'll be recognised and rewarded commensurate with your performance."

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  MagicRage on Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:27 pm

janos_wuryon wrote:2. MSS, if the focus of WOTC's strategies is to recruit new players then why cut out a program that provides a tangible, real world benefit to young players. I would have loved to have a chance to win money for college. I would have played far more seriously as a young player if I had access to such programs. Speaking of advertisement what better way to boost interest than by getting school's and parents to view Magic as a vehicle for quality mental competiton and socialization that can also benefit young students moving toward a college education.

The problem I have heard from some people who had experiance with JSS & MSS (albeit not any Wizards/OP staff) is that the MSS as it was wasn't really working. You had poor turnout and the same people kept winning over & over so the goal of getting scholarships to a bunch of kids wasn't working either.

I hope they do bring back MSS is some form because yes the idea is great. But it needs to be implimented somehow different.

janos_wuryon wrote:3. If you are looking to increase event turnout and drive up GP participation why cut prizes that are more accessible to the masses? The amatuer prizes allowed non pro players to have a realistic chance to do well and still win some prize. I have heard time and time again from people in my area that their is no reason to travel to a GP since "pro" players are going to win. Doesnt having prizes available for non-pro's seem like a great way to increase attendance.

I don't see why the Amateur prize thing is bothering people so much. They didn't take the Amateur GP prize away, they redistributed it amongst the regular prize for a GP which is Top 64. IIRC, if you finish 33rd thru 64th you used to win $100 and now you win $150 or $200. Yes, if you're an Amateur who makes Top 16 (roughly) your winnings would not be as high but if you're an Amateur who finishes in Top 64 but outside Top 16 or whatever your winnings are actually higher. Yes, the Pros benefit from this the most but it doesn't really bother me.

Though they did take away Amateur prize at PTQs (read: extra packs) I am told. I'm not sure if this lead to that Amateur Prize being redistributed as well or not?
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From Personal experience

Post  janos_wuryon on Fri Feb 22, 2008 11:22 am

Just to reply to the last post I finished 77th at GP Jersey just outside of the money and missed the amatuer prize by 1 spot ( 17th) If there had been no amatuer prize then I would have had 0 chance of making money at this event. The amatuer prizes are a great tool to bring in new players. Now I do think that WOTC could do something else to attract players ( like giving away prizes for showing up) but to remove what seemed like a great attraction for the Non-Hardcore GP player is a bad move.

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  gleemax on Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:49 pm

janos_wuryon wrote:Just to reply to the last post I finished 77th at GP Jersey just outside of the money and missed the amatuer prize by 1 spot ( 17th) If there had been no amatuer prize then I would have had 0 chance of making money at this event. The amatuer prizes are a great tool to bring in new players. Now I do think that WOTC could do something else to attract players ( like giving away prizes for showing up) but to remove what seemed like a great attraction for the Non-Hardcore GP player is a bad move.

Aggreed, the amatuer prize was a wonderful tool for getting new players in. The thought process was that even if you finished like 100th place, you might still be the 10th best amatuer and win some cash. It was a great reasoning tool to use to convince people to try out cometative magic. Maybe the killed it so the can start having amatuer only tournaments at normal GP now?

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  fatguy_poolshark on Sat Feb 23, 2008 12:04 pm

Does anyone else find it odd that they are trying to get casual players more involved? Isnt the point of being casual that you really dont spend a lot of money, effort or time on the game? I still think the difference between a PTQ regular and a Casual players isnt skill, its money spent on the game. As a ptq regular and card shop owner i assure you my "casual" crowd doesn't hardly spend a dime in my store. Most buy a few packs when a set releases and maybe 2-3 packs a month. My tournament players but a box and draft until there fingers bleed....

Also what are they going to reallocate to? I mean a second tournament a week simply means that neither one would make(in most smaller areas, say 25-50k town). I saw it with summer of magic. We went from a regular of 14-18 players at FNM to half the time not having FNM make and NEVER having Sunday tournaments make....

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  janos_wuryon on Sat Feb 23, 2008 1:47 pm

Ok a couple of things.

1. The idea that there is this vast pool of casuals waiting to explode on the GP scene is simply wrong. As many people will attest the casual player doesnt play in many events. They come out to get new product then return to their comfy kitchens until the next prerelease. If there is going to be money spent on any one it will be wasted if they are the target group. Wizards grassroots are the PTA's. If only they would realize that.

2. If wizards thinks that creating new events during the weeks will bring out people then they are wrong again. I see it every where I go. Each store gets a dedicated group of people playing 1-2 times a week. More than that is hit or miss at best. Let's face it the average player age is creeping up and probably sits around 24-26 years old. At this age bracket and the one just below and above there are serious time constraints to deal with. Work, Wife, Girl, Party, College, sleep et al. there is only so much Time to play magic. God knows I wish it was more but facts is facts. Even younger players are limited by availability due to parents. This is why the GP's, PTQ's and such work well is because they are special events that you can plan to make it to. I get set months before a GP or PTQ. More weekly "promo" events aint getting me out of the house any more than normal.

3. Finally I think a great way to reallocate the money is to change the PTQ system. Instead of random one shot one winner events have a city champs style system for each state/region( like champs only more times a year) On set dates every local store runs a qualifier. the top 4-8 get invites to a larger event where the top x people get to go play for a PT spot. Then award 4 or 8 invites. This way people can plan to go play on these set dates and more people "win" at each level and More new players get a PTQ shot. To entice people further why not have the overall 1st place get the invite anfd plane ticket while the other get the invite alone.

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  mercenarybdu on Sun Feb 24, 2008 5:21 am

fatguy_poolshark wrote:Does anyone else find it odd that they are trying to get casual players more involved?....


Ya it is hard for anyone to bring in the casual players to join, especially when the FNM crowd is around with their power buyer talk.

I figured myself that the FNM players are what have driven a lot of casual people away from actually pursuing anything since the message they always project is "buy this buy that" "Oh you can't play with those specific cards because they're no longer T2 legal" "those cards aren't any good in T2" "<insert your eternal format myths>". The current PTQ crowd does something similar with slight changes here or there but the message is still the same once everything comes full circle.

This is why the casual crowd never sets foot in the dog fight. If you analyze the very few ways to play the game then you'll see that most of the formats are power buyer formats off the bat as they tend to rotate one way or another. Just look over my findings that even the Ferret (who even wrote a whole article about it on Starcitygames.com) would agree:

-Block is a

-T2 is a power buyer's format as it rotates every year. (FNM, and widely used everywhere you go.)

-Draft is another as you have to buy box after box of boosters just to practice and make the whole thing worth while. (FNM, and those who have the budget to do it often).

-Sealed is a Power Buyer's format (similar to Draft's case).

-Extended is a margin/power buyer's format as it rotates every 3 years. Although it doesn't quite look like a power buyer's format, the new sets force players to add onto their pools. (the prime PTQ format.)

-Eternal formats are margin buyer formats as they never rotate. With no rotations in place, players are allowed to buy at their own pace opposed to being forced to buy new product every year just to keep up. Which ever format they choose is up to them.
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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  rickiep00h on Tue Feb 26, 2008 7:34 pm

Or: Standard is a gateway to Extended, which leads to Legacy, which, considering the scratch involved to get competitive, can lead to Vintage.

The cards I buy for Standard right now are legal in Extended until something like 2014. The cards I bought last year are legal in Extended until 2011 or so. The Kamigawa and Mirrodin stuff I've been buying are the same way. Compare that to the 80 bucks I shelled out for Polluted Deltas last month to play Dredge at a PTQ one time. I think it just goes without saying that Magic itself is an expensive hobby, and professionally has a very high entry threshold and extremely low EV compared to "real life".

As far as Standard being a "Power Buyer's Format" I'd like to mention the literally dozens of homebrew, cheap, cheap decks that you can see at FNM. I've seen mono-green Treefolk lately, and I myself built many "low-budget" decks during Rav/TSP/9ED Standard.

A high rotation rate does not necessarily make a format more costly. I'm pretty sure if I were to sell my collection right now, I could only get parts of the Power Nine, let alone a consistent, powerful Vintage deck. If someone is going to shell out hundreds of dollars for a deck, let them. I'll keep showing up with my decidedly non-expensive Goblins deck that does just as well as the $400 Standard BG Elves decks.

Back on topic I think that that the point fatguy is trying to make is that casual players don't SPEND money, because they don't WANT to spend money. Some people like tournament atmosphere. Kitchen-table players don't necessarily want to play the game by the proper rules, or don't want not play with all their cards (maybe someone should show them pre-banning Ravager Affinity), or think that all tournament players are rich snobby assholes because they don't want to take the time to try and beat the tournament players.

It's odd to target the casual players with tournament marketing because willfully casual players are NOT tournament players. That's the point.

HOWEVER, it does make sense that Wizards would try to entice them into tournament play, because they know that we actually ARE the ones that spend the most money playing the game. By turning the people that buy a Fat Pack into the people that buy two boxes, you increase your profits by a factor of 3 or 4, I'm sure.

Finally, I'd like to note that I'm not trying to flame anyone here, but I keep getting annoyed with people hijacking threads into something entirely different.

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  MagicRage on Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:32 am

rickiep00h wrote:It's odd to target the casual players with tournament marketing because willfully casual players are NOT tournament players. That's the point.

I'm glad someone else understands this.
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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  kcolloran on Wed Feb 27, 2008 6:47 am

Yes there are players who have no interest in any kind of organized play and they're hard to target with certain kinds of formats. But to say that a casual player is a casual player because they're unwilling to spend money is wrong. Just because someone enjoys a certain type of game doesn't mean they're untargetable as a class of magic players. As an example I'll use myself. I like two kinds of magic: limited and uber-casual. On the limited side I am a tournament player. I play regularly in FNM drafts, go to all the prereleases and hit up other regional limited tournaments and would even play in PTQs if I had the chance. So with limited I do put money in the game. But since I don't like netdecking and testing to perfectly tune my deck and play the same deck and matchups over and over and over again. So I avoid constructed events for the most part, but if there was a way for me to play in organized events that played more like casual games than I would definitely be interested. And as I'm willing to buy singles for my cube, I'd also be willing to spend money to get the kind of Johnny-deck I like. So it's not a question about the type of games you play.

What it really comes down to is your mindset. This union should be for people who care about having a vibrant organized play scene, with a focus on the pro tour. Just because I enjoy different things about magic than others do doesn't mean we can't come to an agreement about what's best for the majority of players going forward.

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Re: Meeting in KL and the future of the Union

Post  mercenarybdu on Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:06 pm

rickiep00h wrote:Or: Standard is a gateway to Extended, which leads to Legacy, which, considering the scratch involved to get competitive, can lead to Vintage.

The cards I buy for Standard right now are legal in Extended until something like 2014. The cards I bought last year are legal in Extended until 2011 or so. The Kamigawa and Mirrodin stuff I've been buying are the same way. Compare that to the 80 bucks I shelled out for Polluted Deltas last month to play Dredge at a PTQ one time. I think it just goes without saying that Magic itself is an expensive hobby, and professionally has a very high entry threshold and extremely low EV compared to "real life".

As far as Standard being a "Power Buyer's Format" I'd like to mention the literally dozens of homebrew, cheap, cheap decks that you can see at FNM. I've seen mono-green Treefolk lately, and I myself built many "low-budget" decks during Rav/TSP/9ED Standard.

A high rotation rate does not necessarily make a format more costly. I'm pretty sure if I were to sell my collection right now, I could only get parts of the Power Nine, let alone a consistent, powerful Vintage deck. If someone is going to shell out hundreds of dollars for a deck, let them. I'll keep showing up with my decidedly non-expensive Goblins deck that does just as well as the $400 Standard BG Elves decks.
......

I've exploited formats to the bone and am always cautious about how much I actually spend in total. Casual player do the same as they vary from person to person in spending habits, and never in my entire study have I found a single budget deck take a large title before other than U/G Madness (Legacy only), any variation of a red sligh deck (I've discovered in all formats), up to Raffinity (which every 8/10 would be Extended Players play, ironicly one of them happens to be the Card Proffessor).


The casual player is like the Eternal player when it comes to spending habits most of the time. They buy only x and y amount with whatever z they have on them.

x = the amount of packs or sealed product (which is obvious for them to buy at any given location of the globe whether in a retailer or local shop)
y = singles (if they are in a card shop)
z = money/funding they have on them

If they are in a card shop they are going to look at the singles and pick out what they like without ever thinking of whether they could have gotten it at the better price some place else. Of course they'll buy a few packs from mainly the latest Block but in a card or collectibles shop they are sometimes going to risk it and go for the most expensive packs. I know because I've went to over a few shops in Nor Cal and notice this amongst the casual crowd or even people who don't know busted beyond Affinity (when that is a shallow point on the larger scale).

What would attract the casual crowd to play in sanction events are only a few factors. Sealed is one of them as they don't have to deal with a ton of pick orders to build a particular deck if they were to play in a draft. T2 is what drives them away once they have had a taste of how much people have dished out to put together that particular seasonal deck. Extended attracts a good amount of the new majority as they go no further than Mirrodin Block and sometimes Onslaught but it still does something similar besides just the card pool. I noticed that when they ask a "normal" (I mean FNM or PTQ) player what an "eternal format" is all about, every 8/10 delivers either discouraging myths or they don't know what the format is actually about.

Overall the very reason why not too many of the casual crowd come into the fold has to do with a dozen things. The first is the budget, because if it doesn't support it then it's not going to run. The second is awareness; a lot of the casual crowd doesn't know too much about formats, draft picks, the programs available, to even organizations. The Last is the fact that since the gap between FNM/PTQ players are so largely apart with disputes and whatsoever, the casual crowd would rather not get tangled up in the mess than dive right in. All are so absolutely true that it even make an FNM player say "grandpa you're lying, there's no troops at the border!"
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