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By: thewoof2, Christopher Gallon
Nov 03 2014 12:00pm
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State of Affairs

By many measures we are in troubled times with Magic's Digital Product.  Casual play is way down, community/chat is non-existent, most formats have seen a decrease in players joining events, etc... but most troubling seems to be coming straight from the mothership WOTC.  In the recent article "Magic Online: Survey Says!" detailing their recent survey results from players, WOTC has concluded that:

  • "Study participants enjoyed playing and drafting in the new version. Highlights include the combat clarity provided by the red zone and the stack, quick access to adjusting stops, and the ability to build a deck while drafting. Finding a match and building a deck, especially through importing, were also well received, though there are elements that could certainly be improved."
     
  • "Similar to the user study, the highest-rated areas of the client center around playing Magic, including playing matches, finding opponents, and the variety of formats and events offered."

Where does WOTC think they need focus for the future from the survey?

  1. Communication Improvement. 
    • Commentary:  Are we really talking about communication in 2014, this is something we should have gotten right in 2001.
  2. Stability and performance. 
    • Commentary:  We have been talking about stability and performance for the last decade, we just had a new version released, we should be talking about cool new features, superior usability and great graphics.  In my book to be talking about stability and performance at this point is frustrating.
  3. Trading. 
    • Commentary:  Sure they need to fix trading and make it better, but I do not see this this as the golden ticket to making v4 great.
  4. More social platform. 
    • Commentary:  Fine advice, do you really need a survey to figure out chat in v4 is horrible?

By reading the articles on PureMTGO and other Magic sites, talking to players and experiencing v4 myself I can say WOTC has at best wasted a lot of money on a survey or at worse distilled the wrong messages/feelings from their customer base.  But I am here to say...

The Future of Magic Online is Bright

OK so I have your attention, with the information presented and with WOTC's track record how can I make such a claim?  Because I just listened to Hasbro's Third Quarter 2014 Earnings Conference Call.  For those unfamiliar to the business side of this let me help educate.  Hasbro is the parent company that owns WOTC.  Hasbro is a public company that lists on the NASDAQ exchange so people can purchase shares of the company for $57.53/share.  As a public company, Hasbro gives quarterly earnings guidance on how they are doing financially and detail their strategic direction on many of the core products they own.  When you listen to these calls you will hear a canned speech by the CEO, CFO or such followed by a Q&A session.  Often how this works is you get some good info at a macro level but lower level details are not disclosed.  For Hasbro, Magic is looked at as a "franchise brand" and part of their "games" category of products.

Magic Financials

As I mentioned we do not have specific details on exactly how MTGO did for Hasbro, but I did learn a few key pieces of information.

  1. Franchise Brands up 36% year-over-year.  All seven Franchise Brands grew double-digits year-over-year including LITTLEST PET SHOP; MAGIC: THE GATHERING; MONOPOLY; MY LITTLE PONY;  NERF; PLAY-DOH; TRANSFORMERS. 
    • Commentary:  36% overall and Magic grew at least in the double-digits is significant.  As a franchise brand with this type of growth Hasbro is very vested to making this brand successful.
  2. Games category revenues increased 2% in the third quarter to $395.2 million. Franchise Brands MAGIC: THE GATHERING and  MONOPOLY grew in the third quarter, as did SIMON SWIPE and OPERATION. 
    • Commentary: In Hasbro's games category Magic is critical, Magic is named with Monopoly as having a larger impact to Hasbro's revenue than any other games category product.
  3. Third quarter revenues increased 7%. We grew across all major  operating segments of Hasbro, including a return to growth in the U.S.  and Canada segment, and continued growth in the International and  our Entertainment and Licensing segments.  Profitability increased – as adjusted operating profit in the quarter increased 9% and our operating profit margin was 19.4% of revenues.
    • Commentary: Hasbro as a company is doing well.  They continue to see strong growth in revenues and profitability with a strong future therefore they should be willing to invest in strategic areas where needed.

Hasbro's View on the Magic Strategic Play

  1. MAGIC: THE GATHERING also grew globally, increasing in both the  U.S. and Canada segment and International segment. The response  to the July release of the Magic 2015 Core Set and September release  of Khans of Tarkir positions the brand well into 2015. We believe there  is tremendous future potential for MAGIC: THE GATHERING as it  continues to grow around the world. We are investing in the brand,  both in digital and analog play, through technology and storytelling.
    • Commentary: Critical words - "investing in the brand ... digital ... through technology."  Simply put they see Magic Online as having tremendous future potential and Hasbro will invest in the digital platform through technology spend.
  2. Segment operating profit in the U.S. and Canada increased 16% in the  quarter, reflecting the higher revenue levels, favorable mix and  improved expense leverage in the quarter despite being partially offset  by a challenging environment in Canada. We also continued to invest  in our business including support of key initiatives such as MAGIC:  THE GATHERING.
    • Commentary: They have already invested in Magic in the past which impacted their operating profit but they feel it is necessary and worthwhile to continue.
  3. SD&A declined slightly as a percentage of quarterly revenues  reflecting the impact of higher revenues. These expenses reflect  continued investments in our business, including international  operations and MAGIC: THE GATHERING.
    • Commentary: Same as above they are willing to invest as needed in Magic even if it cost short term expenses.

In wrapping up the Q&A, Brian Goldner, Hasbro President and CEO said "Magic Online, which our fans quite like and we will continue to drive and invest".  So by all accounts, Magic is a brand that Hasbro sees as a strategic asset that they are willing to invest in both the analog and digital space.

Magic Online's Future

What I hope you took away from this article is some hope.  Hope in that it is clear that Hasbro as a company is doing well and has the capital and desire to invest in Magic Online for its future success.  The current state of Magic is very bad from my perspective but I am not selling out my cards as Hasbro is clearly backing this brand and usually with money and investment comes success, it's just a matter of time.

woof

25 Comments

Tx for sharing- justified by Bartimäus at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 15:59
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5

Tx for sharing- justified hole is very welcome these days.
In another note, i enjoy playing your robots deck with some Minor modifications
Very much!

I greatly thank you for this by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 17:30
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I greatly thank you for this article that provides what I always wish for: real, verifiable data to base any discussion or opinion on. I honestly despise doomsaying as an attitude, as I think it often hints at personal issues (some people feel better by believing things around them are dire for everyone else, too), and more importantly, actively damages the environment through negativity and self-fulfilling prophecies.

The fact that I think what you just did here is brilliant and needed is the reason why I want to challenge a notion you expressed at the beginning, when you wrote, "we are in troubled times with Magic's Digital Product. Casual play is way down, community/chat is non-existent, most formats have seen a decrease in players joining events".
Now, this was clearly not the topic of your article and I know you only wanted to establish the basic setting for what followed, which actually contrasts with that original notion of doom. So I'm not actually challenging YOU here, but I think reflecting on that sentence complements the ending statement of the article.

So, I ask: do we have hard data for those claims?

"Casual play is way down": Do we have numbers for casual tables firing? Numbers of connections per day? Did WotC release any data on this regard?

"Community/chat in non-existent": What exactly are we talking about here? A community doesn't express itself uniquely via in-game chat. If anything, the V4 chat makes more difficult to develop a community from scratch, but it doesn't prevent for a community that already exists to meet and chat like it always did.

"Most formats have seen a decrease in players joining events": Again, based on what? Do we have a clear picture of events not firing in the last three months? And which formats are "most formats", exactly?

(Even if all this was substantiated, after a change which is pretty much still happening, wouldn't a temporary decrease just be physiological, and on par with every other switch of this type? People need to reacquaint themselves with the new interface and all that. Humans hate to read manuals/being forced to learn new things.)

I can provide some data of my own, anyway. During the last three months:

– number of articles on PureMTGO is the same or larger; number of hits on those pages is the same or larger. Source: PureMTGO
– number of players joining online PREs is the same or larger. Source: Gatherling
– financial assessment on the online secondary market is healthy and not consistent with any kind of crisis. Source: mtgGoldfish
– I'm told KTK is the most drafted format ever. No source for this, though, but the quantity of events firing in the lobby speaks for itself.
– A lot of new players are joining the fold, I see them in my events, especially Modern.

In my book, all this concurs to depict a very healthy situation: people are still building decks, writing about them, playing Limited, playing PREs (which is just one step higher than casual). And now, for the first time in many years, we've actually the chance to address what the client is doing wrong with the hope it'll be fixed. I'd say it's the best moment to be active in MTGO, and as you pointed out, it's even going to be better.

"By reading the articles on by Lagrange at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 18:16
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"By reading the articles on PureMTGO and other Magic sites, talking to players and experiencing v4 myself I can say WOTC has at best wasted a lot of money on a survey or at worse distilled the wrong messages/feelings from their customer base."

So their survey is just wrong, but you have the correct and representative opinion about what their customer base thinks? It would have been so much easier if they had just asked you and only you from the beginning. Please, just because their survey does not align with your personal opinion does not make it wrong. It is far more likely that your sampling of other players' opinions is biased and not representative.

How do you know that the survey has been a waste of money? Do you know how they used it internally?

Yeah that phrasing jarred me by Paul Leicht at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 18:48
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Yeah that phrasing jarred me too but I get the thought here. It is that whomever speaks (writes articles, podcasts, converses, types, etc) on the topic of MTGO (who isn't a WOTC employee), of late seems to be complaining with very few speaking its praises.

Yes that is certainly anecdotal evidence (and thus isn't representative of the whole) but it is pretty strongly contradicting what WOTC is claiming. In other words: As they did during each Wide Beta Spotlight, they ignore what they don't want to address and act as if everyone in unison is happy. Until they realized that people aren't buying it.

We know some people love V4 and we know some people hate it and we know a lot of people find some aspects to be absolutely horrible. We don't need solid numbers to dissect this because it is a topic of conversation in nearly every media.

I was reminded several times by WOTC articles of the old "Emperor's new clothes" parable/fable. This is not to say their surveys aren't valid but I know many people who handed in a dismal report card complete with commentary and did they mention that? No. Of course they would not. They aren't interested in talking about negatives and I can see why.

By focusing on positive PR they can move forward without losing face and maybe on the down-low fix what they consider to be broken. I fervently hope this means they aren't ACTUALLY ignoring what players have said. Because cherry-picking criticism for real is a good way to fail.

I agree that the money was very likely to not be a waste since they produced results from it (no matter how they spun it). Therefore it served its purpose even if the report seems disingenuous.

I would say some of the assumptions of this article are a bit over the top/stretched but there is definitely some sense of dissatisfaction and the story about players Buddies Lists being dead is pretty ubiquitous.

Heck I trimmed about 80% of my buddy list to get rid of dead weight (making it hard to chat with those who are online) and there are still only 15-20% of the remainder on at any given time. And that number is conservative. Usually it is just me and 1-2 other people one of whom is MTGOTraders because they are still manning the store.

Sure there are still thousands of players playing but what Pete's article addressed and what this one alludes to is that the casual base is disappearing or quiescent.

To reiterate, we don't need data points, and hard proof to discuss what is obviously concerning many players.

"To reiterate, we don't need by Lagrange at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 19:53
Lagrange's picture

"To reiterate, we don't need data points, and hard proof to discuss what is obviously concerning many players."

If you don't need hard data then don't act like you have it and don't make statements which seems like you have it. The way I read Kuma's comment is also that he would like to see more hard data.

It is perfectly fine to discuss something from your own point of view and I really don't see why it is necessary to first claim that you speak on behalf of others (even the majority?) as well.

Since you are in the business of quoting HCA fairy tales then you should also look at 'It's quite true' which is about how one little feather may grow till it becomes five hens. Players who are not unhappy have almost no incentive to post. The unhappy players are very aggressive towards anyone who disagrees with them. This makes the debate very biased when you survey social medias. There maybe many unhappy players but talking positive posts vs negative posts will give the wrong impression. It exaggerates one side. The plural of anecdote is not data.

I'd certainly like to see by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 21:52
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I'd certainly like to see some hard data. I so far didn't see any, neither hard nor soft. All I saw is a series of "this is happening because I've the strong impression that this is happening". And it's not enough for me, especially when I have the exact opposite impression, and some data do back it up, as said above.

I'd like to ask the doomsayers how they explain all the items in my list above. How those are compatible with their vision, rather than being the first sign that their vision isn't built on anything concrete.

"The unhappy players are very aggressive towards anyone who disagrees with them."

This is so, so true. And so, so infuriating. I mentioned it in my last article (only in passing, since I didn't want to move to focus away from the topic of listing what needs to be done for V4), calling it "a civil war". And I don't like the sound of it, but when push comes to shove, I'm fully prepared to stand my ground. If that means to give up on reasoning with the whiners, and watch them go away, so be it.

Some bullets to address by Paul Leicht at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 05:04
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Some bullets to address specific points/recap.

- I am interested in discussing the failures of the client as well as the successes. I don't want the failures swept under the rug and ignored. (I think the article covers this with a some what negative slant but it gets there.) And at the same time we should talk about how the client has progressed.

- I don't understand how saying this makes me talking for others. I have stated hearsay which in a court of law may be inadmissible but for our purposes should not be strictly disallowed. We are not formally debating right?

- In any case let us stipulate since it seems less than obvious to some: I am always speaking from my own point of view unless I otherwise show that I am not.

- I <3 Hans Christian Andersen stories but have never heard them called HCA. That took me a moment to parse. Your point about feathers into hens is well taken. It IS easy to blow things out of proportion when emotions are concerned.

- That is why I try to avoid arguing from my passions. It doesn't mean we shouldn't iterate how sick we are of the deceptions and problems involved with WOTC communiques. Or is that off the table? It also doesn't mean we can't be fair minded when discussing what upsets us.

- As you may recount if you use your powerful intellect, over the years I have tried my best to be the voice of reason, NOT the rabble rouser. I see no point in starting riots and much good in sorting things out.

- There are most definitely aggressive arguers on every side of this. Let us not be "holier than thou." I don't think I have been particularly aggressive (no straw men, no ad hominems, no intentional fallacies, etc). It should be sufficient that we discuss this with a modicum of respect and civility.

- and I will note your very post could be mistaken as aggressive ("don't act like...", "claim you...", "business of quoting" (btw I alluded/mentioned to but didn't quote HCA) by someone who didn't know better...These words could be taken for "fighting words" by an aggressor, because they imply a belligerent tone.

- Can we agree that there are some number of unhappy players and that they have cause for being unhappy? If not why are we discussing this?

- Can we also stipulate that there are some number of happy players and that they don't talk as much because they are happy and happy people have better things to do with their lives? This should not negate the point above.

- Can we also agree for now that we don't have enough data to draw solid conclusions and that WOTC may but they didn't share it, only their own conclusions and those may be suspect since they tend to be extremely circumspect about what they say to outside sources, (everyone not them.)?

- Is it not plausible then that we can discuss this using what limited data we have (in my case anecdotes and WOTCs statements) and draw tentative conclusions there in?

- Data points are important and I think having good solid data would be a great thing. I'd much rather KNOW than conjecture. But since we seem to lack those points I think we need to make do.

- My take on the client as it is...there are some unacceptable things about it. My biggest worry is that the community that was established in v1-2 and languished a little in v3 will atrophy entirely in v4.

- The reason I worry about this is the following: My friends who were numerous, have for the most part stopped logging in. Those that do or whom I interact with elsewhere seem very bearish. And by that they are mostly waiting and seeing what happens. The people I have read, and listened to and seen tweets from, all are talking about how they have or are in the process of moving on.

- Lets be clear, there is a huge wellspring of new players. MTG is an awesome product and will draw crowds. I have no fears that somehow people will stop drafting. The sky is not falling. At the same time, the atmosphere is definitely getting harder to breath. Why can't we talk about that without being accused of lacking data??

I dont really disagree with by Lagrange at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 09:25
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I dont really disagree with any of your points above.

What I dislike about the article is that it helps build up a narrative where it is taken as given that the client is bad and that WOTC are incompetent. If nurtured this narrative will sink into the mindset of all players including new players. I think that is more destructive than anything else. Once that is how you view the game and the company then anything they do will be wrong ie. they made a survey with the wrong conclusion (...because they are incompetent).

The lack of good in-game communication is not the biggest problem imho. Rather it is the constant trash talking about the client and the company. It will become a self fulfilling prophecy because you will become blind to the good things. I can easily see how one would get the impression that everyone is unhappy with the new client. I am surprised that new people still seems to be joining given how seasoned players talk and write about the game (and that is not specifically targeting your writing).

There is a difference between talking about what you think could be better and then trash talking on behalf of the entire community stating your personal opinions as solid facts.

Ah yes the narrative. I agree by Paul Leicht at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 09:27
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Ah yes the narrative. I agree that being overly negative can breed more negativity in others. Particularly since writers tend to have a larger reach than the average player.

Lagrange, I couldn't agree by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 10:12
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Lagrange, I couldn't agree more with everything you just said.

That negativity is exactly what I'm trying to fight. It's very dangerous. I'd dare to say, irresponsible.

"We know some people love V4 by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 21:52
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"We know some people love V4 and we know some people hate it and we know a lot of people find some aspects to be absolutely horrible"

The choice shouldn't be between love and hate. I don't love the V4, never loved the V3, will never love any client. It's just a tool, you use it, make the best of it. Do you "love" your hammer when you use it to drive a nail? Do you "hate" it if it breaks? No, you may love the work that the hammer makes possible, and you tell the hammer factory to build better hammers that don't broke so often. But that's it. Love and hate are too strong emotions to apply to hammers. Or gaming interfaces.

And that's the problem, a problem we should address. There are people who use V4 and complain about the things that V4 does wrong, but with serenity, while enjoying the game and all the things V4 does right. That is me, by the way.

Then there are people who just can't accept that V4 exists. V4 = the roots of all evil. The sky is falling, rah rah. As LaGrange said below, these people are often aggressive and loud. And with them, it's not a matter of liking, say, the old frame better than the modern frame, or cats better than dogs. It's more charged than that. So it's not even a debate. There's nothing to discuss when the other side only says "no", and actively root for doom, to the point that you almost think they're happy when there's a crash.
It's pragmatism versus... I don't know how to call it, extremism? Nihilism? Hatred is a word for it, I suppose. In any case, it's not lighthearted, it's not reasonable. And it's definitely not fun to witness.

I find it offensive, too. Think about it, I use and enjoy the V4 for what it does, then spend a lot of time trying to make it better. According to the Haters, this is pointless. V4 is wrong. Using V4 is wrong. And since I think the opposite, that has to make me stupid or incompetent in their eyes.

Remember Lord Erman? He's been away for a while now, but last spring he went back to MTGO after a few years, downloaded the beta, and liked it a lot. Not even the V4, the open beta! What the Haters essentially imply with their attitude is that Lord Erman was a fool. Such a smart person, such an experienced player and builder... But if he liked the beta, then something wasn't quite right with him? Call me harsh, but I think that whoever goes and even just thinks that Lord Erman may be stupid or incompetent should re-check their brain functions. Only harboring that idea should give anybody pause.

Yeah it is a false dichotomy. by Paul Leicht at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 05:48
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Yeah it is a false dichotomy. Which is why the third category was mentioned in that quote ("and we know a lot of people find some aspects to be absolutely horrible"). I have yet to meet anyone who had nothing negative to say about the client at all. And I have met few who had only negative things to say.

People who start this conversation with hyperbole like "It is utter garbage, from 1999, a monkey could do better work than this!" are obviously a) not interested in any discussion and b) closed to the possibility that others would disagree. Those are the haters.

I don't think you can describe hatred as nihilism. I think you can be hateful and be a nihilist (it's almost a requirement) but haters don't necessarily have any deeper philosophy behind their attitudes and feelings. Extremism is closer. Extremists tend only see things in a few colors and ignore what doesn't fit their paradigm.

People who start the conversation with hyperbole such as "This client is awesome and 100% better than v3 and I can't imagine playing any other way" are also engaging in the same behavior imho. Those are the lovers.

Lovers suffer from the same extremism though they tend to be happy and thus not particularly vocal. Though in some cases they may become unhappy with the detractors and start ranting incoherently thus sparking flame wars. :D

Another anecdote:
I have a friend who drafts and while drafting he enjoys many aspects because he has a dual monitor set up with a very well built system. I have had the pleasure of watching him play via Google Talk. He's been playing since the initial closed beta so he knows all the clients and his attitude is that this client works.

There are definitely times when he says "why did they do THAT??" but for the most part he enjoys his time spent playing. No question. I wouldn't say he loves the client. He sees where it fails miserably. But he doesn't let it stop him from playing.

I have yet to see a lover's by Lagrange at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 08:51
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I have yet to see a lover's rant. So out of curiosity, do you have an example you can point to?

Maybe you are thinking of something which I wrote and therefore dont find incoherent. When someone disagrees with a hate post I usually dont see them use the hyperbolic behavior which you describe; The client is awesome and 100% better than V3. Instead the disagreement is about opinions stated as facts.... a little like with this article.

Why would you think I was by Paul Leicht at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 09:17
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Why would you think I was referring to your posts? I hardly remember my own, much less yours. :p

No I don't have instances on hand to provide for this impromptu "argument". Why would I need them? Can't you take someone's word for it when they say they have seen/heard such things? Why not? Why so vehement that all things be nailed down?

Also Semantics are fun when you want to "win" an argument but I see little point in engaging in them here. We can declare you the winner and that you successfully decried the use of an opinion about observed facts to stand in for those facts. How terrible that the author did not provide hard data for us to scientifically dissect like so many verbal and ideological frogs! Kudos for catching that.

Does that really detract from the value of the message? Namely that the sky is not falling? And players should not take any allegedly negative stance towards WOTC because the future is looking bright?

To compensate for my poor by Lagrange at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 10:01
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To compensate for my poor communication skills, it is important to use a soft and happy inner voice when you read my posts. That way I will maybe come off as being less aggressive :-)

My request for a reference was only out of curiousity and not meant as a request for hard evidence. I dont distrust your observations.

People who start the by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 09:54
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People who start the conversation with hyperbole such as "This client is awesome and 100% better than v3 and I can't imagine playing any other way"

But where did you ever see anything like this? Didn't you just say that you never met somebody who had nothing negative to say about the client? So these lovers are only hypothetical?

I mean, I might well be considered an apologist by the haters, and I write articles where I point out everything that V4 does wrong.
Erman might have felt that way (by the way, that's one person you met who had nothing negative to say about the client!), but he never meant to compare the two clients and give a judgment; he was also expressing that opinion before the conflict started.

My anecdote is: I know a player who typically disparages V4, albeit in a lighthearted tone. Yet I caught him saying, "Well, this might be the one thing V4 does better than V3!" about at least 4 different elements.

The fact is that there's a self-inflicted hostility for V4. I'm starting to think it might be repressed hostility for V3 that never had a proper outlet to vent. People WANT to hate V4. And I'm afraid who feels that way will never change their mind. Maybe 5 years from now, they will embrace V5 only because it won't be V4.

In the end, my discussion here transcends the debate on virtues and flaws of V4. I'd like for it to be only this, because it's what I want to do with my articles. But you need a serene state of mind for that.

What I ask to the haters is:

1) Dial down the drama. This is still a freaking game we're discussing here, not life and death.
2) Stop assaulting who disagrees with your opinion. The other players are not the enemy. In fact, you don't have an enemy.
3) Don't make up claims to prove your opinion.
4) Stop wishing ill on the client only because that will prove you right.
5) Realize that the client is changing as we speak, so to reject it altogether is short-sighted and counter-productive.
6) Realize that not everybody wants to hear your rants 24/7.

I agree with all 6 requests, by Paul Leicht at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 10:32
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I agree with all 6 requests, with the caveat that unsubstantiated claims is what we object to...

As for contradicting myself, I reserve that prerogative. If I don't who else will? (Don't all you raise your hands at once dammit.) :P I kid...What I meant was "hardly" anyone I know personally. And LE and I never discussed v4. I take your word for it that he likes it but I haven't seen him online in months so I can only assume he is back in KOTOR or some other game. Which speaks to his not so much liking MTGO anymore.

I have seen posts like that which I described, and read a few positive only articles praising V4 (I think one was here on puremtgo about a year or so ago by a poster who has since stopped writing.

You may be right that V3 engendered a long standing hostility towards change. Because it was such a complete disaster for a long time. Heck I am not the only one I know who was knocked off the client for a few years until I had a machine that could handle the 2-4gb Ram requirement.

I hope that it doesn't take a version 5 to bring the joie de vivre back to the community. That would be bad for us all I think.

I have loved a hammer before, by JXClaytor at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 07:44
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I have loved a hammer before, and I hated when it broke, but for sentimental reasons.

"There are three kinds of by Rerepete at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 12:17
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"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." - Mark Twain

Thanks for the replies all! by thewoof2 at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 22:30
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Thanks for the replies all! I love discussions and critical talk on Magic and think it will help so appreciate the feedback and candor.

The ultimate point of the article is I think the future is bright due to financial health of Hasbro (based on earnings results) and my interpretation of the CEO on the earnings call suggesting Magic is a critical franchise brand where he is investing in the digital product. But even this is arguable (and I am sure somebody out there could/will argue my point here as well) but from listening to many earnings results and hearing CEO's speak on company strategies for many years, it is my opinion. There is opinions baked into everyone's comments, interpretation of stats and articles in everything you read. So called "hard data" is not perfect either, just look at all the hard data politicians present to us proving this or that all the time.

That said, the criticism of what I characterize as troubled times due to lack of hard evidence is fair although I think I indicated those thoughts were based on my personal views in the article. If I was not clear, I will now be, this was my informed opinion. Personally I have witnessed all the claims I made and I do not think there is any public information that will affirm or deny such claims. Kumo I like the stats you have stated although if your point is we are not in troubled times I do not think they are enough to validate that claim either. There is no hard evidence, but I will say on the whole I would challenge anyone that told me that Magic Online is in a great state, mainly because I have higher expectations for this game.

No matter this is a good discussion and my informed opinion could be just due to the people I engage/discuss Magic with but I can say I feel comfort in my opinions from the earnings call on our bright future which is welcome news to me for the game I enjoy.

My data were only meant to by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 11/03/2014 - 23:38
Kumagoro42's picture

My data were only meant to disprove the idea that there's fewer players in the game than before. This is objectively false, due to everything I listed above.

Everyone is free to think the worst of any given environment. At the end of the day, it's a matter of feelings. But using unproven data to back up one's feelings, now, that is not correct and I don't accept it. Just as I can't stand idle in front of people who clearly take pleasure in predicting MTGO's misfortunes (which is why your article was so great, instead).

Nobody can't say, "V4 is making people quit! See? There's no people playing anymore!" because this is NOT happening, it's a dark fantasy. If there really were fewer people in the game, each of the items in my list would be affected at least partially. The truth is that any player's private experience is too small a sample to matter to anyone but that player. And even in that case, I would challenge that person to actually start monitoring and canvassing their buddy list to see if it really is waning or entirely dissatisfied. I don't trust anybody's perceptions, starting with mine. In a bad day, everything looks dire. Psychology tells us that after you just lost a game, your brain's chemicals push you into thinking differently than after you won.

There's also an old problem on MTGO: the elitism of many among those who have the way to make their voices heard. There's a disconnect between what I could call "semi-pro's problems" and the actual user base. For instance, how many players actually care about DCI points? How many are even remotely interested in Vintage? Hell, I'm guilty on both counts, and I run three events and two article series! I'll go out on a limb and say that the vast majority of the players don't even exactly know what DCI points are. Or Vintage.

So chill, everyone. This game's future, for better or for worse, is very likely in the hands of a kid who buys boosters from the store and immediately cracks them, then builds terrible Standard decks and play them exclusively in the JFF room. I'd like for more high-profile writers to have the intellectual honesty to admit that no, in the grand scheme of things, people like us don't matter. We're just a tiny fraction of the base that makes a lot of noise.

I don't know that it takes by Paul Leicht at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 05:27
Paul Leicht's picture

I don't know that it takes any great deal of integrity to admit that. The proof is in front of us. :) We are, however, for some, rolemodels.

Particularly those who write on a weekly basis. My own articles are a bit too infrequent to count as bellwethers, and they are too often merely punditry rather than providing a path forward. So I will take no credit there, but there are certainly writers here who are significant to the greater whole. If only as lighthouses in the fog.

I agree that our futures on MTGO are in the hands of the new players. Always have been always will be.

I do question the "elitism" comment. Do you mean perspectives? Certainly there is a bit of gap between the haves/have nots but I don't know that it adds up to elitism so much as a problem of privilege. Those who have tend to not know about the problems of not having. Except when they have first experienced it. Most of the players I know started from within a budget. Some quite restricted ($0 in my own case.)

It is definitely the case that different experiences of using v4 change based on circumstances. A better gaming rig helps somewhat with the constant memory leaks some players talk about. 2-3 monitors definitely help with the communications problems and the multi-windows issues.

Those who have largish collections suffer more from poor collection management tools. As they do from the inadequacies of the trading scene.

There are players who have issues with .Net and its many foibles. (Why did WOTC go with that??) And there are players who use Macs and Virtual Windows to play. I have heard a few people managed to get v4 working on their tablets (via some intercessor program on their PCs). So there are many ways in which people access the program.

Those on a budget may be hard pressed to find ways to compete but as you said that is an old problem. As is the problem of facing net decks in juff. And the problem of rudeness is entirely outside the influence of what client is being used.

Certainly those who don't chat have a better reason now than they used to. But one thing I have noticed which is sad is that the chat rooms don't see much use. Not like the conversations we used to have in Juff for example.

But this is all about perspectives.

No, you got me wrong, I by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 09:23
Kumagoro42's picture

No, you got me wrong, I wasn't talking of wealth. It's not rich vs. poor, it's just different approaches. The kid in my example may well be a son of privilege, and buy and crack 10 boosters a day. He wouldn't still be interested in what the Magic intelligentsia is interested in — and by all means, I'm not saying he's right and they're wrong! Nobody's right and nobody's wrong, but sometimes the big picture gets lost in our own point of view. For instance, a drafter doesn't realize not everyone plays Limited. (Even if, in this particular case, it's closer to reality than thinking that the introduction of DCI points will affect more than, say, 1% of the base, the ones who seriously play competitively. And who may well not spend as much as that kid — some players really are skilled enough to go nearly infinite).

Great debates, keep them by thewoof2 at Tue, 11/04/2014 - 21:16
thewoof2's picture

Great debates, keep them coming as that means we care. I agree with many of Paul's points as well. I think the conversation has gone far from the article intent but since it hit a nerve let's talk about this more. Few points I would make:

1) This is going very philosophical but I am a believer in transparency and openness on all views (inclusion mindset). I do not agree with the notion that the tone of my article will breed a narrative that will sink MTGO or players individual views. In fact, I think that statement is very wrong, off base, attacking and actually belittles to community. Put to an extreme it is the start of censorship which I know is not the intent of the statements but I caution the view that I am destructive, elitist or the such by stating my opinions.
2) You may have contrary views to me, fine I am happy and expect that, let's discuss that but do not put words in my mouth please! My opinions and experiences are mine, you may have different ones but listen to other people's thoughts so you can make a more informed decision on your own views. If you have an opinion on how great the new client is overall I will listen and use that information as I see fit.
3) Rerepete was right on with his quote to make my point on data - "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." - Mark Twain
4) I, personally, do not think WOTC has made MTGO to my expectations. That also was not the point of my article and I did not want to write an article about that, my point was the Hasbro earnings report has given me hope. I do feel I have an informed decision from my experiences and I know others feel similar to me. We have no proof but I do not think stating my opinion is a bad thing or something I should not say. Don't like my tone? Think I stated things as fact? OK point heard and I can try to soften because I listen and make changes to others opinions like I am suggesting you do. That said my opinion in reading the survey results is the same - I did feel the way I wrote, and dislike that we are really talking about communication, performance and stability as the key items to this day.

I know English is not everyone's first language and people are passionate about this topic so I, at least, have no hard feelings and enjoy the comments.

It is not the start of by Lagrange at Wed, 11/05/2014 - 19:15
Lagrange's picture

It is not the start of censorship, it is a critique. No one is questioning your right to publish or say anything. I think that you are wrong in your assessment of the current state of the program and that your article therefore is damaging for the community. I know that it is also not the intent of your censorship comment but put to an extreme you are also asking for censorship when you caution me for expressing my opinion.

I am sure that you are passionate about your article series so I have also no hard feelings and enjoy your comments. I did not intend to single out your article if that is how you see it, there are a range of articles and comments on the same topic which I find damaging.