Something which was quoted from WoTC Twitter feeds / elsewhere tripped my "bull"-dar.
I'm not saying that Wizards have to bring back leagues. I'm just saying that the way the old leagues were designed, they filled a lot of the gaps which they are saying are "issues they would like to address". No, the old system wasn't perfect - far from it . The aim of this post (and hopefully this thread) is not to discuss the pros and cons of leagues. I would like this thread to send a message to the staff at wizards that they are incorrect in thinking that leagues (or Leagues 2.0) are very important to MTGO, and that it's more than just about "business".
I've re-quoted some which I thought were most relevant to Wizards' handling of leagues, and added letters to allow for easier referencing of each statement:
57802208 wrote:For kicks, here is the full Q&A from twitter feeds. Copied courtesy of largebrandon on cq:
Some questions and answers from the community cup QandA with Worth, courtesy of @prolepsis9 and @luisscottvargas
Statement A - Chris K: One of the things we're looking at & would like to do with MTGO is to try and run events that span all day, or multiple days
Statement B - Bing: Has there been a bump in MTGO from #dotp? Worth: There has been a bump everywhere. It's been awesome.
Statement C - Mac/iPad MODO: "Return on Investment question, hard to say but circle back to the discussion every few months"
Statement D - "Looking at ways to increase participation at a lower cost for people with different bands of time, but affects entire ecosystem"
Statement E - LEAGUES: " If they were as important business-wise as we previously thought they were, they'd definitely be back by now.""It's also a huge amount of work. There's a significant amount of time needed. We are comfortable where it's prioritized"
Statement F - Magic Online at GenCon "We want to make sure people know modo exists, esp. for players who don't have time to play in paper"
* There has been a bump in MTGO from dotp (statement B).
* And... at the same time... Wizards think that leagues are not as important "as they previously thought" - businesswise (statement E).
You can't necessarily draw conclusion E, given that MTGO player numbers have increased as a result of other Magic-marketing from another product (statement B).
The correct benchmark to compare against, from a business sense, is to ask "where are we now, compared to where we would be if league play had continued?"
On the "plus" side of that analysis is that no leagues leads to people playing more drafts and sealed events than they would have otherwise.
On the "minus" side is the alienated section of the player base. These players are the ones described by Statement D or F, and those who want the sort of play described by statement A.
If you're trying to assess how important leagues are/were, that is the comparison which should be made. Simply looking at the MTGO Profit/loss from 2007 (which IIRC is the last time leagues were running) and comparing it to how it looks now is insufficient and spurious. To use a well-known aphorism, you're simply "not comparing apples with apples".
I happily admit that I have no evidence other than the statements above to suggest that this is what they have done. But reading it, and reading between the lines from quotes like Statement C, and the second half of statement E, it seems clear to me that this is how Wizards/Hasbro view MTGO: as a profit and loss account, nothing more.
I think that this "business-focused" approach for looking at MTGO (merely as a profit line/cost centre) completely ignores the "social / community" aspect which leagues created.
Sure, Magic online might be bringing in as much or more money than it was 4 years ago, but that doesn't make it a better magic experience than it was then.
Others have previously posted in League-related threads that the overall level of friendliness / help for newbies has really dropped off since Leagues were discontinued.
The fact that "missing leagues" is such a recurrent forum topic should make it adequately clear to Wizards that for a section of the community, this is an important issue. The fact that we are still discussing it, what, 4 years on from the launch of MTGO version 3 is evidence in and of itself that this is something which some players do feel very strongly about and is very important.
If it were not important, it would have been forgotten about.
example: a number of players complained when the current UI changed so that cards which could be cast / cards with available activation abilities were highlighted in orange around the border.
Yet that has hardly been mentioned, if at all, since the change was made. Conclusion: even though people made a fuss at the time, in the end, it wasn't an important issue.
Yet with leagues - a fuss was made at the time AND it is an ongoing issue which people keep wanting to talk about.
The fact that a number of you are sitting there rolling your eyes and thinking "OMG ANOTHER THREAD ABOUT LEAGUES SHUT UP ALREADY" or "LEAGUES: TL:DR, STFU" simply proves my point.
Make no mistake, this is important to an easily identifiable portion of the player base. For this reason, amongst others, I think that Statement E is an erroneous conclusion based on faulty analysis.
If you want to do the business analysis: look at the accounts active when v2.5 closed, see which ones are no longer active and send them an email. Ask them: "Would you start playing MTGO again if we re-introduced leagues?" That would/should be a starting point for your business analysis.
And yet, at the same time, there is no doubting that Wizards are aware of the gap which leagues have left.
There is currently no way to play events lasting more than a few hours - Statement A - which leagues used to do.
There are few options, if any, for players with limited time availability to play conpetitive Magic Online - Statement D and statement F - Again, which leagues used to provide.
How can you acknowledge these three things (statements A,D,F), and yet still say "leagues aren't that important business-wise"?
That would be like saying "Plains aren't that important, because since we banned them, people have simply moved to playing decks made of blue, green, red and black cards instead". People like playing magic. You can make up bull-*** rules that people have to work around, some people will say "too hard" but many others will adapt to the new environment.
Humans have survived for milennia because of our adaptability. The MTGO playerbase as a whole has adapted to there being no leagues... because there have been no leagues. This has resulted in the growth of certain types of players within the community (a shift towards more "hardcore", competitive players and fewer "social, friday-night" type players, in my experience). From a profit/loss, business point of view, perhaps this is no problem. But in the longer run, a t hriving community is what will ensure MTGO has an enduring presence, and I would say that the MTGO team failing to correctly value the social/community aspect of Magic at their peril.
Most of us play magic to have fun and enjoy some leisure time. For us, it's not a business. You need to make decisions based on profits and losses. I get that. What I don't get is why that makes it ok to repeatedly ignore a readily identifiable (and OMG contactable) part of your sales market.
The majority of players don't care whether an idea is profitable or not for WotC: the #1 care about whether or not it makes playing magic online fun.
What happened to good old-fashioned "meeting your customer's concerns"? The responses we've had regarding leagues since MTGOv2 was retired have been, I think most would agree, very vague and generally unsatisfactory. Yetwhere would you rate it in terms of questions most asked? If it isn't the number 1 question from users who played when v2 was live, I would be very surprised.
And, preempting anyone going to say "Oh, but Wizards didn't say leagues aren't important, they just said they aren't as important as they thought": That doesn't accord with wizards having given it a low priority. Low priority = not important. High priority = important. And if it were high priority, it would already be done (statement E actually says this explicitly).
MTGO is a business, subject to business concerns. I get that. But to us, the users, it is a hobby, subject to entertainment concerns. I respectfully suggest that it is possible for WotC to take account of both - whereas at present it seems to me that only business concerns have any real weight.
I believe it's incorrect to suggest that the absence of leagues is not important : having leagues, or something to replace them, will be vitally important to the longer-term health of the MTGO community and how it looks as a long-term outlet to play Magic.