04/06/2012 LD: "Branding Play"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Some "part" of the Helavault? Very interesting... 

Glad to hear that Pre-releases are getting little unique tweaks. I remember my first Pre-releases as Serious Business Rock Concert events, but as time went by, I was quite okay with letting them slide and waiting two weeks for the box. It feels like a D&D module: each adventure has a Dragon in a Dungeon, but you don't know what the Dungeon is like, or what the Dragon and his minions are like. Little differences will peek my curiosity (I'm going to a midnight Pre-release!).


Oh yeah, what about those poll results on targeted drawing? Ain't we gonna talk about that?     

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

"Experience."

Wasn't it Mark Rosewater himself who described that as the quintessential Timmy buzzword?

And now they're trying to pass it off as something every player should like the game for?

Makes you wonder...
There better be some "jewelry" in these helvaults the way they are promoting it.
Our store liked the whole mini-game during Dark Ascension where you might get transformed if you lose to a were, spirit, wolf, or vampire so much, we ended up doing it twice.  Sure, we mocked the goofy stickers at first, but it became kind of infectious. So to speak.

Looking forward to breaking open the Helvault like some twisted Magic pinata.
Some "part" of the Helavault? Very interesting...



He has no clue what's inside the Helvault, so there's no point in looking for meaning in his phrasing.

My store didn't run with any of the promotionals so far (it's just a small store), and, to be honest, I kind of like it that way. I love me my regular Prereleases. Also, previous promotions have focussed on winning, which is good, so I would hope that the regular play patterns persist.
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This article fails to mention that there is a noticeable difference between the Helvault event and the other two Prerelease events. The other two events actually changed some aspect of the gameplay at the Prerelease event, the more obvious being the "pick a side" Mirrodin Besieged booster packs. Now, we don't know what exactly "completing different challenges will allow players to work together to open each of these seals" means, but let's be honest here: If a store's players don't manage to complete all of the challenges, are they really going to leave the Helvault sealed, to mail it back to Wizards of the Coast saying "Sorry, we didn't manage to open it"? No. No matter what, those Helvaults are going to be opened. So at the end of the day, all this "event" does is add to the swag rewards, merely in a way that's shrouded in mystery.

Furthermore, this raises some logistical questions. Is whatever's in these Helvaults going to be an item to be given away to everyone who participated in the event? If so, then it's just another bit of swag that may as well have been handed out at the beginning of the event. Is it going to be something reserved for the top players at the tournament? Then it is really nothing more than a change of the reward structure for that individual event. Is it something else, such as a preview card from an upcoming set or product? Well, that would be immediately leaked after the event anyway, so it quickly loses its uniqueness.

I think these "experiences" work best if they actually have some impact on the gameplay at the event, which is why the factions boosters gimmick was so popular. Breaking open a Helvault at the end of the event doesn't manage that, so I don't really see the point. Sure, as a marketing strategy the "What's in the Helvault?" buzz is quite effective, but as far as creating meaningful stories for those who attend the prerelease... I don't see that being the case. Especially if every single Helvault is the same.
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The other two events actually changed some aspect of the gameplay at the Prerelease event, the more obvious being the "pick a side" Mirrodin Besieged booster packs.

I don't recall "Argh! Monsters!" changing anything but nametags.

Helvault-piñata is pretty neat.  The payoff is probably going to be disappointing, but the concept is way better than those other two gimmicks.
The other two events actually changed some aspect of the gameplay at the Prerelease event, the more obvious being the "pick a side" Mirrodin Besieged booster packs.

I don't recall "Argh! Monsters!" changing anything but nametags.

Helvault-piñata is pretty neat.  The payoff is probably going to be disappointing, but the concept is way better than those other two gimmicks.

I didn't go to the "Argh! Monsters!" event, so I'm not exactly sure about this, but I'd assumed it changed the way pairings were done, so that humans and monsters would get paired up, instead of two humans or two monsters, whenever possible. Not a big change, but a change nonetheless. If that's not how it worked, then yeah. It was also kind of pointless, by my previous argument.

Also, I'm not arguing against the concept of cracking open a Helvault as an event. I'm just arguing as the implementation. It really doesn't add anything to the event, other than extra swag at the end, and a little mystery in the advertisement. Considering every Helvault is likely the same, and that every Helvault is likely to be opened, "challenges" or no, I don't see it really providing any awesome stories for later.

"So we got to the end of the event, and we opened our Helvault, and inside was an Avacyn plushy and 200 1/1 white Human tokens with ads for Duels 2013 on the back!"
"Oh, so you too, eh? Yeah, we got the same thing..."
"As did we..."
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To be honest.... just being with friends and getting to play with new cards in a low-stress tournament enviroment is enough of an experiance to get me to go to pre-releases.

All of the extra stuff is just that: extra stuff. Without something game changing (like picking a side in mirroden) nothing is really added to the experiance, just the prizes at the end....

It almost seems like the Helvault is a step backwards in the attempt to create experiances... but it could just be that we dont have all the information yet....

Just a random non-serious question.... but shouldnt the Helvault have be opened before we get the cards if it was ment to follow the story line?

Seems kind of backwards to get an Avacyn in one of your packs when she is still trapped....
To be honest.... just being with friends and getting to play with new cards in a low-stress tournament enviroment is enough of an experiance to get me to go to pre-releases.

The Planchase, Archenemy, and even Commander "launch" thingies were "low-stress" exactly because there was no tournament.
Buy the stuff, screw around with it for a few hours, then go to a McDonalds or some guy's house or something and play some more. 

The purpose of a tournament is to win the tournanment
If a pre-release was just "here's a half dozen packs, go nuts!" maybe, just maybe, they'd get more people to show up, and more people to stick around after what would have been the third pairings (when all the 0-2 drops come in).   It's not at all uncommon to see a '0-0-0 drop' (concede the first match, go home) when someone gets stuck with an extra-crappy Sealed pool.

The problem with the idea of creating unique experiences is that, by definition, they can't ever happen again, and sometimes you just can't make it to one.  As if the irreversability of time is not painful enough in ordinary life, Wizards wants to manufacture events that nobody would want to miss out on, but they will always fail in that because real life will always be more important than a freaking card game, and sometimes you just can't get away.  So they are in essence punishing those players by denying them inclusion in the events of the day, instead of expanding those events beyond the day so that everyone will have a chance to get involved.

While it's true that people enjoy experiences more than products, the experiences don't need to be new every time; many people get the same cup of coffee or lunch at the same restaurant every week for the balance of their careers.  A good experience is one that makes you feel good, whether it's through surprise or simply through quality - and in fact, constant novelty is an effective way of distracting people from the fact that you're letting quality slip.

Instead of using gimmicks to try and make every Prerelease unique, they ought to focus on crafting prereleases, and any other sort of Magic game from FNM up to the Pro Tour, into a home away from home where the player will always feel comfortable.  They need to give people their money's worth, and I've never once walked away from a Prerelease feeling as though the cards were worth the extra $10 I paid to get to play with them a week or two before the fact - usually, they aren't even worth MSRP, because every pack is stuffed to the gills with Limited jank.  And the Limited experience for me is "I lose a lot", so I'm really not too interested in savoring it.

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As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
The purpose of a tournament is to win the tournanment




Miscommunication on my part....

What I meant by low-stress was how serious people take the tournament. The idea is still to win, but people let more things go (at least where I play) when mistakes happen.

One of my matches from DA was against a really nice guy that walked me through a mistake I made when chaining my spells and let me fix that mistake.... and I did the same for others when they missed "Start of Turn" triggers....

Thats what I was think of when i said low-stress....

I agree though. When people show up and drop somewhere between 0 and 2 matches, thats kind of missing the point.
I've had a very different experience at every prerelease I've been to.  Prerelease drafting allowed me to make my own experiences and deck concepts with each new set.  I didn't find them to be all that similar as the article implied.  I built a deck around Genju of the Realm which broke so many preconceived notions I had about magic going in.  The wonder of having never seen or heard of cards I got to play with against opponents who hadn't either was magical to me.  I really like the idea of plot based interactive themes for prereleases, I just wish unrevealed cards and drafting hadn't been removed from the experience, I think the former was the strongest element of old prereleases.
I just wish unrevealed cards and drafting hadn't been removed from the experience, I think the former was the strongest element of old prereleases.

They got rid of drafts for two obvious reasons:


  • Experienced drafters were 'poaching' noobs. They want the noobs to have a good time, Sealed makes more more lucksack wins (for noobs), and they haven't decided if the "whatever, just play" things for 'themed product' (Archenemy, etc.) would be a better idea for pre-release days or not.

  • Making everyone buy six packs means more money for Wizards than having everyone buy three packs.

I honestly just want to play with new cards.
The purpose of a tournament is to win the tournanment
If a pre-release was just "here's a half dozen packs, go nuts!" maybe, just maybe, they'd get more people to show up, and more people to stick around after what would have been the third pairings (when all the 0-2 drops come in).   It's not at all uncommon to see a '0-0-0 drop' (concede the first match, go home) when someone gets stuck with an extra-crappy Sealed pool.

I do occasionally wonder if there was some way to transfer the costs from prize support to entry fees (i.e. have a much lower cost of entry but no prizes.)  I know some places do try to keep entry fees down, but it feels as though it needs to be more dramatic.  Naturally there might be issues about stopping players from abusing this, but that seems like a solveable problem.
Obviously I am speaking from my own personal preference here, as I rarely win prizes at a prerelease event, let alone formal tournaments, so I have felt that I am always subsidising the "better" players for, what, 15 or more years now?!  I'd rather feel like I was subsidising myself!
It's nice to hear someone from WotC acknowledge that, with the elimination of the large prerelease events, prereleases are now just Sealed tournaments with drawbacks.  I had pretty long streak of prerelease attendances that broke off shortly after my only choice was to play in a regular, little tournament at a local store.  Back when the prerelease was two (or more) weeks before the release and was an event drawing 400+ people from a much wider area than I typically saw, it was a special event worth traveling to.  I am interested to see how these new prerelease innovations evolve.  I think that one change that needs to happen before too much longer is to change the prerelease into the release to get rid of the "Legend rule" that Zach talks about.  I wonder if initial sale of a set would be higher or lower if people could buy product the same day that they first get to play with the cards.
I am clearly not the target audience of these events anymore. The big prereleases were events I looked forward to experiencing. There were new people to meet and network with. If I got a bad sealed pool, there were more flights so I could rebuy and try to have a good time with the cards. Personally, the worst experience in competitive MTG is travelling for an event and getting a sealed pool I know that I cannot win with. The whole event is over before it really begins.

Now, prereleases are just sealed events on Saturday with the same people I could draft with on Fridays. There is nothing particularly 'experiency' about it. The only time I go to prereleases now is if there is a good promo to get-a product of all things. Needless to say, I haven't been to one since you switched to giving janky rares each and every time for a promo.

I have also just had bad luck since trying these in LGSs. By going to new places, I usually find that the locals don't really come out of their shells. I guess it is like taking dogs to dog parks. They do better interacting with each other on neutral ground. I've also found stores I won't go back to because the locals cheat. The big prerelease structure tended to reduce cheating because you can't just go huddle in the corner and swap cards during deck building at them. If you meet someone cool at big events, then they'll tell you what LGS they like. That way the store generates traffic that is likely to keep coming back.    
I used to attend Prerelease Tournaments. I don't go to other tournaments, except for the very very rare FNM. They've always been great fun. I think Urza's Destiny was my first. My most favorite certainly was Unhinged. I don't mind getting totally trashed at those. I'm no tournament player and I know it. I expect to get trashed. Still, I have fun playing with those new cards (which I usually don't know yet, and I fondly remember those times when most of the other people didn't know them either)

I plan to go to the Avacyn Restored Prerelease. I want to see the utter failure that I expect the Helvaults to be. Sure, being so pre-disposed will make it difficult to come to any other conclusion during the event, but here is where I see the problem.

Tournaments in my country are small. Very small. If there really are some kind of seals to break and breaking them is a serious deal, I fear that the shop where I will play won't be able to open them. Yeah, great experience, I went to a prerelease and we couldn't open the vault.

I don't expect it to be that way. I expect the seals to be some kind of built-in delay that eventually, during the event, the Vault will get opened. But then, if it is rather "inevitable", what is the accomplishment of getting it opened, when it should happen sooner or later anyway?

Or perhaps the event organizer will just pop the vault at the beginning and screw with the whole opening stuff. Our store owner is a gamer (d'oh, I guess most are) so I can totally see him being too impatient to go through any hassle.

Or perhaps the event organizer already opened it days in advance to withheld extra cool stuff and replaced with with something else.

Apart from that, I have no idea what could actually BE in those helvaults that would be exciting. and if it - against all odds - were, I would most likely not get the cool stuff and envy those who do.

No matter how much I think about it, I can't think of any positive way this will play out. It seems to me to be a lose-lose-lose-more-situation
Abbot Pheldy OSM Mafia Awards 2010 Most Unique Playstyle Designer of Game of the Year 2010 Designer of Most Flavorful Game My achievements random hum
I disliked the mirran/phyrexian at besieged because it was already clear and spoiled by then that phyrexians would win. It felt like in WoW how we have actually no say in what goes on in the storyline. Did the alliance lose WSG enough to make them lose most of ashenvale? Its pretty much just spoonfed with no regards to the actual gameplay. sure mirrans and phyrexians were split 50/50 but did mirrans lose like 70% of the games? and i am surprised it was split 50/50, heck even doubtful. At the prerelease i went to most people chose phyrexian, for one they are the stronger pack and most casual players thought they were the cooler faction. I think thats the same most places.

also whats with the crappy prerelease cards? that demon was awful. no one cares about lord of the pit nostalgia anymore. lord hasnt been in standard in like pretty much forever and hasnt been a good tournament card for a long time. I go to casual like 3 times a week or more and never see anyone whip out a pit deck anymore. Havent since like maybe kamigawa block. seriously that prerelease card was like a kick in the junk. mayor was a little better but not much so, as the werewolf mechanic itself is weak for constructed play. as a human lord he might be more playable and he probably doesnt get the play he deserves.

They should have made the prerelease cards Olivia Voldaren and maybe Havengul Lich or Drogskol reaver or maybe Mikaeus. Wurmcoil still is worth his fair share and so is hero and sheoldred. I just looked at the mythic list for dark ascension and it looks terrible. moonveil dragon takes an uncommon ability and slaps it on a rare body and maybe is mythic? because if you have like 30 guys in play they can all firebreath or something? Beguiler of Wills feels rare especially in comparison to mind control. Could make planeswalkers mythic though that did hurt ajani vengeants price quite a bit since he didnt see as much play as he should have.

Beguiler of Wills feels rare especially in comparison to mind control.



This is off topic, but Beguiler of Wills keeps stuff permanently, not as long as it is tapped. So each time it untaps, you can take something else. Given enough time or untap effects, you can steal everything. I think it counts as a mythic from a mechanics point of view, but the flavor is very flat. It is a human wizard in a block where the humans have a green/white tribal component. It should have been a vampire, and vampires in this block should have been blue/black.

That way vampire aristocrat could have been drogskol reaver, which seems like something an aristocratic vampire would be, not a variant of something played by a spider on Ravnica. Not to get all flavor contraditions on you all here, but how is it that Markov's chosen is freshly turned into a 4/4, but something that is an aristocrat is a 4/1? These types of vampires better fit a black/blue model and something called aristocrat should have a lot of toughness. It is an old, powerful vampire. It seems odd to do a flavor-driven block and then create vampires that are contradictory to the pre-existing vampire expectations it seems it draws from.  

I thought the point of a prerelease was to artificially limit scarcity in order to charge grossly inflated prices.  Or maybe that's just MTGO Prereleases.


The "unique experience" idea has merit.  But if you're going to make an event, do it for a Release Event, or Game Day. Prereleases are already an event.  In fact they used to be unique: Big gatherings with low stakes.  But that was killed in order to force people to the LGS.  


What you should have done, what you still should do, is have a few big gather Prereleases that are focused on being Prereleases and nothing else.  Then take all these other ideas for special events and create special events.  This current strategy is just unifying focus on the store at the one  time the store can't sell the products, and it just doesn't make sense.


If you insist on the LGS being the only place to play, then you don't need PREreleases anymore anyway.  Just make the first event the release.  That way when you get people there, when you create the unique event, people can actually buy the thing you're trying to sell.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

I appreciated the insight into Wizards' recent attempts to create experiences for the prereleases, especially as they've seemed gimmicky to me, and I'm glad to hear they've been so successful so far.

Unfortunately, I had to read this whole article with a huge grain of salt, because for me, what made prereleases an experience, and not just a product, was going to a large, regional prerelease event with hundreds of other people, seeing people I knew from earlier prereleases, having the opportunity to play in multiple flights, and especially getting my cards signed by artists.

Two months ago, I went to a party.  I sat down next to a guy on the couch, and he recognized me from the Mirrodin prereleases - for the original Mirrodin block.  He told me he'd been thinking recently about getting some friends together to draft, so we exchanged contact information.  That's much less likely to happen now, with the small store prereleases, because you meet far fewer people.
Beguiler of Wills feels rare especially in comparison to mind control.



This is off topic, but Beguiler of Wills keeps stuff permanently, not as long as it is tapped. So each time it untaps, you can take something else. Given enough time or untap effects, you can steal everything. I think it counts as a mythic from a mechanics point of view, but the flavor is very flat. It is a human wizard in a block where the humans have a green/white tribal component. It should have been a vampire, and vampires in this block should have been blue/black.

That way vampire aristocrat could have been drogskol reaver, which seems like something an aristocratic vampire would be, not a variant of something played by a spider on Ravnica. Not to get all flavor contraditions on you all here, but how is it that Markov's chosen is freshly turned into a 4/4, but something that is an aristocrat is a 4/1? These types of vampires better fit a black/blue model and something called aristocrat should have a lot of toughness. It is an old, powerful vampire. It seems odd to do a flavor-driven block and then create vampires that are contradictory to the pre-existing vampire expectations it seems it draws from.  




I get that you get them forever. But it is still a fragile creature with no immediate effect that also needs several other guys in play. sure if they cant kill it it can snowball but usually mindcontrol is going to just be better and more immediate.

also power toughnesses never match flavor. 2 squirrels can beat a grizzly bear and three can beat an elephant. right. 5 of them can beat a sperm whale. id like to see 5 squirrels fight a sperm whale in hand to hand combat. aristocrats are also soemwhat daintier than footsoldiers so that might explain the 1 toughness. power can really mean anything. can mean spell power in the case of high powered wizards like delver, can mean anything like i said. also the indestructibility and the haste and really everthing makes it a much stronger card barring something like curse of deaths hold.

I have to challenge one of the assumptions in the article.. "You're going to play more sealed."

Umm, no I'm not.

Sealed events are more or less impossible to find. I get to play Sealed once per set, and that's at the prerelease.
I have to challenge one of the assumptions in the article.. "You're going to play more sealed."

Umm, no I'm not.

Sealed events are more or less impossible to find. I get to play Sealed once per set, and that's at the prerelease.



Same here. Pre/Release are the only Sealed events I know of around here, and now Release is gone. So, I get to play sealed once per set, assuming I can even make it to the event.
ya ive noticed that too. cant remember the last tiem a store did a weekend sealed outside of the prerelease. probably when they stopped doing tournament packs. kinda miss those. i guess theres sealed ptqs and on mtgo you can sealed all day but i guess most people dont ptq or mtgo
Sealed just isn't very popular.  It costs twice as much as a draft, and quite a few competitve (and also some not-quite-so-competitive) players hate the lucksack factor.
I have to challenge one of the assumptions in the article.. "You're going to play more sealed."

Umm, no I'm not.

Sealed events are more or less impossible to find. I get to play Sealed once per set, and that's at the prerelease.



I have to challenge one of the assumptions in the article.. "You're going to play more sealed."

Umm, no I'm not.

Sealed events are more or less impossible to find. I get to play Sealed once per set, and that's at the prerelease.

 

Same here. Pre/Release are the only Sealed events I know of around here, and now Release is gone. So, I get to play sealed once per set, assuming I can even make it to the event.



ya ive noticed that too. cant remember the last tiem a store did a weekend sealed outside of the prerelease. probably when they stopped doing tournament packs. kinda miss those. i guess theres sealed ptqs and on mtgo you can sealed all day but i guess most people dont ptq or mtgo



Sealed just isn't very popular.  It costs twice as much as a draft, and quite a few competitve (and also some not-quite-so-competitive) players hate the lucksack factor.



2 letters: GP

Furthermore, this raises some logistical questions. Is whatever's in these Helvaults going to be an item to be given away to everyone who participated in the event? If so, then it's just another bit of swag that may as well have been handed out at the beginning of the event. Is it going to be something reserved for the top players at the tournament? Then it is really nothing more than a change of the reward structure for that individual event. Is it something else, such as a preview card from an upcoming set or product? Well, that would be immediately leaked after the event anyway, so it quickly loses its uniqueness.



I don't expect it to be that way. I expect the seals to be some kind of built-in delay that eventually, during the event, the Vault will get opened. But then, if it is rather "inevitable", what is the accomplishment of getting it opened, when it should happen sooner or later anyway?



My guess would be that the people who broke seals with achievements get to pick first, so you gain something when doing so, even if you're 0-4 in the event. In the same way, it was very cool in the Dark Ascension prerelease that every match, even those in the lowest brackets, were important. You were really rooting for your fellow zombies for example to win.

"Experience."

Wasn't it Mark Rosewater himself who described that as the quintessential Timmy buzzword?

And now they're trying to pass it off as something every player should like the game for?

Makes you wonder...



I'm pretty sure prereleases could be described as the quintessential Timmy tournament =)

Even this article was kinda admitting "Spikes, I know it has great EV but it's isn't for you"
Zac, can you do me a favor? Walk to the other side of your building and inform the geniuses who can't even program leagues given 3+ years that they need to create a prerelease experience too. Why MtGO still charges $30 for a late, uninteractive "prerelease" is something that infuriates me. The only "experience" I may get with the current online prerelease is relying on my chat filter for protection from the profanity of some 15-year-old wordsmith if I should actually win a game. I guess I also experience what it's like playing the $30 lottery ticket due to overinflated demand. I understand this is not what you were commenting on, but it's still a Wizards product, and appears to be a perfect vehicle for this change you want as well.

How can you do something exciting for those of us on MtGO?  The Mirrodin Besieged prerelease events gave out tokens to be used to enter a free Mirrodin Block/SoM Block event. These free events were so popular that MtGO didn't have enough queues to satisfy demand. That's what success looks like. I never do online prereleases due to the high cost for such an inferior event compared to the real-life event - but I entered 2 Mirrodin Besieged prereleases and had a blast when the free sealed tourney came (when more queues were added, of course :D). Even in paper I brought a friend new to prereleases for the Mirrodin Besieged prelease faction packs, and we stayed up all night playing... then entered a different 8am prerelease tournament that morning across town because we had so much fun.

I also want to add that I haven't attended a prerelease since you guys took away the Prerelease Mythics for Rares. At least I had that when I went 1-3. I don't want an Avacyn plush doll. The Helvault definitely seems like a step in the right direction though, and if you guys gave out a Mythic Rare, I would definitely go. My point is to make it about the cards. I don't have a demand for deck boxes, sleaves, dice, playmats, etc... I want cards since that's how I get to have more opportunities for fun game experiences.
If it ain't broke......stop fixing it.
If WotC's recent changes to prereleases - from major events to pretty ordinary sealed tournaments - have made them suck, and even WotC is willing to say so (or at least, one of the more publicly visible people who work for WotC is), isn't the logical thing to do to change them back?

I was also going to make the exact same point as 42J, but he and several others beat me to it. Being a Sealed tournament in this day and age is just about enough to ensure the unique status you want for prereleases all by itself.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
The big prereleases were events I looked forward to experiencing. There were new people to meet and network with.
...
Now, prereleases are just sealed events on Saturday with the same people I could draft with on Fridays.

This.
Prereleases are already an event.  In fact they used to be unique: Big gatherings with low stakes.  But that was killed in order to force people to the LGS.

This.
Unfortunately, I had to read this whole article with a huge grain of salt, because for me, what made prereleases an experience, and not just a product, was going to a large, regional prerelease event with hundreds of other people, seeing people I knew from earlier prereleases, having the opportunity to play in multiple flights, and especially getting my cards signed by artists.


This!

Large prereleases used to be a great experience. I'd book them into my calendar months in advance. They were a chance to get together with a load of friends who've moved some distance away, for an awesome day of Magic: two drafts followed by the fantastic 2HG tournament, in which I'd always team up with my brother who I otherwise only get to see at Christmas. 3/4 of the times I saw my brother each year were at Magic events. You can't buy that kind of marketing feel-good.

But it appears you can kill it. Because WOTC killed the large prereleases, and now I only see my brother at Christmas. And my friends who've moved to London and Enfield and assorted other parts of South England I barely see at all, maybe every 2-3 years. 

We used to all enjoy getting together for a social experience and a day's Magic (two drafts and a 2HG).

Now a prerelease is some people I don't particularly like, in a small scout hut, with one sealed event. I pay WotC half or less of what I used to at a proper prerelease. And it's much less of an experience, so I don't have it in my calendar so early; in fact, I'm missing AVR entirely due to a scheduling conflict. That wouldn't have happened when prereleases were still big and fun.