I sold my MTGO collection last week. $375… not too shabby for something I really didn’t use. That’s a successful stoop sale in the city! I guess the underling question here is why did I sell my MTGO Collection.

I have no Confidence in MTGO as a Sustainable Marketplace.

There I said it. Straight up, I just don’t believe it can exist for much longer. The pay for increments plan is a thing of the past. If you think I’m joking, look to services like iTunes, and Spotify for proof of what many companies have figured out: People will subscribe for the whole thing but, eventually, they won’t pay for something they perceive as worthless.

Enough people have expressed a disdain for the whole Magic Online experience that its sort of appalling that really nothing serious has been done to improve it of the past 3 years I’ve been back in the game. And I’m not talking about adding Leagues back, that’s worthless to most players. It’s barely a bandaid on a hemorrhaging wound.

Plenty of Problems no Real Solutions 

One of the things that stops WOTC from taking a hold of MTGO and really changing it for the better, is that we as players can point out 100’s of problems with the system, the user experience, and various parts of the economy involved inside the game. We just don’t have any great ideas on how to fix them.

As long as we continue to feed the machine, MTGO will likely say as it is: Broken, miserable, and utterly worthless as a resource for players that would otherwise be more that happy to give WOTC our money in exchange for a program and interface that we could get some level of value from.

Why I Cashed out

I sold my collection which consisted of various dual lands, a couple of Tarmogoyfs and several Modern staples because the investment in the product vs the payoff is totally incongruent.

In a draft…

I spend $15 for an 8-4, let’s assume I win half my tourneys. It’s not realistic but let’s pretend it’s Magical Christmasland and I’m good at Magic. I won 8 packs of Origins! according to MTGOWIKIPRICE.COM I could sell those packs at 3.90 TICKETS a pack. That’s 31.2 TICKETS! I just spent 4 hours (approximate time for 3 rounds and a draft) and $15 for 31.2 TICKETS! WAIT NO I win half of my 8-4 Tourneys (which is pretty good) So that’s $30 and 8 hours for a profit (if you can call it that) of $1.2 TICKETS.

(I keep capitalizing TICKETS! That’s because TICKETS are not money. Sure you can sell a TICKET for money. But there are fees/hassle/time associated with that. Let’s call a spade a spade, a TICKET is not a DOLLAR. I’ll stop capitalizing tickets now.)

I could go over this for constructed, and break down what a deck costs, or what your time is worth. What I’m saying here is that ultimately we are playing MTGO for a bite at the imaginary MTGO Economy. Is that why you play MTGO? In your heart, are you playing MTGO to become an MTGO Mogul? I wasn’t. If you are, you might as well stop reading here. You aren’t going to like what I have to say, and frankly, you aren’t the person I’m trying to convince there is a better way. That said I do look forward to dealing with your vitrol on the internets! Direct it to @Durdlemagus.

The Trouble with Bots

I really can’t imagine that the MTGO economy as it is today was what WOTC had in mind when they set it up. The system is overrun by bots that force you to spend tickets on more and more cards with them by pricing singles and holding credit hostage. The bot economy is one of the major reasons I quit using MTGO. Trading IRL is a negotiation. There’s a bit of social grace needed to excel at it. Whether that’s good or bad isn’t for me to say. That’s Stefano’s realm. I despise the current system, as you are tricked into spending tickets (or parts therein) with bots because they save your leftover credit from a card you purchased. If I had my way, I’d eliminate bots altogether.

The Freemium model (not to be confused with the subscription based model) like the one Hearthstone offers is better than this. There’s no weird supply issue for digital objects. There’s absolutely no regulations on how many Tarmogoyfs MTGO has produce. I mean no one is stopping Wizards from reprinting cards that one day go for a lot of tickets, and just crashing their value. I’m looking at your Onslaught Fetchlands! Everyone should be able to afford to play any format online, or at least not have to spend $400 to play the best deck online, especially when they already have it offline! Trading in some in game “gold” for packs or “dust” for singles is preferable to emptying your wallet for digital product you own IRL just to test standard more often.

Another option is a tier based membership with a scaling monthly fee. You might offer Constructed by Format, allowing a player to play with any of the cards Legal in that format and any newer format would naturally fall under that as well. The prices would need to be adjusted obviously but hear me out on this monthly payment plan.

Vintage $12

Legacy/Commander $9



Look, I know these won’t be the right prices, but it the proportions could work this way. But think about it! How much would you pay monthly to have access to cards from your format or online tournaments and practice? How much do you spend now each week to play Magic at your LGS? I have tell you, up until 20ss went belly-up on Magic events I was spending $200 a month on paper events. $200 a month for MTGO seems insane right? Look, I was paying between $200 and $500 a month on MTGO in the last year. Between drafting a few times a week, then rage drafting, buying singles, you know how it goes. Magic is not a cheap hobby. And look I don’t think I’d mind spending $100 a month for access to Legacy and the ability to play in tournaments with any deck I had.

So what about Limited, then? Limited would need to be subscription based as well. These subscriptions would likely be separate from a constructed subscription in cost. This means that players who consider themselves “Limited only” wouldn’t need to spend money on a Constructed Membership. Options would include a set number of drafts a month, up to Unlimited. Think about it. How much night do you spend on drafts each month? How many do you do? What about sealed? You would be able to choose a price based on that and play a set amount each month. If you went over you could just upgrade your account. Prizes could be similar to constructed. Invites to larger events, byes, promo cards IRL, there’s a lot of room to work here, and there’s a lot to hash out.

Yet another option is to start printing cards with unique serial numbers on them, so we can use our real world collections online. This is a clunky fix for sure, because questions come up about older formats and how do we play cards we have already owned. It would take a lot of work on WOTC’s end, but going forward if they did nothing else they should start doing this.

Well, if I own every card what the Hell am I competing for?

That’s a good question, right now the value you glean from playing MTGO… the tangible value (I know how dumb that sounds since we are talking about a digital product) is in cards. That would obviously not hold up. Giving you cards when you have all the cards is sort of worthless. What is of value?

Real Magic Cards are worth something. So thats pretty good. They could give us REAL Magic cards. Paper promotional staples based off the formats and frequency of your online play, like the old Player Rewards system. Imagine you won a big event on The NEW MTGO and they sent you a foil Wasteand! Pretty amazing.

Invites to larger events also seems fair. I mean we already get invites to the pro tour on MTGO. That’s nothing new. Wouldn’t it be great if you got a free entry to a Grand Prix that year/season? Maybe even a Hotel fee? Look if Spotify is making millions there must be something to that. Right now, not all Magic players also play MTGO. If we offered a good enough incentive to pay and play you could bet whatever that percentage is it would increase by at least double.

“I don’t own a PC, so I’ll never play MTGO.”

How often do you hear that. Yep I know you can use Bootcamp or other programs to play on Mac, but it bogs down your computer and frankly I hate even using a PC OS. Finally, if MTGO gets a true revamp, we can offer the game to Mac users! I mean for god’s sake it’s 2015. The game’s been out online for ten years. WHY CAN’T I PLAY IT ON MY MAC? I can download Duels on my iPad, so it’s not because you’ve never heard on Macintosh computers. More people are using Macs today than ever before, how many players are missing out on throwing their money at WoTC because they can’t be bothered to figure out a Mac client?

I want to go further with this concept, I’d love to have a real sit-down with Trick and discuss what could be done. Look, I’m not a programer. I realize its not something that can happen over night, we as a community need to come together and demand something better than what we are being delivered now.

Zac Clark


Zac Clark is the founder of Hipsters Of the Coast. He’s often found in BK and Manhattan with a camera in hand or turning islands sideways. He misses the 90’s something terrible and still dreams of a day when he can just hang out in his friend’s mom’s basement and play 100 card decks of Magic, then get serious about Overpower/L5R/Star Wars CCG. 

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