Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Play Points?

Hi Everyone!

So Wizards announced "play points" on Magic Online.

I'm not even going to go into the "economics of competitive play" because the prize structure is what it is and whatever.

They replace phantom points, we will be able to trade these points or use them to enter events. It sounds to me like they will become another form of currency online. Is that bad? I don't know. A lot of people would like to play in events with winnings from previous events, but if you ask me, that's just the "public" reason Wizards gives.

Aside: I have a tendency to rant and rave about bad ideas of others. I'm extremely critical and question how people making such poor decisions get to be in charge of anything because the fact is that decisions are the key to leadership and the MOST relevant factor in determining who should lead a group...Regardless, WOTC has always....seriously, I remember when I played in the mid 1990's it was the same, had really bad excuses for things. WOTC said in the article announcing Play Points that players wanted prizes they could play in tournaments. If this isn't a weak excuse, you should stay out of the Board Room.

Aaaaannnnnnndddddd we're back on topic: The real reason is likely the same reason for all (yes, I said all, as in each and every) changes that have been happening in Magic and Magic Online in the past several months.....MONEY.

But how is it about money? Well, It's going to take product out of the market. When product in the form of prizes leaves the market what happens? the price goes up. Does WOTC care that prices will go up? Yes and no. They don't care because they don't get involved in the secondary market. They do care because if demand is x and supply is decreased, what happens? The relative demand (I'm not quite sure if that's actually a term, but it works here) increases (cutting supply is identical to increasing the number of cards desired) driving the price up. So demand is now 1.2x and prices are 1.2p (p is price and at demand x the price is p).

Now, here's the really neat part that will only apply to Magic Online. We get to see a perfect competition market in action (almost). When you look at Magic Online, it's pretty much perfect competition, Every product is identical and no one can provide any extra service to you.

There's also a price ceiling $3.99. We will all just buy packs when it's statistically cheaper to buy them than single cards so the price will never exceed $3.99 per pack (packs and unnamed single cards behave identically in this example).

So, now that we know all this stuff that doesn't really matter, all that matters is that demand is 1.2x and price is 1.2p let's see what we can take from all this ranting and raving.

Demand curves are funny because if the market price is $1.00 I'll sell as many as everyone else when I set my price at the market price and if I set my price at way below market, I'll sell lots more (how much more, or less in a moment depends on the elasticity of demand (that WOTC is probably banking on being .000001 but it's not relevant right now). So if I sell my cards for more than the market price I'll sell less, but I'll sell some, the higher the price, the more I will sell.

So there's all that to get cards out of circulation to drive prices up to promote the sale of more cards on Magic Online.

The other possible motive is that players don't want to pay retail on Magic Online (people don't pay $3.99 for packs in real life even from the LGS) for cards that aren't worth anything near their price. The only thing keeping the prices up is the ability to redeem cards. For reference, last week, the highest priced KTK foils are Hooded Hydra and Clever Impersonator.

So maybe WOTC is trying to make the cards more valuable on Magic online to increase the number of players because I'd bet anything that the idea of Magic Online is a huge hit in surveys. (too bad it's an incredibly poor functioning program).

Another Aside: Just today I saw Duels of the Planeswalkers (or whatever it's called for Magic Origins) on the Magic site and it was way better than Magic Online, it had a lot of "hearthstone like" stuff going on with animations and other cool stuff....the only problem was that it looked like I was playing it on my Nintendo 64. It was so sweet, it was as good as Doom64 (doom 64 did not have good graphics, maybe it did at the time, but still, not good graphics).

Rant off.

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