What happened? WotC Announcements

So, at the Pro Tour, some things were announced. You can read the full announcement here.

I’m going to talk a little bit the various changes announced and the reaction I’ve seen to them.

No Modern PT

We all knew this was coming right? Didn’t we? They tried to axe Modern Pro Tours already, but that was (shockingly) a terribly timed and poorly thought out situation. At that time, we’d just suffered through some of the longest, stalest standard seasons possible while at the same time not providing any indication that Modern would be strongly supported.

Now though, we have a more dynamically rotating standard, and more chances at WMCQs and GPs to play Modern as the format remains incredibly popular. I love Modern myself and was pissed off the first time, but now that Modern still gets some time to shine, I’m okay with this. The whole point of the Pro Tours being named after the most recent sets is so the new cards get showcased, and barring more Eldrazi-esque situations, Modern’s not the best for that. It is probably overall worse for me, since I tend to do well in Modern on Pro Tours, but hey.

I would prefer some variety, but I doubt we’ll see the return of Block Constructed, or anything wildly out of nowhere like Standard Pauper. :3

Pro Tour Locations

Dublin: Okay! It was a fine place last time, but sadly this means it’ll be a few more years before the PT comes back to our corner of Europe and the PT Edinburgh dream is still so far away.

Nashville: Neat! Like Memphis, it has a unique musical legacy which makes it more interesting than many other USA locations.

Kyoto: Yesssss that’s the stuff. Going to Yokohama in 2007 was amazing, and I hope to return to Japan. The Pro Tour hasn’t been to Japan in over 8 years, probably because it’s SO EXPENSIVE. I wonder how they saved money on that.

Albuquerque: Oh, I guess this is where they saved the money for Japan. I can only assume the main draw to this location is for the post-PT Karaoke song. You know the one.

 

Hall of Fame Change

Now only one Pro Tour a year will give Hall of Fame players cash for turning up, instead of all of them. This seems fine to me, since more and more of the initiated players are still actively playing and it’d eventually get out of hand. To be fair the guys that still care about playing are probably doing great anyway, and they can still just turn up to whatever ones -money or not – they feel like. I like that they payout for the event with the Hall of Fame Ceremony, since it means we might see more of the old guard coming out to see their buddies as a special occasion.

Platinum Changes

No beating about the bush here, if you just locked up Platinum for next year, this news was some huge daggers.

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In the front, in the back, daggers.

Appearance fees for this level dropped by about $11,000 annually, at least that’s the commonly quoted number. WotC are well within their rights to tweak and adjust the system as they see fit, but this is too damn late to announce it for next year. While it’s always a risk to rely on something like Magic for income, to think you achieved your prize while simultaneously having the prize more than decimated is just brutal. Poor show, whoever was responsible for this.

What I absolutely expect to happen is that there will be some backtracking. I would be amazed if WotC didn’t at least partially compensate people who spent extra time and money this year for the promise of rewards next year. It won’t be full restoration, but there will be something. I am about 75% sure. This belief is tempering my outrage somewhat. It’s practically standard for WotC PR disasters at this point.

Even if not though, Magic isn’t going to die. The Pro Tour won’t die. For all the lost trust and respect in WotC over this, let’s be real here. The other Platinum benefits are still there. You still get flights and hotels to every Pro Tour. Are you really going to tell me that those players are going to turn down these and just stop attending? The idea that there will be ‘no more pros’ after this is just ludicrous. Sure, some players might migrate to other things, but that happens all the time anyway, people get disillusioned and go play something else. Other players will step up because they love Magic and nothing else will do.

Some Pros will stop playing as much, and do worse on the Pro Tour as a result. Sure, but again this happens all the time anyway. Some people get away with just being absurdly good at the game with little prep time as it is.

It’s argued that the most damage dealt from this change is that no one will trust WotC from now on. I am not sure that is the case. The vast majority of Magic players won’t be affected by this in any way. Theoretically – to imagine the most visible possible example – LSV’s fans might see him being unhappy/betrayed about it, but I can’t imagine he’s going to leave the game. And so, for those thousands of people, beyond this week that’s all they’re going to think about appearance fees, and soon will start talking about Vampire decks again.

Maybe about a hundred people who in reality were planning to go for Platinum (and could REALISTICALLY make it) had their faith shaken. For other people like me, for whom Platinum is just not close? (but desired) Yeah, it’s something I see that I don’t like. But what am I going to do, Magic is just the best game. I want to win events. You could take away all money and I’d still want to win a Pro Tour. (don’t get any ideas though, Wizards) It sucks, absolutely, but again, it’s not going to kill Magic.

The worst thing from my perspective is that it really hammers players from poor backgrounds/parts of the world. While some people might sneer at an $11K drop in ‘salary’ as being a devastating loss, for places with weak currencies or economies this is a huge loss, and won’t affect the already well-off players.

World Championship Prize Change

That’s where the Platinum money went I guess. We all know why this happened. A larger big event looks more awesome to people who don’t know what Magic is. It lets Magic compete with other games with large prizes in a prize-swinging contest. I don’t much like it, because most people would be happier if say, more people were thrown a bone at GPs and cash was paid out on points record a bit further down the table.

But that doesn’t make for as good publicity, a bunch of marginally happier grinders. What WotC NEEDS is to say ‘half a million dollars’ in prize money for one of their events. This is how it’s going to be.

 

So yeah, this is probably the biggest misstep in Public Relations for a long time. It’s not the end of the world despite their best efforts though. I do have the belief that Wizards will try and make things right at least partially. Make sure to follow me and remind me about this prediction in 6 months time if they do nothing at all!

Good night everyone.

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