Someone asked Richard Garfield that question after he wrote about "Skinnerware" and he did admit that he wasn't entirely comfortable with the similarity. It does seem like a lot of his output since he moved on from Magic has been trying to come up with a less exploitative model. Stuff like Keyforge.So I had another thought on this...
How are loot boxes different from buying packs of cards?
So for people who play Constructed formats where having access to a certain card is important for improving standings, everyone I know of just buys the singles anyway. I mean, I do sometimes see people getting excited about "cracking packs" and discussing how good or bad their pulls were and stuff, but for people seriously wanting to get a particular card to help them win, they just buy it anyway, or trade for it.The randomization factor is similar, as well as the concept that the more you buy, the higher the odds of getting the card that will help you achieve a better standing in the game.
Richard Garfield didn't invent trading card packs, though. Trading cards came wrapped in packs that were themselves stored in cardboard boxes long before Magic came out. Were they loot boxes then?You could almost say that MTG invented an IRL precursor to the loot box by assigning rarity to cards and then packing them randomly. Isn't this a form of gambling unto itself?
I mean, I've seriously seen people argue exactly that. For my part, I would not, but it is an opinion that real people have...My younger self certainly fell slightly victim to the addictive nature of the game and the need to buy more packs in hopes of getting the best cards.
If loot boxes were to be banned, shouldn't the same standards be applied here?
I'm glad you noticed this, because I did actually think about that before posting.Richard Garfield didn't invent trading card packs, though. Trading cards came wrapped in packs that were themselves stored in cardboard boxes long before Magic came out. Were they loot boxes then?
I mean, you can't win a booster draft in this way because everyone gets the same number of packs. You also can't really count on pack-openings to improve your chances of winning in Legacy, because it might not be feasible to find unopened packs for sale that contain the cards you could use to improve your deck. About the only established format I can think of in recent years where this "the more packs you open, the better your deck might become" thing might have worked was Brawl. Magic players who just want to make their decks better don't tend to open hundreds of booster packs. You'd get a bunch of duplicates of the wrong rares and might not get the right rare. Players in Constructed formats buy singles or trade for them. They don't rely on pack-opening alone.I think the difference between trading cards and trading cards for a game is that the more packs you get, the greater your odds of winning.
That's about how it works for Magic cards. You're only going to build a deck of a certain size. Say, 75 cards total for your maindeck + sideboard. In theory, the state of completeness of the rest of your collection has no effect. So long as you have the right 75 cards, then you have them and your deck is done. Collecting cards can be distinct from that.You can collect baseball cards, but having a complete collection doesn't really benefit you in any way other than giving you the satisfaction of completing the collection.
Yeah. Maybe I just don't think of paper Magic's business model as so egregious because I'm inured to it. But Arena's model gives me far more trepidation.I should also note that this idea popped into my head because I started playing Arena, which basically has the "fremium" game model, so the differences in packs is more pronounced there. In real life competitive Magic, buying more cards doesn't give you more packs necessarily (maybe some other prizes), but on Arena it's basically propagating the same cycle as any other free-to-play game.