Magic Online Pricing

Discussion in 'General CPA Stuff' started by Lotus Mox, Jan 14, 2002.

  1. EricBess Active Member

    I've been doing some thinking about the pricing structure and speaking with a few people about it. I guess what it really comes down to is this: What is their target market?

    If WotC is trying to get everyone to play online, and to perhaps supplement RL gaming, than the pricing structure they have will fail.

    On the other hand, if WotC's only purpose here is to get Magic to those who don't have a local store, then they might succeed. I think we've seen that most people are upset by the pricing structure. However, there have been a few people who have piped up and said that they are fine with it because they don't have another choice.

    Now, I don't know if there are enough such people to make it work. Let's face it, if you don't get enough people online consistantly, than you don't have much chance of succeeding either. I suppose people can arrange times to meet. If they have a regular night and time, word gets around and everyone plays at that time... Might work.

    Anyway, if this is who WotC is targetting with this program, than more power to them. I will continue to play at the store.
  2. BigBlue Magic Jones

    You may be correct Eric, my only problem with that idea (their idea, not yours) is that MtGO is really a fun game, and I'd like to be able to afford it. I'd love to do both and by pricing it this way, I cannot afford to. I never pay retail for packs as it is, so the price for online is not even equal to cardboard, it is more expensive. I just don't think there is a large enough segment to support it if their only goal is remote folks, most of whom have never played and wouldn't be interested. I personally would rather pay a flat fee and only play limited without keeping any virtual cardbase. If I could pay 12-15 per month and draft and play leagues as much as I want without getting any cards for constructed, I'd be very happy. I don't have enough time with two kids and a working wife to go down to my local store and play FNM anymore. If I had that time I would, so in essence I am one of those remote players. I buy cards on occasion and play with friends once or twice a week. I know I'm not the only one is in this situation. I just think it is sad/cruel to build a truly awesome product, give it to me for free to test, and then put it out of my price range. Heck I don't even care about prizes, it is atmosphere I like. If they want to give me a prize, give me actual product for winning a league or points which could redeemed for actual product at certain levels. I have bought more product since I started playing online for free than I was buying before the game, so the effect was the reverse of their concerns.

    anyways, every time I talk about this I get angered and depressed. If they don't make any changes or ones which make it reasonable for me to play, then I'll not be playing online.
  3. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    BigBlue: Those ideas make a lot of sense and I'm thinking if WOTC didn't implement them, it's because they're hoping people would just buy packs so they don't lose their "good" rares.

    EricBess: I agree with your analysis and I think it's the latter; they're trying to draw back players who may not have time or people to play in real life but can online. I mean, why would they target already-present players? They're already playing and paying... like you, if you play at the store and pay real life prices, they're still getting the money off of you. But say I come into the picture and I can play with people online, I would pay the same price I would in real life but have more chance of playing (I'm not saying I would necessarily, just someone in my situation).
  4. The Rock New Member

    Interesting, isnt it.

    Interesting, I mean, that Wizards would be making something like 600% more profit from virtual packs sold at $3.29 than from real packs sold at $3.29.

    No outlet profit margins to maintain.
    No shipping costs.
    No printing costs.

    Interesting that when people see the $3.29 they see that they are paying the same for their cards as in real life, and dont see that from WotC`s point of view geting paid $3.29 for cards is a huge increase in their profit margin.

    Which suggests a couple of things.
    They were never going to charge $3.29. For WotC to make as much money from online card sales as from real life sales they`d only need to charge boosters at around $0.70 or so (assuming that they sell real boosters on to traders at approximately $1.20 and that lower overheads are associated with virtual cards).
    Thus even if every single booster sold Online replaces a booster sold in stores, then WotC only need to be charging $0.70 per booster to break even.

    It follows then that the $3.29 is a total con. Not as in WotC are trying to take your money, as in WotC have no plans for implementing it as an actual pricing structure. The announcement of a $3.29 structure allows them to respond favourably to public protest and lower their prices dramatically to a more acceptable $1.50 or so, and still make almost double the profit from selling cards online as opposed to through outlet stores. Had they initially announced a $1.50 pricing structure 90% of people would still have felt it was overpriced, if you read the articles about this issue people were planning on cards selling at around $0.30, and no more than $0.50.
    A WotC decision to price boosters at $1.50 is thus transformed by this $3.29 announcemnt from an overpriced amount, to a knockdown 45% of the price they originally had in mind!

    Personally I had no intention of joining Magic Online because Magic is a social game anyway. The one advantage I could see Magic Online bringing that would allow it to be a real success would be if it tried to be a different experience from corporeal magic. If online magic was about very small card pools, where it was truly hard to get hold of four of the same rare - as was the case during the early days of Magic - then it would offer a different experience of play from real life. This would require a very tight rationing by Wizards of how many cards entered the card pool, whereas any system that allowed players to simply purchase additional boosters destroys the one advantage online magic had.
    Regardless of how much the boosters are eventually priced at, if Magic Online is just another way of playing magic where Money=Success, then it has already failed.

    I already own Magic The Gathering, I can see it all around my room. Magic Online had to provide a different playing experience to even begin to tempt me to play.
  5. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Since I feel this is directed to me since I'm basically the only one arguing this way, I feel I have to respond.

    I realize that WOTC maybe increasing their profit margin selling virtual vs. real cards. But that's really irrelevant the way it affects me. I'm still paying $3.29, whether it be real cards or online cards. I pay money, I get cards. Whether it helps WOTC's profit is not an issue, at least when you compare it that way.

    And while all of this price speculation is nice, does it matter whether WOTC makes a profit? Unless someone has actual figures that they can back up concerning shipping/printing/distributing/whatever, it's all extraneous.
  6. Hetemti The Wide-Awake Nightmare

    A good point...people will merrily buy at $1.50/$2 and think they've "won" if WizCo said it'd've been $3.30.
  7. TomB Administrative Assistant

    I'm just wondering how long it will take for someone to hack up a program for counterfeiting these "virtual" cards, and a Black Market to show up as an underground distribution system...;)
  8. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I raised that concern when BigBlue brought this up when Magic Online was in Alpha testing. All I got was that the cards were stored on a "secure server" (not from him specifically, from the news postings from WOTC, although he did say no one tried it in Alpha(?)). You can bet someone is going to try it though.
  9. The Rock New Member

    Spiderman. Theres this song, called 'You`re so vain'. Listen to it please.

    The reason to point out that WotC dont sell at $3.29 is the first step in a logical progression to them lowering the price.

    I dont see how factors that affect the break-even point on this venture can POSSIBLY be considered extraneous. Business is business.
  10. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Getting a bit testy, eh? :)

    The progression to lower the price is fine.

    How WOTC's profit margin affects me, the player, is irrelevant. What I want to know is: how much is it going to cost me and is it worth it? If I can't find somebody to play, paying $3.29 could be worth it. If they lower it to $1.50 or whatever, hey, that's great, but I'm probably still going to play. Obviously the lower price will bring in more customers, but if their target audience is to bring in people who aren't playing anymore, then their goal is to find that price that will bring them in. You know, the ol' bell curve/parabola from calculus. What is the highest price they can charge that will bring in the most people?

    I think you're mixing what the player wants and what WOTC wants where they aren't supposed to be mixing (they mix in some places here but not what you were talking about in your two posts above).
  11. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    I don't care how desperate I am, I am not going to pay full retail price for an online replication of the Magic experience. If I didn't live anywhere near a Magic retailer, and had not a single living person to play Magic with within a 300-mile radius, I would not pay $10 for one booster draft. I would read a book, surf the net, play Diablo 2, or even (god forgive me) play Asheron's Call, where I could get a whole month of entertainment for my ten bucks.

    If the target market for Magic Online is new and/or lapsed players, then why didn' they say so in the first place? Why sign so many of the pros onto the alpha test? Why generate so much excitement amongst the Magic-playing community, if the product isn't even meant for them? The announced price scheme is a slap in the face of the testers, many of whom feel as though they've been wasting their time. Granted, it's been fun, but I personally feel like a kid who's been handed some drug by a really nice guy at the park, got hooked on it for free, then told that future installments come at 10 bucks a pop, enjoy!

    Well, if I can quit smoking successfully (and I have, I think) I can certainly quit Magic.
  12. Lotus Mox New Member

    Spidey, the real issue isn't whether just you would pay 3.29 for boosters. You need opponents do you? Or are you planning to play solitaire?

    (I'm exaggerating, but I think my point came across)

    Also keep in mind WotC isn't optimizing the price for MTGO, they're just using the optimized (debatable) price from Magic: the real card game for the sub-par product, in most points except availability of opponents, which could be not even true with THAT price.
  13. Lotus Mox New Member

    Chaos Turtle, plz refrain from using such drug references in the open. Not that the government gets any hint that magic could be drug-like (which it isn't ;) ;) ;) :eek: ), magic cards on a black market would be even more expensive.
  14. Hetemti The Wide-Awake Nightmare

    Like there exists a Magic site where the term "cardboard crack" hasn't popped up. :p
  15. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Chaos Turtle: I'm sure there's other people (at least ONE in the uncounted masses who will play) who feel the opposite. The question is, how much does one side outweigh the other?

    Although this does seem like a terrible deal, who better to "test" the program than people who actually play now? Are you going to ask someone who last played during Ice Age (and 5th rules, if not before) to play-test Magic with its 6th ed. rules now? AND who's not really familiar with current cards anyway?

    Lotus Mox: That is a concern but one that I think is majorly exaggerated.

    If I was playing constructed, technically I need one person to play. That's it. Draft I guess is 8 (although I probably wouldn't play that anytime soon, seeing as I have hardly any experience with it).

    Now how many people do YOU think will play Magic Online at the announced price? 1000? Less? More?

    WOTC prides itself on saying "millions of people play, around the globe". If just 1% sign up, that'd be 10,000.

    Only 7000 players can play Warriors, the online game in General Games. When I log on, at any time, I usually see 40-100 with a couple times reaching in the 200s. And this is a "niche" game.

    Even if that amount signed onto Magic Online, that's plenty of potential people to play with. Thus, I think this whole "can't find people to play with" is an unfounded worry. Depending on the price (if it goes up, less people).
  16. The Rock New Member

    Ok, if WotC say it, they are lying. They cant begin to support those numbers, and they certainly cant support those numbers in terms of DCI-sanctioned tournaments. So how many people play constructed/draft format magic every day?
    Maybe, what, 20,000?
    And then 1% of those people seems equally optimistic. Whats perfectly obvious is that right now barely 1% of the players who actually wanted to play MTGO are willing to pay those prices.

    I think you`ll basically find that at current pricing 1,000 people is VERY optimistic figure. 200 seems more realistic, and possibly still a little high.
    Then consider the #apprentice experience. I`m in a small league with currently about 300 members. At any one time no more than 6 people are online, and usually four of those are playing and the others are asleep but left their PCs online.

    With a user base of 200 people finding people to play will become very difficult, because 200 people spread all over the time zones, playing only a couple of games of Magic every other day, does not add up to a thriving community.

    At $3.29 MTGO will not fly, it will barely manage to fall with style.

    But thats fine, because it was never intended to sell at $3.29.
  17. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I think they're talking about all players, not just those who play in DCI-sanctioned tourneys. Lord knows I have a DCI number from back in '95 but have used it only once from the time I played '95 to '98.

    And I don't think you can just think of the "players that play every day". I'm sure that's only going to be a small fraction. But for the players who might log on every other day or some other frequence, it might balance out.

    Like I log on on weekends while you log on during the weekday. It's a "revolving" membership.

    I am unknowledgable about this sort of stuff so...

    is yours the only league? If not, how many leagues do you think there are?

    In addition, how many people play Apprentice without being in a league, but meet by happenstance or appointment?
  18. Zadok001 CPA Founder, Greater Good

    GRRR! I leave for one weekend, and I come back to find this? I've been overjoyed by the promise of MtG-O. Here in Seattle, home of WotC, no one seems to actually PLAY Magic. FNM? One tiny store. :( MTG-O was my big shot to get to play every day again.

    But I'm sorry. I won't spend $3.29 for vitual cards. I won't spend $1 for virtual cards! Sheesh! Give us an overhead cost, say, $10 a month. Let us use any cards, and draft an unlimited number of times. Screw the trade-in theory. *bing!* Suddenly, you get $10 a month from almost every Magic player alive! That sounds like a solid business to me. But this will just keep me away. I don't think I'll even bother DLing it now.


    How disappointing!
  19. TomB Administrative Assistant

    My thoughts exactly, Zadok...:(

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