Reading Between the Lines of WotC Spin

Discussion in 'CPA/WOTC Magic Issues' started by Mars, Dec 17, 2000.

  1. Mars New Member

    My comments are preceeded by double asterisks. If you work in business long enough, you learn to read between the lines.

    Wizards of the Coast Reorganization Plans

    **I just love business lingo. "Reorganization" = Let's cut jobs and impress our bosses at Hasbro so they pat us on the back and keep our own jobs intact.

    MEMORANDUM

    To: Roleplaying and Trading Card Game Fans
    From: Wizards of the Coast
    Subject: Wizards of the Coast Reorganization Plans
    Contact: Jack Sabin
    Director of Corporate Communications
    Wizards of the Coast
    (425) 204-7655

    Yesterday, Wizards of the Coast announced the implementation of a reorganization plan driven by the future needs of its business and customers.

    Regrettably, one facet of this reorganization involves the elimination of some positions.

    ""Regrettable for the workers' families and workers who are laid off.

    Approximately five percent of Wizards workforce (about 100 positions) were eliminated across the company. These moves were made after carefully reviewing all aspects of our business.

    **Like, if we do not lay off these workers, we lose our own jobs. Happy holidays!

    Effective January 1, 2001, Vince Caluori, current President, will assume the duties of CEO. Peter Adkison, current Wizards of the Coast CEO, has made the decision to leave the company and enjoy some well-deserved time off to pursue new interests.

    **Vince is older that Peter and therefore "fits in" better with older Hasbro management. Peter knew when he sold the company this would happen (at least I hope he did)......it was all a matter of time.......well, it's time. So long to the guy whose IDEA it was to create Magic. We'll miss ya, Peter.

    **I have since learned since sending this post as e-mail to my regular group that the IDEA of MAGIC was not Peter's at all, but spin spun by Peter to consolidate his power. True, or false? I really don't care, because the game exists and I love it regardless of true origin. But I also respect the Magical knowledge of the man who informed me about Peter's spin, if that's what it was, very, very highly.

    The reorganization is attributed to several factors. For the past few years, the Pokémon® trading card game has experienced success beyond our wildest expectations.

    **We were caught with our pants down, and had to struggle like a bastard to make new product quickly, overhiring in order to do so.

    However, as with the case of most popular products, Pokémon has reached a maturity point.

    **Pokemon died as fast as it exploded. The Japanese love their monsters cute and cuddly, and so do young American kids. Unfortunately, kids in America soon turn to nasty monsters with eyeballs hanging out and bloody drool. And the 2nd Pokemon movie truly sucked. And we own complete warehouses in Seattle filled with Team Rocket packs that will never be sold. They're right next to the warehouses filled with Fallen Empires cases.

    While sales are still strong,

    **in Japan

    we no longer require the resources

    **(people)

    we once did to support the product. Due to the slowing economy,

    **???????

    we also anticipated lower revenues for 2001.

    **I'll say. The trend seems very clear.

    After a review of all aspects of our business, we felt it was necessary at this time to make these difficult changes to ensure the future of our company.

    **Difficult for whom? Do you honestly expect us to feel sorry for you? Screwedge! God bless us, everyone.

    Wizards of the Coast has grown quickly in recent years and is proud of what has been accomplished. The company is looking forward to 2001, anticipating healthy sales from existing brands including Magic: The Gathering®, Pokémon and Dungeons & Dragons® as well as new trading card games,

    **ok.........

    such as Harry PotterTM and MLBTM, NFLTM and NBATM Showdown SportsTM brands.

    **Here's a tip. LOSE these lame-o product lines, or "brands" as you call them, since anyone who plays CCG's at all finds it all they can do to afford Magic. I bet you sell some Harry Potter, then lay off even MORE people when your warehouses fill up with unsold product. MANAGEMENT makes the incorrect decisions, so naturally the WORKERS have to suffer with lost jobs.

    For additional questions, contact Jack Sabin, director of corporate communications, Wizards of the Coast at (425) 204-7655.

    **At 8:59 Monday morning, you can be sure I'll be calling.

    **I wrote that thing about Ramifications in an obviously pissed-off mood, but I still stand by it. I have to be careful expressing opinion as fact, I know, and should probably give myself a day or so to cool off after writing vitriol, but I can't help myself sometimes. Sigh. Like Rodney Dangerfield says, it ain't easy being me.

    **Honestly, it's easy to criticize. Would you or I had made the same mistakes that Hasbro/WotC made? You know something? Perhaps we would have. Then again .....maybe not. I would have made clear that ANYONE hired after the Pokemon craze started was in a temporary job for as long as Pokemon sales remained strong. I'll bet you they didn't do that.

    **Eagerly awaiting the TeleTubbies CCG.........

    Peace,
    Greg "Mars" Smith
    scottysdad@worldnet.att.net
    :)
    This is my website: Priorities of Life
    Click on the link below to see it:
    http://www.angelfire.com/sd/priorities/index.html


    [Edited by Mars on 12-17-00 at 03:10 PM]
  2. Hawaiian mage CPA symbiod

    Heh heh heh... Lol!

    Good job on this, I think it would have been better as an article though...
  3. Mars New Member

    I agree, I tried to submit this as an article to Neutral Ground Online, but I believe I come on too strong sometimes (although I also believe that strength in the pursuit of truth is no vice), and that perhaps Hogan Long, NGO Webmaster, felt it to be too strong for publication, although I don't really know that. If The "Powers That Be" at CPA would like to publish it as an article at CPA, be my guest. I will charge my usual fee: ZERO dollars, as I write purely for the love (and concern) of the game.

    And thanks to Gizmo, who invited me here, and to the others of you who have balls enough not to hold back opinion. CPA has certainly been an eye-opener to me, and one of the best of all Magic sites, IMO.

    [Edited by Mars on 12-17-00 at 03:46 PM]
  4. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    Sometimes, reorganization means reorganization. Any serious business person could see that there has been a great deal of waste at WotC. Efficiency pays.

    Do you have firsthand knowledge of the terms of the layoffs? I mean, do you know that Hasbro did not offer severance packages?

    Mr. Adkison is rich. Rich.
    It's called "early retirement." It's a privelege of being rich. When he gets bored, or decides he wants to form another company, he will. You have not heard the last of Peter Adkison.

    This is common in business. Happens all the time. Any person who is hired into a company that is experienceing wild growth should be aware that said growth will slow at some point.
    It's called being realistic.

    The economy really is slowing, Mr. Smartypants.
    Pay attention.

  5. Mars New Member

    "Sometimes, reorganization means reorganization."
    And sometimes it just means here comes the new boss, out with the old boss. As a waiter, you should be aware of how thoroughly certain bosses dominate their kingdoms. And I'll assume you've worked for more than one restaurant, so you are aware of how differently two different restaurants are run, reflecting the different personalities of the owners (bosses). Very often smooth running operations are terrorized by a new boss whose only claim to fame was to ingratiate himself like a dog with the manager responsible for dealing with the old boss.

    "Any serious business person could see that there has been a great deal of waste at WotC. "
    I don't have to see it, I just assume it. Waste is everywhere. Do you know ANYTHING about the principles of "Scientific Management" that were prevalent in the late 1800's, and how they fell on their heads? We have Unions for a reason, my friend.


    "Efficiency pays."
    And so does inefficiency, although not as well. Gaming is not only arithmetical or mathematical, it is also creative and intuitive. Design, in particular, is creative. And creativity requires a certain amount fat, or freedom, to perform well. For example, the somewhat loose atmosphere that Peter encouraged (or didn't discourage) in the early days with the throwing of Nerf objects, etc.
    Incidentially, Nerf products are made by Hasbro.

    "Do you have firsthand knowledge of the terms of the layoffs? I mean, do you know that Hasbro did not offer severance packages?"

    No, and neither does anyone else at this juncture, as far as I know. If most of the layoffs are to come in the warehouse area, then the workers will be given two weeks notice, and management a severence package, which in no way will make up for the lost job. I hope they all find new work quickly. Seattle is booming, fortunately.


    "Mr. Adkison is rich. Rich.
    It's called "early retirement." It's a privilege of being rich. When he gets bored, or decides he wants to form another company, he will. You have not heard the last of Peter Adkison. "
    I certainly hope not. I have no problem with people being rich, especially if they were self-made like Peter. But you missed the point entirely. ONCE a guy like Peter sells his company to a larger one, there is typically a one to three year period where the large company investigates the new companies operations before deciding it can now move in its own people (own "yes"-men) to consolidate its hold. One of the ways to retire the new company's "old" management is to outright fire them (sloppy), offer them a retirement package, or make things uncomfortable enough for them so they quit. In reading between the lines of Peter's retirement letter, this last way seems to be the course Hasbro took. I would re-read that letter after reading this response, oh Turtle of Chaos, and see if you can spot what I'm talking about. Or practice your guitar, whatever.

    "This (being caught with pants down) is common in business. Happens all the time. Any person who is hired into a company that is experienceing wild growth should be aware that said growth will slow at some point.
    It's called being realistic."
    Yes, because every corporation is inefficient by nature since it is staffed by human beings. My point is, WHAT do we do now? The bloodless accountants say, "Off with their heads!" The creative capitalist says, "Let's find OTHER places to use these workers." I.E., lose the JOB, not the worker.

    "The economy really is slowing, Mr. Smartypants.
    Pay attention."
    I do, and what you call a "slowdown" doesn't impress me`I've seen real recessions and have studied history's great depressions in detail. What's going on currently is more of an adjustment. Magic is expensive, but not THAT expensive. And certainly things are not going so badly as to warrant a ten per cent cut back. Using the "economy" as an excuse is lame, and typical of spinmeisters.

    And if you call me a name again, I will call your Mom and ask her to re-teach you about something called "manners," a lesson which I'm sure she taught you, but one in which you obviously weren't paying attention.

    "Here's a clue: those "lame-o product lines" make money. If WotC does not make money, they go away."
    They (supplementary prduct lines) go away, but not that quickly. Getting into "brand management" or "new product development" can be self-fulfilling and possiblly self-defeating if not tempered with a bit of down-home common sense:
    ALL new products will make sales at first, because there will always be people who pay retail to be the first on their block to have the "latest" thing.
    The key is to keep a VERY careful watch on weekly sales. The Cinemas do this with new films, although personally I think they yank films too quickly. But whatever, it's efficiant, and you like that, huh?
    My point is that proper management is in recognizing a downturn for a particular "brand" (I hate the work "brand" so I put in in quotes - "Brand" reminds me of breakfast cereal), and doing something about it at the proper time, not TOO LATE or just before Christmas/Channukah/whatever.

    "Jinkies! Another clue: Not everyone plays Magic. I know this must come as a surprise to you, but some people actually like sports cards, Pokémon, and Harry Potter, who don't care two whits about Magic. It's called product diversification. A very sound business practice for any company that wants to stay alive."

    Jinkies? That's a new one. I know you're going to school, in North Carolina, but where did you grow up? I'm curious.
    I'd like to think that most of the people reading this find Magic to be their favorite game. Indeed, it was sports cards and my weekly Friday night poker game that brought me into Magic. I hate to be a human tape-recorder and repeat myself, but you obviously need a dose of that, so here goes:
    "Pokemon died as fast as it exploded." In America anyway, which is usually considered one of the world's top markets. The Magic game is well-balanced and "new product" is provided with each net set. There really is little need to "diversify". Hasbro, the Mother company, has plenty of other products to satisfy "diversification." WHEN has another CCG other than Pokemon EVER competed with Magic? Those who have played both Magic and LotFR report LotFR to be the superior game, but I am not about to rush out and trade Magic for LotFR because WHERE am I going to find someone to play with?

    "I sypathize with your concern, but I believe that your concern is unwarranted."
    Whew! I certainly hope it is. Forgive me if my "worst-case" scenario troubles you, but I trust large corporations as far as I can throw them. ONCE layoffs begin, then the foot is in the door and a second round of layoffs becomes easier, etc. I WANT to scare people, if for no other reason that we keep our eyes and ears OPEN and don't dare EVER believe EVERYTHING a company says about itself. Too damn many people are too damn gullible. I've been there done that on the gullible thing. Trust me, it sucks.

    "The reality of business is that people get hired and fired as they are needed."
    No, they get hired and fired in blocks. If only what you said were so! It's true in smaller businesses such as restaurants, though. And perhaps it was in the old (independant) WotC, but not in larger corporations.

    "WotC is a business, not a welfare agency."
    And so is Hasbro. And I never said otherwise.

    "Even if the layoffs (which affected Hasbro as a whole, not specifically WotC) were unexpected, it is the employees' responsibility to be sure they have prepared themselves for the possibility that their jobs do not last forever."
    Every man for himself! "Women and children first' be damned!
    I understand. Nothing is permanent. But compare the world today with the way it was when your Grandfather was your age. THEN, lifetime employment was a virual guarantee if you kept your nose clean. Not any more, baby! Two years on average, and your generation starts looking for a new job as soon as it starts a new one. Some would accuse you of being too Machiavellian, but I hear what you're saying. Sad, but you speak truth.

    "Go ahead and call Mr. Sabin, if it makes you feel better. If you're lucky, you may even get a brief lesson in how business actually works. "
    Or perhaps I'll teach him. More than likely, I will be ignored. I didn't call today, BTW, because my wife was unexpectedly ill. I hope it's nothing serious, but it just reminds me of the transientness of our whole existance. Well, except for Necropotence, of course. That damn card never seems to go away.














    [Edited by Mars on 12-18-00 at 11:21 PM]
  6. rakso New Member

    To open a new angle on this discussion, Greg, maybe someone should tell WotC to study their market before pouring resources into a product aimed there.

    I think that gamers put an emotional investment in things they grew up with like Magic and D&D, and that a company making games should have that consciousness, much like you seem to imply Adkison did.

    We've seen how many years Magic and its organized play has lasted. We never saw this with Pokemon, for example, and I think a gaming company should be conscious of this long-term thing. All that is part of the product and its sales, not just the foil-wrapped cards.

    Harry Potter seems aimed at the same market as Pokemon, so someone should tell them to analyze the predecessor carefully.

    Oscar

    PS -- Why not post your comments on Beyond Dominia, too, or clean them up and post on a website? They seem very intelligent to me, and if articulated and compiled more clearly, will be of value to a lot of readers.
  7. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    It's a Scooby-Doo reference.

    Sorry you got all upset and decided to get personal.

    I'll leave you alone.

    Hope your wife feels better.

    Bye.
  8. Mars New Member

    I'd like to post at Beyond Dominia, Oscar, but feel events are happening too fast and furious at this time to post something that might be outdated already as far as we know.

    For example, I learned today from sources inside WotC that the cutbacks will improve the company and that (in management's opinion) VERY generous severence packages are being offered thanks to Hasbro. OK, Whatever. I wish everyone the best of luck.

    I guess what I fear most is Hasbro's future influence on WotC. That which we do not understand, we fear, and eventually come to hate. I try to hate no one or anything, even haters, whom I primarily feel sorrow and pity for.

    WotC has shown a clear record of bouncing back from errors (Fallen Empires, Tolarian Academy, etc.) and is STILL a very young company. HASBRO however is an unknown factor to me - I only hope they become better known in the future. And I wish them well too.

    Finally, I would like to put this thread to rest with a public apology to Chaos Turtle for "getting personal." I hope you're impressed that I took the time to read your profile, as I am impressed that you took the time to critique my emotional outburst on this subject. Actually, though, you only received my Level One flame. My Level Two flame is MUCH worse, trust me. It wasn't the Mr. Smartypants thing that got my goat, it was the "Be realistic" thing. I promise to be nicer and less sarcastic in the future.
  9. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    Glad to know we're on the same side. ;)

    Actually, I was a little freaked-out to see my profile informaiton in your post. I had forgotten mentioning he guitar thing...

    Anyhow, I understand completely your concern over Hasbro's control of WotC. I, too, felt a little jittery when I saw the first reports of cutbacks. I just prefer to be positive, and I have faith that Hasbro/WotC won't kill their cash cow.

    Besides, TopDeck Magazine is being discontinued, so some good has already come of this.

    (I couldn't resist.)
  10. Multani Treetrunk Guy

    Now THIS is an intelligent, YET civilized discusion over a fairly controversial topic. This should serve as a model to all would-be debates about a discussion SHOULD run it's course.
  11. Griffith_se Queen of the Sub-Optimal

    This is the kind of thing that should be on the front page. No?
  12. Riva Iron-Grip da Kandy Man

    i think that they are going to lay off MORE workers because OF D&D. the movie sux, so noone is going to play, thinking that it also sux. i think this is bullsh**. the movie ruined everything. if WoTC makes a MTG movie, then mtg sales are going to go to hell. infact, i was really pissed that they made a d&d movie for the public. oh no...they couldn't make it a cult movie. uh-uh. they had to make it as big, corny, and ******* gay as possible. it sucked donkey di**. but...i am still a hardcore d&d fan. no matter what happens. it was the same thing that happened to Star Wars. they made it as big as possible, it sucked, and now people still think that sw sux. oh well.

    [Nice try Riva, but there was still one in there - TomB]
  13. Riva Iron-Grip da Kandy Man

    we should take over WoTC(member that post awhile back?). i am very serious about this. they should get some real magic players in there(people who know the game) and they should give us 1 business year. sure we'll screw up. BUT, it would be original, probably better, and we can fire all of those crappy sponsored magic players that make us look bad. hell, we might even be able to create a more casual-international magic. any thoughts?
  14. Mars New Member

    And that is to make Ring of Ma'Ruf a permanent part of the basic set....I mean, WHY play with 60 cards when you can have access to 75 ???

    Come to think of it, I would have other conditions:

    KILL mana screw and mana drench by having TWO libraries, a spell library and a land library.....there's too damn much luck in this game, and

    Every two years, reset all Ratings to 1600, and let's see if all these "Pros" can Q now that their rating isn't based on beating up on newbies in 1994.

    Fair enough?

    Oh yeah, one more thing. BAN NECROPOTENCE from ALL formats for ALL time. Just my two cents.
  15. Chaos Turtle Demiurgic CPA Member, Admin Assistant

    Well, Mars, the only thing here I'm even close to agreeing with you on is the ratings thing...

    I think that tournaments older than two years should be dropped off the ratings (no resets, though, that's... well, just no). It would make room on the Pro Tour for players who actually play as well as grant a little forgiveness to those of us (like myself) whos first several tournament performances were, ah, less than stellar. :p

    The two libraries idea is interesting, but just too big a change. Better to make more cards to smooth out mana draws (like green's acceleration, and blues early-game search like Brainstorm) which are useful in a variety of decks.

    Maybe Necro's time has come at last... better yet, just drop Ice Age block from extended, along with those damned dual lands.
  16. Mars New Member

    The Ring of Ma'Ruf thing was a joke. It's expensive, and wasn't all that good even when is was legal.

    Yeah, resetting ratings is rough. But I could see it if a player hasn't played for say, four years. I know plenty of people who have decent ratings, but they QUIT Magic 3 years ago!

    Two libraries would indeed be a very major change, but I think we could handle it. It would involve way too many card changes and errata at present. Perhaps for 9th edition. And the sets would have to have strong anti-weenie stuff in all colors (even Green! Yay!), since you could just show up with a 3-card land library and 57 spells and crush with weenie horde.

    Unless I'm mistaken, the Ice Age block will rotate out in Extended next year. Not soon enough for me. At least Necro is restricted in Type One. And I see no reason why Extended and Standard can't have restricted lists.

    And what's wrong with the dual lands? They rock! Unless you don't have any, I suppose. So play Sligh.

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