Wizards Of The Coast Has Created The Best Online Money Making Machine
With the gaming industry mired with loot boxes, greedy corporations, and time-crunched workers, one company and their game rise above all.
One of the big parts of my life is video games. I grew up with them ever since I was 3, watching my brother play on his Nintendo Entertainment System. It wasn’t until I was 5 that I had the opportunity to pick up a controller and play video games for the first time.
Of course, I was more innocent back then and from looking back at those days, the only thing we had to worry about was shitty games.
And there are a lot of them. There’s an entire Youtube channel dedicated to sharing talking about these games: The Angry Video Game Nerd.
Those were innocent times for many gamers and corporations alike. Gaming was new and people were exploring potentials. But as time went on and more players entered the scene, things have started to get worse.
Gaming studios have been riddled with controversy, the most notable being EA. EA is synonymous with questionable tactics such as the use of loot boxes in their games to one of their recent games being what is effectively gambling by this point.
EA is an extreme case, but many of the issues with EA crop up in other areas. There are increasingly more predatory monetization schemes to the point we’ve got a video game disorder that stems from it.
Even Nintendo, the gaming company I grew up with, has some monetization issues. From their games never dropping in price until they’ve been out for at least 3 or so years to their attempt at a getting into mobile with this predatory scheme.
It seems like all gaming companies are wrapped up with one of these common issues. And while I’d have to sadly yes, I’d only say yes to half of that. Not every single one of them is.
One good example of good gaming ethics happens to stem from a company who didn’t step into video gaming until later.
Wizards of The Coast. And more notably their game Magic: The Gathering Arena. Here is why.
They Work On Their Issues
For the record, this isn’t a piece on me gushing about how Wizards of The Coast is without issues. There are definitely some issues. It’s got a whole host of controversies around its D&D product line for example.
But in terms of Magic: The Gathering — the card game that started in the early 1990s — the only kind of controversies they run into revolve heavily around the tournaments they hold every year as well as the cards themselves.
Wizards of the Coast is still printing some controversial or broken cards for their formats but it’s a far cry from the predatory behaviour of other companies. Not only that but when they do screw up, they make adjustments. Sometimes it takes a long time but other times it’s swift.
In cases where it takes a long time for Magic to do something, players can understand to some extent, especially around banned cards.
The R&D department develops cards two years in advance and doesn’t account for the modern-day meta of the game. As such, they’re not aware of what is going to be a card that’ll break the format or not until it gets printed and released to the public for playing. And even then, they’re going to spend a month or two to see how the meta takes shape and see what cards are hindering people’s ability to play the game.
The reason I bring all this up ties back to their online client. While there are some limitations, and many players argue that the push of this platform will ruin tournaments forever, I’d argue that we can handle this shift and it’s not as bad as we make it seem.
Absolutely, playing the paper format can be superior in several ways in cases of triggers and being able to respond to things in real-time. Unfortunately, Magic Arena lacks those aspects and it can be very cumbersome.
But if you’re more of a casual player who loves the format — like me — there aren’t any seriously big issues. And if they are, Wizards and Magic themselves are quick in most situations to address these issues.
They Have A Fantastic Reward System
There are two main ways to play card games online. Either you take advantage of the free to play system or you can spend some money and climb up the ladder faster thanks to the power of premium currency.
In order to compare Magic Arena’s system, I’d like to introduce you to an online card game I played extensively — Eternal.
Eternal is generous in it’s free to play system. You get rewards for playing the game and a pack for your first victory in one of their formats where you’re facing other players. They also have two other formats where you compete against an AI system.
While all the free options are nice to help you grind for gold (their in-game currency), their paid content is lacklustre at best.
Their biggest issue is that they reward chests for prizes. They have different tiers for each one and while some parts of the chests are guaranteed, the same can’t be said about the gold.
Each chest offers gold and depending on the tier it’s at, extra things. Gold chests offer a pack from a random set. Diamond — their highest — offers a pack plus a premium random card (basically a card with a fancier border).
This is on top of the gold reward.
However, it’s worth noting that the gold from each chest is a ranged amount.
That is where the problem comes in. If you decide to make your gold through their paid methods, it’s going to be an uphill battle.
Take their draft for example. The reward at seven wins is three diamond chests. The range for these particular chests — from my experiences — is a range of 1,800 and 2,400 gold plus the pack and premium card.
In order to participate in the draft, you need to spend 5,000 gold.
Doing the math, if you get the highest reward and get the lowest possible payout, you’ll walk away with about 5,400 gold, three packs, and three premium cards.
Looking at the raw gold, you’ve got an over 400 gold profit.
It doesn’t sound all that bad. Some might say it’s even generous.
However, it’s important to look at the effort it takes to get there. This is the maximum payout, which means that you need to win seven matches and lose no more than two.
Even if you are great at the game, it’s not something even a die-hard fan can do consistently. There will be times where you’ll get 6 victories or even 5 and you feel like the gold is wasted.
Especially when you realize the payout from gold chests range in the 800s in terms of gold.
Instead, you have to find solace for the most part in that you’ve earned equivalent value from playing. Each draft you get to open four packs. Each pack is valued at 1,000 gold each. And if you get gold chests you theoretically make 1,000–3,000 gold on top of the raw gold you make.
But in terms of raw gold though, it’s hard to consistently play that format and turn a profit every time. There is always the anxiety and pressure to win seven and lose no more than two matches.
It’s at this point where Magic Arena comes in. While their daily reward systems across Eternal and Arena are relatively the same, you start to see a huge difference in Magic Arena’s paid content. That being draft and premium draft.
Immediately, you’ll see a big difference in that Magic Arena as they award their premium currency (gems) plus packs based on the number of wins. Standard draft only nets you one pack each time (victory 7 netting you 2 packs), but the gem reward increases each time.
Going back to Eternal, the only way to get their premium currency is through spending real money on it.
Arena has that too, but you can theoretically obtain gems by playing the game for free and never spending any money on it at all.
On top of that, their reward system in drafting is especially generous. If you decide to spend gems on these drafts, you’re able to recoup your costs much sooner with the potential to earn more beyond that.
I commonly play their premium draft whenever I draft and it costs 1,500 gems to play. It’s a little hefty, however by winning four games, you’re awarded 1,400 gems. And winning five games nets you 1,600 gems. You can win up to 7 games total similar to Eternal.
So you can recover your costs faster due to the fact that Arena pays you a specific amount every time. You know exactly how much you’re getting based on your wins.
For a player, this provides great relief as it’s easier to keep yourself motivated and playing Magic’s draft over Eternals.
Both games still require plenty of skill to get there, but the bar is purposely lower on Arena than in Eternals. You’re not clinging to equivalent returns with Magic. They’re still valuable, but you still spent time and effort and it can feel more wasted in Eternal compared to Magic.
This is further emphasized by the fact that Eternal never rewards players with their premium currency at all. So if you want to mitigate the cost by using gems in Eternal, you’re never going to get them back. In Magic, there’s at least a chance.
All of this turns back to businesses providing value to their customers. When it comes to card games, there’s always going to be that risk associated with it. But the value from these models comes down to the chances these platforms provide.
For Eternal, if you ever spend money on their gems, you know they’re never coming back. On top of that, if you spend gold for their paid stuff you’ll need to win all seven matches to make a marginal profit. You have an easy time grinding as well on Eternal, but that still takes time and in most cases, the rewards stem from victories.
Magic, on the other hand, provides you with a larger window. It’s still challenging and there is that risk, but you only need to win five out of the seven potential victories to make your investment back. Even winning four will ensure you only lose out on 100 gems which doesn’t feel as bad.
That’s value, even if it’s a chance, it’s better than nothing in a game that is nothing but math and probability.
They Allow You To Climb Quickly
Premium currency is huge, but there are other mechanics that provide you with great value.
One of the systems that card games implemented is the ability to “craft” cards. Eternal uses shards that are awarded upon opening packs and exchanging duplicate cards after they exceed the four of a kind. Their draft option also awards these shards.
Magic Arena’s crafting system is through the use of wild cards. Wild cards are awarded in packs if you get duplicate cards that exceed a playset of four, but they can also appear randomly in the packs too.
Not only that but you receive additional wild cards based on the number of packs you’ve opened in general.
These are great systems to have because it removes a lot of the grind. Going back to EA, gamers have to spend hours opening up packs to get their favourite players in EA sports games with no option of converting duplicates into points to get their ideal players.
With Eternal and Magic Arena, you have generous systems to help you get there.
However Magic’s is superior as Eternal provides a fixed amount and their crafting system can be pricy.
In Eternal, to craft a legendary you need to spend 3,200 shards. This is a lot as the packs you get only award 100 shards each. And all of this is to craft one of that card.
What if you want a playset of them? Well, you’ll need to shell out 12,800 shards.
While you can grind down duplicates, the amount of shards rewarded isn’t much. They’re typically half as much as it costs to craft them.
While rares are a bit easier, the average player will still need to be opening up a decent amount of packs. In cases for rares, you need 800 to craft non-premium ones. That means opening up at least 8 packs in order to craft one of those cards.
In Magic, the opportunity to craft these cards is more readily available. If you open up at least 5 packs, you get a rare wild card. This is on top of potentially getting these rare wildcards from the packs themselves.
If you want a mythic wildcard — their highest rarity — you may get lucky to open that in a pack (each pack offers rares with a chance of that rare being a mythic instead). You can also get one naturally after opening the 20th pack.
And in terms of the grinding for that mythic wildcard, you get rewarded in three other rare wildcards plus several uncommon and common wildcards as well.
That doesn’t happen in Eternal.
These particular mechanics further the value system of businesses. Whether you spend money or not, it’s important for players and other consumers to get to their goals as quickly and as realistically as possible.
Magic Arena allows players the opportunity to play free and get good rewards and reach their goals at a moderate pace. Paid players can get there exceedingly faster and build up their collection quickly, getting to the cards that they are excited to play faster as well.
That’s not to say businesses need to be at the total whims of customers, but the sooner you can deliver great value at a reasonable pace and they can recognize that the more they’re willing to invest in your business.
Business Can Learn From Online Card Games
Out of the various companies that have emerged from the gaming industry, I find that Wizards of The Coast and its Magic Arena platform to be one of the more solid ones.
That’s not without its own issues of course as many fans will say the number of banning cards could be an issue. Or the fact they’re pushing into esports and Magic Arena does have some technical flaws as a solid platform can present problems too.
In these kinds of circumstances, I see these as quality of life issues as opposed to something that’s fundamentally flawed with the entire game. Similar to how loot boxes in EA titles are the only practical option to get the players you want for your team and even then it’s a small chance to get them with no option to salvage it.
I think a business shows more growth and more potential when they encounter these kinds of issues. Of course, there isn’t going to be a perfect business that is able to meet the expectations of every single person.
However, as Magic: The Gathering has developed over the years in printing cards and juggling an ever-changing meta, the more they’ve become good at these kinds of objectives. All the while taking creative liberties and introducing new mechanics that can appeal to older and newer players alike.
They’ve fostered a massive community and they’ve become better at addressing the needs of their fans. There are times where it does take a little bit of time in some cases, but they’ve been making small steps and checking with fans on the regular to see what’s working and what isn’t.
All of these characteristics are things that every business can implement to their own business. Even if you’re not creating a card game, you can still seek concentrated feedback from clients or customers.
You can provide amazing incentives to customers to keep buying. You can even sprinkle in opportunities where people could potentially make their money back. For example, you can hold raffles or do giveaways where you offer your product or service for free or something.
Of course, a lot of these strategies have been done plenty of times, but Magic Arena pushes that boundary further. They offer it to more people without it hurting their bottom line.
And I understand that Wizards of the Coast is a multi-billion dollar company and can afford doing this consistently, money should bar small or medium size businesses from doing this on occasion to foster a stronger community and grow their business.