Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Tiered Model is Thriving

 I applaud Wizards for getting players to be in tiers like they do in sports cards. More power to them. The fetchlands have been used to create an artificial environment in which the entry to Modern is through $6 to $10 packs, depending on which set (I am going back all the way to the original Modern Masters) we are talking about. There is nothing wrong with these sets. On the contrary, they are great. The whales can feed on them, and that's great for whales, and even great for everyone because those Wotc profits will trickle down as high production quality for the peasant tier: Standard sets. This is Reaganomics, but for Magic.

There are people who are not whales who buy into these products. Here Wotc has slowly gotten people to adapt to paying a lot more for the same product they were getting 10 years ago. Some came in after the prices went up and don't even know that there was a time when five of the fetchlands were in Standard. The player base has almost no memory, and Wotc is very smart in using this lack of memory to gate keep Modern.

Someone at Wotc did the equation and figured out that there are enough whales for these products and that peasants would go about their business buying Standard packs. I know in my case, beginning with Modern Masters, I began to seek affordable alternatives in other games (Pokemon before the bubble, Yugioh, and Force of Will). For as long as there are very few people like me, Wotc will be fine with the tiered model.

It sucks for me because I was quite the Modern fan boy when it got started. If all of the Modern Masters products had been $4 packs, I would have built a sizable Modern collection. I was planning just that, and then Modern Masters came out. I changed my mind. And this is the crux of the matter: the long term effect of decisions people like me made almost 10 years ago. Do I represent a tiny tiny minority of the player base? Based on the pallets of super expensive products Wotc has issued since Modern Masters, I must be in the smallest of minorities.

I agree with Rudy and MTG Lion that it won't take much for Magic to experience an all-out speculative bubble like the one we have in Pokemon. A couple of high profile YouTubers opening boxes of Legends will do it. I think the conditions are there. It's just a matter of time. Not only that, I think Wizards has a $1000 box ready to be issued once the conditions are right. It is not an IF, it's a WHEN. 

Modern Horizons II will be a home run. There are many whales waiting to feast on this product. We are just waiting for the Pokemon scalpers to add Magic to their portfolio, and when they do, everyone who bought into all of the premium products Wizards has issued recently will make a fortune.

We will likely experience a rotation similar to the one in Pokemon: people who play the game will be priced out and take a break from it as they are replaced by people who only want to invest in the product and don't know and don't care to play the game. I think this is the next phase for Magic. I have my popcorn ready.

Such a missed opportunity for Wizards that I believe will come back to haunt the game. 1,000 whales is better than 100,000 budget players, that's the current equation, and this is a big miss because the value of Magic collections needs the 100,000 budget players who act as ambassadors to the game. The 1,000 anonymous whales are not ambassadors to the game, and the second they see the value of their large holdings go down, they will walk out on the game, whereas the 100,000 budget players will stick with the game through thick and thin.