A large portion of the MTG community has been waiting in anticipation for the recently announced Fireside Meeting that occurred just this morning. Among other reports that the MTG community may find interesting, a collection of statistics were presented to listeners in order to help explain business strategies for the MTG brand in the near future. Some of these, particularly one addressing a player profile strategy, may be particularly interesting for the community and its player base.
A Change in Player Recognition
“When we think about Hasbro, we frequently think about kids, but magic is not typically played by kids. What can you tell us and people on the call about the magic player today and how that has been evolving?”
When posed the above question from Arpiné Kocharyan, Wizards of the Coast president Cynthia Williams replied with a series of interesting statistics. The most interesting of which is that “we’ve seen growth in casual players who we estimate represent about 80% of the player base with the competitive player representing the remaining.”
This, according to Hasbro President Chris Cocks’ statements about his time with Wizards of the Coast is a rather new development, as “in 2016 when magic, you know, was probably around 350ish million, maybe 400 million at that time, we really had a monolithic view of the player.”
This casual player profile is a new one adapted by Wizards of the coast over the past six years. Chris Cocks talks about an initial fear to expand past products aimed only at pleasing the competitive player:
“We thought there was one player, it was a competitive player. And, we knew that there were other player segments that existed like casual players and collectors. But we honestly were a little afraid that if we built products that deviated it all from our traditional approach of appealing to the competitive player, we would hurt the business.”
Once Wizards of the Coast decided to begin exploring other player segments, mainly as a result of a “plateauing” in growth in 2014, the response ended up being the exact opposite as what was expected:
“What we found was actually the opposite. If we were able to segment our player profiles and just really simple ways”
Wizards of the Coast began to focus on satisfying “[The] competitive player, the social player, and the collector.” Though this, they began to “build products that were bespoke to each of them. We could make that each of those segments happier, we could engage them more, we could get more of their time and, you know, more of their share of wallet and grow the business as a whole.” This new approach in business is what has lead to the massive increase in product over the past few years, as was mentioned in a less-than-friendly analysis from the Bank of America earlier this year.
Targeting the Hybrid Player
Among player profile statistics at Wizards of the Coast, Williams mentioned the ‘Hybrid’ player as a player profile that MTG may be looking to cater to more in the near future. For reference, these Hybrid players are people who “play on both digital and tabletop.” This subset of players seem to have the most latent potential for MTG’s future expansion, as “this group tends to have the highest satisfaction rates with the game and the highest level of spending. In fact, they spend 40% more than the average revenue of magic players.”
MTG Arena’s new unique role of introducing MTG players to tabletop play is introduced through this conversation as an initiative to fuel further expansion coming into 2023:
“So in 2023, arena will refactor our new player experience to improve onboarding for new players and help them quickly find the play experiences that appeal to them. This will reinforce our acquisition efforts and maximize the impact of our launch on Steam, which is the biggest gaming platform in the world outside of mobile” – Cynthia Williams
From these statements, it seems safe to say that Wizards of the Coast values this hybrid playerbase immensely and, by encouraging the growth of these players, also hopes to grow the average revenue that the average MTG player spends. One particular offering catering to this category of players is the “first digital Universe’s Beyond Set featuring Lord of the Rings” set to release next year.
An Expansion of Offerings
It seems clear from this statement that the variety of things coming to MTG Arena over the next year are expanding immensely. With a plan to finally make MTG Arena available on Steam, the apparent push to acquire players through MTG Arena, and convert them to the hybrid player profile through it, may facilitate some strong growth for the platform. Arena Opens, Qualifier Weekends and the Arena Championships were also labeled as titles of interest for the competitive online players out there. Hopefully, even though about 80% of the MTG player base has been identified as casual players, Wizards of the Coast will stick to their word of offering experiences that cater to all of their player profiles.