Dockside Extortionist | Double Masters 2022
19, Mar, 22

Is $50 Too Expensive? - A Near Perfect Solution to MTG Arena's #1 Issue

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Yesterday, Wizards of the Coast hosted their MTG Arena Economy stream. The community has been waiting for a long time for this stream, since the Economy is one of the most talked about topics in the game. It’s also one of the biggest problems with the game. This stream is the first of many to come about the economy, so keep in mind that a lot of what’s talked about can be subject to change.

The exact problems with the economy is a bit complex, and while WotC‘s ideas for solutions to this problem may have had good intentions, the delivery and execution is flawed. Today we’ll talk plainly on the issues with the economy, and show how close Wizards was to getting this right.

The Economy Problem

Wild cards
Wizards of the Coast

As I said, the problem with the economy is complicated. While these are all of the problems, these are big ones. On one side of things, the acquisition of wild cards is heavily tied to spending money on packs. You could try to chain limited events, but if your aim is to play constructed, or you don’t play limited much, this is probably not viable. There are other ways to get them as well, but it takes an incredible amount of grind.

On the other side, once you’ve committed wild cards to craft cards, there is very little perceived value of those cards. It makes committing wild cards feel very bad, especially if you craft cards based on an uninformed decision. We’ll touch on this issue in this discussion, but there’s great things that we’ll talk about in future articles about this. Wizards provided what they believe to be solutions to these issues, and they were very close to getting it 100% right.

READ MORE: How Much Fun is Too Fun?

Is $50 Too Expensive?

The proposed solution that Wizards presented for the wild card acquisition problem is to introduce a new wild card bundle. This bundle contains 12 rare and 4 mythic wild cards. The cost for this is $50. Now, I’ve endorsed the idea of direct purchase wild cards, as it’s a model that’s regarded as highly consumer friendly. But this is definitely not the way to go.

There has been a lot of discussion around this bundle. The reason that Wizards gave for the price point is that if you spent $50 on packs, the amount of wild cards that you’d end up with is a few wildcards less than if you bought this pack. The takes into account the wild card wheel, wild cards from the packs themselves, and vault progress. Frank Karsten ran the numbers and here’s what it seems to boil down to.

Frank Karsten

While this is factual, correlating this price point to pack openings is flawed. This is because you don’t account for the cards that get from the packs themselves. In this system, you’re forfeiting 45 rares / mythics for roughly 3 additional rare and 1 additional mythic wild card. That’s an abysmal rate.

What having a bundle of wild cards at this high of a price point also does is alienate players who may not be able to afford $50 every time that they need wild cards. Sometimes players may only need a handful of them, and can’t justify the $50 price tag. That player now is resorting to buying packs, and may still not end up with the right amount of wild cards needed.

READ MORE: Play This Broken Commander and Bury Your Opponents in an Avalanche of Attacks

It’s Cheaper But Still Not Great

That being said, even at this $50 price point, if you compare the cost of rares and mythics in paper versus the number of these bundles you’d need to purchase to make the deck, most of the time, Arena comes out either at parity, or cheaper than paper.

Chatterstormpod

This thread from ChatterstormPod on Twitter looks at top meta decks and does that very comparison. Very interesting data and worth a look at.

The Right Way

As I said earlier, the idea of direct purchase wild cards is a great one, and one that could solve a lot of the issues with Arena’s Economy. But the way to implement it could be done in a few different ways. If WotC is set on bundles being the way, then set the price lower, and the contents of the bundle smaller. If the bundle were to be between $5-$10 with maybe 4 rares and 1 mythic, this is a more reasonable amount of money for the average person to spend.

The other way, and the one that I prefer is individually purchasable wild cards. Legends of Runeterra has this model for all rarities, and the most expensive rarity is $3 per card. With this model in Arena, Wizards would still make money hand over fist, because people could more consistently purchase them. This would give players a feeling that’s closer to paper of “Buying Singles”.

With the ability to purchase individual wild cards, it also feels a bit less bad to commit to crafting cards because it’s not very expensive to get more wild cards to craft more cards. This helps with the 2nd issue that we mentioned above. This also helps players get into more formats other than Standard. Alchemy is growing, as is Historic, and we know that there will be a “bridge to Pioneer” format coming in the next month or two.

READ MORE: MTG Announces New, Unique Cards for MTG Arena

According to the DailyMTG Article posted yesterday as well, this bundle will be available for a limited time as a test. It’s good to know that the devs are open to making change here if necessary, but they were so close to getting it right off the rip.

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