12, Jun, 23

Massive Protest Shuts Down One of MTG's Biggest Communities

Article at a Glance

Thanks to decisions by Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro, it’s hardly rare to see MTG players up in arms. Typically pushing back against a bold new mechanic or dubious business decision, there seems to be no end of MTG-related controversies. Recently, however, major MTG communities have been banding together in protest against an unfamiliar foe: Reddit. 

Today in solidarity with millions of other users, myriad MTG subreddits have shut down in protest. Organized by thousands of subreddits, this protest aims to revert planned changes to Reddit’s API. Should these changes be implanted, Reddit’s third-party apps would no longer be able to operate. 

To try and stop this from happening, subreddits such as r/magicTCG, r/MagicArena, and r/mtgfinance have all rallied to the cause. While it may be frustrating that these subreddits aren’t accessible right now, this protest is absolutely a good thing. As should it fail, some of MTG’s largest communal gathering points online may be lost.

What’s the Situation? 

Greed | Fourth Edition

Initially, this whole situation started from a Reddit post on the r/apolloapp subreddit back in May. Here, a developer of Apollo (one of the biggest third-party Reddit apps) announced that Reddit wanted $20 million per year from them to keep running. Causing this immense cost increase were changes to Reddit’s API pricing, which is used to display information on third-party apps.

In a call with Christian Selig, Reddit informed Apollo developers that 50 million requests would now cost $12,000. Initially, this may seem reasonable, however, last month Apollo made 7 billion requests. As a result, that single month would have cost them 1.7 million dollars. Extrapolate this out and Apollo would be paying roughly $20,000,000 a year. That’s enough to buy the most expensive MTG card 20 times over.

In comparison, Imgur, another social media website with a similar user base to Reddit, only charges $166 for 50 million API calls, according to Selig. On the other end of the spectrum, Twitter prices 50 million tweets at $42,000. Unsurprisingly, considering the hubbub going on now, Twitter was ridiculed for this decision. 

Due to the obscene cost that Reddit is implementing, many third-party apps such as Apollo can’t sustain themselves. This has led to Apollo announcing it will close down later this month on the 30th of June. Since Apollo is one of the most beloved third-party apps, many users were absolutely outraged, sparking calls for this protest.

Over time, the current protest built up steam, especially following a somewhat disastrous AMA with Reddit’s CEO. As the planned date drew nearer, over 7,000 subreddits joined the cause, including our beloved MTG subreddits. All these subreddits are now private for roughly two days. Many subreddits will return to normal on the 14th of June. 

What’s the Problem?

Ashiok, Sculptor of Fears
Ashiok, Sculptor of Fears | Theros Beyond Death

Outside of the annoyance of not being able to look at r/magicTCG today, you might be wondering why you should care. To put it simply, Reddit is one of the biggest, and arguably best, MTG communities out there. Should this protest fail, that may be forever changed, as accessing the MTG subreddits may become more difficult. 

Currently, when it’s not private, the myriad MTG subreddits are a bastion of discussion, suggestion, and support. Between sharing news, helping build decks, and showcasing spoilers, no other platform brings MTG players together like Reddit. Even Wizards of the Coast benefits from Reddit’s existence. Not only can they share information there, but it’s also valuable for canvassing player opinions. 

Should Reddit implement its planned API cost increase and third-party apps shut down, the MTG subreddits, like others, may suffer. Without the quality-of-life features that third-party apps provide, many users may ditch the platform entirely.

In the worst-case scenario, this could lead to r/magicTCG essentially dissolving as players no longer provide the information that keeps the subreddit alive. Thankfully, however, the reality of the situation shouldn’t be anywhere near as bleak. After all, it’s hardly like Reddit is the only hub of MTG-related information on the internet.

What’s the Solution?

Solve the Equation
Solve the Equation | Strixhaven: School of Mages

Unfortunately for MTG players looking for a call to action, there’s not much that can be done at the moment. With the widespread blackout protest already in effect, MTG players are already doing what they can to change Reddit’s mind. If this isn’t effective, it seems there may be no stopping Reddit from implementing what they want.

Thankfully, as we alluded to mere moments ago, even if Reddit does make the API prohibitively expensive, it’s unlikely every subreddit everywhere will die. Instead, on mobile, accessing Reddit might just become a little bit more inconvenient. In the grand scheme of things, this is hardly the end of the world so it’s unlikely it’ll ruin everything.

At the end of the day, we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens with Reddit. Until then, however, you shouldn’t be too concerned about the future. After all, even if Reddit dies, we’ll still be here, keeping up to date on news, spoilers, and everything you need to know. Alongside us, Reddit should be returning back to normal on the 14th of June.

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