Friday, October 24, 2014

Why Should I Play Magic Online?

I had an interesting realization today concerning Magic Online and my sometimes ambivalent attitude towards playing it. For the first time in a while, I logged into the client, constructed a deck, and sought to find a match in the Just for Fun room. It's gotten to the point where I almost never get on except for Mondays for MPDC, but I had both the time and interest, so I thought I would try it out.

I only played a single match, got bored, and logged out.

So I asked myself the question: Why? Why wasn't I more motivated to play?

Here's what I realized: Magic Online provides no external incentive for me to do so. I'm not trying to compete in sanctioned events (in paper or online), so there's no incentive to practice for those type of events. I'm not trying to compete in the Magic Online Championship Series, so I don't need to try to earn Qualifier Points. In fact, the game itself provides me absolutely no reason why I should play.

Now this isn't to say that I don't want to play. I have plenty of internal reasons why I play on Magic Online. But the point is, all these motivations are all internal to me. And if I'm not motivated to play for my own reasons, there is no other factor in the equation.

Which brings me to my point. The fundamental problem with Wizards of the Coast in regards to Magic Online is this: They see no reason to provide motivation for you to play. Magic the Gathering is a hugely successful enterprise. People all over the world love to play it. And so they created this software that allows you to play it online. But to them, that's where their responsibility ends.

You love it. You can play it online. So we expect you to do so.

It doesn't matter if it's buggy. It doesn't matter if it's aesthetically pleasing. It doesn't matter if it's easy to use. You should love the game, and that should be motivation enough to play. Wizards of the Coast doesn't believe (or at least, doesn't demonstrate the belief through their actions) that they should have to do anything more than allow you the opportunity to play.

If you think about it, it's a pretty arrogant attitude. Unfortunately, it seems like they are right. They are making money hand-over-fist with Magic Online, with no end in sight. As long as Magic the Gathering is successful, Magic Online will follow suit. And people will continue to play and spend their hard earned entertainment dollars.

So why should you play Magic Online? The only logical answer is that you love Magic. If you don't love it already, I can't see any reason why you would play.

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