Magic Online Changes Recap

Magic Online is a huge part of Wizards of the Coast's business. The growth and development of the digital space in Magic is undeniable, and DailyMTG.com spent the past week focusing entirely on Magic Online. If you missed the news, changes, and announcements throughout we have it here, starting with the top.

Worth Wollpert, Executive Producer for Magic Online, shared a host of confirmations:

“[N]ew players are coming to the system faster than ever before. People are sticking around longer in the system and playing much more while they're there. Engagement with the program is way, way up. We've set all sorts of records this year, and as you might imagine, the release of Return to Ravnica came with a whole host of new broken records, including the most concurrent users on the system”

He went on to laud the addition of Cube to the system, as well as moving the digital release of new sets up closer to paper, leading to action in the week leading up to Pro Tour Return to Ravnica. But it was the changes to Magic Online's data that created the biggest waves in the community.

“Data sure has been a hot topic lately. This is especially true in light of our recent decisions to not post all the decklists from every Daily and Premier event, as well as doing away with in-event replays... Like every change we make in Magic, brand-wide, we are constantly evaluating the effects of those decisions. I suspect we're not yet in the end state on how we deal with this issue, but initial big-picture impressions (mostly anecdotal to this point, to be fair) do lean positive.”

Extra data isn't coming back, but enhancements to the Beta client for Magic Online are coming until it's full deployment next year.

“Our plan is to ship a major service pack (SP) every six weeks or so that focuses on a specific few areas within the client (you should see another one in late January that focuses on Trade, Chat, and Card Display). ... At some point, likely in the middle of 2013, the current client will be phased out and shut off, and the new client will be your only option.”

Fortunately for all of us, the Beta client is getting better with each service pack.

While you can continue to provide feedback on the Beta client there was one other major change change announced:

“[A]s of two months ago, pre-planning for Leagues is officially underway. ... To temper the excitement and set expectations some, Leagues will not launch in production in 2013. What's left to do is big enough and reaches deep enough into the tournament code that we just can't do it all in 2013, but the plan I see has me hopeful for a mid-2014 deployment.”

As a bridge to newer players, and a social way to play over time, Leagues had a rich history early in Magic Online. With the final technical hurdles to bring them back being cleared the future looks promising.

“Without getting into too many details yet, we've also got some cool social media features planned for next year, some help for the long-suffering clans features, neat practice mode/solitaire improvements, and a lot of work on some behind-the-scenes modules that are pointed at stability and reducing errors when posting events/prizes/etc.All this is on top of Priority #1 for the first half of 2013.”

With the overall business covered, Chris Kiritz, the Business Manager for Magic Online, stepped in to break down many Magic Online events and rewards, starting with the 2012 and 2013 MOCS: the Magic Online Championship Series. With the MOCS no longer tied to a paper Magic event, it was decided to bring the 2012 championship to digital-friendly PAX East, March 22-24.

Perhaps more surprising was Chris's announcement for how the 2013 MOCS would play out:

“First, to accommodate growing demand and ensure End-of-Season events can complete in a reasonable time, each 2013 MOCS Season will replace the End-of-Season Championship with four Season Preliminaries ahead of one Season Finals. Players will use their 15 Qualifier Points (QPs) to join a Season Preliminary, and those who do well enough will be able to advance to the Season Finals the following week.
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Second, we are eliminating byes as they currently exist. Instead, players who earn 35 QPs can just join the Season Finals directly, bypassing the need to play in the Season Preliminaries. Players who earn enough QPs are free to join multiple Season Preliminaries tournaments to try and make it to the Season Finals.Finally, we are adjusting the prize structure for the Season Finals. Not only do the top finishers earn more prizes, the prizes go all the way to 256th place. In addition, players who do well in the Season Preliminaries will earn additional copies of that season's promotional card for their effort.”

What did Chris reveal to be the 2013 MOCS Season 1 promotional card?

Force of Will currently stifles Legacy plan online since it was released only as part of Master's Edition. With a digital dealer price tag around 100 tickets, the community was quick to look for ways to edge out more prizes:


With the MOCS updates complete Chris turned his attention to PTQs held on Magic Online

“Starting with this new season, we are increasing the prizes by adding more than four hundred booster packs and several full sets to the prize structure per event, matching what we offer for MOCS Season Finals. PTQs represent the highest level of Magic Online play, and we have updated the prizes to reflect that.
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In addition to increased prizes, starting with the Dragon's Maze PTQ season, players who win an onlinePTQ will also earn 1,000 Planeswalker Points.”

Now, winning a digital PTQ is tied to paper Magic benefits, including byes at a Grand Prix and more. Those of you who have played in a PTQ online know just how much effort it takes to win.

Chris wasn't done with PTQs. The MOPR – Magic Online Player Rewards – system has been untouched for some time. With rewards based on activity that was hard to track and wasn't intuitive for players to check, a new system has been laid out:

ActivityReward

Participate in at least one (1) Constructed, Sealed Deck, or Draft tournament with a minimum of eight (8) playersStandard non-foil Event Participation promotional card
Participate in at least five (5) Constructed, Sealed Deck, or Draft tournaments with a minimum of eight (8) playersPremium foil Event Participation promotional card
Spend at least $20.00 USD in the Magic Online StoreStandard non-foil Store Activity promotional card
Spend at least $40.00 USD in the Magic Online StorePremium foil Store Activity promotional card

Chris ended his breakdown with improvements for New Player Ticket events and switching all Phantom Sealed queues to use a full six booster packs.

Even pulling out just the biggest changes announced created something far larger than the usual news post. With the focus and benefits of Magic Online growing will you be playing more in 2013?