Throughout 2022, many of MTG’s myriad releases were fraught with controversy. For instance, the bold and bizarre mechanics of Unfinity drew the ire of many seasoned players. Alongside this, the expansion of the Universes Beyond line to include Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks frustrated those who didn’t approve of the game’s direction. After these sets launched, however, it seemed that players had been getting themselves worked up over nothing. Despite all the hubbub, Unfinity cards were nowhere to be found in Commander, and the Warhammer 40,000 decks were surprisingly beloved. While these potential problems may have been damp squibs, 2022 was plagued by another plight; the overwhelming release calendar of MTG. Moving into 2023, however, it appears that players are finally coming around to this once-contentious issue.
Obtusely Overwhelming Schedule
Previously, the overwhelming cadence of the MTG release calendar was a hugely problematic issue for players. Even devoted fans of Magic who have spent 30 years playing the game were now struggling to keep up. This is hardly a surprise when you remember that, throughout 2022, a new MTG product was released every four days on average. Collectors who could once attain everything were even worse off, thanks to Wizards releasing an inordinate number of art treatments. Due to these issues consistently frustrating players, fans routinely asked Wizards to fix their release calendar woes. Unfortunately for already overwhelmed players, however, Wizards of the Coast didn’t plan to slow down anytime soon.
Mercifully, this immensely frustrating issue faded in intensity over the holiday period. For a little over two weeks, players barely heard a peep from Wizards. This allowed players to finally sit back, relax, and play copious amounts of MTG without worrying about the next release. This quiet relaxing period, however, would not last all too long. Even with a manufactured delay keeping Phyrexia: All Will Be One at bay for a little while longer, players were soon inundated with new sets and announcements. For some players, following the latest monthly announcement day Livestream, this problem has already become too much once again.
Stressing their frustrations on Reddit u/LilGlowCloud literally begged Hasbro to “slow down” their release schedule. Highlighting the worrying string of new set announcements players have been subject to over the past eleven days, u/LilGlowCloud went on to question, “how is this sustainable at all? I’m not in the camp of only having four sets a year period, but come on. It’s really sad to see Hasbro milking this cash cow dry for short-term dividends rather than long-term investment.”
Accepting the Avalanche of Announcements
Considering MTG’s relentless release schedule has caused near-content complaints, the reaction to u/LilGlowCloud’s post was rather unorthodox. Rather than players rallying against Hasbro, the majority of players seemed unusually accepting of the recent tide of announcements. For many players, their lack of concern came down to the recent wave of announcements being just that, announcements. This significant detail was pointed out by players such as u/RazzyKitty, who highlighted how Wizards is “just announcing sets that come out later to build hype, they’re not coming out at the same time. That’s how hype works. They want to gauge excitement for products.”
Following this, u/RazzyKitty noted that despite five sets having been announced, their release dates aren’t all entirely unreasonable. In fact, here are the details about all the latest release announcements, just to prove that point.
- Alchemy: Phyrexia: February 28th
- Shadows over Innistrad Remastered: March 21st
- March of the Machine: April 21st
- Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth: June 23rd
- Commander Masters: August 4th
While this release schedule will see a major product released almost every month, it appears that players are nevertheless coming around to WotC’s reasoning behind their release schedule. This reasoning was recently highlighted by MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater, who explained why Wizards won’t be slowing down releases. Speaking on their blog, Blogatog, Rosewater stated Wizards wants to “produce what makes Magic special for each player in enough volume that they stay invested.” Creating a proverbial buffet, MTG is shifting to a model where players pick and choose what they follow, rather than chasing after everything. Previously, players have pushed back against his new frontier. However, it appears perceptions are once again changing.
“It’s time to realize that the game is bigger than what you can buy or follow. Just enjoy what you want and let others buy what you don’t. If the model isn’t successful it will slow down, if it is it will continue. The company may have to change some of its policies, but we as players must accept we can’t hoard every card, every product. Just focus on the things you like :)”
Even while players are slowly coming around to MTG’s new business model and release strategy, there are still problems that need addressing. Predominantly, thanks to the myriad announcements, keeping track of all MTG’s goings-on can be exceedingly difficult. All the more so, thanks to just how many different types of MTG products there are nowadays. Thankfully, Wizards is aware of this issue, as Mark Rosewater has highlighted that things need to change.
“What I think is going on is Magic is at another flux point (and it’s had many over the years). It’s adapting to player desires and changing in new ways. When that happens, both the audience and R&D have to adapt as well. Maybe we have to change how we communicate new products. Maybe there needs to be a lighter track for those that want a sense of what’s coming without the depth that we normally provide. I agree that old systems might not make sense in the new world, but I don’t think it’s a reason to reject the new world. It’s a reason to figure out how to adapt.”
Hopefully, due to Rosewater acknowledging this issue, Wizards will be able to provide better communication channels to keep players in the know for the future. Thankfully, better communication isn’t the only improvement to MTG’s release strategy that’s in the works. For example, following supply chain improvements, MTG releases should no longer be played by the scourge of delays. As Hasbro’s CEO, Chris Cocks, recently pointed out, this should allow Wizards to better structure their release schedule. Hopefully, this will prevent players from being unnecessarily overwhelmed while allowing the game to flourish.
“You know, we’re taking some of the feedback to heart. We had some supply chain issues last year, which forced us to compress our release schedules, particularly in October. […] We’re gonna be spacing those [releases] out on a more even basis.”
Chris Cocks | Hasbro CEO
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