Magic: The Gathering’s head designer has defended the current release schedule, amid ongoing concerns that the game is releasing too many products too frequently for the community to keep up with.
However, this pace of releases may not be a permanent fixture. It was also confirmed that, should the current schedule prove too much for the game, changes could be made to ensure players remain happy.
On his Blogatog blog, MTG’s head designer Mark Rosewater has spent the last few days discussing Magic’s intense release schedule. In particular, he has been challenging claims of ‘release fatigue’, where players are overwhelmed with how many new products are launching, and how many of them include new art treatments, made-for-Commander cards, Secret Lairs, and Universes Beyond crossovers.
His first argument was that Magic should be seen less as a product you keep up with every release for, and more as a “buffet”, saying “putting out less food means that we’re depriving some diners of food that makes them most excited to come to the buffet… we’re always trying to attract new diners. Certain food might make some diners sample the buffet that haven’t tried it before”.
However, this is an analogy Rosewater has made before, and has been seen by some of the community as simply stating ‘this product isn’t for you, ignore it’. Responding to claims that this is “aloof and glib” in another question, Rosewater reassured fans that this being the strategy for the moment doesn’t mean it always will be, saying “we’re a business. We have no motivations to do things that don’t work”.
“If our current approach is fundamentally flawed, that will come out, and I promise you we’ll do something different. The metric of success though won’t be volume of internet chatter. It will be all the metrics we look at (play numbers, sales numbers, digital numbers, social media metrics, market research, etc.)" Rosewater said, "so far, for the last three years, the metrics have not just been good, but the best we’ve ever seen. [In 2022], Magic made over a billion dollars (something we’ve never done before)”.
An interesting point to make is that we’ve already seen some changes to the schedule to account for release fatigue, such as the last-minute change of Dominaria Remastered’s preview season to a single day and the week-long delay of Phyrexia: All Will Be One. At the time, director of communications Blake Rasmussen said these were to “give a bit more breathing room between releases”, suggesting the metrics are already showing some discontent with the current pace.
Notably, these changes came shortly after the damning Bank of America report that pointed the finger at Magic’s release schedule as a reason behind Hasbro’s falling stock value late last year.
Unfortunately, products are planned and designed years in advance, meaning Magic is often slow to adapt to the metrics it bases its decisions on. That means that, while 2023 is looking likely to carry on the deluge of releases 2022 was known for, there is a chance that “something different” Rosewater alluded to could start to come into effect as soon as 2024, provided those metrics call for it.
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