oh hello last week I published a video log or vlog where I expressed my concerns about the cost of specifically the modern format of Magic the Gathering I’m referring to this video here if you are not yet familiar with it after I published the video I was contacted by a prominent member of the MTG finance community mr. James Chilcott who among many other things happens to be the Finance Content Manager for MTG price comm james discussed his views with me and they differed greatly from my own so much so that even after our very friendly and engaging discussion it was fair to say that he disagreed more or less fully with my points and I respectfully disagree more or less fully with his own it is in our benefit to hear consider and even if we ultimately reject other arguments and perspectives upon issues which is why I invited mr. Chilcott to present his argument to all of you so that you could consider my words from last week so that you could hear and consider his and regardless of whether he disagrees with me I disagree with him the ultimate thing that matters is where you stand after hearing these arguments if you have new perspectives of your own to offer them in the comments our open forum and symposium for discussing ideas I’ll not leave any more time open for my own discussion you’ve heard my thoughts on it if you want to refresh yourself the videos here but mad presents to you mr. James Chilcott with a rebuttal for my comments last week hey folks my name is James Chilcott AKA @ MTG Critic on Twitter and I had spent the last 20 years playing Magic the Gathering competitively more recently writing about MTG finance for Mt nice calm the leading MTG finance community I’m also an experienced marketing consultant and executive with a degree in finance and economics and the CEO of shelf-life net the future of collecting now last week the professor made a video entitled modern madness with a fairly simple premise basically that modern is too expensive of the format and that more should be done to keep the cost decks down professor went on to compare the average value of a modern desk at about a thousand dollars or so to the cost of a pile of board games in the thirty two hundred dollar range implying that the board games represented a much better overall value the professor then suggested that booster prices for modern master sets should be four dollars instead of ten dollars so the print runs should be printed to demand as with regular sets and that reprints should appear in block sets in supplemental products more regularly he capped his arguments with the statement that modern is very important format and that it is vital to player retention as the only eternal format whose growth is not held back by the reserve list so here’s the thing I love magic I love modern as a format but I’d like to explain why the current cost of modern is both reasonable and beneficial to the health of the game as a whole so I should also point out that no one is forcing us to spend a specific amount of money on magic in fact one of those beautiful things about this game is the vast array of available formats to explore sure we’ve got vintage legacy and modern at the high end but we also have near infinite options for cheaper more casual play within both the limited and constructed paradigms in reality magic provides one of the most flexible cost structures of any hobby I’ve ever encountered and I can spend $50 or $5,000 per year and the cost is largely up to me with my fun factor being roughly equivalent pretty much no matter which path I choose I would have further argue that while modern is an important format it is only important to a relatively small percentage of the total Magic the Gathering players if you are an active modern player you can easily achieve tunnel vision and assume that most magic players are also either current or aspiring modern players and that the game must accommodate them to succeed but simply this is not the case in recent investor reports Hasbro stated that there are 20 million magic players worldwide now if we compare that to an annual Grand Prix attendance and assume an average of 50 players per week at your local LGS you don’t even top five hundred thousand unique players in a competitive scene across the entire planet even if we could dribble that number accounting for some loose math this still suggests that 90 to 95% of magic players are casual and that the cost of modern is highly unlikely to strongly impact the future of magic now let’s talk a little bit about the broader economic realities of magical gathering magic is and always has been a collectible card game and by deciding to play the game we are buying into everything that that implies different card rarities has made the advent of expensive cards and expensive formats a foregone conclusion sure many board games managed to make money without the collectible aspect but very few of those games can also boast the 300 million plus and annual revenues or the player growth of magic gathering we should also acknowledge that no gaming company is looking to dip into our pocketbook just the one time modern gaming economics whether in the physical or digital realms almost universally requires ongoing subscription style revenues to keep players engaged whether we’re talking about mobile players buying new characters and skins or Call of Duty players buying your annual edition new content keeps us constantly solving the puzzle of how to work the latest content into our earlier notions of the meta game this makes for good gaming and good business and it won’t be changing any time soon also a big part of what makes magic gathering special is the excitement that comes from cracking booster packs opening expensive or powerful cards and the relative security of knowing that investments in the game tend to provide dividends over the long term via the appreciation of collection values faith in the secondary market to return at least a fraction of what we put into the game is a major factor that is absolutely absent in many other hobbies where most equipment shows little to no chance of price appreciation when the professor suggests that the reprint packs will the modern staples should be the same price as the original standard packs they were first printed in he’s under it’s under estimating the value to the game of higher collection values and the logic behind the higher price point in the first place I mean heck why not make the packs $1 if we want modern decks to be dirt cheap taking this logic chain to its natural conclusion let us imagine a future where modern masters has changed into a permanently available product that includes full play sets at the top hundred cards in the format for the low low prices say 39.99 everyone gets also cheap copies of the land-based tarmogoyf Lilliana etc now we’re with this lead well naturally those of us interested in modern would run able to buy the product and brute wizards would enjoy a brief sales boost simultaneously however we wipe out millions and millions of dollars of collection and inventory value likely never to recover with modern – accessible standard would need to move to a similar model or face extreme price comparison pressure and construction magic would quickly lead to a subscription-based model that no longer supported the secondary market you see with all staples constantly in print there would be no more reason for a singles market and without singles revenue only the most diversified of the gaming stores would be able to survive leading to the destruction of many of our best play spaces believe me when I tell you that none of this is what we actually need even if it’s what the short-sighted amongst us might think that they want we also need to consider that the expected value of a modern masters pack is carefully designed to justify the $10.00 MSRP the packs are often available below that and with the set including cherry-picked list of the best eternal playable cards from several standards sets it’s kind of a big deal this makes these sets naturally more valuable because they are the conceptual equivalent of a premium standard product with a higher proportion of staple rares and mythix per pack there is also the guaranteed foil per pack to consider now we should also talk a little bit about why modern should never be a Tier one magic format that is used to grow the game you see there are some very good reasons that wizards has chosen to de-emphasize eternal formats in general including their decision to only feature draft and standard on the Pro Tour put simply older formats sell less cards the older any format becomes the d4 the card pool become and the deeper the card cool pool becomes the harder it is for any given card and a new set to be relevant to the players of the existing format that makes new products increasingly that’s necessary to the player base of the whole which is clearly not where you want to be if you want to sell a lot of cards so why not just print more cards for the older formats you say well one major issue is the concept of the power curve which suggests that’s the more powerful the new cards you praise are relative to all previous cards the less the older cards matter in any non-standard format try to imagine a scenario where wizard starts printing three mana 2020 creatures as the new vanilla test and you’ll understand pretty quickly why we shouldn’t go there too far down that path and 90% of the cards you own are no longer playable and again the secondary market collapses there is therefore a little doubt that maintaining a model that keeps vendor inventory relevant is an important part of keeping this game sustainable in the long term there is also the issue of format complexity and the commitment to frequent play that modern implies modern has 20-plus viable decks at any given time and tracking all of that information so that you can play inside board effectively makes the format to time and resource intensive for the average player standard is a much better model for the central format and competitive magic for one simple reason it rotates in a big chunk every fall and adds new cards every few months in between this keeps player engagement high by providing a new puzzle to solve and which when R&D doesn’t miss fellow tower Guardian generally turns out pretty well for all of us as for whether modern master sets are effectively keeping prices in check I would argue that they definitely are if we check on the average rare or mythic from modern masters 2017 for instance on MTG price comm we can see that they are down between 50 and 65 percent since November of 2016 which is a steep and effective discount on over 20 key staples of the format now sure some of the highest demand cards such as Liliana’s veil and scalding torrent are down less than others but they’re still down 25 to 40 percent from their pre reprint prices more importantly for every $1 of discount provided to a player looking to buy these cards you must also subtract one dollar value from the collection of an existing player it is therefore very difficult to grow commitment to modern through discounted card price is achieved five reprints alone now it’s also a valid point that many key staples included modern master sets tend to rebound toward their original price points and it is also true that any staple is not included in the latest modern master set tends to spike all over again with Karn and engineered explosives for instance being recent examples none of this changes that what that each time we release one of these sets we’re getting a pile of key cards at a steep an ever-widening discount and there have been many examples of reprinted staples that have never recovered to their pre reprint prices tarmogoyf for example is now on its third reprint in five years and is being slowly hammered down to a permanently lower price point now certainly frequency in volume of a ridge of overall reprints are useful knobs that wizards can twiddle to a greater or lesser degree and by no means am i against adding a smattering of additional reprints throughout the annual product rule schedule however ultimately the modern master sets have done a very solid job of keeping the cost of key modern staples in check the purpose of these sets has never been about constantly constantly lowering the price of moderate as a total format but about keeping the cost range of one of the game’s elite formats at a reasonable level in accordance with the demographics and what the average committed competitive player can afford to spend on the game now I would instead argue that the thing modern players should be advocating for instead of reprints in a cheaper format is better marketing for the game of the whole aimed at new user acquisition you see the real issue Magic has is that the game has hit a plateau in terms of new player acquisition with double-digit growth from the late 2000s dropping significantly down into single digit territory over the last few years magic constantly competes for the disposable income of gamers across a broad array of possible options and the company has not done a good enough job of marketing to new potential players beyond the borders of our fairly insular community in a world where the player base was growing at a faster clip the influx of new players into all formats including modern would keep upward pressure on the value of modern collections which can just as easily be beneficial to modern players as reducing the upfront cost of those decks so in summary the cost of modern is both reasonable and comparable to other hobbies modern is a great format but it is designed for the committed competitive player and cost it appropriately for that purpose further the game is generally better off focusing on standard limited and casual play and the cheaper we make any eternal formats the less support there is for the secondary card market that supports the game and the more we devalue the collections of existing players ultimately I think we all know that the professor part is in the right place here I can certainly understand why he like many of you would like to get your modern decks for Less that being said given the arguments I’ve laid out I would challenge you to propose the quote unquote correct average cost of a modern deck and provide solid logic explaining how achieving that goal would definitively help the game more than it hurts take care and thanks for listening thank you very much James and while I still have you here can you please tell us who you are what you do and where we can find you if we want to hear more from you see more of your work if you’d like to check out more of the content I produce on the topic of making and saving money playing our favorite I am magic gathering you can find me at MTG Critic on Twitter and be my weekly articles at MTV Price calm as well as our weekly podcast with Travis Allen MDG fat finance excellent and I thank you so much for being my guest here at the college I hope this conversation has been of some interest to you you can help me out by remembering to like share leaving a comment with your own thoughts and perspectives on the issue remember my argument mr. chill COTS argument is not the correct answer it is one possible perspective of many and it is only together that we can try and determine what the truth of this issue really is and this program was made possible thanks to a sponsorship from card Kingdom as well as the patreon support of viewers such as you so thank you [Music] Oh [Music]