Wizards Of The Coast To Stop Production Of Magic: The Gathering Cards
In a move that may shock and alienate its user base, Wizards of the Coast announced today that they plan to phase out production of their wildly successful Magic: The Gathering cards and move to a technology that is heavily reliant on the iOS and Android app ecosystems. Although the plans they have prepared sound impressive, long-time players are likely to be turned off by the drastic shift in play.
Even though Magic: The Gathering Online has been available for play since 2002, it has failed to gain the same level of popularity as the trading card version of the game. Additionally, MTGO is only officially available for Microsoft Windows in North America, leaving a huge area of growth opportunity for the Apple and Android markets. Additionally, the technology involved is expected to blow MTGO completely out of the water.
In terms of how the technology will work, it is believed that all communications will be Bluetooth® based. For one on one games, the two players would pair their phones for connectivity, and each phone would confirm and authenticate all moves. The cross-platform compatibility would allow an iPhone user to play with an Android phone user seamlessly.
Even more interesting are the plans for large event-based games. Wizards of the Coast will be partnering with a company yet to be named to manufacture a dedicated judging and server device. The server will handle all interconnectivity for the players and will also provide real-time judging and adjudication. The main server device will also provide up to date leaderboards and statistics that can be streamed to computers at the game tables and a central projection screen. In order to deal with the limited Bluetooth range, the main server will be assisted by satellite repeaters throughout the event rooms that will relay game information back to the server.
MTG is still enjoying great success, with more than twelve million players worldwide. Despite the thriving user base, Wizards of the Coast seems to be jumping out ahead of any potential decline in sales by making the shift to mobile. Although there would be a higher initial investment of writing the software, the cost of manufacturing and shipping cards will be greatly decreased. The result will be an updated version of Magic that will be available to a infinitely greater customer base, with new "cards" available at any time, limited only by one's proximity to their phone. Surely, this is an exciting time for all Magic: The Gathering players!