Earlier today Lee Sharpe, the Digital Product Manager for Magic Online announced a change in the nature of how tournaments work in the digital realm.
The changes, which can be seen in full here, appear to be designed to help increase the value of packs won as prizes. In order to achieve this, Daily Events- a popular four round tournament offering - will see their entry fee doubled. Prizes for all regularly scheduled events will no longer consist of packs, but will include a mix of packs and non-trade eligible Prize Points. These changes will take effect after the August 12 downtime.
Currently, events pay out exclusively in packs. The Magic Online economy allows these packs to be traded for Event Tickets (Tix), which can then be used to enter other events or traded. Some individuals sell these tickets as a source of income. These so-called Grinders are able to translate their skills into a profit, as can be seen in this piece by Dave Shedden.
Recently pack prices have dropped below an average of three Tix per pack, which is viewed by many as a base cost. At that price point it was possible to continue playing from simply winning events. Some have attributed this drop to the change in the Redemption Cost from $5 to $25 in February 2013. This change has raised the cost for singles to leave the online environment (when sets are redeemed those cards leave the system) which has resulted in more cards staying in circulation. The reduced value of singles has cascaded to packs.
Introducing Play Points as prizes will reduce the number of packs in the program, likely aimed at increasing the price of packs. There is some concern with the fact that Play Points cannot be traded. For those who use Magic Online to test and play there may not be a change. Grinders, however, may see a change to their preferred method of use.
As always, the community has reacted:
For those of you who are bad at math, this change means that ALL constructed events consume more in entry fees than they pay ouy. #MTGO— Ben Williams (@JadePhoenix13) July 20, 2015
The biggest feedback to "What kind of prizes do you want?" was "Points for a prize wall." These changes give us points and no wall. :/— Joe Spanier (@FoundOmega) July 20, 2015
I guess if play points eventually bring about a prize wall that is fine, and that's the intent great, but it should have been stated.— Joshua Claytor (@JoshuaClaytor) July 20, 2015
@mtg_lee I like how how you can functionally "go infinite" on playing constructed easier with this on 2/8 person. Doubling daily is :(— Scott MacCallum (@MrScottyMac) July 20, 2015
@markdash12 good to hear the optimism Mark, lots of modeling and work behind this and we will definitely tweak as we go?— Worth Wollpert (@mtgworth) July 20, 2015
Feels like the changes to constructed on MTGO are necessary, as requiring a 120% win rate in HU queues to break even wasn't sustainable.— Paul Rietzl (@paulrietzl) July 20, 2015
I like the MTGO Constructed payout changes. Should help keep people playing more and prevent pack prices from cratering as quickly.— Brian Kibler (@bmkibler) July 20, 2015
I paid 30 tix to enter a sealed PTQ prelim this weekend. Is there a good reason I couldn't enter with 4 DTK, 2 FRF, and 6 tix? @mtg_lee— Andrew Shrout (@JohnnyHSauceMTG) July 20, 2015
Suggestion: Win a lot of cube drafts by August 12.— Matthew Watkins (@oraymw) July 20, 2015
Both Lee Sharpe and Worth Wollpert have said this process is ongoing and that feedback is welcome.