Fun fact: "Cranial Extraction" can mean either the removal of something from a cranium, or the removal of a cranium from somewhere else.

Wizards of the Coast staffs up for digital push

In a shocking turn of events, Chris Cocks, President of Wizards of the Coast, recently announced that they’re doing something. The meat is here:

Since joining Wizards of the Coast last summer, I’ve had the chance to talk to many passionate employees, partners, and fans about their experiences with our games and their hopes and dreams for our future. We’re channeling this passion as we make some exciting moves to bring players bigger and better experiences. The biggest move involves adjustments to and increased investments in our digital teams that will give us the capability and flexibility necessary to fully realize the enormous potential of our games.

Here’s what that means:

We are reimagining digital versions of Magic and other Wizards games. We recently created the Digital Games Studio, a group of all-stars led by industry veteran Jeffrey Steefel. Jeffrey’s team includes experienced Wizards game designers and industry talent from Dire Wolf Digital, Valve Corporation, Cryptic Studios, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Activision, BioWare, and many others. The Magic Online team is now included in this group, as well as digital art and game design. They’re all thinking about how players might tap mana and prepare spells in the future, and I can’t wait for you to see what they’re working on.

We will bring our characters and worlds to other games and experiences. What would it be like to throw fireballs as a Planeswalker in an MMO, or quest for treasure with your friends in a D&D augmented-reality game? We want to play games like this too, so we hired David Schwartz, an industry veteran with 25 years of experience leading projects at Microsoft, Electronic Arts, THQ, LeapFrog Enterprises, and Midway Games. He is building a publishing team to explore partnerships and collaborations that will bring Magic and D&D to unexpected settings, genres, and platforms.

We will make your Wizards experiences more efficient, connected, and convenient. From getting matched in a big tournament to tracking your achievements to simply getting friends together for game night, there’s a lot that goes into a good experience with a game outside of the game itself. A revamped technology team led by longtime Wizard Arron Goolsbey will be focused on connecting these kinds of in-store and online interactions so you will have cohesive and connected experiences with our games.

Our staff here at Stately Play have a collective three life-ages of the earth in fond memories of WotC games, but there’s a lot of disappointment in some of their past ventures into the digital space, or failures to venture there (am I the only one who remembers what was code-named The Goblin Game, which sounded awesome?). We’re excited to see them committing more resources to an area in which we think they have a lot of room to grow.

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Notable Replies

  1. sounds promising.
    i'm ready to be convinced.
    waiting for all kinds of deliveries now.

  2. I remember seeing the announcement for The Goblin Game when I first signed up for Magic Online ages ago. Had totally forgotten about that until now though.

  3. Nick says:

    I'm an MTG and D&D fan and really want to believe...but, this announcement is really a bunch of words that boil down to, "we're working on stuff."

    Here's to hoping anyway!

  4. rinelk says:

    Absolutely. But it sounds like they recognize their IP can be used to make excellent digital games, and, up to now, they've relied on partners (some of whom have done amazing work) to get it right, while their in-house digital work has been either inadequately resourced or too beholden to the needs of the print side of things. That's just what I'd hope for from them, and something like a beefed-up Pokemon GO (especially one which doesn't suck in rural areas) for D&D, allowing people to halfway bridge the gap to LARPing sounds like a fantastic experience for me to have with my kids and introduce them to the games which colonized my brain in my youth.

    I mean, I for sure hope it's not JUST D&D GO they'd work on, but I think there's room for them to do lots of stuff in the digital and hybrid realms, is my point.

  5. Hardco says:

    Wake me up when we can play Magic Online on a tablet...

    I can't imagine a Magic MMO being a success though. Last time I played Magic, no one really cared about the lore.

  6. Does this mean they finally bring leagues back to Magic Online?

  7. They have had a version of them for a few months now.

  8. You had me hopeful for a minute...

    But by "version of them", you don't mean anything close to what leagues used to be.

    Looks like you are limited in the number of games you can play with your sealed deck in the league, which doesn't hold a candle to the old league format. For $20 or so, you could play an unlimited number of games in the league during the month with your sealed deck, trying out alternate color combinations once you had played your 5 weekly matches for points. It was a great system, and it's unfortunate that Wizards doesn't realize they had a lot of players willing to pay $20 a month for that format that they haven't taken any money from since they discontinued it with the launch of 3.0 over 10 years ago. Sigh....

  9. Yeah, I remember the original leagues. And no, they are not the same. And I stopped playing when they stopped having leagues also.

    I am interested in the new format they are launching this month though.

    New Single-Game Match Draft League

    In our continuing efforts to offer events that meet the needs of a wide range of players, we're introducing a Draft League that features single-game matches. This League offers shorter, more predictable match times, so players don't need to commit a full hour to finish a match. After joining this new League, your course lasts until you have either seven wins or four losses for an experience that offers between four and ten single-game matches.

    Prizes earned are based solely on your win total, so losses don't hurt you until you've accumulated your fourth one. In a best-of-three match, you have a game to give if you get unlucky and have mana issues, and in this league allowing up to four game losses performs the same function in a single-game match. While you may lose a game or two (or three), you can still earn the top prize if you get seven wins before you get your fourth loss.

  10. Well, at least they're making an effort.

    But I've played that exact mode in Hearthstone, Solforge, AND Clash Royale.

    It's just not the same. Not even close. At least in those other games, the cost of entry is relatively low. In Magic,
    you're looking at $20 to get between 4 and 10 games. Sure, you get to keep the cards, but that's still a significant investment.

    I installed the latest client to check this out. My collection from 10 years ago is intact at over 12,000 cards. But only 2000 of those are usable in the standard format (95% of that is basic land). I'd love to play Magic against challenging opponents online, but I don't want to invest a large chuck of cash to build a current deck. I'd be happy to spend $20 for a month worth of playing with a small set of cards, though.

    Seems like they could really benefit from a league mode with a lower cost to enter but the cards aren't added to your collection.

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