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CardShark Content - Jeffrey Heldberg (1/15/2002)

Wizards of the Coast has been working for a long while in an attempt to provide fans of their great trading card game, Magic: The Gathering, with a better way to play online. They have shown that they can reproduce the experiences of playing in a tournament or just opening a booster, all in the fantastic-looking software that is Magic: Online. I am a beta tester for the game and I have seen how good this game is even though I really haven’t had time to play much on it. From my first impressions, I had decided that I would definitely buy or download it when it was released. But then, Wizards announced their pricing plans for the virtual tourney packs, theme decks, and most importantly, boosters.

“$3.29 a pack? What are they doing?!” I thought, and I’m probably not the only one. I cannot think of a single person who would pay that much money for 15 pretty (or not-so-pretty) pictures displayed on their monitor. If Wizards is really going to charge such an outrageous price for something you can’t even touch, they are going to find that no one’s going to play their game. I mean, why pay $3.29 for a pack of virtual cards when you can buy the real thing for the same price or less?

They also announced that you would be able to trade in a completed set of virtual cards of an expansion for the actual cards, which will be mailed to you. So what? Even if you’re an avid trader, it could take you days or weeks to complete a whole set, and you would have to initially invest in 1-3 boxes worth of packs to get enough cards to trade for a set, which would amount to about $120-$360 bucks! Not to mention the fact that many cards in each set aren’t viable even for casual play. And if you don’t like to trade, you can forget about benefiting at all from the redemption policy. I haven’t done any trading in the beta yet, and after “purchasing” enough boosters to get over 10,000 cards in my collection, I still don’t have a complete set of anything.

The fact is, something needs to be done about this pricing scheme. People are not going to want to pay the same price or more for a virtual booster than they do for a real one. Also, why should anyone pay that much money to play games on Magic: Online when they can do most of the same things online already, and for free. I’ve come up with several ideas about what they could do with their pricing, but to tell the truth, I haven’t really come up with a fair price for digital boosters and other products, but certainly the current plan needs to change. All this plan will do is make sure they lose money on this venture, and I would hate to see such a great looking and well thought out interface go to waste. I encourage anyone who also disagrees with the Magic: Online pricing scheme to email Wizards (at magiconline@wizards.com)with your own opinions about how they should change it. Well, that’s my complaint about the pricing and thanks for reading my article.

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