Last month, Wizards of the Coast announced that the independent organization Judge Academy will replace the current Magic: The Gathering judge program this fall but some people in the Magic community still have a lot of questions about the new organization, its dues for judges, and why it's not non-profit.
During a recent interview with the Judgecast, Tim Shields (Owner of Judge Academy) and Nicolette Apraez (Program Manager for Magic for Judge Academy) answered some questions about the new organization for Magic: The Gathering judges, and one of the questions they answered pertains to the dues that Magic judges have to pay to join the Judge Academy and the reason why it costs a lot.
When asked about the dues to be a member of the Judge Academy, Apraez said, "There is a rules advisor level which can be free or paid for $50. With the pay level that includes some swag. For level one, it is $100, for level two it is $200, for level three it is $400 and those are prices for the year. What you get for that is access the e-learning content, swag, whether that's branded merchandise with Judge Academy, or other goodies, we're still figuring that out. You'll be getting mailing twice a year. Those will include our judge promos."
When asked about the reason why the dues for the Judge Academy cost that much, Apraez said that the current program costs $300K and $350K for contracted positions, and that’s not including things Wizards of the Coast previously provided like foil creation/shipping, things no one paid for, like test and software generation, and things that a new organization needs to have (such as legal fees)." She mentioned that the money has to come from somewhere.
Shields talked about how people left the judge program because of the huge amount of workload to be a Magic judge, particularly Level 3 judges. "We're going to have a different business model," Shields said. "We're going to pay people for the work they do, we're not going to ask people to work for free. And so in order to do that, we need to have money, and that money can only come from two places, and one place it can come from is publishers, which is hard to do. It's very hard for publishers to write a check. And the other place it comes from is from members, and so what we set out to do is to stay 'How can we get members of the organization what we feel like is a fair bargain?'"
He went on to explain that the Judge Academy is meant to be an ethical organization that gives members good value, a platform that includes a ton of content, and advocacy within the industry in order to create more opportunities for member to judge. Shields also said that they're planning to give members swag stuff that judges love and teased that Wizards of the Coast has some exciting promos for the Judge Academy that they can't reveal yet
A couple of weeks ago, Judge Academy explained why it's not considered non-profit but their response was met by a lot of criticism on Twitter.
Do you think the Judge Academy will be better than the current Magic judge program? Feel free to discuss in the comments section below.