Shortly after Wizards of the Coast announced the upcoming Magic: The Gathering set called Double Masters earlier this month, Double Masters products were found on Amazon with prices up for pre-order: each Double Masters booster box costs $300, and each booster pack costs $16.30, so it's not surprising to see that many players have expressed their complaints about the high price of premium Magic sets like this one.
The Tolarian Community College YouTube channel also addressed this controversy in a recent video:
Over on his Blogatog, Magic Head Designer Mark Rosewater recently responded to these criticisms. When a fan asked him about the high price of Double Masters, he said: "While making Magic the best game it can be is important to us, we are also a business," Rosewater explains. "Part of our job as a business is to recognize all the various audiences and create products to serve them. That's how we make money - finding player desires and filling them with products."
"One of our audiences are invested players with a higher price threshold," he added. "That is, there are players who are willing to spend a lot of money for highly desired cards, be it reprints or alternate versions. It's in our interest to make products for those players (things like Double Masters and collector boosters). Note that we take great care to make those products something that group is happy to buy."
He went on to explain that those highly-desirable cards are also desired by those who can't afford them. "Desirable cards are desirable cards," he said. "So when we make these products, that group gets upset because the prices seem so high. It feels like an insult. We made something they'd like, but we priced them out of being able to purchase it. I get the ill will, but I also feel like not making products for that audience is unfair for both that audience and us," So I'm turning to all of you that feel upset. How can we make these products in a way that allows that audience to get what they want without all of you feeling like we're doing harm to you?"
In another Blogatog post, he responded to another fan question regarding the how the collectible aspect of the card game can cause a divide between those who can afford premium cards and those who can't.
"We want everyone who wants to play Magic to be able to play Magic. We support a large number of formats to allow people to customize what format fits them best (and that includes financially). I'm just trying to be honest that in addition to a game, Magic is a collectible. And the fact it's a collectible is important because it finances the business model that lets us have the many resources (game design, creative, etc.) necessary to continue to make it the best game in the world.
Older formats with larger card pools come with a challenge that getting particular cards can be more difficult, because once again, there is a collectible aspect to the game. We do reprint many desired cards to help increase the number available, but it's always going to be a factor in those formats. The strength of older formats is access to a lot more cards. As I often say, your greatest weakness is your greatest strength pushed too far. Having a lot of cards available also means the collectible aspect kicks in stronger.
The reason we have formats with smaller card pools, usually of more recent cards, is to provide players a way to play that lessens the collectible aspect, specifically to make it easier to collect the cards you need. We even provide numerous limited formats that require only purchasing the necessary product in the moment. You can even play Magic: The Gathering Arena without spending any money.
My point is, there are numerous budget conscious ways to play Magic. If you choose to opt into a format with a larger card pool, that comes with a collectible aspect that we can only offset so much. Yes, we can and will reprint desired cards (when able), but never to the extent that everything desirable will be easy to obtain.
I'm happy to hear what reprints you want to see more of (and yes, fetch lands - I got it) and I love hearing about past products that did a good a job fulfilling this role or future products that might fulfill it in the future. I do want to know when we make products that upset you why it upsets you, so I can apply lessons to future products. I want to have a two-way conversation with all of you. I'm just pointing out that 'abandon Magic being a collectible' is not going to be something I can realistically take to my bosses.
Over the years, Rosewater has been to the Magic community regarding issues about Magic, so it's always insightful to see his responses regarding any controversy.
What do you think about the high price of Double Masters and other premium MTG products? Let us know in the comments section below.
Double Masters will be released on August 7, 2020; it will also be available on Magic Online for $6.99 per pack.