You’re Doing It… (Ydoi) is a feature where we highlight the Marketing / Public Relations sector within the gaming industry. It focuses on both the good and bad decisions made each and every day by video game companies, as they try to improve sales or solve issues that arise.
Once upon a time, I was a popular kid. Everyone in elementary and secondary school knew me because I hung out with the “in” crowd, the “out” crowd, and the anything in between crowds as well. Then in my first year of high school, I discovered this game called Magic: The Gathering…
Lets just say that it consumed a few years of my life, and it was on the mind of my friends and I constantly. Probably the only real addiction I’ve ever had, Magic cards is a game of strategy that’s both incredibly complex and easy to pick up and play. I spent years building imaginary decks in my mind during high school classes, and entering tournaments in hope of winning rare cards. It definitely took its toll on my social life, but I loved every minute of it. However, friends slowly began dropping out of the game due to the costs, the time investment, or eventually a loss of interest. I too stopped collecting cards, and sold most all of them when I no longer had anyone to play with. Yet the memories remain ingrained deep in my brain, randomly surfacing in the form of a massive urge to play.
As I’m sure everyone is aware of by now, Sony’s Playstation Network went down for a month not long ago due to hackers. As a result, Sony has granted everyone a free 30 day subscription to PSN+ (A devious move that will be talked about in a future Ydoi article) and all of it’s perks. Of course, Sony needs content to give away, which is where Wizards of the Coast stepped in. A brilliant move on their part, because this move will both help build a solid relationship with Sony for saving the day and boost their future sales for the Duels of the Plainswalker games. I would know… It worked on me.
Magic: Duels of the Plainswalker is currently available on PSN+ free of charge, and aims to garner interest from those who have never taken the plunge into MtG before. Who can resist a free game after all? It’s also being used as a promotional piece to attract those long time MtG fans who may have never played a digital version of the game. Essentially, this will simply be a taste of what’s available for many people, despite the fact that it’s a full game. Once the PSN+ memberships expire, so does the game, and players are left with an itch that can no longer be scratched. That is, unless they buy the game of course… or better yet, the new Duels of the Plainswalker 2012 edition.
How convenient is it that a week after the original game becomes free for PSN+ members (which just about everyone has at the moment), a new and improved version is released? At a discounted price no less. If you buy the new 2012 edition before your PSN+ expires, it’ll only cost you $7.99 rather than the full $9.99 it is on every other platform. Oddly enough, discounted games tend to have higher sales, especially when they literally just released. In this case, not only does this benefit the consumer, but it also means more sales specifically on Sony’s console. Something Sony definitely needs now after losing so much on the Playstation Network outage.
Content in general is what Sony needs to get consumers back to using their PS3 after the long break, and Wizards of the Coast was there to deliver when Sony needed it most. Of course having a ton of new content wouldn’t mean a thing if none of it was any good, and might in fact be taken as an insult by loyal Sony fans. Thankfully, Duels of the Plainswalker is a quality title, easily worth any free time you may have. Just be sure to monitor yourself carefully, because a few games will turn into a few hours in the blink of an eye.
Finally, we get into the real world impact that releasing this game for free can have. Wizards of the Coast is primarily a trading card game company, and as such they want to improve sales of their physical cards as well. Creating digital versions is a great tool to get people interested in MtG in the first place because it simplifies the game for the general audience. Duels of the Plainswalker will make them a bit of money, but ultimately their goal is to convert these new digital players into buying actual cards. Since playing this game, I once again have that urge to play the real thing, resulting in a trip down to the local hobby shop to look at the new sets. Like myself, I’m sure many MtG players both new and old have found their love for the game on the forefront of their minds, which makes Duels of the Plainswalker a great success.
Overall, Wizards of the Coast made a great marketing decision by releasing Duels of the Plainswalker for free. They got me back into the game after years of purposely ignoring it, and they’ll make some money off me just before my PSN+ subscription runs out. Their strategy has gotten them in better standings with Sony and consumers as a whole, and their pricing is on point to get new players to purchase the updated version. I suspect the amount of players on Duels of the Plainswalker 2012 will surge by the end of the month, and it’s all because Wizards of the Coast is doing it right.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an urge to go give in to.