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2:16 AM on 06.24.2012

Why Duels of the Planeswalkers is the Greatest Advertising Scheme of All Time

Magic: The Gathering has been around for 20 years. Whether you know anything about it or not, even if you don't care one bit, you've heard of it. Chances are, you even know one or two people who play it. Through countless core sets and story blocks, M:tG fans have spent ridiculous amounts of money on the game, and there's a good reason for it, for those interested in it: It's fun.

Buying packs, building decks suited to your personality, your type of strategy, your play style and competing against people to see who's the better strategist is a rush that not much compares to. When you get an idea for a deck and go to buy one more pack (it's never just one more pack) to see what you can pull and you get that one card you need to tie everything's addicting.

The best part about it (play-wise, not money-wise) is that there's a new set of cards every three months. New creature abilities, new spells and new combos make sure the game is always evolving. The problem with Magic, however, is that the fanbase rarely grows. For the longest time, the only consistent players were those who had been playing for years. That all changed back in 2009 with Duels of the Planeswalkers.

When the original Duels launched in 2009 on the 360, PS3 and PC, it was purchased immediately by long-time fans of the game. Finally, there was a real M:tG video game. Sure, the PC had a few cult classics, but never anything that played like the actual physical card game (not counting Magic Online). Not only did it give players the chance to play at home when their friends or a tournament weren't available, it gave them a chance to easily introduce their friends. With streamlined, semi-automated gameplay such as auto mana tapping, auto damage calculation, auto drawing and auto card effect resolutions, there never had to be an argument over rules or if someone forgot an ability or a draw step. There were also easy-to-follow tutorials. As more people were introduced to the game by this newbie/casual friendly console game, more interest in the physical game was raised. And there's the brilliance of it all: Wizards found the perfect win/win situation.

Even if the people introduced had no interest in dropping loads of money on the card game, if they liked the game, they could drop $10 on a video game, get tons of deck options and play as much as they wanted. If they liked the idea of an all-foil deck or getting every card in a deck unlocked immediately, they could just drop 99 cents and have just that. For Wizards of the Coast, it's pure profit. If those people ever ended up deciding to get into the physical game for more options or more people to play with, it's even more pure profit.

Naturally, seeing the success of the first Duels of the Planeswalkers, Wizards set out to do it again. Enter Duels 2012, when their scheme gets even more brilliant. This time, Wizards set the release a scant month before the 2012 Core Set launched, which is effectively when the previous year's cards get phased out. Yet again, long-time players had more options for playing at home and, yet again, it was a way for new players to be introduced. A new gameplay mode that drastically altered the way the game was played was added to keep things interesting and the game served as a preview of the new cards, yet another way for Wizards to advertise.

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 was another home run. Tons of people, both experienced and new, downloaded the game and played the hell out of it. Many of the new players proceeded to delve into the physical game and then proceeded to introduce it to more of their friends, all the while putting more money into the pockets of the intrepid employees of Wizards of the Coast. We're starting to approach Dr. Doom levels of brilliance here, folks. Wizards may not be printing money as fast as Nintendo, but they're certainly not hurting.

Of course it doesn't stop there, though. On Wednesday, June 20 2012, Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 hit the digital market with the most brilliant addition yet: an iPad version. Now, not only did players have the option of playing on their game system of choice, they could play anywhere the went. It brings a whole new potential audience into the fold: business people, students who had no interest in games past Angry Birds, parents who didn't have time or extra money to invest in full-scale retail games...The potential audience pool is almost endless, especially considering the free version that offers a quarter of the campaign with four decks to choose from.
Duels 2013[/i] was an immediate success and once again, old players have something new to play and use to introduce new players, Wizards has another chance to advertise upcoming cards and even more ways to make money and get buzz going for the new Core Set and there's the added perk of mobility.

At no point during these last three years has Wizards had to worry about losing money. Hell, they've got tons of other games they publish, too. This, however, was (and will continue to be) pure profit. With every new release, they draw in new players. With every new release, they get more money, whether it's only the initial $10, or the hundreds, if not thousands more that will be spent on buying cards. For the first time in many years, the Magic: the Gathering community is now growing very rapidly is once again very healthy and the folks at Wizards are swimming in their pools of money Scrooge McDuck style.

GG, Wizards of the Coast. You have have found the perfect advertising strategy: Give people a video game that almost fully emulates the real thing, raise interest in people old and new, sit back and watch the cash flow in. It truly is the most brilliant advertising scheme ever conceived.   read

10:16 PM on 10.14.2008

The console wars....

I'm fully aware that this whole post will end up being another "angry guy on the internet" post, but I feel like venting, dammit.

As much as I'd love to be able to contribute something fresh to this, I don't think I can, so I'm just gonna keep hitting the dead horse with my giant stick.

Why are people so bitchy about this console war bullshit? We're gamers. More than that, we're people. People have differing tastes. Fucking deal with it. So a game is going to stop being exclusive. Big deal. Are you fanboys so damn pitiful that you'd want to deprive your fellow gamers of an experience because they don't like your favored system? What good does that do?

What if that's not the case? What if, like me, there are people who like a system, but can't afford one. Are we horrible people because we don't have $500 to throw away on a console? I'd much rather pay $60 dollars for 22 discs (in reference to more MGS 360 rumors) to get a great gaming experience than to spend $500 and only play one or two games. Seems kind of silly, really.

That last paragraph was meant for the PS3 people. Now, for my message to those of you who are 360 fanboys and fangirls: So X game is getting ported to the PS3 or Wii. How does this hurt you? You think you're so much better than those other console lovers, but think about the fact that you're doing the same fucking thing that they do. Are you comfortable with that level of hypocrisy? For that matter, do you realize that a huge chunk of your beloved games get ported to PC? What about PC gamers who hate consoles? Why don't you ever rail about them? I know plenty of people who own a 360, but could care less about PC gaming, and I know even more people who game exclusively on PC and don't give a dman about the 360.

Finally, to the Wii owners: You're no better than any of the other flame war fanboys and girls. Your Mega Man 9 isn't Wii exclusive? Cry. Fucking. Moar. You're still getting to play it aren't you? Is your joy at having an awesome game ruined because other people get to play it? Admittedly, Wii fans get shafted more than other systems. No DLC for this game, no/gimped online play for that one, no real storage, etc., but at least you've got a gaming cosole that has at least a decent amount of good games. Just look harder. Don't write shit off just because it seems gimmicky.

I own a 360 and Wii. I love them both. I do actually hope to one day get a PS3, but I'll definitely wait until there's more than LittleBigPlanet and MGS4 that are worth playing. I don't care about exclusivity. I'm glad FF XIII is coming to the 360. Means I get to play it. I'm glad Wii owners get Rock Band 2 with DLC. Means they get to have the fun that we 360 and PS3 owners get to have. The gaming community gets enough heat from the media and from people who don't want to understand that a majority of us are good, hardworking people who are just doing something that makes us happy. Why do we have to cut ourselves into sects and bicker? Aren't we just proving the "normal" people right?

I know this will fall on mostly blind eyes, but I've said my piece. Enjoy, everyone.   read

2:14 AM on 06.14.2008

The Start of the Affair: Super Metroid

A lot of people regard Super Metroid as the best Metroid game of all time. I am one of those people. This is the game that made me fall in love with gaming.

It's 1993. I'm 6 years old. My older brother borrows a friend's Super Nintendo and two games: Super Mario World and Super Metroid. He says that Super Metroid is pretty much brand new and that his friend already beat it. After watching my brother play for a while, I wanted to play it for myself. My brother wouldn't let me play it until he beat it. After two weeks of begging, he finally finished it and handed the controller to me.

I came from a financially unstable family, so I didn't have any game systems before that. It was the first time I ever held a controller.

I turned on the power, started a new file, and from the first time I saw Samus inside the Space Station, I knew I was about to play something amazing. I played the game for hours on end. I ran around everywhere, sometimes several times to make sure that I found everything and killed every single "monster." It being my first game, I had a lot of trouble getting through it, and it took me a long time, but I never got mad or upset. I just kept playing.

After a few weeks of very little sleep and countless Game Over screens, I arrived at the Mother Brain fight.My brother kept telling me that I would need his help and that I should let him do it, but I never did. I wanted to beat my first-ever videogame myself. After an entire day with no sleep, I finished the game, escape and all.

From that day on, I was hooked to games. I was sad, though, because after that, my brother gave the system back to his friend, and I was left with nothing. This was in the middle of summer....July, I think. Anyway, I was very sad, and the rest of my summer was extremely boring, because I couldn't play any more games. It sucked. I found a new love, but I couldn't be with it.

Christmas that year was life-changing. I only got two presents: A Super Nintendo and my own copy of Super Metroid. It was all mine. My parents told me that they had been saving up all of their money since they saw me playing during the summer to get it for me. I immediately had them help me set it up and I began playing through that amazing game again.

After that, the $2 allowance i got every week for candy and soda was saved up for a new game. My first new game was Final Fantasy IV (II back in the day), and from then on, I was a gamer.   read

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