Duels of the Planeswalkers pulling people into paper Magic

The tenth edition of card Magic: The Gathering is popular with the paper folk. While I wasn’t told any hard numbers at Gen Con ’09, I learned that Wizards of the Coast is excited about the game’s growth in its latest core edition. I asked Magic brand manager Mark Purvis if the sales boom had anything to do with the recent Xbox LIVE Arcade release, Duels of the Planeswalkers. According to him, there’s evidence suggesting that people exposed to the downloadable title are seeking a way into the paper game. And it’s all because of a single card and a bonus offer.

“It’s hard to put an exact number, the number of people that have come into paper Magic because of Duels of the Planeswalkers,” Purvis tells me. “We’ve sold over 200,000 copies of the game and over 500,000 people have downloaded the demo at this point.”

“The sales have been really steady. I think it the initial bump of being number one for two weeks in a row really put it on people’s radar who wouldn’t normally try Magic but they saw that this game was really popular and checked it out.”

“One thing that the game has built into is a unique code where people can get a foil Planeswalkers card mailed out to them,” he continues. “What they would also get in that package is instructions how to pick up free Magic cards at local retailers. We have anecdotal evidence from retailers that that’s working and that people are coming into their stores and saying ‘I was told to come to this story and you would give me free Magic cards.’ We built these half-decks, or sample-decks, which are thirty cards, you can play Magic with them and it gives you a taste of the paper game.”

It’s not hard to imagine that the XBLA title had some effect on the paper game, but its nice to hear a bit of a confirmation. More paper players translates to more spirits to crush in local hobby stores. Also, more players means more possibilities on the downloadable front — something I can’t disagree with.

Brad BradNicholson