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How Much Would You Pay to Draft Your Own Cube on MTGO?

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Besides a complete overhaul complete with marked improvement to the user interface, I can't think of any one feature that would draw more players to Magic Online than the ability to design, build, and draft one's own custom cube. The problem is that Wizards of the Coast doesn't have any incentive to build this functionality into the program.

Casual formats have it rough on Magic Online. With a format like Commander—which is already not super popular–the only thing WOTC gets from supporting it is some additional demand for singles within MTGO. Because the Commander community is not particularly keen to play for prizes, there's not really another way for WOTC to capitalize on Commander other than just making sweet cards that lots of players will want.

sorrowspath

With Cube, though, there's even less card demand, because only one in eight players needs to have a cube. On top of that, players drafting each other's cubes would clearly distract from Magic Online's cash cow: providing players a quick and easy way to draft. I'm certainly not here to argue that player-made cubes would not hurt demand for the current draft set, any flashback drafts, or MTGO Cube. This option would absolutely take away demand from those products—some people would never do anything but draft cubes again!

The Solution

So let's talk about how WOTC can monetize custom cubes while not completely offending or alienating its playerbase. Yes, it seems kind of icky to talk about ways that WOTC can get a piece of player's casual play, but considering its monopoly over Magic Online, that's the concession we have to make if we ever want any hope of making custom cubes a reality on MTGO.

wartax

There are three options I think are realistic:

1. A Small Tax

I'd pay a ticket to do a phantom draft with somebody else's cube. Make it free for the person providing the list, then the other seven participants each pay a ticket directly to WOTC. For every draft that fires, WOTC makes $7. No costs for prizes, reimbursement (make it strictly an "at your own risk" situation), or set/cube design—all we're paying for is the server usage.

2. A Subscription Service for Cube Enthusiasts

The exact numbers would need to be nailed down, but a monthly fee to be able to host or join cube drafts might be a workable possibility. I would pay $10 or $15 a month for the privilege of jumping in custom cube drafts, maybe more. Being able to design and constantly tweak a cube that actually got drafted would also be something I'd be willing to throw down money for. There's a million subscription services out there, but if there were one for Magic, that's one I am confident I would get my money's worth out of.

3. Run It As A Normal Event

WOTC could just charge us the standard two-ticket entry that goes with any other draft, then award packs based on that price point's structure. Since there wouldn't be additional packs being opened, WOTC could increase the price to three or four tickets per entry and probably be justified.

What do you think? Is there a good way for WOTC to monetize custom cube drafting on MTGO that would actually feel like decent value to players, or am I just dreaming? Sound off below.

Danny Brown

Danny is a Cube enthusiast and the Director of Content for Quiet Speculation.

View More By Danny Brown

Posted in Cube, Free, MTGO

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5 thoughts on “How Much Would You Pay to Draft Your Own Cube on MTGO?

  1. The price model is 10 tix with prizing. There’s no reason to deviate from this model because people pay it already for holiday and legacy cube. There’d be nothing to stop someone from just designing a mirror replica of those cubes.

  2. Yes please! Literally had a 2 hour long conversation about this with my co-cubers last night. I think the best would be some sort of mutual compensation, IE some sort of compensation for those managing the cube to have a competitive market for creating the most fun cube.

    It would not be absurd also to allow for cube developers to build a cube with cards they don’t own, then charge a fee to draft.

  3. Remember that WotC makes A LOT of money from novelty.

    Consider full art lands, promos driving players to FNM, FTV sets, etc., etc., etc.

    Players will pay more for something novel. Cube drafting on MTGO is exactly the same way. Players GRIND the cube non-stop when it’s available because they enjoy it so much.

    If it was available 365 with any version, even at the same cost to players, then the drive wouldn’t be there.

    Would you rather participate in an overpriced prerelease event or a cube your buddy is running because why not?

    On top of all of those considerations, add into that the fact that WotC would still need to design and code this functionality. Those dev cycles get reallocated from other critical functionality and bug fixes that MTGO desperately needs and WotC ultimately needs to recoup the costs for that work… but with a product that will likely generate less revenue than the current cycling cube offerings do.

    I just see all these factors as huge non-starters… regardless of how much people would like them.

    1. To be fair, there’s also novelty to playing different gimmick cubes, and having cubes be MUCH easier to build/maintain/host would motivate even more types of cubes to be able to be played. You do have a point though.

  4. I’d pay $0 to play with a product that I have already paid for. When I pay for cards, I’m implicitly paying for the ability to do whatever I want with them, including letting other people borrow them to cube. Who cares if it detracts from their pay-to-play model? It would still make them money because there would be more people on MTGO.

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