We’ve seen blunder after blunder from Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast is the company behind two of the most popular games in nerd canon: Dungeons & Dragons, and Magic the Gathering. Dungeons & Dragons is a tabletop roleplaying game that has enjoyed increased mainstream success in the past few years, if the recent movie adaptation is any indication. Magic the Gathering is the original trading card game, one that enjoys perhaps the same amount of popularity as Yu-Gi-Oh and the Pokemon TCG, and predates them both. These are gigantic games, and they make Wizards of the Coast a lot of money. WotC is under the multinational conglomerate Hasbro, the toy titan behind Transformers, Power Rangers and more.
WotC—and Hasbro by extension—have been losing credibility with their customer base due to a chain of blunders. Take for example the OGL fiasco; document leaks regarding the Open Game License of D&D threatened to actively take money from third party creators, before an uproar from the community caused the company to backpedal. A disastrous “celebration” of Magic the Gathering’s 30th anniversary saw the release of egregiously priced cards that aren’t even tournament legal, as well as reasonably accusations of corporate greed from scores of players. Smaller incidents of bad faith have punctuated the past few months (like finding cards over $100,000 worth of cards at a landfill!), but these key incidents are the big ones.
How does a company outdo themselves after that? Breaking into a Magic player’s house might do the trick.
YouTuber oldschoolmtg, real name Dan Cannon, managed to get a hold of an at-the-time-unreleased Magic the Gathering expansion called March of the Machine: Aftermath. How exactly Cannon was able to access these cards ahead of their official release date is uncertain, but leaks have always come with the territory of each set and expansion’s promotion and release cycle. Which is why it was so shocking that not long after Cannon released videos showing these cards, WotC sent Pinkerton agents to Cannon’s house to retrieve the cards.
The Pinkerton National Detective Agency. The bad guys from Red Dead Redemption. These aren’t fictional characters, but real people, who have attached to them a very real history of union-breaking, strikebreaking and enacting violence on behalf of corporations.
According to the report by Linda Codega for Gizmodo, Pinkerton agents claimed they were there to recover stolen goods and forced themselves through the door. Cannon alleges that the agents made his wife cry, and threatened “up to $200,000 in fines plus all legal fees” and even one and 10 years in jail.”
For a company that makes its bottom line through high fantasy narratives, Wizards of the Coast has effectively cast itself as a cartoonishly evil fantasy villain.
If you’re not up to date on this, it’s okay; that just means you’re not a big nerd. I’m a big nerd, and that’s how I’m able to report this to you. And if viewing this article bends your algorithm a little bit, you’ll probably see YouTubers, TikTokers and various other content creators exploring other TTRPGs and trading card games as a way to lessen their support for a company that they’ve lost their faith in.
The future of Magic the Gathering will probably see more players exploring proxies (a term the community uses for “fake cards”) to keep playing casual formats while spending less money on actual MtG products. The future of Dungeons & Dragons is more uncertain—a new edition of the game is currently in the works, and content creators who are playtesting and studying the game are criticizing the new edition for its allegedly clunky design.
Safe to say that these acts of bad faith warrant watching WotC and Hasbro more closely than ever before, for the sake of the games and the players who play them.
Words Jam Pascual
Art Macky Arquilla