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MTG is for Casuals, says Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast's president says casual Magic: The Gathering players are an overwhelming majority of the fanbase, and this has shaped her strategy

MTG - the planeswalker Jace casting magic

After polling “tens of thousands of Magic fans”, Wizards of the Coast says that even though a third of Magic: The Gathering players have more than 10 years experience with the game, a whopping 80% of fans are what the company calls ‘casual players’ – as opposed to competitive.

Wizards of the Coast president Cynthia Williams shared a lot of statistics on the demographics and habits of MTG players during the ‘Fireside Chat’ webinar for investors – which took place December 8. Apparently, 50% of fans are collectors of some kind – though this term was not clearly defined – and 70% play Commander. And did you know the average Magic player is 30 years old?

But it’s the stat on casual versus competitive players that seems to have most shaped Wizards’ recent strategy. “This single insight has really led to a major rethinking of our offering, and how to serve our growing and more diverse playerbase,” says Williams.

MTG the planeswalker nico throwing magic spears

According to Hasbro CEO (and former Wizards president) Chris Cocks, Wizards previously (circa 2015) had a “monolithic view” of the MTG player base. “We were honestly a little afraid that if we built products that deviated at all from our traditional approach of appealing to the competitive player we would hurt the business. What we found was actually the opposite.”

Cocks says that by splitting the MTG fanbase into archetypes: social player, competitive player, and collector, and trying to “build products that spoke to each of them, we could make each segment happier, engage more of their time, and more of their share of wallet.”

Is Magic largely casual, then, as Wizards believes? Well there’s certainly indicators that point in that direction. For starters there’s the slow death of the competitive Magic scene – which, it must be said, many chalk up to Wizards’ own actions. There’s also the rise in popularity of Commander, which is a casual format for the vast majority of its players. And fan engagement with the game would have to be very casual indeed, if Mark Rosewater’s statistic that three-quarters of fans don’t know what a planeswalker is was accurate.

From the webinar, it seems Wizards is going all in on its segmentation strategy, aiming annually to produce a limited number of ‘tentpole’ releases aimed at all fans, and a larger number of other products targeted at particular strata of the MTG playerbase.

WotC president Cynthia Williams also says there’s no evidence Magic: The Gathering is being over-printed, rebutting one of the claims about Magic made in a recent Bank of America report.

There sure are a lot of MTG sets coming out lately, however. Here’s what the plethora of Magic products means for Local Game Stores. And here’s where you can easily keep up with the MTG 2023 release dates.