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MTG: Mark Rosewater responds to “money-grubbing” comment

Magic: the Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater responded on his blog to fans implying that Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty diluted the game's lore for profit

Magic the Gathering artwork featuring a demon looking at a golden idol

Magic: the Gathering’s head designer Mark Rosewater has responded through his blog to fans he sees as implying the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set is a “money-grubbing scheme”. He points out that Magic creator Wizards of the Coast has always been “a company whose main goal is to generate revenue” and argues it’s unhealthy for individuals to view any decisions by Wizards that they don’t like as purely profit-driven.

The discussion began on Wednesday, when a fan complained about the insertion of sci-fi tropes into “the game I got into called MAGIC the Gathering” and argued this was disenfranchising invested players by “diluting the lore just to eke out a little more profit”. While Magic: the Gathering has recently lent heavily on fantasy themes, with sets like Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and Thrones of Eldraine, the newly released Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set mixes things up with its technology-rich, cyberpunk theme.

Rosewater fired back a rebuttal, writing: “Perhaps we’re doing it because we honestly believe there’s an audience, many also enfranchised players, who enjoy it and like it being part of the game.” He also pointed to the very positive response to Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty to back up his point.

A later comment by a second fan continued the back-and-forth, referring to “Hasbro’s corporate stance on doubling profits (or greater)”. Rosewater’s reply acknowledged that Wizards wants to turn a profit, but insisted the company’s philosophy was that “the key to making money is to make Magic into the product that the players want.”

Magic the Gathering Kamigawa Neon Dynasty card art featuring a flying robot made of connected metal plates, giving an effect like origami.

He continued, in an uncharacteristically lengthy response, to reflect on some fans’ “tendency to frame any game decision you like as ‘for the good of the game’ and any decision you don’t like as ‘solely for greedy profit reasons’”. He encouraged his readers to “embrace the fact” that Magic is full of varied perspectives, with different people who enjoy the game in different ways.

Rosewater finished by pointing out that in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and in previous technology-filled sets like Kaladesh, magic isn’t replaced by technology, but exists alongside it. “The two can work in harmony with one another… it requires details and nuance to work correctly, but I do think it’s possible,” he says.

Remember when Magic: the Gathering was all about scifi – with mechs, cloning vats, and cyborgs? Well that’s all coming back in 2022. Here’s everything we know about this winter’s The Brothers’ War set. Or if movie noir and art deco is more up your street, here’s the lowdown on the next set Streets of New Capenna.