Something of WotC’s probably headed for Xbox Live Arcade, who knows what

“Wizards of the Coast […] today announced an agreement with leading UK video game developer Stainless Games to produce an exciting new online downloadable game.” Doesn’t “leading” usually mean that you don’t do your development work under some other company‘s name? Still, though, the Xbox Live versions of Asteroids and such have been big on that platform, and the note that this “exciting new downloadable game” will involve “one of the most treasured IPs in the games field” makes me think the project is an Xbox Live version of Magic Online. A second possibility is an Xbox counterpart to the D&D4 online playtable, which would be exciting but likely not anywhere near as profitable. Anyway these are just my wild-ass guesses.


  1. Man, Magic: Online would be hot, though it’d have to tie into the wacky Xbox Live dollars to points market system somehow. But maybe the reaction they got with Eye of Judgment was a universal cry of “Why isn’t this just Magic?”

    D&D4 would make the cries of “it’ll be too much like a video game” near-deafening.

  2. I’d wager that the universal cry was more like, “You want me to trudge down to a store that probably doesn’t even stock Eye of Judgment cards to play this game, when I paid for a console that can buy things online? Are you high?”

    As for D&D4, they can afford to ignore those cries if they start getting their messaging right… but I can’t think of a way to do that any better than they seem to be able to.

  3. But hasn’t every single digital version of M:TG been pretty much a failure? Granted, that never stopped them before in trying to make it work, but you would hope after a certain number of tries they would stop. Then again, it is WOTC…

    One thing about the press release is it simply says they are developing an “online downloadable game” but doesn’t mention anything about XBLA. While Stainless’ recent work has been with XBLA it seems like it would make more sense for them to be developing something for Gleemax. After all, why would they cut Microsoft into the deal when they have their very own delivery service?

  4. “While Stainless’ recent work has been with XBLA it seems like it would make more sense for them to be developing something for Gleemax. After all, why would they cut Microsoft into the deal when they have their very own delivery service?”

    I think Scott probably nailed it on the head but, again, thats just my /own/ wild-ass guess too.

  5. Magic Online has been around for a number of years now and hasn’t been killed, so I figure it’s making at least enough money to justify its existence. I don’t know if that meets your metric for success, but there it is.

    They’d cut Microsoft into the deal because they don’t have their very own delivery service – not yet, anyway, and not with anything like the reach and qualities of Xbox Live for the foreseeable future. There’s no reason for them to put all their eggs in one basket. (But on the gripping hand, what if they actually port the Gleemax engine to XBLA? I don’t think it passes the “treasured IP” test for what they just announced, but it’s a compelling thought.)

  6. Magic Online has been anything but a failure. Unless the definition of failure has changed drastically since the last time I used it.

    That’s the funny thing about Magic Online. Anybody who doesn’t play it assumes that it must be doing poorly. I mean, who’s going to buy virtual trading cards, right? Turns out LOTS of people buy them. Even the sale prices of single cards between players is similar in pricing to the physical cards. In some cases the virtual cards command higher prices (and some lower, of course). Don’t believe me? Go check eBay.

  7. Thinking of it from the XBLA angle, how about this? A sealed-deck/draft style tournament game, possibly using old sets so as to not compete with their current product. It could be entirely non-collectible, playing from randomized sets every time, or you win cards to sub in or out via tournaments and whatnot. Since it’s not directly tied to their main lines, you could fiddle with the game every now and then, with different card-set options and whatnot, but still make use of all their accumulated IP.

    Magic is a ton of fun even without the collectible aspect of things – in fact, it’s perhaps more fun. I had a blast a few years ago playing online with Apprentice. Give people a cheap and easily accessible way to play it, and it would likely drive demand for their main products.

  8. I know we’re all assuming Magic on this one, but WotC does have a few other big name IPs that could be played out in this format (bringing either fear or joy to your heart depending on your point of view):
    -Axis & Allies: This has been a computer game in the past (and is a heck lot more fun that way, IMO)
    -Roborally: This is supposed to be coming to Gleemax as well
    -Risk: Again, its been done as a computer game in the past
    -Neopets CCG: Not a real deep game, but the kids love so there could be some decent synergy

    Just some that have some degree of penetration in the popular conscious. As a note, has anyone else noticed that WotC has started a very deliberate push into the online space? Gleemax has gotten all the attention here, but keep in mind that they’re also the force behind Eye of Judgement and the new Maple Story TCG is using an online model similar to their existing Neopets TCG. If you throw in MtG:O, you’ve got four different online models – that’s more diverse than most actual video game companies…

  9. Josh,

    As to your thoughts on this I would say:

    Axis & Allies. Big name, not necessarily associated with Wizards. They have announced the Gleemax version coming up and didn’t make that big a deal out of it.
    Roborally. While well respected in the gaming community, it wouldn’t really reach the level of “one of the most treasured IPs in the games field.”
    Risk. I don’t see this one being that treasured.
    Neopets. You might be able to argue this one, but I still don’t see it.

    IPs that they own that I would consider “treasured.” D&D. Magic. That’s pretty much it. If they “owned” the Star Wars IP I would add that too.

    Something else that’s interesting here is the term “downloadable online game.” Would XBLA qualify? I guess. Maybe. I mean, you do need to download them but it seems strange to phrase it that way unless you were really trying to obfuscate what the plans were. Meh. I’m probably reading into it too much now. Those guys do XBLA games, so that’s pretty much what is going to happen here.

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