Why Magic the Gathering won’t be afraid of mtgDAO’s NGMI jibe
This DAO says Wizards of the Coast are Not Gonna Make It. Really? They already did.
So it came to light that some people calling themselves mtgDAO wanted to make an NFT project out of Magic the Gathering, Wizards of the Coast’s enduringly-popular, decades-old Collectible Card Game.
And it went over just as badly as you’d expect.
Never mind the copyright law issue. Plenty of outlets have already blasted mtgDAO into oblivion on that one. I want to focus instead on the other trash fire in the room… which is mtgDao’s core proposal.
So the core concept of the mtgDAO is that it’s a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, with its own MTG format or game mode, relying on NFTs for scarcity.
Throughout the decades-long history of Magic The Gathering, its players have come up with a variety of game types or formats to play the game — such as Commander, Limited, and Cube — to spice up the action and prevent it from being stale.
MtgDAO proposes basically the same thing, except it’s a format that’s heavily reliant on the blockchain and NFTs to limit the cards that can be used when playing it. In order to play in the format, players will need to own both the NFT for their card and also the actual card (whether physical or digital through MTG Arena or MTG Online) to be eligible to play.
Oh — and in order to own the *totes legal* NFTs of the actual MTG cards you have to buy into mtgDAO’s governance token, MTG, and mint the cards using them. Riiiiiiight.
This, of course, is where the legal problem lies. Yes in theory, you’ll have a genuine MTG card that you own and bought. But in minting an NFT of that card, you’re basically photocopying that same card and making counterfeits on the blockchain.
Again, aside from the obvious legal troubles plainly staring at us all in the face, its core premise is flawed.
MtgDAO: misunderstanding copyright and gameplay since 2022
The whole concept of the mtgDAO’s format is based on the idea of introducing the concept of scarcity to Magic the Gathering. They say that since cards are so abundant in the world of MTG, the metagame has become boring and stale and that the same old cards are featured in every match.
MtgDAO proposes that they can shake that all up by adding scarcity, via a blockchain, into the game. The idea being the limited card pool will see other npn-meta cards utilized.
“Players could mint more copies of a powerful card if they wanted to but it would soon become cost prohibitive” states its whitepaper. “For this reason players would be quickly motivated to construct decks using less popular cards.”
There’s only one small problem: there already is scarcity in Magic the Gathering.
Scarcity is the reason why Rarities in the game exist and have existed since day one. In Magic The Gathering, there are several rarities that cards come in, to wit: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Mythic Rare. These govern how many and how often cards will show up in a booster pack or booster box. As such, lower rarities are valued less, and higher rarities are valued more… because they are scarce.
So these guys aren’t really pushing to finally herald the arrival of scarcity to MTG, it’s been here since 1993.
These guys just want to make it even more scarce and also, maybe, probably…make a boatload of cash doing it.
So we arrive in a place where this proposal really doesn’t benefit anyone at all, except of course those standing to gain a significant ramp to their mana pool, if you know what I’m saying.
As the Kotaku report so succinctly put it, it’s a solution looking for a problem.
There’s also the logistical problem of how the tokens will be verified prior to playing. In a standard game of Magic a deck consists of a minimum of 60 cards. In the Commander Format, a deck consists of a minimum of 100 cards. Will we have to verify each one?
That’ll go over real fun: “Next, what about the third out of my 26 Forests, Ed?”
“Wait let me check… yeah you can use that one.”
On top of all that, mtgDAO’s whitepaper is something else. It’s crass and undignified and filled with lofty promises and inane phrases.
WTF are these people even talking about?
Imagine the pure, inconceivable, white hot irony of making an NFT project — a thing that hinges on the interplay of hype and volatility — with the hopes of solving the problem they articulate: “…it’s hard to justify investing significant money into individual cards when the value of a card could change at any time.”
Here’s another gem that totally belongs in a business proposal:
“If you don’t pay to keep up with the meta you will have a hard time finding equally equipped opponents. This leads to bad feelings because you must weigh the fun of playing the game with the cost of keeping up with the meta, knowing that your investment is likely to be stale when a new meta rolls around.”
And finally, the pièce de résistance:
“In the long run, I think there’s a chance we can just buy the Magic brand from Wizards of the Coast. mtgDAO could be the next evolution of what this game and this community is and how it is operated and controlled.”
They plan eventually get so big that they’ll just BUY Magic the Gathering from WoTC and Hasbro. Let that sink in.
Despite not seeing that their arguments fall apart faster than, well… a house of cards… mgtDAO is still pretty aggro on doubling down against the company they plan to steal from.
On Twitter they had this to say when faced with a polite cease and desist letter from Wizards of the Coast’s lawyers:
Wizards of the Coast sent a very polite email saying they consider our use of NFTs, as described in the mtgDAO whitepaper, to be unlawful IP infringement.
They hint at their own NFT plans and ask that we don’t launch mtgDAO.
Yeah the multi-million dollar company that’s been pumping out Magic the Gathering and Dungeons and frickin’ Dragons for 25 years is *NOT* going to make it.
I wouldn’t roll the dice with that one, mtgDAO.
United Gamers writers offer their unique opinions in Guild Voices to help readers understand the context of the facts. These opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publication or its principals.