As Magic: The Gathering turns 20 years old this year, its creators at Wizards of the Coast are showing that they have no intention of letting it slip into anything resembling niche fandom. It easily could. Despite still boasting millions of players – throngs of them were in the back hall at last month’s PAX East in Boston – the property continues to revolve around card games as its core product line. That’s despite several attempts to bring it to video games over the last two decades.
Wizards finally got traction on that front with the release of Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012, essentially a digital light version of the card game for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. The game and its update, Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013, are designed to introduce new players to the game play in Magic. Wizards of the Coast brand manager Elaine Chase labels their development as “a marketing expense.”
“When we’re talking about getting new people into Magic, it really is a question of making sure that Magic as a game is relevant to today’s gamers because in its essence it’s a table top game. Who plays table top games ” says Chase. “So we took the game and we made an Xbox Live Arcade game out of it, and we did it initially as a marketing expense. Let’s put the demo out there, let’s see what happens. Next thing we know, we’re top of Microsoft’s charts, we’re number one on XBLA charts.”
Wizards is also trying to broaden Magic’s appeal in the way it markets the property, whether for video games or the core table top games. The company is putting more effort towards video trailers and creative approaches, such as those at preorder, that try to capture peoples’ imaginations through Magic’s engrossing storyline and universe.
We talked with Chase about how they’re undertaking these efforts while continuing to keep core fans happy.