~Some fairly interesting and important news from WoTC we would like to talk about.
The Wizards Play Network Unfolds - Monday, April 21, 2008
Think Globally, Play Locally - Friday, April 25, 2008
At Gama Trade Show in Vegas earlier this week, Wizards discussed with retailers their new Organized Play initiative, the Wizards Play Network, focusing on flexibility and a larger store reach.
The goal is to support more formats than what has normally seen in the past, such as fuller league support and multiplayer options. There will also be more robust digital support for organizers.
In a seminar Wednesday, Jesse Decker (OP Director for Wizards of the Coast) explained the changes and fielded questions and feedback from store owners and retailers. Just how much this works in to the restructuring of the States/Champs program and other changes seen in OP is uncertain, but at a local store level this program will certainly give more options to both organizers and players.
From what I gather, Wizards is working with DCI (The DCI is the worldwide organization that handles tournaments and organized play for Wizards of the Coast ) and local play organisers. The intention is to support players who are a bit more casual as well as give shop owners more flexibility in sanctioned events. What I think this may do is deliver a fair and level playing experience as well as creating more opportunities for players to play especially if they cannot always make an FNM or competitive event.
New assets and resources for retailers will be made available to help support non-tournament formats. These will include tools such as format guidelines for organizing play groups and rewards. The DCI intro kit and DCI tournament support kit will be incorporated into prizes and support within the Wizards Play Network participation kit provided at no cost. This will mean more formats and foily goodness at the local games club.
Not everyone is happy about this new initiative however. Many of the professional players are still rather miffed about WoTC discontinuing the State Championships. They see the shifting of resources to the Wizards Play Network as a detraction of the competetive tournament scene.
I will have to note that WOTC is a business and that the bottom line is the bottom line. Revamping the organised play offerings to attempt to get casual and non-tournament players to consider trying organized events, can only make the game more robust. As for the professional players who may feel left out in the cold, there is still a good number of tournament programs to get involved with such as the City Champs, Regionals, Nationals, World's, Pro-Tour, and Grand Prix.