More than 20 years ago, I had my second home in a local game store called Wizard World (now named Toy Wiz) in the suburbs of New York City. I played Magic there, I judged there, I made lifelong friends there, and I was part of a community there. I'm not sure I would be where I am today if it weren't for the people and play opportunities I found at that store.
The local game store is the backbone of what makes Magic great, and that's why we're always looking for new ways to improve our in-store play offerings and to generally help stores foster community and fun Magic play. It's how many of us fell in love with this game.
With that in mind, 2017 is going to be a year of trying new things for our in-store play—a year of innovating, of experimenting, and of pushing the envelope for in-store offerings.
You've already seen some of those innovations that we kicked off in late 2016. There were the Kaladesh Leagues, where players could start with just three booster packs and build a 30-card deck to clash over quick, fun games. And there was the Standard Showdown, which encouraged players to bring fun, creative decks for four weeks of tournaments with unique prizes. We used these new programs as ways to test the waters, and the response from players and stores was clear: people loved them and want more.
So in 2017, we're going to keep going.
Here's what's in store for in-store play for 2017: more programs, more experiments, and collecting more feedback. We plan to test out a number of new programs—from multi-week tournament series to one-time events—find out what players and stores enjoyed about these new programs and what could be better, and then use that feedback to help improve the next version. And sometimes the next.
Our goal this year is to refine and reimagine our in-store play programs to create greater accessibility and appeal for players of all skill levels.
We want players to find in-store play that suits them, that provides a fun environment, and that builds and supports communities at local stores.
That means you're likely to see new programs made available in your store throughout the year. For example, thanks to the positive feedback we received for Kaladesh Leagues, we've already started Aether Revolt Leagues and plan to offer them again for Amonkhet, each time adding just a little bit more. All you'll need are three booster packs and a local store, and you'll be ready to go!
Likewise, based on feedback from Standard Showdown, we're helping stores run Standard Series events between February 13 (today!) and April 16. There, you'll receive rewards after playing in six events during that period. Some players can also get an exclusive playmat featuring art from Amonkhet. All Standard events during this time are part of the Standard Series, even Standard events held at Friday Night Magic.
Additionally, I'm excited to introduce Magic Open House on April 15, an event-filled day where players can stop by their local store for fun, casual play that includes learn-to-play Magic events, free 2017 Welcome Decks for new players, and premium foil full-art lands for interacting on digital. If there's someone you've been looking to teach Magic, we hope you bring them to a store near you on April 15.
After these new programs run, we'll be asking both players and stores for ways to improve, and using those insights to iterate into new things to try out.
Our ultimate goal is to create more opportunities for you to have fun playing Magic with others at your local game store.
It's a simple thing that can be very powerful. Stores build communities, and communities help build our game. 20-plus years from now there's going to be someone else sitting in my seat exploring new play programs, and I want them to come from a place much like I did—a store community that provided fun, welcoming opportunities to make friends over a card game we all love.
I'm looking forward to seeing what 2017 brings.
Vice President of Global Brand Strategy and Marketing