Hello, Magic Online players.
Over the past few years, the Magic Online team has put a strong emphasis on soliciting feedback from our players, especially leading up to the launch of the new version of Magic Online. We have several ways for you to share your thoughts about Magic Online and we have been reviewing and using that feedback to improve Magic Online, both as a game client and a game service. If you are unsure about how you can share your opinions, check out the options below.
We have a road map for where we ultimately want Magic Online to be, but your interaction helps us refine the prioritization of the features and improvements that matter most to you, and help us determine the best way to get there. Many recent changes, including updating the presentation of player information, the addition of filters for binders and decks, and the return of player ratings, are all in response to your feedback.
Using the information we've gathered to drive change goes beyond client updates and extends to the general player experience as well. The recent adjustment to our reimbursement policy is also a direct result of player feedback. If you missed the announcement on Monday, players were unsatisfied with our reimbursement process, so we've made two changes in response: we've simplified the Issue Reporting form and prizes earned are no longer considered when determining reimbursement. The reimbursement changes are a step towards delivering a better overall player experience.
One message we've heard clearly is that you want more transparency from us, so I want to discuss some ways we're improving our communications, review our recent user study, and discuss the preliminary results of our satisfaction survey. Keep in mind these are first steps, and we'll be looking at additional ways to improve communications as we go forward.
Traditionally, we've used several methods for distributing news to players. Our weekly announcements are chock full of information and you can find them every Tuesday on MTGO.com, while articles (like this one) provide a deeper dive into larger issues but are not delivered as regularly. You can follow @MagicOnline on Twitter to get updates in real time. In game, the announcements on the Home scene will alert you to important articles and information.
We've also identified some additional ways to improve our future communications. First, messaging in event rooms returns with our next planned client update. These messages will appear at the top of the appropriate event chat channel and will be the first thing players can see when they open that event's chat. This lets us to target messaging to players in those areas.
Second, starting next week, we'll begin publishing a known-issues list that will be updated weekly. This list will feature major known problems, though it won't be a complete catalog of every bug or defect in Magic Online. If we have a planned fix date, a known way to avoid the issue, or both, we will include that in the issues list as well.
Finally, our digital event coordinators will be more proactive in communicating with players in major events, like Pro Tour Qualifiers and Magic Online Season Championships. This is on top of establishing dedicated chats for those events. Their role is head judge for our premier events, and while they won't need to answer rules questions (thanks MTGO), they're responsible for maintaining the integrity of the event and will take actions when issues are happening.
And this is just the start. We'll be looking for more ways to improve the conversation with our players, both inside and outside of Magic Online. Our recent user study is just one example of this increased reach.
At the end of August, we fielded a small user study with the help of the user experience research team at Blink UX. The goal was to dig into the behaviors of our enfranchised users and see how the players who use Magic Online the most were adapting to the new version. We would then use their expertise to help inform how we prioritize upcoming work.
Participants were selected to be in one of three groups—power players, streamers, and traders—each with its own selection criteria. For instance, power players needed to have an account that was at least six months old and play at least six tournaments per week. Once selected, players participated in a remote study session run by Blink UX.
Each session included a moderator interviewing players remotely and used screen capture software to watch players interact with Magic Online, all while soliciting real-time feedback. The experts at Blink then presented their findings to the Magic Online team based on these interviews. So what did we learn?
Study participants enjoyed playing and drafting in the new version. Highlights include the combat clarity provided by the red zone and the stack, quick access to adjusting stops, and the ability to build a deck while drafting. Finding a match and building a deck, especially through importing, were also well received, though there are elements that could certainly be improved.
When looking at areas for improvement, stability and performance are at the top of the importance list for our study participants. While not a new revelation, it simply reinforces the fact that ensuring players can play without interruption is the most important thing we can do.
Outside of stability, our study participants universally identified trading as the most difficult feature to use, both in setting up a binder for trade and in completing a trade, so we'll continue to focus feature refinements in this area. We recently released the ability to apply collection filters to your binder and decks as a direct result of our work with Blink, and we're investigating ways to increase binder size, improve trade performance, and provide additional features that refine the existing system.
Other areas of focus include providing players the opportunity to reduce the number of windows the client opens; ensuring the client remembers more player settings; finding ways to display cards larger in the duel scene; and, as mentioned above, improving communication with our players.
We also fielded our Magic Online satisfaction survey recently, which let you rate Magic Online in a number of areas. Limited to players who have played in the last three months—essentially since the launch of the new version—we wanted a clear snapshot of how players feel about the current state of the program, including the latest features and updates, which we'll use to prioritize upcoming work. Look for more surveys to come in the future, so we can measure our progress as we act on your feedback.
While we're still digging into the survey details, it is clear that the players in the user study and the players who took the survey have similar opinions of the current state of Magic Online. Let's look at some of the highs and lows.
Similar to the user study, the highest-rated areas of the client center around playing Magic, including playing matches, finding opponents, and the variety of formats and events offered. As the Khans of Tarkir release has shown, we continue to deliver authentic Magic gameplay experiences.
When looking at the negatives, the study and survey align as well. Players are least satisfied with Magic Online's stability and performance. As mentioned above, we're continuing to take measures to improve both of these areas and will remain vigilant until we get where we need to be. Eliminating crashes, lag, and other impactful bugs is our top priority.
Beyond stability, survey participants seemed to have more issues with general usability and navigation than our study participants, particularly in the Trade scene. We'll continue to explore ways to present information more clearly and to refine the user experience in complex scenes like Trade, Collection, and Play Lobby. While this is a broad group of areas, we've already begun conversations on what we can do to help players get comfortable using Magic Online.
Finally, survey participants found that Magic Online felt less social than before. We have some ideas to improve this, including making sure chat is more visible and refining how players interact with their buddies. We'll deliver these changes as soon as we can. Outside of client changes, we've also become more active in monitoring and taking action against toxic players, including issuing permanent mutes to disruptive players and even deactivating particularly egregious accounts.
Magic has the most passionate fans in the world and Magic Online is about letting these fans get together and battle anytime, anywhere. Like you, we want that experience to be as awesome as possible, so we're going to continue to listen and improve. We have a list of updates and features that we’re excited to deliver and your continued engagement helps us determine the priority in which they arrive. The changes may not be instantaneous, but they will be regular and continuous, and together we'll make Magic Online as amazing as it deserves to be.
Coming up, celebrate the scariest of Magic with our Spooky Sealed event beginning today, once Magic Online returns from downtime. The following week, we'll release Magic: The Gathering–Commander (2014 Edition), available on November 7. Also, stay tuned for an update on Leagues in a few weeks before we announce our plans for the holiday season.
Thanks for helping make Magic Online awesome.
Digital Business Manager
Magic: The Gathering