Monday, November 10, 2014

The Relative Importance of Organized Play



I received a call from Wizards Customer Support last week regarding the change over to paperless entry of new players to the DCI system, but no idea if it came in response to last week’s column or not. I got a walkthrough the new system, which has not actually implemented yet, as well as help in merging my WOTC customer and DCI accounts, which turned out a whole lot more difficult to do than I had expected, apparently mainly because I had jumped on the bandwagon early and converted over the store DCI account to the new system already. I gather ‘tis easier to covert over the customer account first, then merge your DCI account with it, rather than the other way around (and does my WOTC account password really need upper and lower case letters, at least one number AND a special character? That is as secure a password as my bank requires and I certainly do not store any financial information on the Wizards website). 

This got me to thinking, again, about the importance WOTC places on Organized Play and comparing it to the utter lack of importance another pillar of the industry, Games Workshop, places on it.

Let us compare the two.

WOTC has a very structured OP program, with stores expected, or at least encouraged, to run OP events, either provided by WOTC itself (Friday Night Magic, Magic Game Days, the late Kaijudo Draft program, D&D Encounters and so forth and so on) or set up by the store (Magic, casual Magic, casual D&D). Stores can either schedule  events weeks or months in advance, with promotional materials and support often provided, sometimes hundreds of dollars worth of support) or set something up on the fly, as a group of players come in and settles down for an evening of Magic or D&D. The company has made the DCI Reporter software integral to its OP program and updates the software on a regular basis. The weekly sales tips sent out from Wizards Customer Support usually (but not always) focus on how to enhance a store’s OP program as integral to the success of Magic and, to a lesser extent, Dungeons & Dragons.

Games Workshop, on the other hand, has no Organized Play program. As a couple of my customers commented the other day, Games Workshop views its line of Warhammer products as “beer and pretzels” games. Very expensive beer and pretzel games certainly but still games meant for play between friends who get together for a casual afternoon, not those who get together for tournaments.  Though players do actively play Warhammer and related games in tournaments, these are player created rather than company created events. Games Workshop has even, as far as I know, eliminated their old “Rogue Trader” program. However, unlike WOTC, I get weekly sales calls from Games Workshop and up to $1500 in credit to apply to store armies, paint stations and other GW product used to enhance game play in the store. Both companies realize the importance of in-store play, they just approach it from different viewpoints.