Tag Archives: MtG

PucaTrade Launches IndieGoGo Campaign for New Features

2 Mar PucaTrade

If you remember I love Magic: the Gathering, you may remember the last time I wrote about PucaTrade, the crowdsourcing-powered website for trading Magic cards.

PucaTrade

I’m back today to announce the launch of PucaTrade’s second IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign to add new features to the site. The campaign, which launches on March 2nd and runs for 30 days, will raise money for five upcoming features:

  • A mobile version of the PucaTrade website
  • The ability to trade non-English cards
  • The ability to trade digital Magic: the Gathering Online cards for real-life paper ones, and vice-versa
  • The ability to trade cards of any condition, not just mint/near-mint
  • Support for trading more than one of the same card at a time

Some of these features represent truly unique services, in particular the ability to trade between Magic Online and real-life Magic cards. Currently, a simple way to do this just does not exist. “The reality is that no one is really excited about how MTGO currently handles trading,” says Eric Freytag, PucaTrade’s founder. “We’re really offering something that nobody has seen before: the elegance you’ve come to expect from the PucaTrade experience combined with the MTGO ecosystem.” Personally, I think it could be a great way to help more players get their hands on older cards, many of whose digital versions are affordable but paper forms require a second mortgage.

The idea of support for foreign-language cards is also exciting. Freytag is very enthusiastic about it, calling the opportunity for PucaTrade to go global “a huge deal. In America, we tend to think of non-English cards as unique oddities that are fun to collect, but for a huge percentage of Magic players worldwide, ‘non-English cards’ are just ‘Magic cards.’” He’s absolutely right, and increasing PucaTrade’s potential user base by this much will be an enormous boon for the site’s popularity.

I was initially a little skeptical of the ability to trade cards of any condition. A staple of any good crowdsourcing system is its ability to compartmentalize a project into small tasks that are easily managed by an individual with little to no oversight. Asking your average Magic player to be able to accurately grade their cards’ quality seems like a tall order, but Freytag has confidence in his user base: “Mostly we plan on going really deep on our condition guide, to leave little question about what the card is worth.” He goes on to say that PucaTrade will also add features to upload photos of cards and transfer “PucaPoints” mid-trade, giving traders the tools needed to solve many disputes by themselves.

With Freytag behind the wheel, a user base more than 45,000 strong, and almost half a million dollars’ worth of trades completed each month, PucaTrade looks like it’s on track to knock this campaign out of the park. Adding these features will add a ton of flexibility in terms of how users dictate their trades and help cement PucaTrade as the #1 place to trade cards easily and profitably. If you’d like to donate to the campaign, swing on over to the IndieGoGo page and show your support!

What Wizard Battles Can Teach Us About Crowdsourcing

21 Jun

This is a re-hosting of an article I originally wrote for Microtask‘s blog.

I’d like to start with a confession: when I’m not thinking about crowdsourcing, I’m busy being a huge geek. Not trendy geek chic, unfortunately, but the old fashioned Heinlein-and-Nintendo type. Read on bearing this in mind.

My main vice is Magic: the Gathering, a role-play card game where players are magically-dueling wizards. The only game pieces are cards which represent classical magic spells like fire blasts and enchantments, you each have 20 life, and the first one to the bottom loses.

Image © 2011 Steven Huynh

Image © 2011 Steven Huynh

What does this have to do with crowdsourcing? Well, about 10 years ago, the company that makes this game turned to its fans the players, and for the first time said “you make a card”. What followed was almost a year of creative inspiration and community collaboration, resulting in two additional campaigns and a total of three extremely well-designed cards. Even today, any company that wants to tap into a crowd for creative purposes should look at Magic’s R&D team to see how to properly weigh a campaign’s incentives, barriers to entry and compartmentalization.

Incentives

Before the campaign, Magic’s design and R&D had always been very secretive and insular, a process conducted in such a manner that fans could neither observe nor contribute to it. Some fans turned to making their own custom cards, but they were never accepted, as Magic R&D was expressly forbidden from considering player-submitted cards. So basically here was a community that was intensely passionate, deeply creative but with no opportunity to participate in the design of the game.

In this situation, incentivizing crowd involvement was simply a matter of allowing it. That, and giving bragging rights to important people in the decision-making process, such as those who create the card’s name or key mechanic.

Barriers to Entry

The easiest way to build a useful crowd is to find one that already exists. Magic R&D turned to the community website and blog. They were keen fans and already had some understanding of the R&D and design process from blog posts on the subject. Multiplayer games like this generally have a strong community, so Magic R&D could also count on its players to get the word out.

Compartmentalization

A common problem with crowdsourced projects is that everyone works independently, only sharing work when it is finished. This causes a lot of duplication of effort and restricts collaboration. Magic R&D avoided this by breaking the design process into 24 collaborative steps.

By controlling the process like this, Magic R&D could keep their normal, iterative design process, which may involve a card being changed dozens of times before its final print. The forum discussions between each step also allowed the community to come to a better consensus on which direction to go, and identify potential problems early on. Finally, it ensured that both Magic R&D and the community were present at every step, designing together as a unit instead of pitted against each other.

The three crowdsourcing campaigns created three new cards. All had unique effects unlike any card seen before. All were highly rated on the official card database. Each successive campaign was bigger than the last, and now some fans are asking for a fourth.

All of this happened before crowdsourcing was really “a thing”. It shows that any brand with loyal fans (and some dedication) can create something great (even if they’re not following common practice because common practice hasn’t been invented yet).

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