Magic Online Bannings and Me

Hello, all.

I was expecting to write a tournament report today, after a thoroughly enjoyable weekend in sunny (read: humid) Auckland – where I was lucky enough to finish second at the GP. Unfortunately, upon arriving home I checked my emails and was shocked to have received the following:

Firstly, I was amazed at how out of the blue this was, given the fact I hadn’t played MTGO at all in over two weeks – and have never had any issues dealing with the support staff. Then, up on opening Facebook, I learnt that another high profile Australian player had also received the same email. This has therefore lead to absolute confusion over what it is exactly I did wrong.

Allow me to present the sequence of events as I see them:

  1. Whilst playing on MTGO, I experienced an error I viewed to be worthy of compensation.
  2. I followed the recommended channels, expressing why I felt I deserved to be compensated.
  3. A Wizards employee reviewed my request and then, upon deeming it worthy, I was compensated.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for X repetitions.
  5. I am now banned.

Wait, what? Banned? I have had all of my requests (which off the top of my head would be at most 10 in the last three months) approved with no issue. So, how can this possibly be viewed as “abusing the system?” If I am “abusing the system”, then why are my requests being approved? Have Wizards drawn some imaginary line in the sand that they view as being “the appropriate amount of issues to experience per week whilst playing MTGO?” How many issues should I experience when playing Magic Online? How is playing one draft, experiencing an issue and being compensated different to experiencing issues in three drafts and being compensated for all of them?

Some of you may point out that the ban is ‘only’ seven days (clearly a number arrived at after much careful deliberation over my case), but I am personally terrified over the precedent that it sets – as I have, what is for me, a considerable amount of money tied up in MTGO and it is horrifying that I could wake up one day and lose it all because of the frequency with which I experience errors in a deeply flawed and frankly embarrassing piece of software. Wizards are effectively bullying me into being too scared to seek recompense from the laughably bad state of their online client.

What does this mean for other users of MTGO? Well, first it shows that the Online crew is acting with zero transparency, zero need to justify their actions and zero understanding or thought for the community that uses their software. How many other online games even have compensation forms in the first place? I couldn’t tell you, as no other game has ever given me cause to seek one.

I suggest that if Wizards wants to avoid having to compensate people for the issues experienced whilst using their software, perhaps fixing the fundamental flaws within the software itself is a better route than villainising the people that that use your product.