Leaks Are Not SO Bad: A Defense of WotC

Darin Keener • March 17, 2018

Unless you've been living under a rock for two weeks, you know what's going on. Wizards of the Coast (WotC) accidentally posted the full release notes of Dominaria on their Chinese-language site.

As MTG players are well-known for being measured and reasonable (Announcer voice: no they're not), in those scant few minutes that the document was available the community had translated the document into English, disseminated the data all over teh IntarWebs, and quickly began to buy up all of the enemy buddylands that were going to be reprinted in Dominaria. In a move remiscent of the Ixalan sheet leak from last year, Wizards first admitted that the information was real through an article by Blake Rasmussen released that evening. In that article, WotC stated that they were going to do what they did with the Ixalan leaks: move their schedule up, start rolling out a full release on Monday, March 12th, and go with it. When Monday rolled around, however, a second article by Aaron Forsythe stated that WotC had changed its mind on the schedule and would begin to roll out the Dominaria spoilers-not-really-any-more on Wednesday, March 21st.


I don't want to waste a lot of bandwidth ranting about the leaks and who should be responsible for them. This is nowhere near the same sort of circumstance that the Ixalan leak was. Then, an employee of a contracted company hired by WotC took a picture of a product that was not his property (either physical or intellectual) and made it available to everyone in conflict of their contract. This is obviously bad and possibly even a crime (...I'm not an intellectual rights attorney, so I'll keep my speculations to a minimum). This time, an employee of WotC preparing a document to be published weeks from now hit the wrong button on his/her keyboard.

I'm not willing to crucify anyone for that.


Yes, it should be understood that the error cost WotC a lot of effort and preparation for their Dominaria roll-out. But I bet you've hit a wrong button on your keyboard before and sent out a text message or an email that you really didn't mean to send. Yes, I'm talking to you, Kenneth. Don't look at me like that.

However, concentrating on figuring out the culprit distracts us from the bigger picture. WE (and again I'm looking at all of you) are the minority. Yes, if you've been furiously typing replies on Reddit or you've already read the release notes in English AND the original Chinese just to make sure you didn't miss anything, you are not the majority of players. Neither am I. After all, I write long-ish articles on MTG and related subjects. Who has the time, amirite? By any reasonable estimate, there are around 20 million players of MTG in the world, out of which 12 million are considered ACTIVE players, per Maro's statement late in 2017. By those numbers alone, this means that at least 40% of the player base are not considered "active". That could mean a lot of things...maybe that's 12 million who bought a couple of packs and just play at home. Maybe that includes all of the kitchen table MTG players who have their playgroup and add to their deck every once in a while but have no idea what "rotation" is, much less which deck finished 3rd at GP Madrid over the weekend.

And out of those 12 million "active" players, how many read the Internet daily and have heard about the leaks? How many do you think have read the release notes (full disclosure: I haven't read them yet, because I'm waiting for the articles to go live next week so I can talk about them on my stream. And even if you're playing every week at Friday Night Magic, what percentage of THOSE players will limit their exposure to the release notes to second-hand information given to them by friends about Damepening Spheres or Mox Cubic Zirconiae or Companion Cubes or whatever is it that they're told or will ever remember a few days later? My guess is...not a whole lot.

And what percentage actually makes up the hardcore MTG fans? In one of the simplest estimates I could make, there are around 236,000 people who went so far as to subscribe to the main English MTG Reddit board If we are to take this number at face value....huh. That's only a bit more than 1% of all MTG players in the world, and only 2% of all active players.

In conclusion, don't be overwhelmed by selection bias. I know that ALL of your friends are talking about Dominaria. So are mine. But the vast, VAST majority of MTG players have no idea any of this happened. They're just living their lives, going to school, going to work, raising kids, growing older, and being happily oblivious to all of the drama of the past few days. When they find out, they're not going to be outraged. They might be interested, or curious, or ambivalent. We in the hardcore crowd, the most-active 1-2% of the MTG community risk getting caught in the self-selecting echo chamber of the Internet fanbase, where we've tailored our social media feeds to make things bigger and way more important than they actually are. If you don't think so, then answer this...why didn't Sharknado make multimillions in the theater? That night it was on, wasn't EVERYONE talking about it on Twitter? Yeah, they were. But NO ONE ELSE WAS.

So, you want my advice? Let it go, Elsa. This too shall pass. Enjoy the information. Start building those new Standard decks in your head. But don't use this as an indictment against the entire organization of WotC or a bad omen for what may happen in the future. Sometimes stuff happens. It did. Let's just move on and enjoy it!