Magic: the Gathering leaks and suspensions

Chaos in the community of Magic: the Gathering players and judges. After an investigation into major leaks of cards in an upcoming set, over a dozen judges, including most of the Southeast regional leadership, were suspended. Apparently, one or two judges were using a regional community to publish spoilers and were handed 3-year bans; the rest (including, supposedly, the person who actually did report the leaks) were assigned 3-month suspensions for alleged non-action and non-reporting . Any Magic events in the Southeast are going to have a lot of trouble being staffed.

In protest/solidarity, one of the major volunteer community centers for judges has shut down with a redirect message. I’m pretty frustrated by this turn of events; I don’t have enough information to judge whether the suspensions were justified, but I do know that I used JudgeApps to track all the events I’m scheduled to help run and to train new judge candidates. I’m trying to withhold judgement until I can actually talk a little more with the webmaster, but it will take some doing to convince me that his actions are sensible and justified.

I’m not sure how many MTG players there are, and how many of them are in the Southeast, so this may be of limited interest. Still, I kind of wanted to vent, so thanks for listening!

DCI Judge, Level II

Fucking hypocrites. Wizards of the Coast has done far more damage to my interest in their game than these judges ever could. Six months ago I may have been more supportive, but these leaks are the only reason I’ve looked at M:tG since they finally put their forums out of their misery after they spent years ruining them.

And that’s before considering the three month suspensions for guilt by association.

My understanding (which is admittedly limited) is the Judge who supposedly reported the leak was still suspended because they had leaked other sets’ cards early as well not just this one.

For me, it depends on the quality of the investigation. If they had good evidence that people knew about the leaks and did nothing, then a 3-month suspension sounds perfectly fine.

I’m sorry that this negatively impacted you, but from what I’ve read the suspensions were completely deserved. According to Wizards, this particular circle of judges have gotten early spoilers from several previous sets and done nothing about it. This one happened to escape their Facebook group. It doesn’t take a genius to predict that it was going to happen eventually, so they are all being held accountable for not previously stopping the leak.

Having clicked the link, I think Bennet’s subtitle “Why Ham-Fisted Knee-Jerk Overreactions Hurt” contains a bit more irony than he realizes.

A whole bunch more details here:

In one of the more impressive feats of journalism I’ve ever seen, one of the judges with the longest suspensions actually calmly interviewed the person who suspended him. Having heard both sides, I’m coming around to Wizard’s side about the suspensions–although I still think the whole matter was communicated poorly leading up to this point. In particular, it’s noteworthy that the judges had their suspensions reduced for their community contributions.

No comment :slight_smile:

So it turns out the guy who “reported the leak” actually just got straight up caught by Wizards and pressured to give everyone else up? Not quite the same thing!

Well, “straight up caught” is an exaggeration since he wasn’t trying to hide anything in the first place. Assuming he’s telling the truth, anything he did wrong was negligence and not malice.

Leaks in MTG is a thing? Who cares if some cards get leaked? Its not like a movie where the company gets paid only if you go see it, and spoilers make moveigoers less likely to see it. MTG is about playing the actual cards, so what if a card or story gets leaked? As a MTG semi-collector, I fail to see where it warrants suspending people. This is like Lays suspending or firing employees for leaking what new flavor of potato chips they’re making next year.

He got caught sharing cards that looked like fakes. There are thousands of fakes on the internet - a lot of them more credible than a sixth basic land - and he was not in the loop to know that this was not one of them. It’s not like these things had a big CLASSIFIED stamp on them.

Yep, it gives you zero advantage to know about new cards in advance since you can’t play them until they’re released. This boils down to their PR people whining “you spoiled our plan that was designed to get the most interest with the least amount of money spent by dribbling it all out slowly”.

It potentially gives you some advantage financially. If you know about an upcoming card that makes a currently weak card stronger you could buy it for cheap before the price goes up. It also could allow you to adjust to the new metagame in advance. It’s not 100% harmless.

It’s not really a competitive issue. It’s an IP issue.

Trick’s article explicitly said one of the reasons is about a level playing field in competition.

A full godbook leak like the Guillaume Wafo Tapa one is certainly a competitive issue, since they were able to start playtesting early. Leaking a handful of cards is not the same thing, but I can see where he gets there from here.

Yeah, but WotC wouldn’t have cared if these were shared amongst a small group of people: they’re up in arms because the leaked cards were widely distributed, which eliminates their ability to drive traffic to their own site by releasing the cards, and their ability to reward certain content producers by allowing them to release certain specific cards. There also seems to be a sentiment that they have a certain story to tell in the development of the cards, and that by widely releasing a bunch of cards without a strategy tailored to creating hype, that the set would be less interesting to their fan base.

Even their poorly designed product can sell massive amounts based on hype and pre-ordering. This is similar, in their eyes, to someone posting a youtube of video game content prior to launch that might highlight blemishes of a game without showing off the best parts.

I’m a former L1 judge who plays regularly.

I have no problem with Wizards suspending people who actively transmitted leaked info with the knowledge that it was leaked.

I think it’s absurd that they’re punishing people who received the info, or who transmitted it 3rd hand without even knowing if it were real. If I were still judging, I’d totally be siding with those arguing for a strike. I’m not the internet police. I don’t have any obligation to report leaks or give a shit about your marketing plans. And I certainly have no way of knowing whether an image that I might speculate on is actually real or just a clever photoshop.

Then the problem is WotC’s retail model. “People might buy singles before the scalpers jack up their prices” is not a compelling reason to prevent your customers from being informed about your products.

One think that’s been pointed out in articles about this is that this group was sharing leaks from multiple sets. If you come across a purported leak, are you obligated to assume it’s real and report it? No. If you’re getting leaks from the same people over multiple sets, and their cards always turn out to be legit, however, I’d say you are obligated. At a minimum, you should stop disseminating the leaks via Twitter and the like.

Theft is theft, the IP belongs to Wizards.

You’re assuming some things that I don’t think we have much evidence for. Sure, there’s somebody who’s getting these leaks from the source, or someone close to the source, and only gets solid information. That person knows that the leaks are real. As they are shared further, they get mixed with fakes, with official releases, with whatever. The further down the line you are, the less you have a clear idea that there is the source of a leak anywhere near you. According to the guy who did send this out on Twitter, he didn’t think it was real and was interested in a speculative discussion.

But let’s assume for the sake of argument that some or all the members of this private facebook group had a pretty good idea that they were seeing some real leaks. Do they have an obligation to report it, and can they be reasonably punished for failure to uphold that obligation?

I would say that they do not. In fact, I think the concept is absurd. Purchasing a company’s products and playing a game that they sell does not impose an obligation on anyone to do anything for that company.

I think you need a much stronger argument than “they knew there were real leaks” before I’m convinced that I have an obligation to a corporation to report on my friends for violating a marketing strategy.