Beyond the Norm: Has This Local Game Store Taken Capitalism Too Far?
From the outside, popular local gaming store Mogg Fanatic Games – Sponsored by Taco Bell, looks like any other. Small, dark, and with a clashing color scheme seemingly chosen to resemble a clown’s vomit, most passersby don’t give it a second glance.
“They sell voodoo or something,” one local man commented. “Witchcraft, satanic stuff, you know. Lots of kids going in and out, makes you wonder where the parents are. Prayge.”
From the inside, however, the store is unlike any other. Most stores utilize colorful posters of a diverse cast of characters to pull customers’ attention from the smell of body odor. Mysterious Brooding Jace, Powerful Wizard Jace, and Shirtless Jace with Abs tend to be some of the more popular selections. Instead, the walls inside Mogg Fanatic Games – Sponsored by Taco Bell are covered in advertisements. Deodorant, Doritos, and eSports Chairs scream for attention in a brightly-colored battle for customers’ money.
“It started when a local sandwich shop wanted to post an ad in our gaming area,” said store founder and manager Subway McFlurry – Sponsored by Olive Garden. “As a discerning businessman, I realized I could adopt something similar to Google’s model, where I sustain my business primarily off ad revenue.”
Born Joe White, Mr. McFlurry has changed his name multiple times as part of paid sponsorships.
“I’m obligated to finish every statement with a reminder that Olive Garden is special because when you’re here, you’re family,” Mr. McFlurry added.
As profits ballooned, Mr. McFlurry asked himself the next logical question: how could he make more money?
“The ad game brought record profits for our shareholders,” McFlurry said, having brought Mogg Fanatic Games – Sponsored by Taco Bell public in 2019. “But we still weren’t leveraging our gaming sector to the extent that it could be. How could we maximize synergy, optimize workflow, and really disrupt the wizarding world? What it came down to was upward revenue stream dynamics.”
In late 2019, McFlurry announced that his store would run all Magic: the Gathering tournaments under a new set of rules.
“A purer, more American set of rules,” McFlurry clarified proudly as he cleaned his shotgun.
In a traditional Sealed prerelease tournament, each player pays an entrance fee of $25-30, receives six packs of the newly released cards, and builds a deck from the pool with which they compete against the other players. Prereleases are lauded by Wizards of the Coast, the company that produces Magic, for their fun, casual atmosphere in which players of all kinds come together.
“There are two types of Magic players,” Mark Rosewater, the head designer for the game, explained. “Those who want to win, and those who want to complain for six hours that everyone else is being mean to them, spend more time arguing than playing, and think their deck with a consistent Turn 2 kill is a 4/10 powerwise. The latter group are called ‘Commander players.’”
Rosewater went on to share that the two groups don’t always get along.
“We’ve had sixteen murders of people from one group by the other this year alone,” the head designer confided. “And that was with everyone in quarantine!”
McFlurry had a different vision for his prerelease.
“Prereleases are just an extension of the radical, SJW, socialist agenda that Wizards of the Coast has been pushing for years,” McFlurry said. “Everyone gets the same number of packs and starts with the same amount of life? Each player has an equal chance of going first? Of course they do, cuz (sic) you wouldn’t want to hurt any snowflakes’ feelings.”
Instead of paying a flat rate for entry, players are allowed to purchase any number of packs that they want. Thirty dollars gets them the traditional six, but players can add on additional packs at a rate of five dollars per booster.
“That shouldn’t work,” said u/DogeDRockefeller, a frequent commenter on r/MTGFinance, the subreddit devoted to buying out all copies of the 2012 card Séance. “Each store is allocated a finite supply of prerelease kits and product to award as prize. The cross-promotional deal mechanics just don’t synergize with the proposed revenue model at all.”
“The extra packs come from the prerelease kits of the players who don’t pay extra,” explained McFlurry. “And the five dollar add-on is only the starting rate. Inevitably, there ends up being a bidding war, which is one of the values that our great nation was founded on.”
Blake Bezos, tournament champion and, this reporter was assured, definitely not an illegitimate son of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, agrees.
“My proudest accomplishment was winning the Strixhaven prerelease event,” Bezos boasted. “We’d just arrived at the prerelease after a game of polo, except we used peasants as our horses, and I outbid everyone for the extra packs. I actually managed to bid enough money to buy the entire stock of prerelease kits, winning the tournament without playing a single game.”
The prize for going 4-0 in the tournament was six packs of the new expansion and a soda from the vending machine.
“It was more about the pride of knowing that I was far and away the best player,” Bezos explained.
Buying up the store’s stock of prerelease kits also meant that Bezos didn’t need to bid on the store’s other offerings.
“For any one game, players can purchase an extra life point for a dollar, or ten extra life points for nine dollars,” McFlurry explained. “I also allow players to bid for the right to go first. I’m very open to player suggestions. Someone once offered me fifty dollars to play a fifteen card deck. That caught on as quite a popular product as well, though it did lead to an uptick in mill strategies.”
McFlurry pointed out that players must pay to have their life totals restored after each match as well.
“This isn’t that socialist hellscape to our north,” the man snorted. “If you’re not a loser, you won’t need our Healthcare Package anyways.”
Gerald Smith was one of thirty-one players who lost to Blake Bezos in the prerelease event, but he has no regrets about participating.
“It was an honor to lose to a player as talented as Blake,” Smith gushed. “I look forward to the day when I’m able to reach his skill level.”
Gerald is paid minimum wage in his role as a warehouse worker at Amazon.
“I would never want to go back to the old version of prereleases,” Smith added. “The new model is way more of a meritocracy. I know that if I work hard, someday I’ll achieve the American Dream, just like Bezos did.”
McFlurry’s unique way of doing things has spread into Constructed formats of Magic as well.
“We play for Ante,” the storeowner said proudly. “And damage still uses the stack. I’m an originalist, you see; our Founding Father Richard Garfield knew what he was doing when he wrote the first rulebook back in 1991.”
When it was pointed out to Mr. McFlurry that the stack did not exist in the original rules, he asked me to leave his store.
“I don’t need your un-American, revisionist history here,” he said quite loudly. “When you’re here, you’re family. Now get the hell out.”
Ryan Normandin is a grinder from Boston who has lost at the Pro Tour, in GP & SCG Top 8's, and to 7-year-olds at FNM. Despite being described as "not funny" by his best friend and "the worst Magic player ever" by Twitch chat, he cheerfully decided to blend his lack of talents together to write funny articles about Magic.
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