Following up from last week’s column, according to an update WotC posted on its Eventlink Update log, the primary cause for the slowdown was the amount of traffic funneling through the new Magic Companion app (See "Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Prerelease and the Perfection Fallacy"). Friday night was the first time the app had utilized the event timer and the additional traffic load caused some of the services to "tip over," using Wizards’ way of describing it. The system is built to grow to handle additional traffic in a situation like this, but for some reason, the additional "pods" the system created to process the additional player requests did not activate properly and players routed towards those new pods saw very slow or non-existent response. Meanwhile, players operating within the previously existing pods saw little or no slowdown.
During the hour of the disruption, WotC added additional capacity to the system and restarted the pods with problems, ending the slowdown after about an hour. The company is looking at additional fixes to make sure Eventlink can handle increased demand in the future and did point out this is the only slowdown the system saw during almost three years of use. That is cold comfort, of course, to the players and stores that had to deal with the repercussions from the slowdown. At least there were no problems reported the rest of the weekend, and WotC does not expect to see a similar problem during the Magic: The Gathering prerelease for Streets of New Capenna. I expect that WotC will have extra tech staff on duty, at least Friday, to spring into action at the first hint of any problems with Eventlink.
Given these events, here are four things I like/would like to see WotC continue:
- New Bundle Packaging. The new Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Bundle packaging is great. Yes, without shrinkwrap the outer sleeve might get a bit shelf worn, but given how popular Bundles are, I do not foresee them staying on the shelf that long. The footprint of the new Bundles is noticeably smaller than those in previous sets, freeing up valuable shelf space. If not using shrinkwrap for the Bundles proves successful, I'd really like to see WotC move to eliminating shrinkwrap from other Magic boxed products. After all, booster boxes already serve the purpose of protecting and containing booster packs. Put a foil or some other form of seal to hold the box closed and show it has not been tampered with and reduce plastic waste.
- At-Home Prerelease. WotC put the At Home prerelease in place to help stores during the pandemic. Both my store and most others found it a very effective method to keep customers coming in while mitigating the likelihood of spreading COVID-19, but we have found that a significant number of customers really like the option of having their own event at home. Attendance at most stores is still down from pre-pandemic levels, but I'd rather give customers the option of playing in store or at home, whichever they prefer, rather than forcing them to come into the store for a prerelease.
- Offline option for Eventlink. I mentioned this in last week’s column, but along with many other retailers, I would like a manual option incorporated into Eventlink. Konami and The Pokemon Company International both have that option in their software and do not appear to have problems with fraudulent entries; adding a manual option would make things a bit easier for stores. WotC responded fast when there was a problem, but we still saw a lag which a manual option would have helped.
- Retail Support. WotC is the best company we deal with, in terms of support, by far. They offer up promo packs, Game Day promos, posters, prize boosters for prereleases, store grants. No other company comes close. Stores complain about WotC a lot, but no other company in the games industry supports us as much as it does and I'd like to acknowledge that from time to time.
Anything you like that WotC is doing now, would like to see them continue doing, or would like them to start doing? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.