Contrary to my previous post, I am looking forward to Gleemax, now that it's clarified that a) it's not the Digital Initiative, and b) it's not yet the full product. If Gleemax really is the gaming MySpace, then I'll be one of the people eagerly signing up. Of course how successful it'll be remains to be seen. I mean it won't be of any use to me if no one else in Metro Manila signs up. And as far as I might like the games available, I don't have access to a credit card unless I mooch off some friends, so that similarly limits my options.
Anyway, over at ICv2, there's an interview with Randy Buehler, vice president of Wizards of the Coast's Digital Gaming:
Magic: The Gathering are aging (i.e. less new blood and more of the same old fans). Or better yet, they're "graduating" to online play.
There are two things that I find interesting about that fact. One is how that mirrors the pen-and-paper RPG scene. I mean as much as new blood is coming into games like Dungeons & Dragons or even the White Wolf line of RPGs, a good portion of the existing demographic were fans of the previous incarnation of the game. And quite frankly, the "graduating to online play" strikes true too. I've met some old gamers and they simply don't have time to play D&D live anymore. They're settling for various online alternatives, everything from Play By Email (PBEM), chat, or MMORPGs. (Not that those are a bad thing, mind you, simply a different play style.)
Second, as a gamer who used to play Magic: The Gathering, the people playing the game has indeed dwindled compared to its peak years (i.e. before Pokemon). And when I pass by the local hobby store, most of the Collectible Card Game players I see are people my age or older than me (of course Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon being the exception but true for other CCGs like Legend of the Five Rings).
It's funny at how I think back in Magic: The Gathering's early years, gamers were clamoring at how CCGs would kill the RPG market. Well, both games are still here and what's even more interesting for me is that perhaps CCGs will follow in the footsteps of RPGs (in the sense of aging gamers and how the old blood will most likely carry the torch for a long time).
On a side note, I was visiting EnWorld and looking at the forum for Gleemax and there's so much defensiveness among the posters (thankfully not the moderators). You can talk about strengths and weaknesses of the product but why compare it with EnWorld? And at the end of the day, I think they're different products. I guess I'm just tired of people hating Wizards of the Coast products simply because they're from Wizards of the Coast (or Hasbro if that's what antagonizes you). I mean I hate Microsoft, but if they come out with a good product, I'll like it. I've seen too many "I don't like Wizards of the Coast cancelling Dragon/Dungeon magazine, so I'm not buying Magic Item Compedium." Which is a shame because Magic Item Compedium's a great book (and so were the releases in the past few months).