Event Prizes

Players come out to events for a lot of reasons, but it’s no secret that the one biggest reasons is prizes. So if players want prizes, how do you build your tournaments to attract players without going bankrupt? The answer lies in figuring out the type of player you want to attract and tailoring your structure and prizes. Casual or competitive? Glory seeker or value seeker? Here are some questions to ask yourself and some ways to maximize your players and your profits!

Step One – Who Are You Trying To Reach?

Prereleases often play to a casual audience while PTQs draw in the sharks, but who is your weekly event targeting? That decision is up to you, and it is all about reading your community. This doesn’t need to be an “all in” choice either, as a lot of stores have weekly events targeted at different demographics. Different nights or even separate FNMs for the casual and competitive crowds are good strategies to make sure there is something for everyone.

There are many types of players, but let’s look at some of the more extreme stereotypes:

— Competitive (Steve) players want a winner or some big prize for performing well. Steve is not concerned about prizes paying out to lower-ranked players because he is – delusional or not – expecting to be at the top of the standings. The more stuff that you add to the top of the event and the closer that you get to crowning a single winner, the happier Steve will be.

— Casual (Cassie) players are more focused on playing and less on prizes. Cassie doesn’t necessarily expect to win the event, so big shiny trophies have less impact on her. It’s more about a consistently positive experience for Cassie, and walking away with a pack after going 1-3 in a Prerelease will send her away with a smile on her face. In general, anything that is in the prize pool for players at or below an even record is directly targeted at Cassie.

— Value Seekers (Val) are always looking for a chance to stretch their budget further. You will often see Val hunting through the bulk-rare box for hidden gems, and I’m sure you’ve heard him bragging about how he spent a day trading to turn a few bulk rares into planeswalkers. Val is attracted to Limited events where you take home cards regardless of how well you place, but targeting prizes for Val can be very hard since he looks at the worst possible outcome measured against the entry fee. Similar to Cassie, a deep prize payout may bring Val in for an event, but participation rewards are the most likely to get him excited.

Step Two – What To Give Away?

Organizers have one major advantage in setting up prizes: perceived value. Paying wholesale for booster packs can allow you to create prize structures that give your players a great return and still put money in your pocket. A good rule to go by is that the prize pool for an event should be a slightly better value than if the players pooled their money and just bought the items.

Some silver bullets you can use to tilt the balance in your favor include special items such as Commander decks, From the Vault sets, and other sealed items that are in high demand. The perceived value of these items is much higher than your cost, and tournaments can allow you to monetize them while offering your customers a great event! You may find that many of your customers who aren’t willing to pay $200 for the new From the Vault set are happy to play in a $20 event with the set as top prize.

Another trick in a store’s bag is store credit. If you assume that the average margin on items is 50%, that gives you a great ratio of cost versus perceived value. Store credit also has two distinct advantages:

  • Magic players like to buy singles, which are your highest-margin items.
  • Store credit costs you nothing until it is redeemed. (While some players spend their credit immediately, many won’t, allowing you to put off actually paying the cost for prizes until a later date.)

While both packs and store credit are flexible, many high-demand items lend themselves to structures where you crown a single winner. With that in mind, next time we’ll talk about the different event structures that you can use and how they affect your players and potential prizes.