I wanted to stop in and talk about what we've been working on and the current philosophy that we're working toward. As you know, we've been trying to balance the various aspects of the complex system of PucaTrade since its inception—that hasn't changed in the last year or so. The team and I have been trying to address issues as they crop up. Over the last year, we've needed to direct attention into things like PR situations, the PucaPoint economy, and behind-the-scenes company matters.
Many of these areas of focus have been resolved and things have calmed down for the moment. In this season we find ourselves asking the question, "What's the next step?" For me, this question can be answered by evaluating what issues we face and finding a path that addresses these issues while moving PucaTrade forward as a platform.
Today, the biggest problem we face is userbase contraction; this means that instead of growing, our core group of members is slowly shrinking. This gradual resizing has had some positive effects: For example, a smaller community makes for a tighter community, which means you have the opportunity to form relationships with the people that you're trading with. Another benefit is that the economy becomes more manageable because the point pool is smaller. If you're currently using the site, you can really feel this. The work that Devon has been doing by absorbing points and buying all tickets above a certain point is making points scarce and more valuable. This means that wants with lower bonuses are being sent out, and the rate of trade feels much better. These are good things, but if we're honest, we can't continue to contract indefinitely. There comes a point when we need to reverse the trend.
The truth is that we should have been trying to reverse this trend for some time now, but we haven't been ready. We've lost some time, but I think we can still make some positive strides. Keep in mind, PucaTrade was at the same size that our core-group is now when it sparked a fire and swept the Magic community. I've been on record saying that I don't want to invite new members or engage old members unless we can fix some of the information gap issues that have lead to poor user experiences. I believe that with this coming code release we've gotten to a place where new and returning members can find success using PucaTrade in its default mode.
We started focusing on closing the information gap at the beginning of the year with the code released in early spring 2019. The key feature we implemented was the ability to filter out low offers when sending your cards. We also set the default filter to only show offers with a 50% or higher bonus. This prevents members from sending cards at base value, by default. The new code release will take care of the flip side of the coin, receiving.
In the new release, we plan to merge the base want workflow and the promotion workflow. What this means is that there will be only one way to add a card to your want list—the idea of "promoting" a card will be phased out. The new workflow will simply enable you to make an offer for the card that you want.
Just like our recent modification to the sending filters, this new workflow will be tuned by default to help someone with zero special knowledge of the system to find success. First, there will be a default bonus setting that will be more in line with the market. Second, the new interface will provide our members with special "pricing" data about that specific card, including the current top offer and the last value that the card was traded at. These will help members make offers in line with the current market, and in the end, should result in more cards sent!
Shadow Trades and More Changes
Along with the changes above, we're making an important economic change. Currently, only promoted trades have a fee associated with them; we've found that most of the successful trades on the site are promoted trades. There is one exception to this: We've been seeing a lot of "shadow" trades lately.
For the uninitiated, a "shadow" trade is a fake trade used as a way of either making a points transfer without paying for a tiered account or trading a card with a bonus without using the promotion system and thus skipping the promotion fees, using fake trades to make up for the value difference. The trouble with these type of trades, besides the obvious fact that they're not above board, is that they contaminate our data.
Remember how I talked about a member being able to see the last traded price for a card in the new interface? These shadow trades throw a wrench in features like this, not to mention the effects they could have on future plans to develop a true market price (more on that another day). What this means is that we will be implementing a fee on all transactions, including trades at base value. For many people, this will not change how the site is used since they're already paying a fee due to promotions.
We understand that this change may cause issues for some who have been doing big trades or transferring high-dollar cards through PucaTrade. We don't want to make this change without giving you a way to continue doing business as you are now. For this reason, we've decided to reduce the fees of Rare members to 0%. For our non-rare members, we've also shifted the fees a step lower to address the new change. This means that the fee for common members will now be 5%, and Uncommon members 3%. All other fees (like PucaShield) will remain the same.
It's my hope that these features and changes will increase your enjoyment and use of the PucaTrade platform. I know that there may be a lot of feedback and questions about these changes. Please join me for one of these opportunities to talk about it.
I look forward to seeing you inside PucaTrade!
|Jonathan Medina (@Medina_MTG) is a casual Magic player and lover of people. He has a long history of writing for various Magic sites. He's currently the Director of PucaTrade, and a semi-regular writer at GatheringMagic.com. You can find him on Twitter at @Medina_MTG|