I hope everyone is doing well. I've been hearing a lot of requests for a "State of Puca"–style article, so that's what I'll try to tackle today. I appreciate the opportunity to write articles like this because it gives me an opportunity to talk about what's going on behind the scenes with you. Before we dive too deep into any behind-the-scenes stuff, let's start by talking about how PucaTrade is doing:
Measuring the health of PucaTrade has always been tricky—in the past we've looked to trade statistics or the number of active members, but when you think about it, all of these measurements are attempts to answer two bigger questions:
- "How does PucaTrade feel?"
- "Can PucaTrade sustain itself as a platform?"
Take trade statistics as an example: These are really just an effort to show that people are getting cards and that the system is working. Member counts can also indicate that the system is working, but they also point to our financial health as a platform—do we have enough subscribers to keep the service online for those who want to use it?
How Does PucaTrade Feel?
When looking at the first question, I can tell you from my own anecdotal experience (and the experiences of others) that PucaTrade feels pretty good right now. This is due to a resizing of our community and economic forces that have been driving inflation down: Point sinks and Devon's point accumulation. With fewer members, it has been easier for the cardflow to circulate to a higher percentage of active members. When you combine this with the point pool shrinkage, it makes for a tighter economy—this is evident when you add something to your Wants list.
One of my biggest concerns going into the middle of this year was a contracting base of core members. My worry was that the core members would continue to follow the downward trend and reduce to nothing, making the platform untenable. Thankfully, that's not what is happening. I've been looking at the numbers over the last couple of months and although the active senders and receivers are down, they are also steady. This is good news! It seems that our community has found some equilibrium with regard to our size and economy, and it shows in the perceived results.
With the community itself looking good, there is still a question of sustainability. This has been a question since Mitch's State of PucaTrade article in 2018. To quote from it:
"PucaTrade no longer reliably generates enough revenue to support itself."
The truth is that we've never really pushed past that point. Over the last two years we've continued to tread water financially, even after reducing our monthly expenses. We've had to strike a delicate balance between keeping money in the bank and investing in maintenance and features for the platform. As this year comes to a close, I've been talking with Eric and the team about what we can do to avoid any service interruptions. We decided to start within the team, asking ourselves what we can personally offer to ensure the success of PucaTrade. It was really cool to watch as each member of the team offered what they could. Some are pitching in funds from their personal bank accounts, and others on the team have offered to work for free (while some already have been doing this). We all offered something, and it was amazing to see the team come together around PucaTrade.
This means we have a lot of work to do as we look forward to 2020. If you're looking for a way to support the platform, now is a great time to upgrade your membership if you haven't already. You also may notice some experimentation as we come into the new year—we'll be experimenting with ads and offering Common members a way to support the platform financially through one-off contributions. As we try new things, keep in mind that your voice is important: We're looking forward to your feedback on these experiments.
In The Year 2020
Beyond the financial stuff that we've been navigating, we've also been talking about priorities for next year. One of the features that has been a long time coming is the MarketPlace, which is currently in development—it's about halfway there—and it's my hope that we'll see this feature in 2020. We will also be doing a deep dive into the way that the Puca Market price is shaping up. We implemented a rough sketch of this earlier this year and now that we have some data behind it, we'll be looking to test the data and refine the market pricing function so that it can become a more reliable source of data in the future. Having a strong and accurate market price can give us access to more features that eliminate the need for "special knowledge" when using the platform.
I'd like to close this article with an announcement of something fun: In December I'll be hosting a livestream for PucaTrade members. We'll be hanging out and giving away some great prizes like playmats, Collector Boosters, and things like this. I'd also like to bust some sealed product and ship it out on PucaTrade. Make sure that you are following our Twitter account and "like" our Facebook Page for dates and times.
Until then, give and let give!
|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|