An Open Letter to Puca Trade

9/5/2017

RE: The Economy, Common Dues, And Foils For All, Puca Trade contributor Jonathan Medina

Dear Puca Trade,

I sat in front of my computer in the Spring of 2016 and saw that my Wants List hadn’t changed for the 4th week in a row. I didn’t need to be an MTG finance veteran to understand why my Puca Points where not being converted into Magic cards. I realized in that moment that I would never receive another Magic card from that scrappy little website I had such high hopes for.

Years before, rumors of a website that helped Magic players trade any card online started circulating. I was excited, hopeful, and eager to contribute to the community that I love. When I found Puca Trade, it was a scrappy little website that functioned exactly as advertised. I got a bunch of cards I was looking for and everyone I traded with through the site expressed generosity and friendship in the notes they were leaving for each in packages.

Eventually bugs and performance issues made this loveably little site act strange. Then before you know it, Puca Trade was unusable. A crowdsourced campaign to raise money appeared, promising to revitalize Puca Trade and take it to new heights. Many people in the community celebrated and donated to the cause. I, like many others, were a bit nervous about how much money and time was being spent to fix the issues that our scrappy loveable little site experienced. Things felt a bit off.

After much heaving, the new Puca Trade arrived. Instead of the lovable little Puca Trade we knew, we got a juiced up version, complete with unnecessary graphics, modal boxes, and Javascript. I knew from that moment that Puca leadership took a wrong turn and decided to put their resources on UI, instead of the trading economy.

I’m sure everyone has given the Puca Trade team an earful of “do this” and “do that”. And I’m sure Puca leadership is sweating bullets about what to do about their imploding dwarf star. With the progression of sweepstakes, contests, and other efforts to reduce the amount of Puca Points on the site, an announcement was recently made introducing changes to the site in an effort to spur the Puca economy into a functional state.

There is only one thing missing from Puca Trade today. It was lost along the way of growing pains, money spent, and graphical updates. Trust. Puca Trade, you had the community’s trust, and then, you lost it. Everyone knows that if they send any card out, they’ll never get anything of value back. We’ve all had that moment on Puca Trade where we send out something valuable: shock lands, fetch lands, planeswalkers, Legacy staples, and we got nothing back. And by nothing, I mean the fictional byte sized information contained in a number you labeled as “Puca Points”. My personal regret was when I sent out 4x MN Rishadan Ports that I owned for the past 15 years since I was a kid to Puca Trade. Ouch. Call me a moron, but that hurts. It still hurts to this day when I play against my Legacy opponent that is running Ports and I’m playing a borrowed Grixis Delver deck. Puca Trade turned those Ports into a ton of Puca Points, and eventually Monestary Swiftspears, Reckless Buscwhackers, and Atarka’s Commands. Wow. Such. Value. Much. Regret.

I hope this massive discrepancy of how trading works on Puca Trade compared to how trading works in real life is landing for you. For a fraction of the time and grief, I can post on numerous Facebook groups to find the singles I need. Or just purchase them from any of the friendly online retailers that advertise non-stop in the community. And my friendly LGS is always there for me each week.

I used to be a Gold member. And I was happy to contribute financially to a website and a business that opened up trading to so many people. But I canceled my membership after many months of not receiving anything. Not even standard uncommons and bulk rares. As of this moment, I have 600+ Puca Points left on my account. And with the recent announcement of a 300 PP monthly tax, in 2 months, the value I’ve sent out with real cards from my personal collection will be gone, and a month after that my account may be suspended automatically by your new policy. I want you to see the impact that this has on someone that supported Puca Trade from the start. And I’m sure that I am not alone, in my experiences and in my current sentiments.

I do acknowledge you Puca Trade that you are aware of the dire situation and that you’re doing something about it. I acknowledge you Puca Trade for the contribution you made to the MTG community 5+ years ago. I acknowledge you Puca Trade for giving the community a new way to trade. It was a good run. And I’m sad to see it turn out this way.

If you’re still reading this Puca Trade, here are some things I recommend you consider.

  • Focus your resources (time, strategy, and money) solely on the trading economy on Puca Trade. How ppl trade, why they trade, and what incentivizes ppl to trade. As a trading website, you’ve failed miserably at that. Your actions and decisions have lost a tremendous amount of real world collectable value for your customers. You should be ashamed of yourselves. So get real on that fact and move forward with that in mind. Tattoo it on your foreheads. Do whatever you need to do to let that sink in. Then hire a team of real MTG finance veterans to run the show for you.

 

  • Stop charging users to use Puca Trade. Make the site completely free. Oh, you need to make money? Well too bad, you’ve made it already and you’ve shown the community what you do with the money to get. You squandered it. The community should help you out with this task and stop paying for Puca Trade entirely.

 

  • Make all want and have lists anonymous. When sending out a card, users cannot choose who they send it to. Every user’s wants go into a queue and everyone’s want list gets matched on a first come first serve basis. There are some users that have waiting forever to get a chase rare, and they don’t get it because they live in a foreign country or they didn’t offer a big enough bounty.

 

  • Keep the Puca Point system, but only to indicate how much value a user has sent out. Treat them as upvotes on Reddit, likes on Facebook, points from that game show Who’s Line is it Anyways. THE POINTS DON’T MATTER. They never did, and they never will. Puca Points aren’t money. Remove the Puca Point association with a coin graphic. It misleads users to think Puca Points have any value, which they DO NOT.

 

  • Remove all restrictions on trading foils and any other features using Puca Trade. Remember when I said your service is fundamentally broken? Well, now you need to fix it. You should let users use it and give complete feedback about what works and what doesn’t. Strap in. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice a lot of stuff doesn’t work as you thought.

 

  • Going back to step 1, I hope you’ve hired a team of real MTG economists. Have this review the data and make decisions on how to fix what’s not working. Be honest with yourselves. You’re not going to have the answer, no one is when it comes to a finance economy. The Federal Reserve and the World Bank face these problems every day, for the real world and they still screw up.

 

  • Open all of your decision making and communication to the entire community. Rebuild the trust you lost. Admit all your mistakes, where you went wrong, and commit yourselves to fixing this mess. Tell the community what you’re planning to do, what you’re fixing, and what you need help to do. You need to re-establish how the community uses Puca Trade. Right now, it’s a broken system. It needs to be steered back to a system based on trust, community, clear expectations, and clear outcomes.

If you’re still here, I congratulate you. It’s a hard pill to swallow. And I hope you are listening to my communication to you. You don’t have to do any of this. Or maybe you’re already doing all of this. Or maybe you did all of this and it didn’t work. Regardless, if you want to stay in the MTG community and not have everyone hate your guts, you’re going to need to restore the trust that you so brazenly wasted. If I’m able to trade the random things I get from a draft to eventually receive my Rishadan Ports back through Puca Trade, you can call that victory for what Puca Trade intended to be in the first place.

Best of luck,

Sam

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