Magic: The Gathering Unofficial NFT Project Sparks Mixed Reactions

Long before NFTs were a thing, Magic: The Gathering has already been known for being a card game where players collect cards that can have more value over time. And they are physical objects, not just some digital images or videos that can be priced at a ton of money.

Though just recently, news about MTG being involved in an unofficial NFT project revolving around the card game has spread. But Wizards of the Coast claimed that the project isn’t connected with them in any form while also suggesting that they might also have their own NFT initiative.


Photo by Wizards of the Coast

The Rise and Fall of mtgDAO

The NFT project in question is called mtgDAO. Their main intent is to actually make the already existing MTG cards into NFTs, making them mintable pieces of digital property connected to a blockchain. A note on their whitepaper stating some sort of “guidelines” reads as:

“Players will need the actual card in order to legally play the game, whether that be a paper card, a card on Arena, or a card on MTGO. The NFTs aren’t meant to establish ownership of the card, it will only be used to allow that card to be played in the mtgDAO format. We are not building gaming software or printing copies of official cards. Games will still be played using Arena, MTGO, or tabletop with real cards. NFTs can be thought of as tickets to enter tournaments or a way to represent temporary ownership in a cube draft, not as ownership of the copyrighted card.”

But that really did not solve the issue.

Wizards of the Coast Taking Action

mtgDAO posted screenshots of an email they received from the counsel of Wizards of the Coast. It was very polite yet their stand against the project is clearly mentioned. A part of the email says:

“Your enthusiasm for MAGIC: THE GATHERING is evident and appreciated. The team at Wizards is also impressed by the work you have put into developing a new format for playing MAGIC: THE GATHERING. Unfortunately, your intended use of Wizards’ intellectual property, including its trademarks and copyrights, would be unlawful.

You appear to be operating under the mistaken assumption that the project would be legal because you would allow the reproduction of MAGIC cards in the form of NFTs only by a player who had purchased a physical card, a card on Arena, or a card on MTGO. This is not correct. It is the exclusive right of the copyright owner to reproduce the copyrighted work, such as a MAGIC card, in any format. While there is an exception in the copyright statute for making a backup or “archival” copy in some circumstances, “this privilege extends only to computer programs and not to other types of works.” See, for example, the U.S. Copyright Office’s FAQ on Copyright and Digital Files.”

This alone proves how NFTs could still take a long road to be fully developed in a sense that issues such as for copyright will not occur at any point. Though some expressed their support towards the project as seen on some tweets specifying that it could boost MTG’s overall sales, we can’t deny the fact that there is no originality taking place when it comes to the supposed “art” which could become the NFTs per se. And we can’t blame why Wizards of the Coast is reacting like this.

Official MTG NFTs in the Future?

On another note, this may excite both NFT enthusiasts and MTG fans.

The email also saw some hints at what could possibly be an actual NFT project officiated by Wizards of the Coast themselves. Here’s a look at what they have said:

“While Wizards is currently evaluating its future plans regarding NFTs and the MAGIC: THE GATHERING cards, no decision has been made at this time. Use of NFTs in connection with Wizards’ intellectual property is therefore, strictly prohibited.”

Yet again, they are clear about where they stand towards mtgDAO. But an official NFT project for MTG? Very interesting.