If you follow me on Twitter, you might have read a few complaints about my Magic Online experiences.

It’s not exactly news that MTGO has flaws, but I think many of them can be fixed with better customer service, and today I’ll take a look at three problems I experienced recently, and some possible solutions.

#1: The Solemnity Bug

If you watched my video for ChannelFireball, you saw what happened.

Around 1:35, I had Solemnity in play and when my opponent tried to kill me, I Crop Rotationed for Glacial Chasm and a combo: I never die because Chasm can’t get counters and I can’t be touched.

On MTGO though, Solemnity is bugged and doesn’t work with cumulative upkeep costs, so I lost the game.

I won the match, but my experience was awful. For the rest of video, I was convinced that the “combo” didn’t work and I kept sideboarding it out, which made me appear unprepared on a public platform where I was supposed to act like a “professional.”

When I asked MTGO for a refund for a League in which I went 2-3, this was their answer:

This was, to say the least, unsatisfying. Afterward, I tweeted @MagicOnline to ask for a clarification on their refund policy, since they sometimes refund and sometimes don’t. They didn’t answer.

This leaves me feeling like they refund customers randomly based on how they feel.

#2: Crashing During a Match

I was 3-1 and battling the last round of my League. I was ahead in game 1 when MTGO disconnected. While I could use the internet regularly, I was not able to successfully open Magic Online. After several restarts it finally worked, but I had already lost the match because 10 minutes had passed.

I asked in a refund request if they could please delete my last round of action and let me replay the match since I could have won way more than just 120 Play Points by winning that round.

This was their answer:

It’s like they didn’t even read my refund request! They just ignored the possibility that it could happen and gave me the same prize amount I would have won had I lost the game!

That’s why I asked them to review their answer and to fix it.

I waited eight days before they responded. In the meanwhile, I kept playing Leagues because that’s what I do and they had told me that it was too late and they couldn’t fix it anymore.

This was, to say the least, unsatisfying.

#3: The Restart of a Match

I’ve read about the possibility that MTGO could restart a game, but it had never happened to me, until now!

I was in game 2 and winning by a lot when suddenly I cast Abrade on Precursor Golem, and MTGO restarted a game I had locked up with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Dack Fayden against an empty board.

I was then informed that Precursor Golem makes the game restart 1/3 of the time, and that MTGO had been informed, though the bug doesn’t display in the latest bug report.

I was 3-1 when the bug occurred, and I was fortunate enough to win two extra games, advancing to 4-1 and winning a good prize.

Had I lost, the same scenario described before would have happened, where MTGO would have refunded me less than what I would have won.

Because of my experience with the refund policy, I didn’t even ask for compensation since I won the match and they think I should be happy, even if I had to play a game for 20 more minutes that I would already have won.

Solutions

Now it’s time for solutions! How can MTGO improve their refund policy so that players who play consistently will be happy?

1) Get rid of the “if you won we won’t refund you” policy.

It fails to take into account bad user experience, which is all that matters in the first place. A defective tire shouldn’t be nonrefundable because you managed to make it all the way home. Wizards should refund the people who paid money to play their game, and then had a bad experience because of their program—regardless of match record.

But what if someone exploits the system and reports a bug every time?

First things first—it’s up to Magic Online to have a program without bugs and to have it run smoothly like other programs do. Second, you can punish people who exploit the system and ask for too many refunds.

If a user who plays one League per day asks for one refund per day, they are clearly trying to steal money. It’s up to Magic Online to check whether a claim is false.

2) Auto-compensation when something crazy happens, like a game restarts or there is a common crash.

When MTGO crashes entirely, they refund everyone who was in a game, and they should do this automatically even when something like a restart happens. It’s clearly a bad experience, and they should automatically refund people by deleting that match from the League and refunding the entry fee.

3) Get rid of the policy to delete a round if you asked for compensation in that round.

If I’m 2-1 and experience a bug or a crash in my round 4, I don’t want to ask refund and wait 24-48 hours before I finish my League. I want to be able to finish that League and play a new one.

This system takes too much time and again makes the customer unhappy because they had a bad experience that wasn’t addressed or refunded properly.

Give the entry fee back if you have proof that they aren’t exploiting the system.

4) Give different types of reimbursement based on the score at the time of the bug.

Take situation #2. I was 3-1 and lost because of MTGO. The proper refund shouldn’t have been 120 Play Points, but 8 Treasure Chests and 180 Play Points, because similar to what they did for the MOCS Open, they should refund in the most beneficial way for the costumer.

By only giving me 120 Play Points + the 120 Play Points that I won by going 3-2, I basically lost value because the program has flaws.

5) Try to fix that bug list, or at least the ones with cards that are commonly played.

I know that it’s hard to have a program with thousands of different cards, but the idea that something like a bug blog is even necessary is a bad sign. This is obviously the hardest problem to find a solution for, but would be one that would fix all four of the previous issues I mentioned.

If you have more solutions please write it in the comments. We all love Magic, and we all want a proper program where Magic is just as fun as when it’s being played on paper!