Competitive Balance Through Diversity and Technological Ambidexterity: A Case Study of Magic: The Gathering.
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Magic: The Gathering (MTG) is the most played trading card game in the world and has already engaged players for more than 25 years. Regardless of its long standing success, MTG, or similar games, have not been used to explain innovation mechanisms. MTG has the need to innovate to remain competitive within itself, but also to other trading card games. To be competitive within itself, means to have competitive balance, a fair shot at winning for every player involved. Two concepts that make up competitive balance are diversity and technological ambidexterity. Diversity is maintaining an equal distribution of population elements. Technological ambidexterity is the ability for a technology to both have an innovative nature, while also being compatible with the existing population. These concepts, and thus competitive balance, are influenced by three strategies. These strategies are: a change in mixture, a change in absolute values and a change in pattern of mapping. The use of these strategies within MTG and their effects are analysed using longitudinal data of MTG tournaments on four game-modes present within the game. Data on cards and decks were used to measure both diversity and technological ambidexterity. Regression models are estimated for each strategy analysed. The results showed that only the change in mixture strategy had a significant positive effect on competitive balance, whereas the other two strategies did not provide any significant results. These results were partly due to a large correlation between the change in mixture strategy and the other two strategies. This study offers insights in the methods with which (video) games can be used for innovation studies and lays the foundation for future work in this field.