My primary concern is the SEVERE lack of really good card design with game designers, developers, and playtesters making a REAL honest effort to think outside the box more when it comes to making the cards fun and enjoyable to build decks around. I mean when was the last time we've actually had exciting Commanders to build around or a new original combo deck to break in said competitive format? It's more about we don't want to influence the MTG Secondary Market more than hyperinflation currently has or we don't want to trigger another emergency ban for Standard due to a clash in design philosophy between casual and competitive mindsets. We can't print this card because it'd be too broken for said format or we have to continuously lower the power level of Standard sets at the detriment of giving Commander players less new toys to play with. Precons? Yeah let's just throw a bunch of old cards from the same existing card pool together with a subpar Commander design just to see what sticks for a $44+ price tag and call it a day.
I remember when I quit Yu-Gi-Oh! back in 2004. The realization of the importance of a resource system which the game never really had made me feel like I've been lied to of course this is coming from someone whose first Paper Trading Card Game / Collectible Card Game was Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic: The Gathering second. Years later Yu-Gi-Oh! still gets rewarded for the same kind of bad behavior that would've killed Magic: The Gathering years ago If Wizards of the Coast / Hasbro had adopted the same design philosophies as Konami and to a lesser extent Upper Deck which is now defunct. Gone are the days when MTG lore matters because it's more attractive to get new customers into your Intellectual Property (IP) by publicly showcasing Intellectual Properties (IPs) that they're more familiar with to garner more sales and revenue. We often tend to forget that Magic: The Gathering is a business first and card game second. It's actually made the card game more expensive over all with Whales continuing to hoard supply to increase demand.
It's remarkable to me that YGO has experienced the longevity it has. I suspect it's for the same reasons I played it for so long - it's simplistic and has nostalgia value while being marketed by an anime. But the game itself is so inherently flawed and exploited that it isn't worth considering anymore.
Commander itself seems to be attracting more and more competitive players that are departing from Standard and other formats, who optimize their decks and create a generally stagnant experience. It's a bore for me to see so many routine plays involving the same staples every game - Sol Ring into Arcane Signet, etc. The pacing and objective of Commander has skewed to where I don't enjoy it as much. It's also due in part for where WOTC invests its focus. For example, Vampires have so much overwhelming support, most of which has become redundant at this point. How much can players cram into the same 100 card deck? Diversify the support a bit. Spirits were a nice example of finally venturing into new territory.
Commander card prices are also absurd. The secondary market is self-inhibiting the format really. The more players, the greater the prices, which undercuts player engagement, and that feedback inhibits interest in deck building. This isn't a loop WOTC should want to foster. As in, how are cards such as Smothering Tithe and Rhystic Study investments...? We already regrettably have a Reserved List for the "investment" crowd to be awful with. And how is the first meaningful reprint of Rhystic Study in ages a Secret Lair - one delving into an outside IP no less? This only reinforces my point about how it isn't just simple product fatigue - it's about being bombarded with products that are all so deficient that it feels like you could drop a fortune on the game and still end up nowhere. We have a secondary market competing with these products too.
THB is my favorite set but it not having the novel means I don't have the same emotional connection to it that I did with original Theros. Which is strange, since THB is by far superior. Heck, look how beloved Kamigawa is due to the novels.
All these products just feel hollow and empty. It's insult to injury that a growing fraction of them aren't even MTG. It's as if WOTC gave up on its own IP and adopted the cash cow short term gains method of YGO.
I remember feeling so resentful when I quit YGO, because it held nostalgia, memories and an anime to reinforce my engagement. MTG lacked these. But when I read the Kamigawa novels and saw the beautiful artwork and themes of MTG, I noticed it was deeper, more methodical and of higher quality as a game. The lore added dimension to the cards, which were exceptionally illustrated (still are, although there are some hiccups with digital art). Around the time Magic Origins was released and well into the Gatewatch era, especially Ixalan, MTG felt like it was at its prime.
Although Theros Beyond Death is my favorite set of all time, there's no denying after War of the Spark, the death of the lore, the evisceration of Vorthos, and the vast volume of rapidly churned out but poorly executed product, all MTG has going for it at the moment is high quality artists and art.
The Commander products have all been a mess, there's been quantity of products but no quality. Lore is dead, story is stagnant and uninspired. It's just all numbers with no passion anymore. Don't misunderstand me - I love a lot of cards released individually, but overall, there's a disconnect somewhere. I don't feel the same thrill that I did reading about Arixmethes for example and then seeing him on a card in 2018, when Commander products were actually delivering player requests once a year, in a thrilling preview season and release. Now we have hoards of Commander products, all mostly rehashing the same card pool, tied to one plane and only a few new narrow cards each, with no lore or past characters.