Interview with Matthias Knelangen

Dear readers, today we offer to you interview with Matthias Knelangen, one of founders and owners of magiccardmarket.eu – most famous european electronic market for Magic: The Gathering and some other card games.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When did you get the idea of creating this market system and what was your inspiration?

The credits of creating MKM go to my business partner Luis who’s the author of the MKM software and has started with the development in 2007. During his studies, Luis was casually trading Magic cards, taking advantage of arbitrage between different European countries (he has lived in France, Germany, Spain and Sweden during his studies). During that time he thought „It would be so much easier if there was an easy-to-use online marketplace for Magic cards“. That’s how the idea of MKM was born. I joined Luis in Mai 2007, shortly before the very fist version of MKM went online. It’s interesting that neither Luis nor I had much knowledge of the MtG community. I had been playing in High School (somewhere from 4th Edition to Tempest), but more casually and at that time the player with the most expensive deck would usually win. Thus, both of us have been re-discovering Magic as we continued working on MKM and I have been to my first FNM in July 2007: I took Guillaume Wafo-Tapas GP-winning Decklist „Dralnu du Louvre“ and felt like I should have a chance as I did bring „the best deck“. Of course I got crushed … and found out that having the best deck was not enough to win.

 

So if I understand correctly, the biggest MTG market has been created by two people who had minimum experience with this game…it’s a bit ironic, don’t you think?

Well it might seem ironic but then we were not “completely ignorant” and as we are a marketplace and not “just” an online shop, most of the problems we face are not directly related to the knowledge of the game. We’re providing services for people who want to sell Magic cards and the biggest part of these services are independent from the product that is sold on the marketplace. On the other hand it might even be positive that we were not too deep into the game, thus we were able to see the market from a more neutral point of view. This is always a good thing.

 

Could you tell us how many users has MKM now?

As of summer 2013, MKM has well over 100.000 users from 30 different countries.

 

It is long time since 2007, did you notice anyone else to try the same project as you since?

There have been several copies of MKM so far: 4 in Germany, 1 in France, 1 in Italy and 1 in Portugal. At least these are the ones I know about 🙂 Some of them have disappeared, some are inactive and I’d say that none is a real threat to MKM.

 

What are the most common problems that your customer service needs solving?

The biggest part are technical problems (like problems with the use of MKM, with bank transfers or PayPal payments, or shipping methods – things we can usually fix very fast) and problems with specific orders (like buyer and user arguing about card condition, missing cards or letters lost/damaged by the postal services – in those cases we will mediate and help users to come to an agreement. And often we will pay a reimbursement for errors committed by the postal service or the seller. Aren’t we nice? 🙂

 

Do you have any advice for new users who would like to trade through MKM?

Yes. There is one advice I cannot give too often: DON’T BE TOO GREEDY! Because MKM is a very easy-to-use and safe marketplace as long as people keep their senses together. If you find an offer that’s „too good to be true“, chances are, it’s not true! Don’t be the guy that buys fetchlands for 10€ without insurance from a new seller. I’ve written a little article on this over a year ago, but it’s still true.

And the second advice I’d give is: Please communicate with other users! So many problems are simply solved because we take the time to contact both the seller and the buyer of the problematic order and make sure that both understand what the other one is saying. So many times, both users actually want the same, but are very quick in thinking „the other guy surely wants to rip me off“, so that they stop any rational discussion and just go on insulting  each other.

So in very short: Be rational before buying (and don’t believe in miraculous offers) and be open to discussion when there’s a problem.

 

Besides MTG, you mediate also trading of another card games like World of Warcraft. Yu-Gi-Oh! or Spoils. Why Spoils?

At SPIEL Essen (Europe’s biggest game fair) in 2011, we met with the people from Arcane Tinmen (the new owners of Spils) and were introduced to the game (which is a great game BTW). They were looking for additional selling channels and thus we came to a deal with them. However there’s only a tiny market for Spoils at the moment. Magic is just too good 🙂

 

Do you plan to engage also in Pokémon?

Pokemon is definitely an interesting game with a big player and collector base, so yes we will do Pokemon at some time. Right now we’re however busy with maintaining the ever growing demand for Magic (it’s not a coincidence that every few months we have new recordbreaking attendance at Grand Prix), so it will have to wait some more.

 

It seems that the market for trading cards and accesories works very well, but do you think about expansion of other commodities (for example computer games) and extending your team?

Right now, we are quite busy with running a marketplace for Trading Cards only. Of course there are other markets that we would be interested in (like Computer Games or Comic Books) but we have no immediate plans to enter those markets.

 

MKM has also altered card gallery with over than 2400 pieces. What is your personal opinion on the alters?

There are many different altered cards on MKM and also the quality is very heterogeneous. There are some true masterpieces from famous artists like „bigup“ (if you don’t know his work, you’d best check it our right now) and others that are not that exciting 🙂 Above all, I find card alters fascinating and I do own a Legacy Dredge deck with 75 altered cards by Mr. „bigup“ himself.

 

How many people do you have in your team and what are their duties?

On our team there is Luis and I as the owners, then we have 8 employees working in customer support, maintenance, development, design, marketing and product research. So we’re 10 people in total.

 

MKM is one of sponsors of Czech fan movie TAP: Max’s Game. Did you see that movie? What is your opion of him?

At the beginning I was very sceptic as to whether you could make a full movie out of a Magic player’s carreer, I did not know how „real“ you could keep the movie or whether you had to mix it with fantasy elements, but I think that the crew has done a great job, I enjoyed the movie and I believe that the movie can be interesting to anyone who loves the game of Magic. And of course I do honor the time and work spent by the crew. It’s great to see that there are players in the Magic community that are really committed to the game!

 

I suppose that you already heard about TAP 2?

Yes I have: At first I was a bit irritated as „Game of Honor“ somehow sounds like a computer game, but I’ve seen first photos on the Facebook page and they promise! So I’m eager to get to watch the movie when it’s out! (This interview has been created before the creator of TAP 2 announced to cancel of this movie)

 

Is there anyone else who MKM sponsors (or did it in past)?

We are regularely sponsoring Magic events all over Europe. There are big tounaments were we add to the prize pool and there are collaborations with WPN stores where we offer free tournaments. Info can be found here. We are sponsoring a local Magic team from here in Germany and we’ve sponsored a few important Players like Pro Tour San Diego Champion Simon Görtzen.

 

What is your relationship with WotC? Is somehow helpful for you that you support organized play?

MKM is an online marketplace thus we are mainly serving the secondary market, something WotC is not taking any influence in at all. Furthermore we do not run a physical WPN store, thus we cannot benefit from any of WotC’s marketing programs. Thus our contact with WotC is scarce, however on the few occasions we have had to deal with each other, it was very friendly.

 

Have you ambitions for run your own big event in Germany?

We have run a few events in Germany (5 big tournaments in the last 2 years), but we  have decided that it’s best to leave the tournament organization to an experienced TO and to act as a sponsor rather than holding the tournament on our own. Right now we are collaborating with 3 local stores and are sponsoring events all over Europe about every other week. So if you are running tournaments and are looking for a sponsor, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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About me:

My name is Matthias Knelangen, I’m a physics engineer, 31 years old, married with two children. Besides working at MKM, I enjoy volleyball, playing the piano, reading and board games. I tried myself at competitive Magic, but have now settled for more casual playing, mainly „German Highlander“ (100 card singleton) and my pauper cube.

 

 

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