Update: Wizards of the Coast has opened the Note from a Stranger story, first look article and zine preview article across LATAM countries. The Secret lair page remains locked down.
Update 2: Wizards of the Coast has provided the following statement to Dicebreaker:
“Selling and communicating a product globally with an age rating of 13+ comes with it a variety of regional challenges that we have to navigate anew whenever we try to do something different and special. Sometimes that means we don’t quite get it right on the first pass and learn and adapt as quickly as we’re able,” the publisher said.
“We’re very proud of Pride Across the Multiverse, the work that the various artists, designers, and partners have done and we want to share that joy as widely as possible. We also acknowledge the impact of our missteps on the LGBTQIA2S+ communities in these regions and beyond, and are actively taking steps to address processes to prevent such issues in the future. Our goal is to share with as many fans as we can to celebrate the pride in our diversity, and we are excited to celebrate this work with you.”
Original story begins below.
The initial praise for Magic: The Gathering’s upcoming Pride-related Secret Lair drop gave way to criticism when Latin American players discovered the content was region-locked in several countries. The community has demanded an explanation in the days since Pride Across the Multiverse was revealed, but Wizards of the Coast has not yet offered a reasonable explanation.
Wizards announced Pride Across the Multiverse on May 2nd, teasing a collection of premium card treatments with alternate art featuring in-universe queer characters alongside more thematic celebrations of the MTG's queer community. While many immediately praised the spotlight on fan-favourites such as Alesha, Huatli and Saheeli, players from Brazil noticed that links to the preview article redirected them to the main MTG website. Other Latin American countries soon chimed in that they, too, seemingly could not access the preview and an accompanying short story - Note for a Stranger, by Alison Lührs - about planeswalkers Huatli and Saheeli.
“I'm in Brazil and the page redirects automatically to the magic home page. Is this content blocked? Why?” asked Twitter user kozistranslator. The official Secret Lair Twitter account replied, saying that “not all of our content is available in all regions” and linking to a 2020 article stating that Wizards of the Coast’s creative teams would not alter the content of its worldbuilding and storytelling “to accommodate local markets.”
Not all of our content is available in all regions. https://t.co/VZiIQpHiJ7— MTG Secret Lair (@MTGSecretLair) May 2, 2022
That article landed amid a push by MTG’s creative teams to broaden the representation of queer characters in card sets and enhance the kinds of stories with them at the cenre. The company had previously caught flak from the community after the War of the Spark tie-in novel seemingly retconned Chandra Naalar’s relationship with Nissa Revane in favour of a more stereotypical heterosexuality. The next set, 2021’s Kaldheim, included nonbinary planeswalker Niko Aris in its roster.
Regardless, the community did not buy Wizards’ explanation. The company has only recently begun shipping its Secret Lairs to Brazil, beginning with the Street Fighter themed drop, but many players were quick to point out that the country has no such laws prohibiting the subject matter expressed in the two blocked articles on the Wizards’ site. The same is true for Peru, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia, whose inhabitants also couldn’t access the web pages. Some Latin American countries do still have LGBTQIA2S+ discrimination enshrined into law, and the same is true in Southeast Asia, where players said they also could not read the preview articles.
The one tweet remained the only official word from Wizards until Pride Across the Multiverse opened its pre-orders on May 4th. As a post on the magicTCG subreddit shows, players in Latin America could not even view the sales page, which simply read “This event is not available in your region.”
As plenty of people have pointed out, the restricted access seems to have adopted a blanket policy to certain regions instead of selecting those specific countries who restrict queer subject material. What’s left unclear is why Wizards’ chose this route and has not explained their motivations. Half of all sales from Pride Across the Multiverse will be donated to The Trevor Project, prompting some players to speculate about charitable donation laws, but any restriction of sales, shipping, or other physical product logistics does not explain why entire countries were denied the ability to simply read a webpage.
A digital copy of all related articles and the promotional zine, which feature interviews with the Secret Lair’s artists, have been uploaded and shared online for those affected by the lockout. Dicebreaker has reached out to Wizards of the Coast seeking comment and clarification as to its decision to not restore access in Brazil and several other LATAM countries but did not receive a reply.