Saturday, November 07, 2009

Mahjong Time in Trouble?

The world's only online portal for MCR mahjong, Mahjong Time, seems to be in trouble (see Mahjong News' report). The Second German Mahjong Open (GMO), an online tournament that was to be hosted by Mahjong Time was cancelled just two days ago, before its scheduled occurrence this weekend. This was supposedly due to technical difficulties on Mahjong Time's side. This has led the European Mahjong Association (EMA), the Dutch Mahjong Association, and the German national mahjong association DJML to cancel their partnerships with Mahjong Time, although this cancellation is not the main cause, but the final straw that broke the camel's back. Apparently, EMA and the other mahjong organisations were disappointed by Mahjong Time's inability to keep promises.

Many regular players and registered participants for the GMO tournament were left disappointed, although an alternative tournament is being organised by Janco Onnink, a Dutch player who was supposed to play in the cancelled GMO. Since EMA cancelled its partnership with Mahjong Time, this probably means there will not be any sanctioned online tournaments for the time being, not with Mahjong Time. So, there will be fewer chances for players around the world to participate in MCR tournaments (albeit the online ones).

More troubling is the implication that Mahjong Time may be in some sort of trouble, perhaps financial. This raises a question of whether online mahjong play is profitable for companies like Mahjong Time. If not, does this mean that online MCR play may come to an end? There are many portals offering online mahjong play but none offer the MCR variant in English, a crucial element in allowing international participation. There will be alternatives and solutions eventually though; already, there is a new mahjong software (offering MCR as one of the variants) developed by Mahjong Logic that would be licensed out to a few portals once some legal requirements are cleared. The question is whether Mahjong Logic will be able to take over the role of Mahjong Time, at least in the minds of the faithful users of Mahjong Time.

I had introduced Mahjong Time to several friends in my semi-regular play group as an alternative to live MCR play (something that is quite difficult to achieve these days, with all our conflicting schedules). AJ and JT were particularly keen to play more on Mahjong Time. I wonder how this development would affect all of us. Hopefully, Mahjong Time will resolve its problems.

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