Oracle of the Alpha
24, Apr, 24

Hasbro CEO Reveals MTG Arena ”Refresh” Is in Development

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From its somewhat lackluster beginnings back as a beta in 2017, MTG Arena has come an awful long way. In the beginning, the game barely even had Stadnard, but now, Arena is flourishing with myriad new and unique formats. Between Historic, Timeless, Brawl, and Alchemy, MTG Arena is very much its own game alongside being Standard’s main home.

As much as Arena has been going from strength to strength, unfortunately, it’s not all perfect. Not only are bugs more common than players would like, but clear features are lacking too. Currently, MTG Arena lacks both any kind of trading and true multiplayer, which massively hamper its growth. Alongside this, players have long been asking for the new player experience to get a dramatic overhaul.

Thankfully, it appears the prayers of players might finally be getting answered. In a recent earnings call, Hasbro CEO, Chris Cocks, revealed that MTG Arena is getting a “refresh,” with huge new features planned!

A Refresh Is on the Way!

Priest of Possibility
Priest of Possibility | Alchemy: Dominaria

Considering the MTG Arena client hasn’t really evolved since its full release in 2018, this refresh is undeniably a major deal. Unfortunately, exactly what this “refresh” is, currently remains to be seen. During the quarterly call, Chris Cocks only vaguely mentioned the tenants of social play and collectability.

“When you look at Magic and where our growth has been, a lot of that growth has been in social-based play like Commander, and in collectability. Certainly, we’ll be investing in those areas in the digital platform in the long term.”

Chris Cocks

Since we already know about multiplayer being planned for MTG Arena, the big new reveal here is collectability. Unfortunately, this reveal is as scary as it is enticing, as it could be a slippery slope for the game’s cosmetics. Currently, cosmetics and card styles are purchasable via the in-game store using either Gems or Gold.

Since MTG Arena already has a fairly robust offering of collectible elements, it being an Arena of development is… curious. Due to the way card styles work, Collector Boosters couldn’t really work on MTG Arena without a colossal overhaul. In theory, this could be what the Arena devs are planning, however, we doubt this to be the case.

Considering it has been a hotly requested feature since the game’s very beginning, we’d reckon that trading coming to MTG Arena is more likely. Should this happen, Wizards could do away with card styles and just sell Collector Boosters with minimal changes. In theory, this could be an impressive revenue stream for Hasbro, however, it does come with a catch.

While the minds behind MTG Arena are undoubtedly a talented bunch, implementing trading isn’t as simple as pushing a button. Instead, adding this feature to the game would require a complete overhaul of multiple systems. Thanks to this, I wouldn’t expect to see trading come to MTG Arena anytime soon.

Future Features Are Far Away

Break Expectations
Break Expectations | Alchemy: Innistrad

Sadly, while these major potential developments to MTG Arena are very exciting, they’re not exactly coming soon. During the quarterly call, Cocks stated that these are all “long-term” plans. According to Cocks, we’ll be hearing more “over the next couple of years,” so these developments could take absolutely ages.

Right now, the one date we do know is for multiplayer arriving on MTG Arena. During Gen Con in 2023, Wizards announced this was planned for a 2025 launch. While this isn’t too far away now, there’s a non-zero chance this date could get pushed back. Since adding multiplayer is no small feat, we’re not going to be holding our breaths.

When multiplayer does arrive on MTG Arena, there’s a good chance it’ll inspire a major refresh of the client. Currently, the game is only oriented for two-player matches, both on PC and mobile devices. Should you add two extra players into the mix, the formatting is definitely going to have to change fairly significantly.

Right now, there’s no telling how Wizards will change Arena’s look going forward. One possibility is pinching Duels of the Planeswalkers look, which puts each player on a different side of the screen. Alternatively, Wizards could follow MTGO’s direction and give each player their own dedicated screen square.

Ultimately, since there’s no telling what the future holds, we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens. From the sounds of things, there are big things in the works for MTG Arena’s future. Considering these changes are at least a couple of years away, however, we might be waiting for quite a while.

Read More: Pro Tour Thunder Junction Promises Major Metagame Innovations!

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