Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile
17, Feb, 23

Is Commander Coming to MTG Arena?

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Throughout recent years, the casual-focused format of Commander has exploded in popularity. Quickly becoming the most played format in the entire game, Commander is now guiding MTG’s development with new design philosophies and products. Despite the format’s immense popularity, however, playing the format digitally is easier said than done. After all, Commander isn’t even an option on the most popular digital client, MTG Arena. Thankfully, this may finally be about to change, at long last. 

When it comes to playing Commander digitally, MTG players are left with very few options. Magic: the Gathering Online has a robust version of the format, however, the preferred way to digitally play Commander is usually via Spelltable. Built specifically to facilitate remote paper play, this app was widely used during the COVID-19 pandemic. While each of these clients offers an enjoyable Commander experience, neither perfectly emulates the tabletop experience. They are, however, leagues ahead of MTG Arena’s Commander-esque offering of Historic Brawl. Utilizing MTG Arena’s competitively meager pool of cards, alongside digital-exclusive Alchemy cards, Historic Brawl is hardly comparable with Commander, especially since the format only allows 1v1 games. 

Thankfully, while MTG Arena has existed for many years without a proper Commander format, this may be about to change. Due to recent statements from Wizards, it appears 2023 might finally be the year MTG Arena gets Commander!

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Is Commander Coming to MTG Arena?

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Currently, Wizards of the Coast has not confirmed any explicit plans to release Commander on MTG Arena. That being said, however, recent statements from Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks heavily imply that Wizards is working on implementing the format. Speaking to investors in a conference call, Cocks revealed Wizards are “figuring out how we can get a true multiplayer experience beyond two players, for Magic digitally.” Specifically naming Commander as an inspiration, it seems almost guaranteed that a variant of the format is coming to MTG Arena in the future. 

Despite Cocks not giving any concrete details, it nevertheless seems incredibly likely that Commander is in the works for MTG Arena. Unfortunately, however, there’s no telling how these plans may manifest on the platform throughout 2023 and beyond. It is possible, for instance, Wizards may simply release a multiplayer variant of the Historic Brawl format. While this may be the first step toward a true Commander experience on MTG Arena, we don’t expect it to be the last. 

During the investor presentation, Cocks touted Wizards’ successful “segmentation strategy,” which offers bespoke products to dedicated consumer segments. MTG collectors, for instance, have been targeted throughout recent years with the launch of Collector Booseters and tantalizing promotions. Similarly, Commander players have seen myriad product releases catered toward them. MTG Arena players, however, have comparatively been given the cold shoulder. 

Outside of the release of the controversial Alchemy sets, MTG Arena’s audience is barely targeted with bespoke products. Under Wizards’ segmentation strategy, this may be about to change. Given the huge potential audience for Commander on MTG Arena, it seems likely Wizards will specifically target this underserved audience. In theory, this could bring purchasable preconstructed Commander decks alongside Commander-exclusive cards to MTG Arena. 

Is Commander Coming to MTG Arena in 2023?

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Unfortunately, while it appears that Wizards is working on a multiplayer Commander-esque format for MTG Arena, there is no word about when this format may be implemented. While we would like to be hopeful, the proper implantation of Commander may take years of work. Subsequently, it appears unlikely that Commander will come to MTG Arena in 2023. Hopefully, Wizards will surprise us all with an announcement to the contrary later in the year. Whether or not that happens, however, we’ll just have to wait and see.

For better or worse, this development time may be prolonged by MTG Arena’s other big plans. Within 2023, for instance, Wizards of the Coast is aiming to launch MTG Arena on Steam. Coupled with this Steam launch, which is penned for a Q3 release date, the game is also getting an overhauled new player experience. Additionally, during 2023, MTG Arena is also getting a newly remastered set; Shadows over Innistrad Remastered. Following this, in 2024, Wizards of the Coast is planning to launch MTG Arena on Xbox and PlayStation consoles

Due to these projects taking up development recourses, we wouldn’t be surprised if Commander didn’t arrive on Arena until 2024 at the earliest. Considering how much fun Commander can be, we’ll certainly be hoping for earlier, however, we won’t be holding our breath. 

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