After literal years of waiting, yesterday, MTG Arena finally launched on Steam. On the surface, this is quite a simple change that may not be all too exciting… After all, the game has been available with its own client for almost five years. While this is true, the new Steam release is nevertheless worth celebrating. As, thanks to new features and improvements, MTG Arena is the best it’s ever been.
Unfortunately, while MTG Arena has undoubtedly been made better thanks to this Steam release, the improvements aren’t entirely game-changing. For instance, the somewhat troubled economy isn’t getting any boost and Alchemy isn’t going away. Instead of receiving these much-requested changes, the Steam release brings marginal quality-of-life improvements.
Compared to a set release, or Anthology announcement, quality-of-life changes may seem rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. While they may not be exciting, however, they nevertheless stand to benefit players. Subsequently, it may be wise for many players to ditch the dedicated client and jump ship to Steam.
To explain why you might want to do this, here is a rundown of the improvements this Steam Release brings.
Ever wanted to sit down for a quick game of Arena, only to find out the game needed a non-insignificant update? Considering how often MTG Arena gets updated, it’s more than likely this frustrating occurrence has happened to you. Thanks to the Steam release, this problem is a thing of the past.
With Steam’s automatic updates handling all the downloads, MTG Arena will always be ready to play at a moment’s notice. With a good internet connection, this may only save you minutes each week, however, that’s still better than nothing.
Steam Deck Support
Technically, thanks to the savvy of its users, MTG Arena has long been available on Linux. This allowed players to install the game on their Steam Decks, once the handheld console launched. Now that MTG Arena is on Steam, this somewhat tedious process is now a whole lot easier. Installable with just the click of a button, Arena players can now easily enjoy the game on the go.
Since this is already possible on mobile and tablet devices, this change is hardly the most world-changing. That being said, it’s still nice to have options, and the Steam Deck will be a lovely place to play some Arena.
As many prospective players were keen to point out on Reddit, one of the best features of Steam is its wallet system. While this is predominantly just a fairly standard wallet, it can be topped up by selling in-game items, cosmetics, and trading cards. While trading cards are available for MTG Arena just yet, countless games on Steam have them.
While earning cards and items can be quite time-consuming, this process can generate a pretty penny. Subsequently, some players will be able to clear out their Steam inventory to go on a gem-purchasing spree. Essentially, this means you can get free packs and event entries in Arena by playing other games.
While this feature is not exclusive to the Steam client, there’s nevertheless been a lot of excitement about Steam’s playtime tracker. Doing as the name suggests, this in-built feature tells players how long they’ve spent with a game running. Considering how much MTG players love the game, many players are expecting seriously high hours played counts. While this doesn’t really do anything, it is nice to show off as a badge of honor.
Alongside this pointless yet compelling feature, Steam also has integrated social elements. Displaying who owns and is playing and specific game, this feature may allow chance friends to connect over MTG Arena.
The Steam Platform
Last but not least, now that MTG Arena is on Steam players don’t need any other version of the game. For some players, this is a detail well worth celebrating, as standalone clients are typically despised in the PC gaming space. There will be other players, however, who could not care less about this mild quality-of-life improvement. Whatever your opinion, however, it’s a nice option for players to have.
The Bad and the Ugly
While we’ve covered the good, it’s high time that we mentioned the less-than-perfect elements of this Steam release. First and foremost, as we mentioned before, this Steam release doesn’t have any achievements, or trading cards. In the grand scheme of things, these supplemental features are hardly necessary, however, the lack of them makes Arena’s Steam launch feel half-baked.
Furthering this feeling is the disappointing lack of a new new-player experience. This feature was initially promised by Hasbro to launch alongside the Steam release. Evidently, however, that has not happened. Currently, there’s no word on what this refactored new player experience even is. There’s also no telling when, or if, it will release in the future.
Despite these disappointing details, Steam is definitely the place MTG Arena players want to be. After all, many of the new quality-of-life improvements aren’t available anywhere else. With achievements and trading cards promised for the future, hopefully, MTG Arena will keep getting better and better.
Who knows, maybe with the potential influx of new players from Steam, MTG Arena can finally get multiplayer formats.