Since launching all the way back in 2017, MTG Arena has come a long way. At first, the game didn’t even have paper formats, with Standard taking months to implement. Following this, the game has received a steady drip feed of features and formats, for better and worse. Thankfully, in recent months, Wizards of the Coast seemed to have renewed their focus on MTG Arena. Introducing much-requested and long-awaited economy improvements and quality-of-life features, MTG Arena has seen some significant improvements recently! As much as there is plenty to celebrate, however, Wizards’ digital client is far from perfect. In fact, for some players, MTG Arena is still missing critical features.
Throughout recent patches, MTG’s Arena’s free-to-players have been living it up. Following the introduction of Golden Packs, new pre-order bundles, and charitable events, playing Arena has become much more affordable. Unfortunately, while this group of players has been receiving plenty of support, those requiring accessibility features have been somewhat left out. Thankfully, MTG Arena is far from an accessibility hellscape, however, as u/Glitterblossom recently pointed out on Reddit, the game is far from perfect.
Within their post, Glitterblossom highlighted how playing a TCG as a legally blind player is hardly an easy feat. This isn’t really a surprise considering the almost unstoppable curse of complexity creep is making MTG cards progressively more verbose. Despite the troubling prevalence of overloaded text boxes, however, MTG Arena allows even the wordiest cards to be digestible. This is thanks to MTG Arena allowing players to enlarge cards to make the text more legible. As you might expect, this feature is absolutely vital, with Glitterblossom attesting to it being “basically the only reason I can play it [Arena]. Paper Magic is almost impossible for me for this reason unless I wanna get really bad headaches.”
Alongside this critical feature, Glitterblossom highlighted how even unassuming features could be an accessibility godsend. MTG Arena’s automation and “distinctive audio cues,” for instance, were lauded as beneficial parts of the game. After all, even when they’re silly or annoying, “the more it minimizes my having to squint at details, the better.” Similarly, the brightness of MTG Arena’s menu background might seem inconsequential to most players, however, to Glitterblossom, “it’s a godsend how dark it is. It reduces my eye strain, and the contrast makes it easier for me to find all the right buttons with relative ease.”
Room for Improvement
Unfortunately, while MTG Arena has been built with several handy accessibility features, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Text size, for instance, can still be a frustrating issue for visually impaired players to deal with. Even with Arena’s handy card magnification, some cards like Mercurial Spelldancer have too much going on. Miraculously, one typically problematic Arena card, Calim, Djinn Emperor, already showcases a solution to this problem. As Glitterblossom notes in their post, scrolling cards could be a helpful feature, as they’d allow for scalable font size.
Continuing on, Glitterblossom explained how “it also upsets me that we can’t choose the battlefields we want to use.” While this feature has been a requested addition for some time, Glitterblossom highlighted how it’s more than a simple cosmetic choice. “Battlefields like those of Kaladesh and Amonkhet are so bright, I often have to auto-concede when they’re assigned to me. I just can’t make anything out and they make my eyes water.” Within causal play, thankfully, conceding matches is a viable solution. For ranked and limited matches, however, the brightness of Phyrexia: All Will Be One’s battlefield can be seriously problematic.
Lastly, Glitterblossom touched upon another common complaint of the MTG Arena community; card styles. While they may look nice, card styles can make many MTG cards completely unrecognizable at a glance. Thankfully, there is an option to remove card styles entirely within MTG Arena’s option. As Glitterblossom later pointed out, however, this option is frustratingly all or nothing, which doesn’t completely solve the issue.
“I am hoping for a way to turn off my opponents’ card styles while keeping mine. This is because Arena’s parallax card styles, among others, provide a black background behind the text, which makes for very good contrast. I want to keep being able to use that feature for my own cards, without having to squint at the card styles opponents use that are harder or impossible for me to make out.”u/Glitterblossom
Hope on the Horizon
Alongside Glitterblossom’s suggestions of what MTG Arena does wrong and right, several Reddit users keenly added their own thoughts. User u/TheSilverWolfPup, for instance, noted that MTG Arena is sorely missing proper colorblind support. “Land colors. A friend of mine who’s colorblind frequently complains about being unable to distinguish between opponents’ lands with some of the arts. I’m not even colorblind, and I have occasionally stared at them for a while going ‘but. what the f*ck are you.’”
Thankfully, while MTG Arena is currently missing these helpful accessibility features, it might not be for long. Commenting on Glitterblossom’s post, Wizards employee Wotc_Jay revealed that fixes to these issues might already be in the works. Sadly, there’s no telling when these proposed accessibility features may actually get introduced, but for now, it’s nevertheless good news.
“I’m following up with our art & engineering teams about the items you’ve mentioned (and others collected from the comments here), and we’ll see what we can do. The specificity of your feedback (“here’s my problem. It applies in these circumstances. Here’s what I wish I could do”) is very helpful in making it actionable.”u/Wotc_Jay