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9, May, 23

MTG Arena’s Steam Release May Be Missing Some Key Features

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Article at a Glance

Since first launching in 2018, MTG Arena has been a tremendous vehicle for player acquisition. Offering a new and improved look over Magic Online, MTG Arena was far more approachable for new players and potential MTG fans. Alongside its robust tutorial, this allowed the popularity of MTG Arena to explode throughout the recent pandemic, when everyone was cooped up indoors.

Since its launch, MTG Arena has gone on to become better and better for its existing players. With new features, formats, and dozens of sets being added, MTG Arena has been going from strength to strength. Even the game’s economy and free-to-play features have been steadily improving! While this is all great news for existing players, potential new players haven’t received nearly as much love. That was until recently, at least, as now MTG Arena is finally coming to Steam! While this is obviously great news, unfortunately, it appears this release may be missing some key features.

MTG Arena Launching May 23rd

After literal years of teases from Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro, MTG Arena finally has a Steam release date. This was recently confirmed by MTG’s Senior Communications Manager, Blake Rasmussen, during MagicCon: Minneapolis. During this event and the jam-packed Preview Panel, Rasmussen stated “stating on May 23, Arena is going to give players another way to play Arena by expanding to the largest PC games distributor, Steam!” 

For players both new and old, this is obviously great news. Admittedly, this news is somewhat less important for existing players, however, the option to, presumably, lose the MTG Arena launcher is nevertheless welcome. More obviously, the real benefit is for new players, and MTG Arena as a whole. As, by launching on Steam, MTG Arena is being opened up to a massively expanded audience, one who loves their free-to-play games! Subsequently, it’s possible that Arena may explode in popularity once again.

Should this happen, there could be great things in Arena’s future. After all, if more players than ever before are playing Wizards may allocate additional development recourses. In theory, this may expedite plans to put multiplayer formats such as Commander onto Arena! Similarly, this could lead to products such as Masters and Horizons sets being released on the client. 

That’s our hope, at least, as at the time of writing, Wizards has been rather quiet about their plans. Considering Wizards’ usual veil of silence about the future, this isn’t all too surprising. That being said, however, the lack of information from Wizards is nevertheless a touch concerning. So much so, in fact, that this Steam release may seem a little bit premature. 

Almost Early Access

Steamflogger Service Rep
Steamflogger Service Rep | Unstable

When announcing the Steam release date for Arena, Rasmussen revealed the game wouldn’t exactly be completely finished in every aspect. Thankfully, however, these missing details are rather superfluous, as every card and mechanic should be implemented as expected. Instead, what’s missing is Steam integration. This means that MTG Arena won’t have any achievements, trading cards, icons, or wallpapers. While these features not being included will certainly disappoint some players, all hope is not lost. As, during the presentation, Rasmussen stated “Some [Steam integration] is coming in the future. When that future will be, however, remains to be seen.

While the lack of Steam achievements might not be the biggest loss, curiously, Wizards has yet to mention the releases’ best feature. This is the reworked new player experience. Announced by Hasbro to be launching alongside the Steam release, this new experience could be a game-changer.

“So in 2023, Arena will refactor our new player experience to improve onboarding for new players and help them quickly find the play experiences that appeal to them. This will reinforce our acquisition efforts and maximize the impact of our launch on Steam, which is the biggest gaming platform in the world outside of mobile.”

Cynthia Williams

Regardless of whether it is, or was a campaign, or just a reworked tutorial, this feature is nevertheless important. After all, without an enjoyable tutorial to help learn the ropes, how will the new players ever stand a chance? Despite the importance of this feature, however, it wasn’t mentioned at all during the Preview Panel presentation.

Following on from this, during the recent MTG Arena Announcements news post there was still no mention of the refactored new player experience. Considering the Steam release is just two weeks away, this may be rather concerning. Technically, while it’s not all the time in the world, two weeks is still more than long enough to announce and debut this feature properly. From how Hasbro has been talking, however, it seemed like this feature was definitely worth hyping up. Subsequently, we’re left wondering where this hype is.

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Choice of Fortunes | Alchemy New Capenna
Choice of Fortunes | Alchemy New Capenna

Considering that MTG Arena’s Steam release was originally scheduled for Q3 2023, it’s possible this feature was simply delayed. Alternatively, it’s equally possible that Hasbro overstated what this refactored new player experience would be. If either of these happened, obviously it will be disappointing, although it’s hardly the greatest loss to existing players. For new players, however, getting into Magic might just be that little bit harder.

At the end of the day, without achievements or guaranteed improvements, this Steam release isn’t all too exciting for existing players. Thankfully, however, it’s not any worse than the current client either. With all the cards and mechanics in the right place, essentially, the game will be 1:1 with the current Arena client. This means that after logging into your Wizards account, all your cards and decks will be available on both. The clients will even have crossplay with one another, so you don’t have to worry about switching over. 

Read More: MTG Designer Addresses Massive Lord of the Rings Flavor Fail!

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