Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

MtG Arena walks back changes (again)

It’s becoming a pattern. Magic Arena devs announce some changes which are obviously detrimental to the community, apropos of nothing. After an outcry, they walk back the changes.

Some have said this is their cunning plan, to announce something worse than they intend to implement, and then agree under duress, to be more generous, giving the community what they were planning to give all along.

I disagree. Not because I think the Arena devs are that stupid, but because I think they are that cynical, grasping, and utterly lacking in anything resembling respect for their customer base.

art by Antonio Jose Manzanedo

Previously it was the way in which the Mastery Pass was introduced. This time it was the Historic format. For those not fully aware, Magic: the Gathering Arena has focused on a format called Standard. This format contains only the latest card releases, and card leave this format in an event called rotation.

Rotation happens every October, with four sets leaving and one set entering. Standard changes, the decks change. Cards that were unplayable suddenly gain new life, and players sick of facing the same cards now don’t have to.

With Arena focused around Standard, how rotation would be handled has been an open question. The question was dodged in 2018, when rather than deal with rotation, they simply moved from closed beta to open beta, deleted everyone’s cards, and the rotated cards never came back.

art by Filip Burburan

The can has been kicked as far down the road as it would go, and now an announcement needed to be made to reassure players they could somehow use the cards that leave Standard, just like in the paper game.

The announcement was made. For no good reason, cards in the Historic format would cost double wildcards to redeem, the format would not always be available to play as a ranked format, and they would add a random selection of cards to the format every three months. People were not happy.

After a few weeks, they announced changes have been undone before they could even be made.

The main sticking point for most was the issue of wilcards, closely followed by the news that Historic packs would only be sold as 45-pack bundles, and only for gems, the game’s in-game purchasable currency. Both of these changes have been walked back.

So what has been achieved? It’s difficult to see.

The Historic format is being introduced in a way that leaves a bad taste for many players. The devs have revealed themselves as careless and lacking in confidence in their own product. Rather than sell more by offering a fun product people would value, they tried to charge double because they could.

Trust has been eroded and may never recover. Players who once evangelised for the game no longer do. There’s little point talking about how fun a certain game mode is when it would disappear or be changed at any time.

That was a lot of words, but I’ll leave you with a response video from Nox, who makes many of the same points more forcefully:

I’ll do a review of Magic Arena in the weeks after the official launch, and I’ll address the issue of trust again.

4 comments on “MtG Arena walks back changes (again)

  1. Bookstooge
    September 15, 2019

    I’ve been waiting to see how Wizards dealt with rotation before jumping on the Arena bandwagon. I was big into Magic:Duels on Steam and got burned so I was more cautious this time around. I must say, it’s not looking good from my perspective.

    However, I am not surprised. With the economy setup the way it is, the “money only” options and silly things like sleeve backs and whatnot taking precedence over game play, Arena feels very much like a fleecing operation. Which would fit right into Wizard’s profile of recent years…

    Liked by 1 person

    • davekay
      September 15, 2019

      I would say that if you’re sure you could stay free-to-play then it’s a good thing as the game is actually quite generous to players especially when they start, you get 15 free decks and more stuff each week. On rotation everyone who started an account before 26 September gets 10 free rare/mythics into their account. However putting money in is something I would not recommend at all as casual play is not really supported, which I find odd.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bookstooge
        September 15, 2019

        And since I’m nothing BUT a casual player…

        Liked by 1 person

      • davekay
        September 15, 2019

        I’ll do a review once the game is ‘properly’ launched, but right now features that would support casual engagement and play are notably absent.

        Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on September 15, 2019 by in Computer Games, Magic the Gathering, Writing and tagged , , .
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