After a year of open beta and almost two years after the closed beta test began, Magic: The Gathering – Arena launched this week (with a pair of cool events!)
. This came with the arrival of the anticipated Throne of Eldraine set (its cards play on themes from fairy tales) and the first Standard rotation in Arena’s short history. It’s a fine time for the first rotation.
I’ve been playing Arena almost daily, usually maxing out my quests and gold/card rewards. Thanks to Arena, I’ve learned how to play both Draft and Sealed formats (I’ve even had a few undefeated runs in the ranked War of the Spark drafts). I’ve built my own off-meta decks that get me to Gold rank on a reliable basis. It’s even gotten me into paper Magic
Yet I have some concerns about the direction Wizards of the Coast has taken during the open beta.
The publisher has made a series of announcements that have irked the community – especially free-to-play folks. These tended to focus on how it distributes card rewards and the Mastery progression pass. Another big hullabaloo focused on the Historic mode … especially how players would need to use two Wildcards to craft an older card (either from sets that rotated out or a handpicked cards that have never been in Arena before) and that older packs would only be available for purchase in bulk, not one pack at a time. Wizards backtracked on several such announcements, usually changing the proposal in a way that appeased the community.
But I don’t like these “trial balloons.” With many of these proposals, it feels like Wizards knows the community won’t like its monetization ideas, so it announces the worst incarnation of them and then ratchets it back to something more palatable. It doesn’t feel like a good way to treat your community … and it could end up training them to expect the worse every time you make an announcement.
Consider your monetization proposals, Wizards. Don’t let the marketing department overrule the good sense of your game developers and community managers.
As the Ferengi 57th Rule of Acquisition states, “Good customers are as rare as latinum. Treasure them.”
–Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor