Today, Wizards of the Coast took to their blog to discuss the economy of Magic: The Gathering Arena, the process of collecting cards and rewards for play, and Wizards’ philosophy on developing the in-game economy and how things will change throughout Arena’s beta experience.
It’s actually something of a fascinating read about what it’s like to develop a player economy in-game, even if you aren’t that into MTG. Granted, this is mostly of interest to Arena players.
There will be two in-game currencies forming the basis of the MTG Arena economy. One is earned in-game, while the other is bought with real money. So, yes, there will be ‘loot boxes.’ Because how else could a TCG work?
- Gold: This currency is earned by winning games, completing quests, and wins in events.
- Gems: These can only be purchased for real money from the in-game store.
Wizards do go on to clarify that both currencies can be used to unlock packs and in-game events. So, there should be some sort of fairness here.
Both gold and gems can be used to unlock packs, events, and more. Gems will be available to purchase for players that want to bypass earning gold to speed up gameplay. While we anticipate offering some cosmetic items in-game that can only be purchased with gems, there won’t be any gameplay content that can only be unlocked with real money.
Players can purchase gems during the Closed Beta. If you purchase gems during the Closed Beta and use those gems to purchase digital objects, they will be refunded to your account after each scheduled account wipe. We’ll let you know when an account wipe is coming.
Which brings us to the next big point of the blog post. The core principles behind Arena‘s economy and time-reward balance.
This structure was designed with three principles in mind. Let’s start with the first principle of MTG Arena‘s economy: Make our players’ valuable time as fun as possible.
Every free-to-play game uses time as its basic currency. Too often, however, that time is designed to be a grind, an obstacle players have to push through to get value out of the game. We wanted players to truly enjoy their play time and look forward to coming back again. We designed the game, and the economy, to deliver that.
- Front-Loaded Rewards: In Closed Beta, we’re trying out a daily session where most of the rewards come in the first hour or two. While you can always play as long as you’d like, we wanted to make sure that even people with limited time can have fun and feel like they are being rewarded. For example, we’re testing a system where the first win of the day gives you your biggest single-game gold reward.
- Daily . . . or Not: Playing every day is a great way to keep MTG Arena fresh and fun, all while maximizing rewards. Each day brings a new quest that varies in difficulty and reward, and each day you can cycle out one quest for another. Play every day to maximize your first wins, or play a couple times a week to save up quests. Since quests don’t always require wins, they are a great way to earn gold just for playing.
- When You Want to Play More: Of course, sometimes, you just want to keep playing. And we wanted to make sure we supported that. So, we’re testing out a system of rewards based on total wins in a week. As you win two, five, and ten games over the course of a week, you can earn Wildcards. Stack this with a couple daily quests and individual card rewards, and you’ll have an amazing 3- or 4-hour session set up.
So they are making a concerted effort to keep the game from being too much of pay-to-win system while also avoiding a freemium structure. That you can use both currencies to buy cardpacks should go a decent way to make players happy with the system. But, it still seems like it’ll be a bit of a grind.