Last week, as you know by now, Wizards made a grand announcement that this week would be full of grand announcements! Yesterday kicked off with Metamorphosis 2.0 and a bunch of changes to set designs and releases. Today we were given two announcements, one with updates to the Banned and Restricted lists which you can read about here and another about Magic Digital Next, which we’ll talk about below.

Before diving into today’s Magic Digital Next announcement, make sure you check out the news from last week about the new Magic RPG being developed, and Anthony Lowry’s column talking about what to expect from a Magic MMO based on his 15+ years of experience playing games in this genre. Now let’s talk about today’s news.

Magic Duels is dead. Okay, okay, there’s a lot more in the announcement but that’s the only news of substance. First, there’s a new game in development but they can’t say anything other than there will be a demo at HasCon. Second, there’s an MMO but we already knew that. Third, they’re proud of what they’ve accomplished with MTGO and will continue working on it. So yeah, Magic Duels is dead and that’s the news today.

What this means for Magic is actually quite extraordinary. Time and time again we’ve seen that Duels has been a solid game across a variety of platforms and has been a regular means for getting new players into the Magic community. With it’s fate sealed that means a lot of changes must be coming out of Magic Digital Next.

First and foremost there will no longer be a gateway product for entry into the world of Magic the Gathering. Assuredly MTGO is not that product and an MMO is not that product either. So that leaves us with two options. Option one is that the new digital offering that Jeffrey Steefel was coy about is going to be the new gateway product for new players. Option two is that MTGO is going to be expanded to be more welcoming/friendly to new players.

It’s most likely that Option One is where Wizards is going because, let’s face it, MTGO has made strides in the last year but it has a long way to go. Duels is cross-platform and can be played almost anywhere while MTGO requires you to be tethered, almost always, to a desktop computer running windows. So, hopefully, we’re getting a replacement for Magic Duels.

What’s quite unfortunate is that Magic Duels was a game that wasn’t supposed to be replaced. Several years ago when they finally stopped adding the year to the title and began providing constant updates to the game, it was going to be around for a long time. I don’t think the game has been a failure, but it seems that Magic Digital Next is moving forwards without it. This means, hopefully, that they have something better in mind.

Only time will tell, but for now we’re sad to see Magic Duels go, and sad to see the impact it is going to have on many players who are still relatively new to the game, and those who will miss out on this opportunity until a replacement is installed. For now though, we’re looking forward to HasCon and the reveal of what, most likely, will replace Magic Duels.

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