MTG Arena officially entered Open Beta last week, just over a year after its initial reveal on Twitch and its first preview at HasCon. To celebrate, we thought we’d take a look back and reflect on MTG Arena’s 10-month Closed Beta.

The Numbers

It would be difficult to assess the success of MTG Arena’s Closed Beta without any numbers, so asked Wizards of the Coast for some—and they kindly obliged.

While Wizards wouldn’t divulge how many users played in the Closed Beta, we do know that they planned to add 100,000 new users in March and April of this year. Unfortunately, we don’t have access to any additional information on the total user population of MTG Arena’s Closed Beta.

However, Wizards did tell us that users played 1.3 billion minutes of Magic before the Closed Beta servers were taken down last week. During those 21.66 million hours, players played 110 million games, opened 35 million boosters, and redeemed 20.5 million Wildcards.

The Economy

Wizards generated controversy before the Closed Beta even started with the structure of the economy.

MTG Arena’s economy is designed to be self-contained within each individual player—that means there is no way to trade resources (like cards, gems, or gold) between players. Other games, like Hearthstone, solve this problem by allowing players to “dust” cards they don’t use in order to “craft” a specific card. Wizards believes that forcing players to destroy cards to get the cards they want is a feel-bad mechanic; so they designed Wildcards, which players can use to get any card of the same rarity.

Wildcards are *ahem* wildly unpopular for many reasons. The core complaint is that there is no way to immediately craft the card you need if you don’t have the appropriate Wildcard. Instead, in order to craft that card, you have to randomly earn a Wildcard of the same rarity as a reward first. This makes building a specific deck an unpredictable task—unless you’re willing to buy packs from the store until your deck is complete.

Wizards has clearly heard the feedback about Wildcards but seems committed to the concept as we head into the Open Beta.

The Events

While the MTG Arena economy was a consistent sore point, one of the brightest spots was the variety of events Wizards kept adding to the game throughout the Closed Beta.

Initially, the Closed Beta launched with just a best-of-one constructed ladder. In April 2018 both Constructed and Draft events were added, allowing users to play a deck until they reached seven wins or three losses. Then, a few months later, the June 2018 update introduced best-of-three and Singleton events.

While the number of events offered on MTG Arena is still lacking when compared to Magic Online, it’s clear that Wizards is intent on increasing the kinds of events available. Just last week, for example, they added Sealed events to the game with the launch of the Open Beta and release of Guilds of Ravnica. It’s likely MTG Arena will only improve in this department during the Open Beta.

The Conclusion

MTG Arena is an incomplete game, as is appropriate for a game that is still in beta. Even so, it’s an enjoyable product because it’s Magic at its core, just with a fresh coat of paint and a new free-to-play economy. Given the consistent improvements Wizards has made to the game since the Open Beta first began, the future of MTG Arena seems very promising—at least for Standard and Limited players. But who knows, maybe the game will advance far enough to support Modern and Legacy, as well.

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