MTG Arena Closed Beta Starts December 4th!

MTG Arena Liliana Art

Just the Facts Ma’am

Wizards has shared the finalized date for the beginning of the MTG Arena closed beta.  December 4th is the magical (pun intended) date.  Here are the key points to be aware of.

  • Anyone that participated in the weekend alpha tests will be invited back for the closed beta.
  • Servers should be available 24/7 during the closed beta outside of any required maintenence.
  • Only players with priority access will be invited during December
  • Players without priority access will start being invited in sometime in January
  • Constructed is the only format supported during closed beta initially
  • Only cards from the Ixalan set will be available

The full annoucement article from wizards can be found here:

Wizards has also sent an email to every player that has signed up for beta testing, so check your inbox to make sure that you are on the eventual invite list!

Closed Beta Start Email
Email Sent by WotC to Players that Signed up for MTG Arena Beta

A Closer Look

The closed beta period was originally targetted to begin on November 30th.  It is encouraging to see that there has only been a 4 day delay from that original date.  Developing software is one of the most complex endevours that humans have ever undertaken and pinpointing release dates often includes more hopes an wishes than exact science.  (Ever heard of Valve Time?)  One negative aspect of the closed beta, especially for players that have already been in alpha testing, is that only cards from the Ixalan set will be available.  The Ixalan set consists of 279 cards, and while the critical reception of Ixalan has been positive, it doesn’t provide a large enough card pool to prevent players from becoming quickly fatigued from seeing the same decks and cards over and over.

Many players will be excited to see that more details about the in-game economy will be coming during the closed beta.

Later in the Closed Beta, we’ll start to add our ideas on how you could earn cards and rewards.  This is something we’ll refine with your feedback.

Emphasis added on the especially non-commital terms by me.  Wizards seems to be trying to leave themselves lots of wiggle room when it comes to how the in-game economy is implemented.  The usage of the word refine also implies that Wizards is not planning to implement major changes based on player feedback, but instead expect to allow for minor tweaks.

A draft format not being available during the first phase of the closed beta is disappointing.  How well the draft format and pricing are recieved is one of the major factors that will determine the long term success of MTG Arena.  If the price point for drafts is low enough, it will drive a surge of players into MTG Arena that will set the stage for Arena to be the most popular platform for CCG drafting.  It could also siphon off a large portion of MTGO drafters and kill off the drafting economy of Wizards’s current digital cash cow.  If the price point is too high the outcome is obvious; very few draft players and less revenue to invest in future development. The margin of error is razor thin for finding the correct draft price point to allow both MTG Arena and MTGO to thrive.  Hopefully this is one of those items that Wizards will listen to the players on when refining the in-game economy.

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