We have been teased by Wizards about the future of digital Magic for a while, and I don’t know about you but I really want to know what the future holds for us as soon as possible. A week ago, Wizards of the Coast released an article talking about Magic Digital Next, but barely gave us any info whatsoever, so the speculation has to begin. You can read that article here. In this article I’m going to speculate about what this platform may or may not be, and what it may or may not contain.
Physical Card Transfer
This is something that has been talked about and discussed before and has been implemented in other card games. However, I suggest you don’t get your hopes up. This feature is extremely non-lucrative for Wizards and it will make their decision to not implement this process earlier even more inexcusable. It would be extremely silly of Wizards to go back on their stance regarding physical-to-digital card transfers. I think the best they could do is implement some sort of rewards program for real-life spending that translates into online rewards, but a one-for-one transfer is just not possible at this time, nor will it ever be.
This point has been brought up a whole lot, and I understand why people might think that Wizards is just surrounding the next age of digital Magic with false hype and then revealing that it is just another MtGO client. However, I do think that Wizards may pivot away from MtGO on a general level, and while it is possible, I do think that it is unlikely that Magic Digital Next is just another Magic Online iteration.
A Stand-Alone Game
While unlikely, some have said that they think that Magic Digital Next might be a stand-alone game like Magic Duels, that has a very limited card pool but has increased deckbuilding capabilities. I find this very unlikely, however. Wizards has promoted the program far too much for it to simply be that, so I don’t think that will happen.
Planeswalker Points Integrations
There has also been conversations of potentially connecting player DCI numbers to their online profiles, which would allow online matches to count towards players’ totals for Grand Prix byes and lifetime achievements. This would be a logistical nightmare, unfortunately, and it’s unlikely that it’s worth it for Wizards of the Coast at that point. I think a more likely thing that could happen is an increase of events that feed into the Pro Tour from Magic Online.
This would likely be a very welcome change that players would love to see, especially those that can’t dedicate as much time as they would like to physical Magic or live in a region where important events are few and far between. This is something that people have talked about for a long time, and is necessary to keep Magic accessible to many people who deserve those same opportunities to play as other around the world.
Magic Online-Only Release
There has been discussions about products and services that will soon become unique to Magic Online, for example blocks that only occur on Magic online, therefore differentiating the experience from the paper game further. This would inevitably split the paper and digital game and make them truly separate entities, much more similar to the Warcraft game (when that was a thing). Magic Online-only releases would be an extremely poor decision by Wizards, considering that players only want the game to be more like how it is in real life, not a completely different experience.
My Prediction for Magic Digital Next
I think that Magic Digital Next is going to be a hybrid stand-alone between Magic Duels and MtGO, with Duels being taken off the market and no new versions being produced. With increased deck building capabilities, I think that this game is going to be a lot better for competitive players than Duels, and will likely have an iOS clients (which is long overdue), because the Wizards digital team is starting from scratch on this project. How nice does that sound? Unfortunately, for now this is all hopeless speculation, and we’ll just have to wait and see what Magic Digital Next holds for us.
If you’re looking for a consistent way to analyze new cards as they get released, this article from Ben Pall will help you do just that by using mathematical models. Give it a read if you’re interested in applying math to Magic, or just want a unique way of looking at new cards.
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