Although still going strong with a loyal following, collectible card games aren’t as big as they were decades ago. The games have also had trouble adjusting to the digital world and not for a lack of trying. Only a few of its kind have made it big on PCs and mobile but that’s not stopping one of the biggest names in that genre from making an even bigger play by taking Magic: The Gathering Arena available to all mobile devices this week.
This wouldn’t be the first Magic: The Gathering or MTG game on mobile and hardly the first video game adaptation of the franchise. Translating the game mechanics of the physical card game, which involves real-time in-person matches, hasn’t always translated well to the digital setting, even with online play. MTG Arena seems to have been considered successful enough after almost two years on the PC that Wizards of the Coast is confident enough to open the gates to fans of the game on mobile.
MTG Arena is pretty much a direct port of the CCG to the digital realm, with the Internet serving as the channel for pairing opponents. All the mechanics of the physical game are present as are the same cards, though the digital versions will naturally catch up with the releases of the physical ones after a certain gap. The digital game will play out exactly in the same way save for the random mechanic that will take the place of real-world card shuffling.
MTG Arena has actually already been in beta on Android since January, almost two years after the game launched on PCs. Now Wizards of the Coast announced that the game is being made available to all and also adding support for iOS devices as well as tablets. The game also offers cross-play between mobile and PC so gamers can take their matches wherever they are.
It is quite interesting that WotC pushed through with the mobile launch of the game, which probably shows the publisher’s faith in the MTG brand more than the popularity of its particular digital incarnation. Other major players in the digital CCG market have already bowed out, including Valve and its Artifact, leaving MTG Arena and Blizzard’s Hearthstone as the only notable titles in this market, at least for now.