If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Card battling series Magic: The Gathering is going free-to-play in its latest iteration, Magic: Origins, which drops on Xbox One, PC, and iPad this July, with a PlayStation 4 version to follow. Magic creator Wizards of the Coast is promising “limitless free-to-play with 100 percent earnable content,” for Magic: Origins, meaning you shouldn’t have to spend any money to unlock cards if you don’t want to — provided you have plenty of time on your hands.
In going completely free-to-play, Magic: Origins is adopting a similar model to its big competitor, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Hearthstone lets players buy card packs with real money or earn them through playing, and it now has over 25 million players across PC, iPad, and Android tablets. The game’s success helped publisher Activision reach record digital sales of $2.2 billion in 2014.
The previous title in the Magic series, Magic 2015: Duels of the Planewalkers, allowed players to build their own decks for the first time. It also drew some criticism from fans, however, for being a $9.99 game with additional micro-transactions. Some of the extra cards in the game you could only buy, and they weren’t unlockable through gameplay.
Magic: Origins sees the return of the popular Two-Headed Giant multiplayer mode, which pits pairs of players against each other. It will also include a solo battle mode with “virtually endless” A.I. opponents, and a quest system with new individual and community challenges each week. It will also offer improved deck building facilities with step-by-step deck construction guidance for those who need it.