Ah, monetization: It’s the thing that can make an otherwise good game into a raging dumpster fire (see Star Wars Battlefront II). Game developers, especially those making free-to-play games, have to toe a very thin line. Make the game too generous and you don’t make enough money, but make it too wallet-squeezy — or at least give it that perception — and you’ll be blasted into oblivion by the community.
Earlier this week, Cryptic Studios divulged the details of monetization for Magic: Legends. If you’re a player of other Cryptic games, like Neverwinter and Star Trek Online, it should be mostly familiar territory. If you’re a player of those games and you don’t like how they monetize … well, you might be in for a rough ride.
Magic: Legends will have the Zen exchange mechanic from other Cryptic games, with the currency Aether serving as the intermediary. You’ll receive Unrefined Aether from the game, which you can then refine at the maximum rate of 50,000 per day. Refined Aether can then be traded for real-money currency Zen, at a rate set by the community’s activity.
Gold is also earned in-game, which can then be spent on the Broker, the game’s version of the auction house. You can buy and sell items there, including ones purchased with Zen. The full list of what you can buy and sell is covered in the post describing the feature. Finally, there’s a battle pass for the game, as well, which offers other rewards, including Aether, through both free and paid tracks.
This is the point where I’d normally offer some editorial opinion on a game’s monetization, but as someone who hasn’t played Cryptic’s games for some time, I’m not intimately familiar with how these systems work and whether they’ll apply equally well to Magic: Legends. That’s an especially salient point given its collectible card game roots and the way power (i.e., booster packs and cards) is normally obtained on those types of games. It’s something I won’t likely be able to form a proper opinion on until I see it in action for myself.