Not to be outdone by Blizzard’s Hearthstone, Wizards of the Coast is also getting into the free-to-play mix with Magic Duels: Origins, a free-to-play version of the CCG that will be available in July Xbox One, PC (via Steam), iPad, and later in the year on PlayStation 4.
Magic Duels: Origins will offer solo and multiplayer modes, including the popular Two-Headed Giant mode, a quest system with weekly challenges, playable planeswalker cards, and a payment system that many are comparing to Hearthstone — “everything is earnable,” said Lead Designer Drew Nolasco, who also said Origins is “unlike anything we’ve ever done.”
WotC’s “other” online Magic game, Magic Online, has always done quite well, with one executive claiming that it accounted for “30% to 40%” of the company’s revenues back in 2007. But its payment model is similar to physical Magic, where everything costs money; it’s definitely not free-to-play. Perhaps Hearthstone, and free-to-play gaming in general, has taken a bigger chunk out of Magic Online’s market share than any of us realize, and the company’s just trying to change with the times.
I’ve only dabbled in Magic Online, many years ago, so I can’t say I remember much about exactly how it works. But, love it or hate it, there’s no question that Hearthstone is easy to pick up and very well-designed for the online, F2P world. It’ll be interesting to see how the 22-year-old king of CCGs can compete with the new dog on its turf.