Despite recent and legitimate complaints from the Magic: The Gathering community, MTG Arena is bringing in the big bucks for Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro.
With a reported three million active users on MTG Arena, Hasbro banked $2.45 billion in net revenue last year, much in part to the MTG brand (tabletop and digital). Magic and Monopoly were the only brands to profit while others like Transformers, Play-Doh, Nerf, and My Little Pony didn’t, according to Hasbro’s annual reports. And it’s estimated that MTG has already brought in around $500 million this year.
The past year has seen several ups and downs as MTG Arena continues its open beta run toward the game’s likely release in the fall of 2019. The War of the Spark release was a big win for MTG, increasing overall interest in both digital and tabletop formats. Growth also took place on MTG Arena with an average of eight hours of weekly play per person and $75 annually spent on gems, according to Hasbro and KeyBanc Capital Markets.
Hasbro and KeyBanc are expecting MTG Arena to grow from three million to 11 million users by 2021, despite the recent problems and complaints from the MTG community surrounding the FTP game.
The Mastery System, a new rewards system for MTG Arena, has made many players legitimately upset due to a limited number of XP per day that they can earn, which results in a grinding process toward earning weekly rewards. In the previous system, players could log in anytime during the course of a week and earn their free booster packs and in-house game gold.
WotC claims there’s no official daily XP limit, and yet there is unless MTG Arena is running promo codes or events with XP rewards. Because of this, players must now log in every day to earn the same amount of rewards received from the old rewards system per season (around 100 days).
Upon the launch of Core Set 2020 on MTG Arena, the Mastery System went into effect. As players complained about the new rewards system, reports also began to surface regarding a drop in the game’s FPS (frames per second) and overall performance.
“The next update needs to focus 100% on optimization and performance,” a Reddit user said. “It was messy before M20 but now it’s embarrassing.”
“I’m withholding any more money into MTGA until Wizards states what they’re doing about these performance issues,” another Reddit user said. “MTGA has been the most interactive platform for online Magic, but if it stays at this level of performance (or degrades even more) then there’s no point investing money (or time) into the game.”
Although the MTG community is upset over the recent changes and performance issues in Arena, Brett Andress of KeyBanc told Bloomberg he “predicts a 20% boost in Hasbro stock earnings by 2021” because of MTG Arena’s growth plan. Much of this is based on the Hasbro annual report and estimated earnings for this year.
MTG Arena isn’t close to Hearthstone’s user numbers (around 70 to 80 million users), but its revenue combined with tabletop will likely exceed that of Blizzard’s digital card game. Activision Blizzard brings in around $600 million a year from the Hearthstone brand, according to Keybanc.
If players spend an average of $75 annually on just gems and the user base is at three million, then MTG Arena is likely bringing in around $225 million a year. The user base will likely double around the FTP game’s official launch, according to the Keybanc predictions. And while the predicted user base of Arena is still shy of Hearthstone’s, the annual revenue won’t be.
Whether the predictions made by Keybanc will become a reality, especially with the game’s most recent laundry list of issues, is unknown. But many in the MTG community complained about changes when the game went from closed to open beta and it didn’t affect its growth over the past year. As long as WotC corrects the game’s performance issues, the grumblings now from regular players won’t likely affect it, either.