New rewards system on MTG Arena has players upset

Rewards to play or a deterrent?

Jason Rainville Persistent Petitioners banned from Pauper MTG Arena
Image via Wizards of the Coast/Jason Rainville

MTG’s Core Set 2020 set and a new rewards system is dropping today with the MTG Arena update. And lots of players aren’t happy about it.

Here’s the background: In an effort to provide additional rewards to players on MTG Arena, Wizards of the Coast is implementing a free-to-play and paid option Mastery System for rewards. 

There are two levels of the Mastery System. A free-to-play Mastery Tree, which gives players rewards for doing daily’s (mostly cosmetic, gold, and some booster packs). The other is a paid level known as Mastery Pass that has additional cosmetic rewards and a pet cat. Maxing out the Mastery System rewards a player with a bunch of booster packs.  

Related: Big changes coming to MTG Arena with Core Set 2020 update

The Mastery Tree maxes out at level 72. To reach a new level, players need to earn 1,000 XP. Since each Mastery System resets with a new set (approximately three months), time is limited to reach level 72. Here’s the XP a player can earn on a daily basis. 

  • 800 XP for each quest
  • 100 XP for the first daily win
  • 50 XP for the second and third daily win

The main issue players are having is the time you need to commit to MTG Arena to unlock all the rewards. For a target audience that has a large amount of “older” players with jobs and families, it’s difficult to log in every day and complete these tasks. 

“I actually can and do play almost every single day, but I do not like the idea of paying for content and then being forced to play every day,” one player said on Reddit. “This is the limit for me because it is a video game, not an obligation.”

“These types of dailies are exactly why I stopped playing MMOs,” another said. “You feel bad for missing out a day or two. Instead of encouragement to play, it starts to feel like a chore or second job.”

Grinding is a part of free-to-play games, but it can also become a burden. What starts off as fun turns into a daily task that sucks the joy out of the overall gaming experience, all in the name of reaping rewards and staying competitive.

The Mastery System on MTG Arena has the potential, for some, to be a deterrent rather than a reason to play. 

Update July 2, 5pm CT: In response to an abundance of complaints regarding the Mastery System rewards on MTG Arena, Wizards of the Coast released a statement apologizing for its lack of communication. 

According to an article written by Chris Cao, free XP will be given out over the course of the Core Set 2020 run leading up to the release of code-name “Archery” in the fall. Between promo codes and events, Cao states that players can receive up to 15 levels of free XP. 

“We intended the Mastery Pass to provide a scaling reward based on the amount you play,” Cao states in his article. “The current track’s rewards are designed to mainly peak at level 80 with the following levels providing a ramp down in value. But, from your feedback, it’s clear that we made a system that doesn’t feel great.”

In addition to providing more free XP rewards with an update attached to the MTG Arena release at the end of the July, they’ll be removing the option to purchase levels in the Mastery System.