Last updated on April 21, 2021
MTG Arena has taken the online card game world by storm. With an ever-growing player base and a partnership with industry megalodon Epic Games, we’ve only just scratched the surface of the game’s potential.
With that being said, a pattern has recently emerged of popular PC games going from PC to console, which begs the question:
Will we ever see MTG Arena on PlayStation 4?
MTG Arena and PS4: The Facts
Before we get into what could be, it’s important to look at the current status of MTGA.
- Arena is currently only available on PC or Mac, downloadable from the Wizards’ website or from the Epic Games Store.
- Mobile is the only confirmed platform that the game is expanding to (for now).
- WotC President Chris Cocks said in the 2020 Investor Conference at the Hasbro Toy Fair that they’re “looking to aggressively expand to new markets, new platforms, and new formats.”
- Game director Jay Parker said: “it’s more a question of “when” rather than if a MTG Arena mobile and console version will ever release.”
This is all the info we currently have about Arena’s highly speculated console release, but there are a few things that have swayed public opinion as to whether the game will be coming to PS4.
MTG Arena and PS4: Speculation
Reddit has been on the case when it comes to porting Arena to PS4. There are a bunch of posts with an array of opinions, but there are a few constants that come up in each thread.
MTG Arena is made on the beloved Unity engine, a game engine which makes it very easy to create games across a multitude of platforms. There’s plenty of speculation that Arena is already easily portable to other platforms since Unity has an accessible user interface which would be simple to port over to mobile (and others).
On top of this, the switch wouldn’t be hard to make with the cross-platform announcement on mobile. Unity games tend to be open, so it seems like this will make it easier for the developers to port the game over to PlayStation, too.
Mobile Garrison | Illustration by Cliff Childs
The mobile release seems to be pretty close on the horizon, which would stagnate or prolong the fabled console release. As the developers gear up for the release and make sure it’s stable, less resources are available for other projects. This could mean a delay in the (theoretical) PS4 release.
It also means that the footwork for a console release would be done, though. It’d only be a matter of porting controls over and making sure everything is console-compatible. It’s a promising reason to think that we’ll get our MTG Arena PS4 experience eventually.
The Next Generation
It’s no secret that the next generation of home consoles is upon us. With PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X coming in Q4 2020, releasing Arena to PS4 wouldn’t be the best move.
It’s pretty safe to speculate that Wizards is probably waiting for the next gen to make their jump over to the flagship home consoles. Maybe we’ll see MTGA released on PS5 instead.
Duels of the Planeswalkers
In the past, the predecessor to the predecessor of Magic Arena was on both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, among other platforms. When DotP 15 and Magic Duels were released, though, they were only available on Xbox One for home consoles. This means that there might be some bad blood between Wizards and Sony, which could affect the release of a PlayStation game for Magic.
Magic’s popularity has boomed since then, so Sony could theoretically want to cash in on the hype and let bygones be bygones, especially with the upcoming launch of a new console and the yearn for release titles with a larger demand.
The War of the
The console war is currently at its most heated moment. With Microsoft and Sony wanting to sway the general player base to their respective camps and the Nintendo Switch’s unprecedented surprise success, the three monarchs of the industry are fighting to get to the top of the platform. Any one of them could pay Hasbro and Wizards a pretty penny to get the world’s premier collectible card game on their platform. A PlayStation release wouldn’t be certain until we hear it from the horse’s mouth. The horse being Wizards or Sony, respectively.
The Recent Developments in the Gaming Industry
Startling Development | Illustration by Simon Dominic
The gaming industry is at a turning point right now. With the new generation incoming and Apple and Google handling a recent lawsuit from Epic Games regarding the “tax” on microtransactions, Wizards might be thinking that the time isn’t right. Especially if they want to stay in good standing with Epic Games. This is an interesting situation since the PlayStation store takes commission.
But, unlike Android and more akin to iOS, you can’t put games on the PlayStation without using the PlayStation Store. You also can’t sideload games, as it’s very much against PlayStation Network’s ToS. This means that all sales on the store have a tax that’s difficult to avoid which goes to the owner of the store. In this case, Sony.
The controversy exists because Epic Games moved their mobile transactions to their own site to circumvent the Apple and Google’s built-in system. This was revolutionary in the gaming industry, and it does kind of feel like things are very volatile when it comes to monetizing free games, so this could be why Wizards is holding back.
I think that this would also take a toll on MTG Arena’s mobile release. We’ll have to wait and see whether this has any long term effects on the industry, which many experts are claiming will happen. It could give Wizards cold feet rushing into the industry, though, and might be a factor in their delay in porting Arena to other platforms.
Can you Play MTG Arena on the PS4?
Unfortunately, unlike other platforms, there are no workarounds to play Arena on the PS4. Because PS4 has its own operating system, it’s near impossible to run anything that’s not available on the PlayStation Store without risking serious damage. Not to mention that the workaround would be highly impractical and prevent you to use the PS4 for its intended purpose.
On top of this, they probably wouldn’t be as intuitive as those for mobile. The PS4 controller is pretty difficult to manoeuvre with a “non-console-specific” user interface.
Would MTG Arena on PS4 be a Good Idea?
Phantasmal Image | Illustration by Nils Hamm
This is more subjective, but I’ve seen some stuff being thrown around about how the console sphere isn’t the right place for Magic.
So, would Arena for PlayStation even be a good idea? That’s a pretty important question. There’s a huge leap from PC to console in comparison to PC to mobile, mostly because of the controls, movements, and such being very different for a game like Magic in comparison to a first person shooter or an RPG.
With that being said, card games have made it to console before and have been very well made.
Slay the Spire is a mix of card game and dungeon crawler and perfects the balance between PC card game and console adaptation. Gwent, the card game counterpart to the beloved Witcher series, made its way to consoles and was very well made. A lot of the doubt comes from how fiddly controller UIs can be. It could lead to lower quality games for people wanting to play against the best they can, and slower games because you have to be really careful not to accidentally select the wrong thing.
Another thing to consider is that cards like Sorcerous Spyglass may be very difficult to use on consoles because typing takes ages. There’d be a lot of bad experiences for players and slower gameplay. This would be something that’d need to be thought about when it comes to the game’s accessibility and timers, meaning that Wizards can’t just directly port the game over.
So, is all this trouble worth it? Moving MTGA over to PS4 would undoubtedly bring some new players to the game and increase player retention. If Wizards can make it easy to play the game, it would be a huge financial opportunity for them. A lot of other games make quite a bit of microtransaction money from console gaming because they have a more casual player base in general.
As a seasoned player in comparison to the average person who would download the game, I know that I’ll be experienced and careful enough to play, so I have a bias. It’s up to Wizards to make sure they work out a way to minimize these issues for newer players.
Nintendo Switch vs PS4
Slippery Bogle | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing
As a quick comparison, the Nintendo Switch is unique because of its portability, touch interface, and player base. Their niche is smaller games over AAA titles that you see on the shelves of your local video game store’s PlayStation and Xbox shelves.
It’s much more comparable to mobile and begs the question whether MTG Arena would be more at home on the Switch than the PlayStation. There’s a lot more that can be said on that front, but Nintendo don’t tend to have third party exclusives. All of their flagship exclusives are developed in-house.
Switch games are also programmed without the touchscreen functionality in mind and being able to utilize the feature because of its infamous docking mode. This means that if Arena: Nintendo Switch were to exist, it would basically mean that the groundwork for PlayStation and Xbox versions would already be there.
Turning Off the PS4
Leave in the Dust | Illustration by Vincent Proce
That’s it for this one! I wish MTG Arena were available on my PlayStation but, unfortunately, it’s not quite there yet. Things are looking promising for the next gen of consoles, though.
What do you think? Will we see Arena on consoles to come? Will MTGA stay on PC and mobile only, a la Hearthstone? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.
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