Arena Battle Pass Philosophy – Destructoid

Get over time

Ah battle passes: the “natural evolution” of the loot box.

But that’s not so natural for a lot of studios, who saw the legislative writing on the wall for loot boxes and decided to give their playerbase another mad race to run. While several large companies are doing surprisingly well with the system, Magic: Arena still has a long way to go, even after a number of course corrections.

This great article on Reddit sums up a lot of what I have said since the start of the master’s pass [which I’ll refer to as the battle pass from here on out for simplicity]. For those of you who don’t follow Magic: Arena, I’ll give you a quick breakdown.

In summary, several months ago, Wizards of the Coast reworked the battle pass for the Ikoria set to provide less rewards, especially less gems (premium currency). The excuse at the time was that “this [was] intentional, because the defined duration is much shorter. But when players looked at the rewards for a much longer duration and next Zendikar Rising pass, they found that they were not modified proportionally. For reference, both battle passes cost the same amount of money.

Having done each pass myself each season, I saw many areas for improvement. Here are two big ones.

Unlock daily progress for the battle pass

Make no mistake, the original system sucked, but the current battle pass implementation just doesn’t cut it in terms of the progress you earn on a regular basis. Right now you can complete daily quests, get 15/15 wins per week or 10 wins per day to progress through the pass.

It’s a stark contrast to just about every other battle pass on the market, which allows players to progress as much as they want. Even though this is a small amount, Wizards should allow people to progress unlimitedly towards the pass. Most companies know this is a win-win solution, as players invest more in the game instead of making their 10 daily wins and stopping until the next round.

The current method seems to be tackling FOMO: asking players to invest in split chunks of time instead of allowing them to play at their own pace. Since Wizards often feature “catch-up” events with constant XP rewards towards the end of a pass period, there’s no reason they can’t flip a switch and allow players to earn XP at their own pace.

Really allow players to recover the money they have invested

Forget for a moment all the marketing about the “value” you get from battle passes (read: the price of packs you earn and cosmetics).

The battle passes Arena costs gems: the premium currency of the game. Unless you play certain modes and earn gems by going “infinite” (by investing currencies in a tournament-style limited mode, getting a first place, then by reinvesting those gems to win again and repeat the cycle): you are probably putting real money on a battle pass. Here is the thing though. Unlike almost every other pass on the market (even the larger ones like Fornite and Apex Legends, or even the next one Marvel Avengers), you don’t get all the gems you put there after completion.

The pass costs 3,400 gems and you will collect 1,200 gems for Zendikar Rising (Ikoria was only 800 gems). It is far from being the break-even point. Not letting people progress at their own pace is a fairly isolated problem, but it is more opaque and confusing. Didn’t Wizards of the Coast take a look at how every other company was doing before pulling the trigger on their pass? The wait has been set, and it is not being met. Naturally, you get cosmetics, draft tokens, and packs to play in the current battle pass system. But it’s designed to trick casual gamers into spending money and not seeing a return on their real money investment. ArenaThe Battle Pass does not necessarily need to be tied to packs.

Even any of these suggestions would be an improvement, and time will tell if they decide whether the prospect is worth it or not. It’s a shame, like Arena has made a ton of progress since launch and is a fantastic game in almost every mechanical way: I still play consistently despite my frustrations with the pass. It could be better!

Chris Carter

Director of Reviews, Co-EIC – Chris has been a avid fan of Destructoid since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, create an account and start blogging in January 2009. Now he’s on staff!


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