Magic: Legends has stepped into the world of free-to-play, not unlike developer Cryptic Studios' other games. The online action RPG is looking to bring all the lore and action of Magic: The Gathering to a Diablo-style dungeon-crawling experience.
When I played Magic: Legends at PAX East 2020—conventions were so long ago—the developer wasn't willing to talk about monetization just yet. Today, executive producer Stephen Ricossa revealed how Magic will be making its money in a blog post on the official website. Have a seat at the table, because there's a lot.
The abilities of various classes in Magic: Legends are presented as classic Magic cards, and the game will be selling booster packs of these cards. Booster packs will offer new cards for players to build skill decks out of, but also a little extra. "If you choose to purchase these booster packs, there are several other types of items you have a chance to unlock in addition to spells," said Ricossa. "These range from unique Artifacts, to unique spells, and even a unique class. These classes and items are not more powerful than the free classes or other items that exist in the game, but are different horizontally. They provide a different set of play options, but don’t give a power advantage."
There's no details on what the last class is. Each class in the Alpha version I played is based around the five Mana colors Magic players have always had access to. Red is the Geomancer, Blue is the Mind Mage, and Green is the Beastcaller, while Black and White's classes are currently unannounced. Magic: Legends will also be selling further classes.
"In addition to the classes that are included in the game for free, we’ll be selling themed Planeswalker classes that give you more class options to choose from when constructing your loadouts," said Ricossa. "These classes will have their own progression trees, Traits, Spark Powers, abilities, and a unique costume that can be worn on its own or mixed with the costume parts from other classes to customize the look of your planeswalker. As before, these classes are not more powerful than the free classes that exist in the game, but are different from the free classes horizontally. They will have their own set of play options without giving a numerical advantage."
Magic: Legends will also be offering a Battle Pass system like many free-to-play titles. The free track will offer "currency packs, costume options, unique spells, and Artifacts", while the paid track will have unique cosmetic items and more currency. The in-game currency, Aether, can be traded with other players at the cash shop, allowing avid players to bypass spending money. And there will be convenience items like XP boosters and more deck slots. Basically, Cryptic Studios hasn't met a monetization model it doesn't want in Magic: Legends.
The studio says that it's going this route to allow all playable content to be free. "First things first, Magic: Legends will not be selling content updates or playable missions. Our goal is for the entire game to be playable and fun from beginning through endgame and beyond without having to spend a dime. Period," said Ricossa.
Magic: Legends does not currently have a firm release date. It has more Closed Alpha and Beta phases ahead of it, and players can sign up for the beta phases by going to the official website.