Starting today, all participants in the Magic: The Gathering Arena closed beta will be able to create videos and stream content from the game, marking a new stage in the game’s development. This was announced on the official Wizards of the Coast development blog by community manager Nate Price.
MTG Arena is Wizards’s online adaptation of the popular collectible card game. It’s currently in closed beta, where developers and a chosen handful of fans are working to hammer out the bugs and the finer details of its in-game economy. Arena is a free-to-play deck-building game that’s intended to be as faithful a replication as possible of the Magic tabletop experience, including card collection and player-vs.-player tournaments.
Wizards has also made a “creator kit” available for download, the blog now also offers a “creator kit” for download, which contains several free Magic-themed graphics that can be used to liven up a stream or video, such as a screen overlay patterned after Magic‘s cards’ color themes. The same .zip file also features a “best practices” guide, discussing the etiquette and potential downfalls of building a community and audience around your MTG Arena play. It’s a call to arms for online streamers and “Let’s Play” creators, who make a living out of showcasing games and publicly honing their skills, as well as to professionals on the MTG tournament circuit.
Over the course of the last couple of years, we’ve seen online content creators on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch take on increasingly high-profile roles in games marketing and exposure. With that in mind, the creator kit is an interesting read, as it’s written to heavily emphasize the role of a creator in setting a community’s tone, and policing it when it missteps.
As part of its first step (“Determine Your Goals, Strategy, and Style”), it includes this quote: “You are the steward of that community, and you have the privilege and responsibility of defining it. Think about what makes your favorite Magic communities special. For example, some top streamers do a great job focusing on inclusivity.” The document is peppered throughout with affirming quotes from various Magic professionals and high-profile players, such as Rich Shay, Gaby Spartz, Rachel “baetog” Agnes, and Young Mage.
MTG Arena was likely to pick up a lot of interest from the streamer and YouTuber communities to begin with, much in the spirit of similar games like Blizzard’s Hearthstone. Unlike a lot of its contemporaries, however, Arena’s marketing team is using the NDA and the creator kit as a sort of preemptive strike against the sort of Internet jerks that have turned other games’ communities toxic. It’s an interesting glimpse of a possible future for developers’ interactions with their games’ communities.