MTG is moving local events online.

Magic The Gathering is the world's most popular trading card game, and it's seen a variety of changes and challenges throughout its almost 30-year lifespan. But recent shutdowns of game stores and community centers have forced the brand to rethink how it engages customers. Social distancing rules mean that card stores have been unable to host Friday Night Magic events, and many are concerned about being unable to hold launch events for Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, the game's newest expansion.

Being unable to hold launch events represents a major threat for many gaming stores. These events are typically the highlights of the quarter, with even small game stores moving hundreds of booster packs on launch nights. To help communities support their local card shops, Magic The Gathering has rethought its release strategy and moved these events online. To this end, they are currently hosting online Friday Night Magic events through their online client, Magic The Gathering: Arena

Promotional art for Ikoria, the latest expansion
Image Courtesy of DotEsports

The release date for Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths has been moved up from May to April 16, to allow for a global digital release. This allows players to experience the expansion nearly a month early online, and will hopefully cultivate enthusiasm for a tentative physical release in May if social distancing requirements are relaxed. 

Players can both support their local game stores and obtain limited-edition prizes by participating in these events every Friday. By screen capping their games and tagging local card stores on social media, players are both promoting their community hubs and qualifying for unique unlock codes that can be redeemed inside the MTGA client. Three Friday Night Magic events are currently scheduled, each running all day on Fridays, but more will likely be announced in the coming weeks. 

Additionally Wizards of the Coast, MTG's parent company, has been working to help establish Discord servers for organizing community events. While different monetization models are being explored, they have suggested that they will be allowing card stores to host virtual tournaments with $10 entry fees. If you've ever been curious about getting into Magic The Gathering, these digital events represent a unique opportunity to dive headfirst into the game's expansive content and passionate community. 

Are you participating in any online Magic The Gathering events, or are you looking to form a digital player group? Let us know!