We’re seeing a lot of major game publishers port their titles to “Android” as apps over the past year and by extension, they’re often able to be played to some degree on Chromebooks via Google Play Store compatibility. Diablo Immortal is on its way, League of Legends: Wild Rift will be in open beta in the United States in March and now, Magic the Gathering: Arena is headed to mobile! You’ll be able to install it in early access as of January 28th on specific phones, which I’ll list here shortly.
It’s important to note that you can already play the game via GeForce NOW on your Chromebook, but for those who don’t want to pay the five bucks for the worthwhile version of the service or simply can’t use a cloud platform for connectivity reasons, having it directly downloaded to the Chromebook via the Google Play Store is a big win!
Since MTG: Arena is a card game and the best way to interact with cards is with your hands, I won’t waste my time griping about how we need better gamepad or mouse and keyboard support – out of the box, this game ought to feel right at home on Chromebooks in tablet mode!
For the uninitiated, Magic the Gathering is basically the best card game in the world – Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon players, don’t @ me. It was created back in 1993 and shows no signs of slowing down to this day. It’s basically the other game besides Dungeons & Dragons that your parents wouldn’t let you play because it was “satanic”, right? Now that I’m older I realize how ridiculous that is. Either way, now that I have a son and I’m getting older, I’ve found that I have less money and time to collect the physical cards and for the hundreds that I already do own, I never play the game in person with others because, well, the pandemic (which is an excuse for me not socializing with real people).
Magic: The Gathering is a card game in which wizards cast spells, summon creatures, and exploit magic objects to defeat their opponents. In the game, two or more players each assemble a deck of 60 cards with varying powers. They choose these decks from a pool of some 20,000 cards created as the game evolved.Technology Review
Let’s get something out of the way here and now – Wizards of the Coast did not provide any details regarding the availability of the game on Chromebooks. They state that due to the wide variety and variability of Android devices, they are unable to provide a comprehensive list of supported devices. Instead, they’ve offered a sample list of devices that are known to support the game in their early testing – all of them are Android phones, but that’s no surprise. 99 percent of the time, developers do not include Chromebooks into their vision for their app or game – something I’ve complained about a lot.
|Asus ROG Phone 3||LG G7 ThinQ||Samsung Galaxy A71 5G|
|Asus ROG Phone II||Motorola One 5G||Samsung Galaxy Note 9|
|Galaxy Note 10+||OnePlus 6T||Samsung Galaxy S10|
|Google Pixel 3||OnePlus 7 Pro||Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra|
|Honor Play 4||OnePlus 8||Samsung Galaxy S9|
|Huawei Mate 20 Pro||Oppo Reno 3 Vitality||Sony Xperia XZ2|
|Huawei Mate 30 Pro 4G||Oppo Reno3 5G||Sony Xperia XZ3|
|Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G||Realme v3||Vivo Y70s|
|Huawei P20 Pro||Redmi 10X Pro 5G||Xiaomi Redmi K30 Ultra|
|Huawei P30 Pro||Redmi K30 5G Racing|
What’s likely to happen is that just like with all Android apps, Magic the Gathering: Arena will launch on January 28th and will work out of the box for many Chromebooks with little to no issues. For those that it does not work well on or if it’s launched and then crashes immediately, Wizards of the Coast will be making it compatible with additional Android devices, tablets, and even iOS later this year.
The only real requirements for the game to run are that the devices in question have 4GB of RAM, Android Marshmallow (6.0), an OpenGL ES3.0 graphics API, and ETC2 texture compression. When you think about how capable Chromebooks are compared to phones, all of this is a non-issue – not to mention that most Chromebooks run Android 9 right now.
The potential for Magic the Gathering: Arena on Chromebooks is huge. It marks a significant shift in the experience for users. It also has cross-play with its PC counterpart, including the latest expansion of the game, Kaldheim, and can provide gamers with countless hours of casual and competitive play. Never before have we had such a variety of popular intellectual properties available on the platform as we will this year. Magic 2015 did pre-date the announcement of Arena on mobile, but it’s quite, well, dated, and severely lacks the variety and fun of the latter.
I personally liken the absence of MTG: Arena on mobile to the absence of Mario or Pokemon on Nintendo consoles. The only way that this doesn’t become a reality is if Wizards of the Coast deliberately decides not to make it available to Chromebooks and blocks compatibility to them until they can further investigate how to optimize it, but I think that’s unlikely. Will you be giving Magic the Gathering: Arena a go when it lands on Chromebooks? Let’s discuss!