Magic: The Gathering Arena is still in a Closed Beta test but today Chris Clay gave the world some insight into how the economy of the game will work. The article, linked here, details the currency of the game, different rewards, and ways players will be able to acquire the cards they need. Clay states in the beginning that this is the initial edition of the economy and that it may change throughout the testing process.
There will two main modes of currency in the game: Gems and Gold. Gold will be earned by winning games, completing challenges (called quests), and participating in events; Gems can be acquired using through purchase. Clay makes it a point to say that "there won't be any gameplay content that can only be unlocked with real money." There may be some vanity items exclusive to Gems, not no core gameplay elements.
A bulk of the article is spent discussing how to get individual cards. Clay details four main ways that players will be able to get their hands on the game pieces they desire. These avenues are: Boosters (containing 5 commons, 2 uncommons, and 1 rare or mythic rare, Draft Packs (containing 14 cards - think real world boosters less the Basic Land), Awards (up to 30 individual cards given to a player per day), Wildcards and the Vault.
Wildcards and the Vault deserve their own discussion as Clay sees them as a solution to the lack of "Dusting". Dust, a term taken from Hearthstone, is the process by which players can "destroy" cards they no longer need in an effort to purchase better cards. Why no Dust system? Clay says that this was a conscious decision as that having one "would have limited our ability to be as generous with card rewards." Arena also does not want players to have to make place a value on every card in their collection while also providing a way to complete a collection.
Wildcards are cards that can appear in any Booster and they take the place of a card with the same rarity (common, uncommon, rare, or mythic rare). Wildcards can be redeemed for cards of the same rarity. The Vault is a system where players get rewards for both opening Boosters and for having more than four copies of a particular card. Each of these occurrences moves you closer to opening the Vault. To start the Vault will contain Wildcards (which can be turned into more desirable cards) but the contents are subject to change.
The entire economy system will be implemented on January 18 with the Arena release of Rivals of Ixalan.
The article goes on to detail the philosophy behind the structure - putting value on players' time - and makes note that other avenues are coming for card acquisition. Arena will pay out up to 30 cards per day per win. Win more than 30 matches and you may be eligible for weekly awards. Players can also win three to four boosters per week and keep the cards from Keeper Drafts (using Draft Packs).
The economy is going to be a driving force for Magic: The Gathering Arena. The proposed system has already prompted some backlash from the community, citing the perceived difficulty in acquiring specific cards to play the best decks.
Magic: The Gathering Arena continues to be in closed beta where these ideas, and others are being tested.