Magic: The Gathering is testing out some new augmented reality features with its upcoming cyberpunk-inspired set. Next month, Wizards of the Coast will release Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, a new expansion for Magic: The Gathering. The set revisits the Japanese-inspired plane of Kamigawa several hundred years after the original set's storyline, with the realm now populated by cyber ninja and futuristic samurai. As part of the build-up to Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Wizards of the Coast has announced several new in-store initiatives, some of which will involve augmented reality previews.
Earlier this month, Wizards of the Coast announced that players visiting stores during Kamigawa preview events will be able to scan a QR code with their mobile devices to visit and interact with a web-based Kamigawa street market. The virtual street market will remain active as long as players remain in their hobby store. Additionally, players can also view animated preview cards as well as "other unique encounters" within the store. The AR event will run for four weeks, starting on January 17th. More information about the preview event will be announced soon.
This marks the first time that Wizards of the Coast has utilized augmented reality for Magic: The Gathering in an official capacity. While the game has an official app that allows players to play online using animations and effects, there's not much crossover between "real life" Magic: The Gathering games and the virtual space. Kamigawa makes a lot of sense thematically for an AR preview, although one can't help but wonder if Wizards of the Coast could be trying out more ways to build out the Magic: The Gathering franchise in different ways. While the game has a robust mythology and characters, Wizards of the Coast currently only uses web-based fiction, D&D sourcebooks, and flavor text on the cards themselves to really shape its worlds. AR might be a good way for players to dive into the world of Magic: The Gathering a bit more, assuming that it receives support from Wizards itself.
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty will officially be released next month, although preview events will launch starting next week.