Wizards of the Coast opened beta testing of the new Magic: The Gathering Companion app on August 19. The beta app is available for download on Android and iOS. 

The new app allows players to become home tournament organizers by allowing them to track and keep score for their own event. It allows a home organizer to run a event, with two to 16 players, from anywhere. Later versions of this app will help stores manage their events by syncing the mobile devices of the players who have access to the app. This will allow stores to more easily handle pairings, results, and more through players' mobile devices.

The app's ramifications for retailers seem to be mixed. On the positive side, the ability to send pairings to a mobile device rather than wait to post them manually or on a monitor is more efficient and prevents players from crowding around in-store results stations. Also, reporting results would be more orderly and take less time because the players could report directly from their smart device rather than hand in slips of paper to an organizer.

As a downside for game retailers, the app could potentially lead to lower tournament attendance in stores because it enables players to be home event organizers. Players could meet up at other establishments to play a tournament rather than their FLGS. For example, players could meet up at a coffee shop, a restaurant, or a VFW hall to play a tournament rather than at a retail store.

The app is not complete, and Wizards of the Coast is accepting feedback. They will be rolling out more test services and technology for the Magic: The Gathering Companion app later this year.   

Wizards of the Coast was also in the news recently for launching the new Judge Academy (see "Judge Academy Launches Training and Certification for Organized Play Judges").