There are two things in this world that Valve evidently loves more than anything: hands-off approaches and the invisible hand of the market.
And wouldn’t you know it: DOTA 2 card game Artifact is gonna have plenty of both.
Artifact, a collaboration between Valve and Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield, is coming out in a couple months, which means information about the systems surrounding the game itself is starting to trickle out.
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Garfield and Valve programmer Jeep Barnett explained how players will be able to earn cards.
In short: they won’t.
Cards, Garfield and Barnett said, will only be attainable through Artifact’s marketplace—in packs, or individually from other players. The game, which will cost $US20 ($28), will come with two standardised starter decks and ten packs of random cards, but beyond that, it’s the marketplace or nothing.
This means there’ll be “zero grinding,” but also means that you’ll have to fork over cash for shiny new cards like you’re playing, well, Magic: The Gathering - a game that can be prohibitively expensive if you’re looking to be anything more than a filthy (but also perfectly reasonable) casual.
Garfield said the hope is that common cards will remain viable enough that even penniless players will be able to get by, but it remains to be seen whether or not that aspiration will come to pass.
Artifact will also, said Garfield and Barnett, feature live chat during matches. True to Valve form, there are currently no plans to moderate it.
“Psychologically, we find that people misbehave when there is somebody else to observe them misbehaving,” Barnett said. “When it’s a one-on-one game, what is my motivation for saying something awful?”
Off the top of my head: to cause anger, to cause embarrassment, because people are watching you stream, to rattle somebody and gain an artificial upper hand, or - last but certainly not least - simply because there are no apparent consequences to their actions.
For now, though, this is what Valve is going with. We’ll see how it all turns out in November.