Artifact Seems Like A Very Valve Card Game

Image: Valve

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, 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.


    Wow, the Magic the gathering business model for a digital card game? If anyone at Blizzard was worrying about having to change their Hearthstone business model i think they can now officially relax.

    I wonder if it's purely sale only or whether you can trade cards.

    What do they mean by "live" chat and no plans to moderate it? Does everyone get forced to have an open voice channel? Is it text chat where everyone watching can participate as well? Do you get to moderate your own chats and ignore or kick problematic people? Barnett knows that if there are two people there's always someone observing you right?

      You can trade cards, or sell them to other players on the Steam Marketplace.

      Is it text chat where everyone watching can participate as well?

      It's 1v1, so it's literally just you and your opponent in the chat. I would be astounded if you weren't able to mute them.

      Regarding trading; if they're using the Steam marketplace, and these cards exist as items in your Steam inventory, I can only assume that you could trade them just like anything else.

      With that said, I don't think there will be much trading. Because of the marketplace, every card will have a reasonably stable $ value, which one would assume would be known to both participants in a trade. Unless the total value on both sides of the trade is extremely, extremely close, the player whose cards have a higher total value would benefit more by just selling theirs on the marketplace and buying what they need back from the marketplace.

        Not necessarily true in this case because Valve takes a 15% cut of the sale, so trading for any card that is worth less that 15% less than the value of your card would be the best avenue. Based on that some people will even win on trades knowing that a card that is worth up to 15% less than the one they want can be still be a legitimate trade offer as well.

    It looks like the main reason we will never get Half Life 3 is that Valve cant figure out a good way to turn it into a platform for micro-transactions.

      Buying individual bullets/grenades/charges?
      "Buy 50 pistol rounds* for $5 and get a free grenade**!"

      (*Pistol rounds will come in magazines of 10, and bullets will be lost if you reload before the clip is empty)
      (**Type of grenade may vary to ensure it is the least useful for your current situation)

    Well, that drops a big arse bucket of cold water on any potential interest I may have once had in the game.

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