Valve Says It Will Reduce Artifact's Hidden Costs, Following Fan Complaints

Artifact is, for better and worse, shaping up to be a very Valve card game in that it’s a clever, complex re-imagining of DOTA 2—complete with lanes and heroes—but it’s also heavily tied into a real-money marketplace.

In fact, there’s currently no way to earn new cards without spending at least a pinch of your hard-earned cash. Some fans aren’t pleased about that last part. In response, Valve is making some changes.

In a popular thread posted to the Artifact subreddit over the weekend, players complained about the game’s money-driven systems. “Here are the ways to get cards,” read the thread.

“Pay 2 dollars for a card pack, pay for cards on the market, or play expert. Every time you play expert you have to spend a ticket, which is a dollar.”

On top of that, booster packs contain some cards all players receive in Artifact’s starter kit—meaning there’s a chance players won’t even get full bang for their buck each time they pick up a pack.

By contrast, Hearthstone, the most popular digital collectable card game by enough landslides to fill in the Grand Canyon, offers players a handful of ways to earn cards while playing—for example, by completing quests, earning in-game currency from regular matches, playing the weekly “Tavern Brawl” event, and competing in arena mode (which, admittedly, costs a small fee upfront and is pretty challenging).

Back in September, Valve’s Jeep Barnett and Magic The Gathering creator Richard Garfield explained that, as a result of Artifact’s “pay to participate” system, the game will contain “zero grinding,” putting it more in line with Magic than, say, Hearthstone.

However, staying competitive in Magic can be prohibitively expensive for those who don’t have cash to burn, even with regular format changes levelling the playing field a little.

In response to “interest and excitement” around “certain features that weren’t available in the initial beta build,” Valve announced in a blog post yesterday that it’s going to open things up a little. Specifically, this means a friend-specific deck drafting mode, as well as a casual “phantom” draft mode.

The latter will allow players to practice building and playing with decks from a series of booster packs without spending money.

Lastly, Valve is also working on “a system that allows extra, unwanted cards to be recycled into event tickets,” which will be out before the game’s beta ends on November 28.


    I love MTG and what Garfield created in that, but let's be honest: everything he's designed (or been involved with really) has been designed to maximise cashflow, especially recently. KeyForge is particularly egregious, and his involvement in Artifact seems no different.

      The subreddit seems pretty happy right now.

      I don't really like these types of games (Hearthstone is the only F2P game which ever managed to trick the lizard part of my brain into spending way too much) ... but people seem to think the new system is really fair?

        Are you talking about Artifact or KeyForge? The changes they announced for Artifact here are definitely positive, it just doesn't surprise me that the original design was so money-focused since Garfield's involved with the design. The fact you can only get cards through real money (until they patch in these new proposals) is a very Garfield decision.

      Yeah, the monetization is insta-nope for me, but what grinds my gears the most and turned me off looking any further is that Steam has the game tagged as 'Single-player'.

      Games should not be able to claim 'single-player' status and put that tag on, unless they actually feature a campaign or something that isn't just, "Multi-player, but with bots!"

        That does seem weird, though I've never played it to know if it even has a single player campaign. Certainly I wouldn't label Hearthstone 'single player', though it does have a fair bit of solo content nowadays.

          It doesn't. I was interested at first, but I had to dig deep into the discussion threads and eventually reddit to learn that there is no single-player campaign. Just a 'skirmish with bots' mode.

            So even less than Hearthstone. At least that has dungeon runs and mini-campaigns against boss enemies. I've actually really enjoyed the solo content in Hearthstone, now that I think about it.

              Yup. Wouldn't be surprised if it gets added/expanded over years, much like Hearthstone. But it's pretty clear this thing ain't up my alley from the get-go. Especially not with such aggressive monetization wheel-clamps.

              I'll just content myself with quasi-card-collecting games that have singleplayer focus, like Shadowhand, and hope that the dollars spent encourage other devs to make similar. (HAH.)

      $13 for a deck is not egregious.
      Besides Keyforge, I own other recent games by RG including King of Tokyo, Bunny Kingdom, and Hive Mind. I don’t know how you think he designed these to maximise cashflow.

        KeyForge decks are $16 AUD in most every store, except a few doing preorder discounts. For $16 you either get a KeyForge deck containing 36 cards that can only be used in that specific randomised combination which may or may not be viable, and if it doesn't work you toss the whole thing and buy another deck. Or, for $16 you can get a preconstructed MTG deck with 60 cards in whatever flavour you like with a known card list that's guaranteed to work, or three MTG boosters for 45 cards that can be mixed and matched with any other MTG card or deck out there except those with custom cardbacks. Yeah, I think it's egregious.

        Revise my statement to 'every card game' or 'every collectible game' instead of 'every game' if you like, I think the sentiment stands.

          Keyforge decks aren’t random; they’re designed. The decks work. I haven’t heard of anyone throwing away a deck. I’ve only heard of people liking and loving, Keyforge. Maybe you should change your mindset that it’s a money grabber and see the value in the game and the experience? Who knows, maybe you’ll like it.

          Last edited 22/11/18 5:38 am

            They're not designed, that's the entire point. They're procedurally generated such that every deck is unique, Garfield himself said the algorithm that builds decks tries to interfere with actual randomisation as little as possible, and rejects some decks but as few as possible. The procedural generation is also why you'd have seen a story recently about how some of them have risque names, because they're also procedurally generated.

      As a maths PhD you can imagine Garfield creating engineered systems which chief objective is to accrue a given quantity in some sort of predictable plotted curve.

    Urgh valve is such a heaping pile of trash.

    Last edited 20/11/18 4:23 pm

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