Artifact's Few Remaining Players Are Desperate To Know What Valve Has Planned

Valve’s new card game launched on Nov. 28, and in just 100 days, it’s become a ghost town. The number of concurrent players recently dropped to just 500, and as a result, you can now buy every card in the game for a total of $85.

The game was criticised when it came out because everything in it required spending money. The game itself cost $28, and prior to a patch released a month later, the only way to get new packs and earn tickets to compete in gauntlet competitions for prizes was to spend additional cash. Now it’s possible for anyone to complete their collection for the standard retail price of a triple-A game, a far cry from the approximately $426 required back in November.

It’s the logical result as demand for new cards diminishes while the supply from new packs being opened slowly ticks upward. What’s surprising is just how far things have fallen in such a short period. A steady drip of negative Steam reviews still appears daily on the game’s Steam page, and even the positive ones aren’t exactly glowing endorsements. “This is my acquired taste, but I do not recommend you acquire this taste with me,” wrote one player who had put over 100 hours into the game.

In January, the player base had fallen by 97.5 per cent, with the number of people playing at any one time peaking at around 1,500. Artifact then received two small updates. The first on Jan. 18 fixed some bugs and shortened animations to make the game run more quickly.

The second on Jan. 28 lowered the amount of gold needed to play certain item cards and added a few more options to the game’s tournament mode, like an option for playing randomised decks. The patch notes for that update also included a section called “Unchanged: Still in it for the long haul.”

It was a reference to when Valve had told fans through the official Artifact Twitter account that it had more updates planned and wouldn’t stop working on the game anytime soon. That was back on Dec. 10. The Artifact Twitter account hasn’t tweeted anything new since Dec. 21, raising questions among the few remaining players as well as some of the ones eager to potentially jump back in.

One recent thread on the game’s forum is titled “Valve plz send a sign.” The person said they regretfully left the game because of how long it took to matchmake and the lack of encouragement from Valve that things might change anytime soon. Prior to the game’s release, Valve announced plans to hold a $1 million-prize Artifact tournament in early 2019. There’s been no further information about whether that will still happen, either.

Vale did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its future plans for the game.

Then there’s the question of whether Artifact will end up going free-to-play like competitors Hearthstone and Gwent. While not a popular possibility among many of the game’s most hardcore players, who have already financially invested in the existing version of the game, others feel it will be a necessary concession to make the game more popular. The latter group points to Dota 2, the free-to-play strategy game on which Artifact is based, as an example.

Of course, as the game continues to shrink and card prices plummet further, that reality is looming anyway.


Comments

    Everybody knew this was coming - there was nothing great or interesting about the game, and they didn't have a hope in hell of monetising a dead product. Monetisation worked for TF2 and CS:S because they were already popular games. Kinda feel like Valve should just give up making games/buying studios to make games.

      Or... they should make actual quality single player games which create some actual brand loyalty.

      People "play" live service games. And they can obviously be very profitable. But very few people truly "love" them. They're just... there.

      No-one's going to look back in 20 years at LoL, Anthem, Destiny, FO76, DOTA2 or CS:GO and speak of them in the same way they will Portal 1&2, DA:Origins, BioShock Infinite or Skyrim.

      Valve are just another greedy company. Which is sad - as a privately owned company, they have far more freedom in breaking the greed-cycle, as they don't have investors to appease.

      Valve already rakes in the money selling other people's games. Do they really have to focus soley on live-service nonsense for the games they do make? Will there ever be enough money for Valve?

      I'm kind of glad we're seeing publishers pulling away from Steam (even Ubisoft now). They've done very little to earn our admiration over the past 10 years. The backlash you see is stockholm syndrome resultant from Valves DRM control over our game libraries.

      I hope they come to their senses and realise how important actual games are to their survival.
      Steam won't be top dog to the younger generation who grow up playing EA, Epic, Ubisoft and Activision titles.

        No-one's going to look back in 20 years at LoL, Anthem, Destiny, FO76, DOTA2 or CS:GO and speak of them in the same way they will Portal 1&2, DA:Origins, BioShock Infinite or Skyrim.

        I can think of at least one long-running games-as-a-service title that people already look back on fondly, fifteen years after it launched: World of Warcraft.

        Whether or not a game is intended as a singleplayer rush or an ongoing GaaS title isn't really an indicator of how people will see it in the future. If the game is good, it doesn't matter if it's a service or not.

        The real issue with GaaS is that publishers can shut them down any time. I'm very much in favour of publishers being required to provide either server source code, or at least some kind of user-accessible server software for any game that they no longer have a commercial interest in running.

          WoW is a definite outlier. I too look back on it very fondly.

          Still... I think oldschool MMO's in general seem more likely to qualify.

          Games like WoW, EQ, SW:G, Asherons Call and DAoC came from an era when games were designed with a "will this be fun" ethos. Modern (AAA GaaS) games are designed with a "will this result in player engagement" and "how can we provide better player choice?". These questions are asked with a ready answer - microtransactions. They're just looking for ways to include them.

          WoW has one significant difference - it doesn't rely on lootbox gambling to keep people playing. It's a traditional subscription-based MMO - and it's built on the lore of a beloved franchise. Apex Legends and other Games as a Service rely heavily on lootboxes and cosmetics, plus whatever economy they subsequently build, to get people to pay up. Once people stop giving a shit about cosmetics, or get fed up with pay to win mechanics, they stop playing. At least with a subscription-based game the incentive is there to make more content for people to keep subscribing, as opposed to primarily shoving shitty reskins into boxes unlocked by dice rolls.

        That's the thing: I don't think that they can make good games anymore.

          Yup, they're all about big data analytics nowadays.

          They're more likely to buy something like Bluehole and find the most profitable way to include something like funny hats.

    Ya gotta wonder if Gabe hasn't died and Valve is being run like some Weekend at Bernies caper.

    I remember when I cared about Valve. When the rumours of MicroSoft buying them were floating around - I couldn't imagine anything worse.

    Now, I actually think MicroSoft Is a more positive force in gaming. Valve is as soulless as the worst of them.

      I've been thinking for a while that, the sooner Microsoft buys Valve, the better off PC gaming will be. Microsoft gets the PC gaming storefront it so desires, and Valve gets actual competent management so it can start making games again.

        Imagine thinking this way back when Valve was knocking it out of the park and creating games like Portal 2?
        We'd be burned at the stake as heretics.

        How Valve has changed.

    They need to just officially support Dota Autochess and ditch this useless dead horse of a game

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