Valve’s Card Game Is Officially Dead

Valve’s Card Game Is Officially Dead
Image: Valve
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Artifact has now failed twice. After a messy launch and a failed attempt to reboot it last year, Valve announced today it’s calling it quits on the beleaguered Dota 2 card game.

“It’s now been about a year and a half since the current Artifact team began work on a reboot in earnest,” the game’s development team wrote in a new blog post. “While we’re reasonably satisfied we accomplished most of our game-side goals, we haven’t managed to get the active player numbers to a level that justifies further development at this time. As such, we’ve made the tough decision to stop development on the Artifact 2.0 Beta.”

Both the original version of Artifact and the attempted 2.0 reboot beta will instead be made available to any remaining interested players as-is. “Technically Artifact Foundry remains an unfinished product, but most of what’s missing is polish and art – the core gameplay is all there,” the developers wrote. “While both games will remain playable, we don’t plan to ship any further gameplay updates.”

Artifact was one of the more ingenious card games out there when it launched back in late 2018. Unlike Magic: The Gathering and Heatherstone, it incorporated tower defence elements and an item economy that made it feel as much like a strategy game s a traditional collectible card game. I named it one of my favourite games of the year and it still is.

Unfortunately it’s business model was a mess. Instead of being free-to-play and letting players grind for card packs over time, Artifact was monetised like a real-life trading card game, forcing players to buy not just the game itself but also all of the cards beyond the their starting decks. Players could also sell the cards to one another, witch Valve skimming off the top of each transaction. It was a clever business idea, but one that ultimately sank the game as Artifact struggled to find a wider-audience and drove existing players through a lack of updates and frequent balance patches which would upended the trading economy.

To try and remedy this Valve set to work re-designing the game, and last March launched the Artifact 2.0 beta. Today’s blog post includes a final explainer on some of the ways both versions of the game have evovled since:

Here’s an overview of our final changes to Artifact Classic:

  • The game is free for everyone to play.
  • All players get every card for free. You will no longer be able to buy card packs.
  • Paid players’ existing cards have been converted into special Collector’s Edition versions, which will remain marketable. Marketplace integration has been removed from the game.
  • Paid event tickets have been removed.
  • Customers who paid for the game will still earn packs of Collector’s Edition cards for playing; players who got the game for free will not

The final release of Artifact Foundry looks like this:

  • The game is free for everyone to play.
  • Players gain access to cards by playing the game. All cards are earned this way; no cards or packs will be for sale and Artifact Foundry cards are not marketable.
  • All final card art that was in the pipeline is now in the game.

BioWare recently announced it was similarly abandoning Anthem after a year of having a small team prototype what a 2.0 reboot would look like. Not every big game that fails at launch can be saved, apparently, even when it comes to a company as flush with cash as Valve.

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Comments

  • I may be one of few but I’m pretty disappointed by the news but was expected tbh. I really loved artifact when it first came out, its such a same that its business model was so bad that it scared people off. Also would it kill valve to spend a little money on marketing?

    • Seems to me that part of the problem was always Valve’s hacker culture.

      When staff are constantly working on whatever is exciting and hot on that particular day it’s inevitable that resources will drift away once the job becomes a little more difficult, the work becomes a bit less exciting, and the emotional payoff at the end becomes a little more uncertain.

      Valve game development is for the most part a graveyard of great ideas worked up to a certain point and then abandoned for the next big thing largely due to dissipating energy amongst its employees.

  • When all the major developers /franchises jump enmasse onto a gimmick like battle royal, trading cards, auto chess… there are rarely any outstanding games or survivors after the gold rush.

    Not surprised.

  • Who’d have thunk that a game that failed to keep an active player base because the cost of entry was so high in a genre dominated by free to play alternatives may struggle to get more people to pay that same up-front price for the game after it had been effectively abandoned.

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