Valve’s Artifact Remains In Shambles, Developer Believes It Can Be Salvaged

Valve’s Artifact Remains In Shambles, Developer Believes It Can Be Salvaged
Credit: GameSpot Trailers via YouTube

Recently, Valve’s Artifact has been the game that everyone loves to hate.

It’s impossible to forget that famous video back from its 2017 announcement at The International. An incredible amount of fanfare until the title screen of the game, accompanied by the subtitle “The DOTA Card Game.” The reception – an instant, collective groan of disappointment.

The game hasn’t been universally hated. The in-depth mechanics received great praise for setting itself apart from the myriad of other deckbuilding card games saturating the market at the moment. Artifact manages to be more complicated without being obnoxiously complex, a middle ground that can seem impossible.

But that’s one of the only things that’s been praised, unfortunately. More than anything, many players consider the model of obtaining cards and building competitive decks to be exclusively pay-to-win. On top of that, players need purchasable tickets to even play in a competitive arena. Combined with the fact that online is the only way to play, contrasting Hearthstone’s massive amount of “solo adventure” content, it seems like Artifact was created to squeeze money out of loyal fans.

Designer Richard Garfield disagrees with the pay-to-win label, citing it as a “sloppy” title to slap onto a game. He believes that pay-to-win should only describe content that when bought, make you a better competitor (think Star Wars: Battlefront II’s equippable items that make characters more powerful than others). In buying cards, a player’s ability stays the same, while their tools to play improve.

Regardless, Artifact has been in shambles for months. 95% of the player base left within the first two months of release, many citing the monetization model as the reason for departure. It seems to have been left forgotten, with no more than a couple hundred people playing, and even the official Artifact Twitter having been silent since March.

There are clear improvements that can be made: reducing the cost, fixing the massive learning curve, and generally just increasing the game’s approachability to start. Despite this, Garfield’s work on the game has ended and states clearly that he has no interest in fixing it.

“I don’t want to be involved in damage control and figuring out how to find an audience for this game. I think the underlying game is excellent and original.”

To be clear, this isn’t Garfield ducking his head and running away; the designer’s work has literally ended on the game, and he no longer works on projects related to Artifact. It’s up to those holding the reins now to find that audience and add the much-needed polish.