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Valve’s Card Game Artifact Is No More

More than a year of hype in the works and endless hours of development, all for a title that barely saw the light of the day. Artifact was released on Nov. 28, 2018, and as of March 5, 2021, the game is no longer in active development. The announcement was made on the Steam News page. Artifact’s Twitter announcement simply said, “The Future of Artifact”.

Valve Artifact 1 1
Image courtesy of Valve

“Despite good initial sales, our player count fell off pretty dramatically,” Artifact’s player count had gone from over 50,000 to a little over a thousand within two months of release. The team had then moved to address the core issues that made the game unpopular.

“It’s now been about a year and a half since the current Artifact team began work on a reboot in earnest. 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,” the blog post said. “As such, we’ve made the tough decision to stop development on the Artifact 2.0 Beta.”

As of this announcement, the final releases of both versions of Artifact, Artifact Classic and 2.0 Beta, a.k.a Artifact Foundry, are available for free to everyone. There won’t be any more updates for either game, but players can still play the game.

The blog post also mentioned the final changes for both versions of the game.

“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.”

This is one of the few times that a game is truly free in all senses. There are no microtransactions or hidden charges in either game.

Artifact’s Journey Through Time

Valve Artifact 2 1
Image courtesy of Valve

Valve had announced Richard Garfield as the Artifact project’s helmsman in 2018. He is the savant card & board games creator who brought Magic: The Gathering into existence. During development, Valve shared numerous videos of Richard describing strategic aspects of the game. It was great for making new players comfortable with a disruptively different Collectible Card Game (CCG) and a fantastic promotional and marketing tool.

Based on the world of Dota 2, one of Valve’s most famous and successful IPs, Artifact had garnered a lot of support from the Dota community. Two comics were released as part of Artifact’s lore, which tied into the ever-expanding and mysterious world of Dota 2; another reason for Dota players to be invested in Artifact.

Alas, that hype was not lived. Valve issued a series of balance and other updates throughout 2019 to keep the game running since its debacle launch in late 2018. Unfortunately, in March 2019, Valve admitted that Artifact and its reception were nowhere near its expectations which prompted it to reset its thinking caps.

Valve Artifact 3 1
Image courtesy of Steam Charts

After one year of no communication in classic Valve fashion, Valve suddenly revealed Artifact 2.0 Beta, addressing all of the game’s past issues. The development updates were once again flowing: gameplay updates abound, funny and undone placeholder art detailing gameplay changes and explanations.

The Beta finally began on May 26, 2020, and after almost another year of silence, the game itself seems to have been silenced. It took a long time for Valve to realize that they had, intentionally or unintentionally, crippled a great new endeavour. Both the games are now free, which is perhaps how it should have been from the start.

You can visit the Steam News page for the official announcement, or visit this page if you want a detailed explanation of the differences between Artifact Foundry and Artifact Classic. You can also visit the store page to install either version of Artifact.

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