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Monday, June 10, 2024

Valve ends Artifact development, makes the entire game free

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Artifact, the Dota 2-based CCG, launched in late 2018 after more than a year of high-level hype. It had a promising start—we called it “an intricate and rewarding card game” in our 80% review—but ran into trouble almost immediately, including review bombs over its monetization model and a steep fall-off in players.

In March 2019, Valve acknowledged that the game suffered from “deep-rooted” issues that couldn’t be addressed through conventional updates and said it would be “heads-down focusing on addressing these larger issues,” but a couple months later it appeared effectively abandoned. A year later, though, Valve surprised us all with a message indicating that work was indeed continuing, and in May 2020 the dramatically changed Artifact 2.0 went into beta.

Sadly, it wasn’t enough, and today that effort was brought to an official end. “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,” Valve said. “As such, we’ve made the tough decision to stop development on the Artifact 2.0 Beta.”

The good news for remaining fans is that both versions of the game, now renamed Artifact Classic and Artifact Foundry, will continue for free. A detailed breakdown of what each now offers is available here, but this is the quick-and-dirty rundown of the final changes to each:

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.

Artifact Foundry:

  • 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.

Both games feature global matchmaking and bot play, but drafting, game modes, some rules, and other elements will vary between the two. Valve also emphasized that both are also now completely free: Every player has access to every card, and there are no in-app purchases in either game.

There’s disappointment in the Artifact subreddit, but it seems more resigned than genuinely upset, and the greater affection seems reserved more for the original Artifact than the reboot. There’s also an element of gratitude that Valve has made it official: As redditor Eclectic_Mudokon put it, “At least they told us to fuck off this time, instead of the classic silent treatment.”

“We’re grateful to all Artifact players, and particularly to those who were able to help us tune and refine what would become Artifact Foundry,” Valve wrote. “The team feels this is the approach that best serves the community. We’re proud of the work we’ve done on both games and excited about delivering them to a much larger audience of gamers.”

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