Artifact (video game)
|Release||November 28, 2018|
|Genre(s)||Digital collectible card game|
Artifact is a 2018 digital collectible card game developed and published by Valve for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It focuses on online player-versus-player battles and is based on the universe of Dota 2, a multiplayer online battle arena game by Valve. Artifact was designed by Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield.
While Artifact's gameplay and drafting mechanics received praise, it was criticized for its high learning curve and monetization model, which some saw as pay-to-win. It saw a 95% decline in players within two months of its release, with only around a hundred concurrent players by mid-2019. Valve was surprised by the response, describing it as the largest discrepancy between their expectations for a game and the outcome.
Valve reworked the game as Artifact 2.0, altering several features, including removing the need to buy or trade cards with money. It was tested through a closed beta starting in March 2020. A year later, Valve announced that it had ceased development of the game, citing a lack of player interest, and made both versions of the game free to play. The original Artifact was renamed Artifact Classic and Artifact 2.0 was renamed Artifact Foundry.
Artifact is a digital collectible card game in which players build a deck of collectable cards purchased on the Steam Marketplace to defeat an opponent in one-on-one battles. It features many elements from the multiplayer online battle arena game Dota 2, also developed by Valve. Unlike most collectible card games, it features three "lanes" guarded by a tower at the end, with each lane existing as an independent board. The victor is the first player to either destroy a structure called the Ancient, which appears after a tower has been destroyed, or the first to destroy two towers in total. As with Dota 2, Artifact focuses on online player versus player matchmaking; it has no single-player mode beyond a tutorial mode against an AI opponent.
Each deck contains at least 40 cards, with a total of nearly 300 cards available at the game's launch. Cards are grouped into three rarity tiers, common, uncommon, and rare, and are further grouped into four color themes, red, green, black, and blue, that each have their own unique effects on the board. Each lane also has its own independent mana pool, which is used for casting hero abilities and grows by one point after each round while also fully replenishing. In addition to hero abilities, item cards can also be freely placed and used in any lane. Each time a card is played, the initiative passes to the opposing player. After all cards have been played in a lane, heroes and "creeps", which are weak but numerous mobs that can not be directly controlled and respawn every round, begin attacking whatever is opposite them, including the opposing tower if there are no units left. This repeats until all three lanes have been played, after which it goes to the "Shopping Phase", where gold accumulated during battles is spent on buying items and upgrading hero equipment in three different slots for weapons, armor, and accessories.
Development of Artifact began in late 2014, with lead designer Richard Garfield brought in to help make a digital card game due to his experience with creating the popular Magic: The Gathering franchise. The game was then announced via a teaser trailer played at The International 2017, a large Dota 2-specific esports tournament organized by Valve, although no specific details were revealed. More details regarding its concept and gameplay were revealed by Valve president Gabe Newell during a meeting with gaming press at Valve's headquarters in March 2018. There, Newell stated that it was not originally intended to be based on Dota 2, but it was decided to do so later in development as it was "useful". Newell also stated that it would not be free-to-play like Dota 2 and other similar card game competitors, and that the team wished for it to avoid becoming "pay-to-win". He hoped Artifact would be for card games what Half-Life 2 had been for single-player action games.
Artifact was created using Valve's Source 2 game engine, and features direct integration with the Steam Marketplace for buying and selling cards. While acknowledging that card games and Steam Marketplace transactions can both get expensive, such as with gun cosmetics in Valve's own Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Garfield notes that printing restrictions do not exist with digital cards, and that Valve would directly control the production of them to limit extreme rarity. In addition, purchased card packs always include a rare card in them, which Valve hoped would prevent single cards being sold for high prices as it would be more valuable to purchase packs. Artifact also allows players to assemble decks outside of the game by using third-party tools, which can then be imported back into the game. Wanting to build upon what they had learned from Dota 2, Global Offensive, and Team Fortress 2, Valve planned for the game to have a professional esports scene, with revenue made from card pack purchasing feeding into tournament prize pools, similar to Dota 2's "Compendium" crowdfunding system. Valve planned for a million-dollar tournament to take place in 2019.
Artifact was planned to be developed alongside Dota 2, where both games would share new heroes and other content. Writer Steve Jaros wrote character lore for Dota 2 and continued that role with Artifact by having each individual card provide more of it, all fully voiced, which he hopes would keep both games narratively connected. Programmer Jeep Barnett said they planned to have card set expansions progress over time, so that heroes in one set may have an aged version in a future set, or may die in one, and events of previous expansions can influence future ones. The soundtrack was written by Tim Larkin, who also composed for Dota 2.
Artifact entered closed beta in early 2018, with numerous gaming industry members and professional card game players invited to test it. It was publicly playable for the first time at PAX West 2018, with a tournament hosted and all attendees receiving signed artwork prints and product keys for two free copies of the game. A beta for the PC version was released a week before the official launch, with attendees of The International 2018 Dota 2 tournament and its showing at PAX West given access to it.
Artifact was released for Windows, macOS and Linux on November 28, 2018, and was planned for Android and iOS devices in 2019. To help promote the game, a 128-player tournament featuring a US$10,000 prize pool was held on November 10–11, 2018. In addition, two webcomics by Valve were released to coincide with the game's launch. All owners of the game were given a redeemable token worth a free month of "Dota Plus", Dota 2's battle pass feature.
In 2020, following a lack of player interest, Newell told Edge that Valve had begun reworking Artifact as a new game, Artifact 2.0. The primary change was to eliminate card purchases and make all three lanes visible at the same time. The game would also include a single-player campaign. A closed beta started in March 2020. That month, Garfield and another Magic: The Gathering designer, Skaff Elias, among other contractors and employees, were laid off from Valve.
In March 2021, Valve announced that it had halted development of Artifact 2.0., saying they had not attracted enough players to justify further work. They made both Artifact games, renamed Artifact Classic and Artifact Foundry, free to play.
|PC Gamer (US)||80/100|
Artifact's gameplay and depth were praised, with Ali Jones of PCGamesN stating in a preview that the game was a "cut above" other card games he had played before. He also added that it successfully captured elements from two different genres, creating something that he was "hugely excited to return to". The game was also being compared to Hearthstone, with Mike Minotti of Venture Beat considering Artifact as the more complex, in-depth option that has a chance of become the leading digital card game on the market. While also noting the game's complexity, Julian Benson of PCGamesN compared it more to Magic: The Gathering as its creator, Richard Garfield, served as the lead designer on the game.
Tim Clark of PC Gamer praised the art style and presentation, noting that all of the game's assets were new and not directly copied over from Dota 2. Clark also stated that he could not wait to play more of the game, saying that he did not see it as a "cash grab" that others said it would be. James Davenport of the same publication thought that the gameplay was akin to Magic: The Gathering meeting three simultaneous games of Uno, and stated that while the game at first looked "extremely complex", it did not take him long to understand and begin playing. Eric Van Allen of Polygon added that while the game demands investment to learn, it was "intensely rewarding" for those who stuck with it and did not mind its monetization model.
Reception to the Artifact announcement at The International in 2017 was mixed, with the crowd voicing their disapproval. The trailer, uploaded to YouTube, soon featured a high dislike-to-like ratio with commenters expressing their disappointment with Valve seemingly abandoning their other franchises, such as Half-Life, in favor of recent gaming trends. As Artifact is not free-to-play like many of its competitors, criticism was also directed at the monetization model; some players and critics called it "pay-to-win", as new cards can only be purchased and not traded from the Steam Marketplace, or gained as rewards in specific drafting game modes that require the purchase of a ticket to participate in.
Artifact's concurrent player count dropped from 60,000 at launch to just over 1,500 within two months of its release, a 95% decline. By July 2019, Artifact had only around 100 concurrent players. In its first month of release, it averaged 8,300 viewers on the streaming service Twitch; by February 2020, it had lost 97% of this amount, and on April 8 viewers hit zero. In response, internet trolls began using the Artifact Twitch category to stream pornography and other content that violated Twitch's terms of service, prompting Twitch to temporarily suspend new creators from streaming.
In March, Valve said it was pausing its scheduled updates to the game to "re-examine" its decisions about its design, economy, social elements, and other issues. In a statement on Valve's website, programmer Jeep Barnett said that Artifact represented the largest discrepancy between Valve's expectations for a game and the outcome. In March 2020, Newell said Artifact had been a "great disappointment", and that Valve planned to learn from its mistakes. He told Edge that they were surprised by the response as they "thought that it was a really strong product".
Garfield felt Artifact had failed because it was review bombed early on, with players upset over the apparent pay-to-win mechanics; this drove new players away, preventing the game economy from stabilizing at a point where the cost of building winning decks would have been on par with other digital card games, such as Hearthstone. He said that he and Elias were still optimistic about the game's future and would offer feedback and advice to Valve.
Artifact was nominated for "Game, Strategy" at the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards; and for "Best Interactive Score" and "Best Original Choral Composition" at the 2019 G.A.N.G. Awards.
- ^ Machkovech, Sam (August 31, 2018). "Exclusive: Valve walks us through Artifact's new demo, leaves us wanting more". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
- ^ Lawle, Richard. "Valve reveals 'Artifact,' the official 'Dota' card game". Engadget. Archived from the original on September 1, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
- ^ a b Wood, Austin (May 8, 2018). "Artifact feels like Valve's solution to post-Hearthstone card games". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on May 8, 2018. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- ^ Marks, Tom (March 9, 2018). "Artifact: Everything We Know About Valve's Next Game". IGN. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- ^ a b Gies, Arthur (August 8, 2017). "Valve announces Artifact, a Dota 2 card game". Polygon. Archived from the original on August 9, 2017. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
- ^ Bailey, Dustin. "Artifact has 280 cards and three lanes of play". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- ^ a b c d e f g h Clark, Tim. "Everything you need to know about Valve's Artifact: "The whole point is to steer away from pay-to-win"". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on March 14, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
- ^ a b c Stewart, Sam (March 8, 2018). "Valve Releases First Details About Artifact". IGN. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- ^ a b c d Marks, Tom (August 31, 2018). "How Valve Won't Let Artifact's Marketplace Get Crazy Expensive". IGN. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
- ^ "Exclusive Artifact Interview, Unused Content & Card Reveal". YouTube (Video). Valve News Network. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
- ^ a b "We interview Artifact's lead designer, Richard Garfield (AKA the creator of Magic: The Gathering)". YouTube (Video). Eurogamer. Archived from the original on May 2, 2018. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- ^ Scott-Jones, Richard. "Artifact will add to Dota 2's lore and hero roster". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- ^ a b Bailey, Dustin. "Artifact won't be free-to-play or pay-to-win". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- ^ Bailey, Dustin. "Artifact will use Source 2, bringing the engine to iOS and Android". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- ^ Horti, Samuel (November 10, 2018). "Artifact will let you build decks online and then import them into the game". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on November 11, 2018. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
- ^ a b Scott-Jones, Richard. "Artifact on track for 2018 release, will have a $1m tournament early next year". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on March 10, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- ^ Marks, Tom (November 28, 2018). "9 Things Artifact Doesn't Tell You". IGN. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- ^ Jones, Ali (May 4, 2018). "Artifact heroes can age and die between card expansions". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
- ^ Larson, Randall (November 30, 2018). "ARTIFACT – Music for Digital Card Gaming". musiquefantastique.com. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
- ^ Fogel, Stefanie (August 2018). "Valve's 'Artifact' Will Be Playable at PAX West". Variety. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
- ^ Bailey, Dustin. "Artifact beta launches in October". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on August 20, 2018. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
- ^ Horti, Samuel (October 20, 2018). "Artifact's open beta appears to have been delayed until November 19". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on October 20, 2018. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- ^ Cryer, Hirun. "Artifact, Valve's Card Game – Release Date, Gameplay, Dota 2 Cards – Everything we Know". USGamer. Archived from the original on March 10, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- ^ Chalk, Andy (August 2018). "Artifact, Valve's fantasy card game, will be out in November". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
- ^ Wilde, Tyler (November 3, 2018). "Valve is running an Artifact 'preview tournament' to show off its built-in tournament system". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on November 3, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
- ^ Chalk, Andy (November 27, 2018). "Artifact's debut comic teases events that will 'transform the world of Dota forever'". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on November 27, 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- ^ Daro, Catherine (November 29, 2018). "Purchase Artifact & Receive A Free Month of Dota Plus". Game Space. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- ^ a b Avard, Alex (March 20, 2020). "Valve's digital card game Artifact "reboot" is so large, it's internally being called Artifact 2, says Gabe Newell". GamesRadar. Archived from the original on March 20, 2020. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
- ^ a b Gilliam, Ryan (March 30, 2020). "Valve details major changes for Artifact's new beta". Polygon. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
- ^ Cox, Matt (April 21, 2020). "Artifact 2.0 will have a singleplayer campaign". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
- ^ "Valve layoff includes Artifact designer Richard Garfield". Shacknews. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
- ^ Marshall, Cass (March 4, 2021). "Valve cancels Artifact 2.0, makes existing versions free". Polygon. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
- ^ "Artifact for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
- ^ Patrick, Hancock (November 28, 2018). "Review: Artifact". Destructoid. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- ^ Tack, Daniel. "Artifact - Analytical Adventure". Game Informer. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
- ^ Starkey, Daniel. "Artifact Review - Play Your Cards Right". GameSpot. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
- ^ Marks, Tom (December 12, 2018). "Artifact Review". IGN. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
- ^ de Anagund, L'avis. "Artifact : Le jeu de cartes élitiste de Valve". Jeuxvideo.com (in French). Retrieved January 10, 2019.
- ^ Bailey, Dustin. "Artifact review – complex strategy meets elegant design". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- ^ Bindloss, Will (December 5, 2018). "Artifact review". PC Gamer. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
- ^ Jones, Ali. "Artifact isn't late to the CCG party, it's about to revolutionise card games". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on March 10, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
- ^ Minotti, Mike (March 9, 2018). "Artifact hands-on: Valve's Dota 2-based card game sure isn't Hearthstone". Venture Beat. Archived from the original on March 14, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
- ^ Benson, Julian. "Gabe Newell: "Hearthstone's the benchmark online card game"". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on March 14, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
- ^ Davenport, James (September 2018). "Artifact is not nearly as hard to play as it looks". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on September 2, 2018. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- ^ Van Allen, Eric (November 28, 2018). "Artifact review: Valve's card game is deep, but burdened by its marketplace". Polygon. Archived from the original on November 28, 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- ^ a b Savov, Vlad (August 9, 2017). "Valve is getting into card games and people are mad". The Verge. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- ^ Workman, Robert. "This Reaction To Valve's New Game Is Just About Perfect". ComicBook.com. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018.
- ^ Jackson, Gita (August 9, 2017). "The Internet Reacts To Valve's New Game Announcement". Kotaku. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- ^ Gilbert, Ben. "One of the biggest game companies in the world announced a new game, and fans had a hilarious reaction". Business Insider. Archived from the original on March 10, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- ^ Grubb, Jeff (August 9, 2017). "Enjoy the salty tears of Dota 2 fans upset about Valve's Artifact card game". Venture Beat. Archived from the original on February 23, 2018. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- ^ Horti, Samuel (November 18, 2018). "Valve responds after Artifact community slams 'pay for everything' model". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on November 18, 2018. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
- ^ Jones, Ali. "Artifact launches to "mixed" Steam reviews complaining about pay-to-win". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
- ^ Roberts, Samuel (November 29, 2018). "Artifact hit with negative Steam reviews over monetisation". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
- ^ Hodges, Dan (December 4, 2018). "Artifact Review – Defense of the Cards". Tech Raptor. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
- ^ Van Allen, Eric. "Artifact's monetization structure is making Valve money and some gamers very angry". Washington Post. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
- ^ Gilbert, Ben. "The latest game from one of the most respected developers in the business is showing early signs of being a flop". Business Insider. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
- ^ Stubbs, Mike (July 3, 2019). "How Artifact became Valve's biggest failure". Eurogamer. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
- ^ "Artifact Twitch viewers hit the ultimate low: zero". VPEsports. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
- ^ Alexander, Julia (May 28, 2019). "Twitch is temporarily suspending new creators from streaming after troll attack". The Verge. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
- ^ McWhertor, Michael (March 29, 2019). "Valve puts Artifact updates on hold to reexamine game's design, economy". Polygon. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
- ^ Kim, Matt (March 29, 2019). "Valve Issues First Statement on Artifact in Months, Admits There Are "Deep-Rooted Issues" With Game". USGamer. Archived from the original on November 8, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- ^ Gabe Newell: Artifact Was a "Giant Disappointment", March 18, 2020, retrieved March 4, 2021
- ^ Boudreau, Ian (June 3, 2019). "Why Artifact failed to take off, according to designer Richard Garfield". PC Gamer. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
- ^ Macgregor, Jody (February 11, 2021). "Richard Garfield on Artifact's failed monetization model: 'We wanted to avoid manipulating people'". PC Gamer. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
- ^ MacGregor, Jody (March 8, 2019). "Artifact designer Richard Garfield among those not working at Valve any more". PC Gamer. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
- ^ "Nominee List for 2018". National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers. February 11, 2019. Archived from the original on February 13, 2019. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
- ^ Lagumbay, Emmanuel (February 14, 2019). "2019 G.A.N.G. Awards Finalists". Game Audio Network Guild. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
- 2018 video games
- Android (operating system) games
- Digital collectible card games
- Esports games
- Fantasy video games
- IOS games
- Linux games
- Lua (programming language)-scripted video games
- MacOS games
- Multiplayer online games
- Multiplayer video games
- Source 2 games
- Valve Corporation games
- Video games adapted into comics
- Video games developed in the United States
- Video games scored by Tim Larkin
- Video games with cross-platform play
- Windows games
- Free-to-play video games