Valve is pulling the plug on disappointing digital Dota 2-inspired CCG Artifact. In today’s announcement, Valve said that the game had “good initial sales” but “our player count fell off pretty dramatically” shortly thereafter, which is easy enough to verify. A “a full reevaluation of the game’s mechanics and economy” followed, but after a year and a half Valve is throwing in the towel. Both the original and revised versions of the game will stay online, while also being totally free to play.
In the original game, now called Artifact Classic, all cards are free and you can no longer buy packs. If you paid for cards, they’ll be converted into Collector’s Edition versions. If you bought the game, you’ll still receive these special CE versions of the cards, which will be marketable, though marketplace integration has been removed.
Artifact 2.0, now called Artifact Foundry, is also free to play and access to all cards comes through gameplay. No cards are marketable.
The complete rundown on what’s different between the two versions of the game can be found here. The key differences between the two can be summed up thusly:
Artifact Classic gameplay embraces unbounded lane capacity for units, allowing for massive armies to clash with one another. Players choose to play powerful spells and resources into each lane, pressuring their opponent while balancing their momentum as enemy towers fall, or friendly towers come under threat. It features a large number of random events which skillful generals must mitigate with forethought and arcane knowledge.
Artifact Foundry gameplay gives more direct agency – almost all random elements aside from a shuffled deck have been removed – and the gameplay is more focused on heroes, which have been given a significantly more powerful role. In addition to heroes, almost every card in the game has been reworked at least somewhat to be somewhat more impactful, fun, and easier to focus on. Over 100 new cards and 20 new heroes have been introduced in Artifact Foundry.
At least for the moment, the free-to-play change has been good for Artifact’s numbers, which, just an hour after the announcement, are 10 times greater than their monthly average. Even with that boost in the short-term, it’s hard to imagine this new Artifact rising to the heights Valve once dreamed for it — or even achieved in its first few weeks.