Final Hand Dealt? Valve’s Artifact card game loses 97% of its playerbase in less than 2 months

Written by Contributor

January 25, 2019

It’s been a rough new year so far for Valve’s take on the digital trading card game genre. Artifact, the card game based off the hugely popular Dota 2 has now lost 97% of their player base in less than 2 months according to stat tracking website Steamcharts.

The controversial card game was teased at Valve’s major Dota 2 tournament The International 2017 to mixed reception. Unlike competitors such as Hearthstone, Artifact would not be a free-to-play game and they were looking at a non pay-to-win model. The game was highly anticipated by fans as it would be Valve’s first game in many years and was to be designed by Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield.

When the game finally released in late 2018, it was met with mixed reviews, lukewarm sales and was criticized for the high prices of its in-app purchases and its decision to not allow new cards to be tradable in the Steam Marketplace. It was also criticized for its steep learning curve with its mechanics of having three separate boards in play at the same time. On the bright side, Artifact was given praised by reviewers for being “intensely rewarding” for players who stuck to the initial learning curve.

It didn’t help that the game already had a $20 upfront cost and continued to ask players to pay for additional card packs when its already established competition has zero barrier to entry if you wanted to pick it up. The game currently has a score of 6/10 on Steam user reviews which is very low for a Valve-produced game.

As of this writing, Steamcharts’ statistics show that the game is now down to less than 3000 players from an all time peak at 60,740 when it first launched. Ironically, the game where Artifact is based from Dota 2, is seeing a new spike in popularity due to a new custom community game mode called Auto Chess – a turn based strategy game mode which has been catching headlines with reports of concurrent player counts upwards of 70,000.

Things are looking bleak for Artifact which will have a very rough time recovering. On the bright side, there might be promise in the mobile ports for Android and IOS slated to be released this year.


Article by Franz Francisco Chan

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