Valve ends Artifact’s reboot dreams and shoves it into maintenance mode

    
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Artificial.

BioWare isn’t the only studio throwing in the towel after attempting a reboot of a promising title. Fans of Valve’s digital card game Artifact were dismayed to hear this week that the company has decided to end work on Artifact 2.0, cease development altogether, and move the title into maintenance mode.

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

The company said that it’s making both Artifact and Artifact 2.0 Beta (now Artifact Foundry) available for free with no further development or updates. As all players will get all cards, no packs are going to be sold from here on out.

Artifact came out in November 2018 in an attempt to carve out some of that lucrative digital card game market. However, it was a near-instant flop, losing players left and right while giving Valve a very public black eye. The studio even jettisoned creator Richard Garfield that next March and then pledged a wholesale reboot of the title — a reboot that will never be fully realized.

Source: Steam. Thanks Ark!
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Danny Smith

This feels like the year the flops that would usually be sent out as a f2p hustle are just being given up on.

I imagine the Avengers devs are nervous.

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Arktouros

What we should be talking about is not “massacres” or “blood sheds” or “dead games” or any other nonsensical asides but simply the fact that as an audience we have reached capacity. There is no more free time or audience. If a wildly successful game like Valheim is launched it’s going to pull players from other games and areas. If a horrible game is launched then it’s going to be abandoned and almost never revisited. No Man’s Sky was an exception, not the rule, and it still took them years to get to the point people reversed opinions en masse.

I think this is simply going to become more common now, especially at the larger and more well funded companies out there who simply have more productive things to invest their resources into.

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Danny Smith

I honestly hope we see the new console gen see live services start to die off as a fad. Even the most mainstream consumer is looking at the expectation of like half a dozen battlepasses, “seasons” and raiding in everything to some degree and just being overwhelmed to the point people disengage entirely.

No doubt some other scam to fleece wallets will replace it but christ games having planned out linear stories and ending again would be nice.

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Arktouros

The failure of the GaaS/live service model is inevitable and I think game developers have already realized this. By “failure” I don’t mean the GaaS/live service model will go away, but rather it’s not the money printing factory game studios thought it was. Bethesda learned that hard with FO76 and now EA with Anthem. Even ignoring total failures in game design, and back to my original point, there just isn’t enough audience to fulfill infinite GaaS/live service games. It’s the same issues MMOs have. There’s only so much play time players have and we have enough games to fulfill that time. New games are directly competing for that free time and if they are interesting or compelling they’re just not going to win against games who have had years to work on those issues.

That’s why’re seeing such reinvestment into existing successful GaaS/live service titles such as baking POE2 into POE, or Overwatch 2 into Overwatch and of course not releasing Destiny 3 and instead just continuing Destiny 2. Build upon and expand the product you have rather than risk it all again trying to build/attract another audience with a “new” product.

The “linear stories with an ending” market isn’t going anywhere either. Recent successes like EA’s Fallen Order or even Cyberpunk despite all the drama did extremely well.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

My take away on the Anthem/Artifact abandonments is that the development process that created their flawed releases isn’t capable of fixing them.

Hatred for corporate overseers aside, neither one of these redos would have been canceled if the teams had been able to provide substantial evidence that they were near relaunch or had a viable, date certain path forward. Just an opinion.

Chances are these games were no where near relaunch and weren’t going to be any time soon.

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Dug From The Earth

More big companies with tons of money abandoning projects that people have already paid for.

Seems like it should be illegal.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

At a guess, they haven’t gotten better active player numbers because A) the people who were interested were largely waiting for Valve to finish, you know, *FIXING* it. And B) Valve seems to have put almost no effort into reminding people that this game even existed.

It apparently launched as kind of a mess, and Valve *did* make a big deal about how they were going to retool / reboot it. I guess they expected just word of mouth or something to pull people back in?

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Jack Pipsam

Team Fortress 2 however which keeps a large playerbase gets no love from Valve at all, there’s now hints that something is coming down the pipe but their priorities are a mess.

agemyth 😩
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agemyth 😩

Well… I wasn’t going to seriously try to play it again until they were done making giant overhauls of game systems again… But yeah I guess player population in a limited closed testing phase can be indicative of overall interest…

I still think Artifact is a great game with not great monetization (but not actually the monstrosity people made it out to be). It is ironic how much monetization BS people will put up with in games like Path of Exile, Warframe, Fortnite, etc but this got punished for pretty normal card game monetization tactics. It was far too late to the card game market and came out at a low point for the market’s opinion of Valve.

RIP but I’ll check out the game again now that this happened I guess.

Harry Koala
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Harry Koala

Yeah, it seems kind of weird to announce you are doing a complete revamp (which generally will make players think “I’ll come back and see what the game is like when they are finished”), and then cancel the revamp because there aren’t enough players. Yes, they all stopped playing the current dead end version to do something else some waiting for the reboot.

See also: Anthem. Might have checked it out if the relaunch looked good, but wasn’t going to touch it before then.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Frankly, the only reason I bought Anthem at $5 was because I expected improvements. I was also interested in Artifact, but now that it’s free, I can still give it a try.

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Schmidt.Capela

but this got punished for pretty normal card game monetization tactics.

Likely because “pretty normal card game monetization tactics” is very much the physical version of having all progression come from paid lootboxes; basically a bloody casino.

Which, mind, is why if lootboxes get legislated into being considered gambling, I don’t think physical CCGs should be exempt; they are as bad as regular gambling, to the point I’ve personally seen underage players treating booster packs as something akin to slot machines, buying boosters for games they don’t even intend to play and selling pricey cards they got on the spot so they could afford more boosters.