Valve will stop updating Artifact until it takes “larger steps” to address its “deep-rooted issues.”
Valve has acknowledged its Dota 2-themed digital card game Artifact has “deep-rooted issues,” and has committed to fixing them.
In a new post on the Artifact site, Valve stated bluntly that “Artifact represents the largest discrepancy between our expectations for how one of our games would be received and the actual outcome.”
While the response to Artifact was generally positive, complaints rose around its monetization model and lack of progression mechanics. As a result, its player base declined rapidly, and Artifact’s average concurrent player count for the last month currently sits at a meager 359 at the time of publishing this.
Valve said “It has become clear that there are deep-rooted issues with [Artifact].”
While no Artifact updates have come since January, Valve’s post says it has been watching the community closely and gathering feedback since its November launch. “It has become clear that there are deep-rooted issues with the game,” the post explains, saying that its previously planned update strategy of regularly adding new features and cards would be “insufficient to address them.”
Therefore, Valve says it will be taking “larger steps,” including re-examining its decisions around Artifact’s “game design, the economy, the social experience of playing, and more.” Valve also stated that it will be “heads-down focusing on addressing these larger issues instead of shipping updates,” and that it expects it to take a “significant amount of time” before everything is figured out.
Valve’s Jeep Barnett, a member of the Artifact team, told me back in August that the heads-down approach of being quiet publicly but busy internally was very much Valve’s style, saying “rather than just speaking and saying we’re going to do this thing, we actually just go and do that thing.”
This new post is the first public statement Valve has made about Artifact since January 28, where the patch notes for an unexpected update concluded with the line “Unchanged: Still in it for the long haul.” Since then, Valve ended its contract with Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield who was the lead designer behind Artifact – though Garfield said he wasn’t really surprised by the decision.
Tom Marks is IGN’s Deputy Reviews Editor, and he’s glad to see Valve is taking significant action to fix Artifact because it really is fun at its core. You can follow him on Twitter.